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Your Guide to the Top Cars and Trucks

We sifted through the data and found the best cars and trucks in every category, so you can make a research-driven decision on the car you want.


How to Buy a Car

Source: (

How to Buy a Car · 8 Steps to Buying a New Car · 1. Research Vehicles and Features · 2. Get Preapproved for a Loan · 3. Plan Your Trade-In · 4. Locate and Test- …

Buying a vehicle

Find out how to transfer ownership of a vehicle into your name after buying it from a dealer, private party, or receiving it as a gift.


Buying or Selling a Vehicle

Vehicles are required to be titled in the buyer’s name within 30 days from the date of sale. Failing to properly transfer a vehicle into the buyer’s name could result in the seller being held responsible for tickets, toll violations, or even crimes committed with the vehicle. To ensure this doesn’t happen to you, accompany the buyer to your county tax office to ensure a vehicle title application is filed A dealer is not required to title in the dealership’s name if you sell or trade-in your vehicle to a licensed motor vehicle dealer. The vehicle stays in your name until it is sold to an individual, which may take months or in some cases, years. To protect yourself, file a Vehicle Transfer Notification. When a vehicle transfer notification is received, TxDMV updates the motor vehicle record to show the vehicle is sold. When you file the notification within 30 days from the date of sale, you cannot be held responsible for parking tickets and toll violations that have been committed by the person who purchased the vehicle.


Buying From a Dealer

If you buy your vehicle from a dealer, the dealer is required to file the title application on your behalf, so you will not have to visit the tax office. Make sure the dealer provides you with a receipt showing the vehicle has been titled in your name.


Buying From an Individual

If buying from an individual, have the seller accompany you to the county tax office to avoid unwanted surprises. Before submitting the title application, a tax office representative can tell you if the title being signed over to you is correct and if it has any salvage or legal issues. You can also use Title Check to see if the title of the vehicle you are thinking about buying has any issues impacting its value.

In addition to the title, ask the seller to provide you with:

The signed vehicle title Application for Texas Title and/or Registration (Form 130-U)

Any other supporting documents, such as the release of lien or power of attorney


Vehicle Transit Permit

If the transaction takes place on a Saturday or Sunday and the seller chooses to remove their license plates and registration sticker from the vehicle, you will need to download Vehicle Transit Permit. This will allow you to legally drive the vehicle to the county tax office, or if the county tax office is closed, to a place of your choice. This permit is valid for five calendar days and only one permit may be issued per vehicle sale.


Title Application Processing Time

Please allow a minimum of 20 business days for processing of your title application. If there is a lien on the vehicle, the lienholder will receive the title. If you have not received your title within 30 business days, please contact us.


Do Your Homework

“I knew exactly what I wanted,” Muthoni Muturi, NPR editor Your father may have always loved Hondas, and your grandmother may have always bought Crown Victorias.

But it’s my job to keep up with the car companies, and I have a hard time keeping track of what’s good or bad. (And it’s not your father’s Oldsmobile, because they don’t make Oldsmobiles anymore.)


Why Buying A Car Is So Awful

“Information is king,” says Jonathan Collegio of the National Automobile Dealers Association, or NADA.

“Consumers should do as much homework as possible,” he says, and “have a sense of the market.” They shouldn’t be afraid to go to a dealership, he says, but they should come prepared.

Start with data: Consumer Reports has a list of the best and worst cars. Car company rankings change all the time, and you might be surprised at what you learn for instance, that Audi, Subaru, Mazda, and Buick all rate higher than Honda for reliability.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, or IIHS, compiles safety data by car and make Both sites promise unbiased data-driven information about car reliability and safety.

Also, there are for-profit sites that help with reviews and pricing of cars. Here are just a few: Kelley Blue Book Costco Auto

and NADA Guides Michelle Singletary, a personal finance columnist with The Washington Post, warns that consumers should not “set one toe in the dealership” before doing their homework.


Do A Thorough Test Drive

“Don’t be satisfied with going around the block,” Karen Grigsby Bates, NPR correspondent Five or 10 years ago when you bought your last car you were that much younger. Your body, your needs, and your eyesight have changed. That’s why a test drive is so important.

Drive the car in the conditions you would use it in at night on a dark road, for instance, so you can test the lights and brightness of interior lamps.


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Rebecca Lindland, a senior analyst with Kelley Blue Book, points out that a test drive can help with dealing with family members who have disabilities.

She also recommends bringing car seats and pet carriers with you. And she reminds shorter drivers to pay attention to sightlines and especially the A-pillar (which is the beam on the windshield to the left of the driver); it can obscure vision around curves.

She also advises would-be buyers to pay attention to something known as the H-point.

“When you stand next to the car with the door open, look at how high the top of the seat is. That’s called the H-point where the top of the seat is,” she says.

Where the H-point falls will give you a sense of ease of entry. If the top of a seat hits below your knees, for instance, you’ll have to stoop lower to get into the car. If the H-point hits around mid-thigh, it will be was easier to get in and out.

The key is to feel comfortable in the vehicle.


If you financed your auto loan directly with a bank, credit union, or another lender (not through the dealer), that entity is your lender. If you got your financing through the dealer, or your lender transfers servicing rights to a third party, you can generally expect that you will receive a welcome letter from your lender or servicer giving you information about your loan.

The letter should include contact information and information about how and when you make payments. Make sure you keep and pay attention to your paperwork, as it can tell you:

Who your lender or servicer is

Where to send your payments

What counts as an “on time” payment (usually when the lender receives it, not when you mail it) and whether there is a grace period

The amount of any late fees

Whether there is a penalty if you pay off the loan early (prepayment penalty)

Who to contact if you are having difficulty making payments


Which Credit Score Is Used for Car Loans?

Through April 20, 2021, Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax will offer all U.S. consumers free weekly credit reports through to help you protect your financial health during the sudden and unprecedented hardship caused by COVID-19.


Don’t Overthink Your Credit Scores

Lenders can choose which credit score they want to use when evaluating your auto loan application. Different lenders might use different scores, and even the same lender might test several credit scores. As a result, you likely won’t know exactly which credit score the lender will see when you apply for an auto loan.


What Is the Difference in Credit Scores?

While the fundamentals behind consumer credit scoring models are similar, each credit scoring model uses specific criteria to analyze one of your credit reports and generate a credit score.

Sometimes there are small, but potentially important, differences. For example, one credit scoring model might ignore paid collections accounts while another might consider a collections account a negative item even if it’s been paid.

FICO® and VantageScore are the two market leaders in credit scoring, and the base scoring models they create also share some similarities.

Each model only looks at the information in one of your credit reports from Experian, Equifax, or TransUnion to determine your score. A higher score is best because it indicates you are less likely to miss a loan payment.

The latest base models also have the same scoring range: 300 to 850. However, FICO® also has industry-specific scores, including scores for auto lenders, that range from 250 to 900.


What Credit Scores Do Car Lenders Use?

Although you might not know exactly which credit score an auto lender will use, the following types of credit scores are popular options:

FICO® Score☉ These are the latest generic FICO® scoring models. Although FICO® didn’t create these models specifically for auto lenders, they are widely used credit scores, and auto lenders may use a base FICO® Score when reviewing auto loan applications.

FICO® Auto Scores.

There are multiple versions of the industry-specific FICO® Auto Score, which is created specifically for auto lenders. The FICO® Auto Scores are based on a generic FICO® Score, and then the score is altered to better predict a person’s likelihood of repaying an auto loan on time. Your history with auto loans could be especially important in determining your FICO® Auto Scores.

VantageScore® 3.0 and 4.0.

These are the two latest versions of the credit scoring model created by VantageScore, a credit scoring agency founded by the three major credit bureaus (Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax). According to a 2017 report from VantageScore Solutions and financial consulting firm Oliver Wyman, auto lenders used a VantageScore credit score for more than 70% of new auto loan and lease decisions from July 2016 to June 2017.

There are many minor differences between how FICO® and VantageScore use the information in your credit report and between the different scoring models from the same company. However, all these scores rely on a similar analysis of one of your credit reports. As a result, the actions that can help one score (like making on-time payments) could improve all your scores.