Americans love cars. It is one of the reasons why America is amongst the world’s top car-owning countries. Every year, Americans spend several thousand dollars on auto loan payments. If you are looking forward to buying a car, make sure that you follow S.M.A.R.T. tips. The tips will help you save money and ensure that you do not opt for exorbitant auto loans.Follow the S.M.A.R.T. Tips and Save MoneyWhen car buyers have to make a decision about auto loans, logic takes a backseat and emotions become a controlling factor. It is the reason why car buyers say yes to financially harmful auto loans. To save yourself from the possibility of a financial damage, you must follow the tips.S – SpecificThe car is a huge asset. So, it is essential that you understand your requirements before buying a car. It is important that you have a specific image of the type of the car that you want. It will help you stay away from an impulse purchase. Consider the list of following factors because it will help you in choosing your perfect car:1. Total number of passengers2. Gearbox – Automatic or manual gearbox?3. Cargo capacity4. Vehicle performance5. Driving conditions6. Gas mileage7. Safety features8. Technological features9. Parking spaceM – MoneyRemember that even if you opt for an auto loan, you will need to make a down payment of at least 10 percent of the total price of the car. Down payment is beneficial because it helps in reducing the loan amount. If you do not have money for down payment, do not worry. You can trade-in your old car and ask the dealer to deduct its value from the price of the new car.A – Affordable Selecting a specific car will be of no use to you if you cannot afford to buy it. Remember that car expenses are not limited to down payment. You will have to pay money for monthly loan payments, fuel charges as well as maintenance expenses. A general rule is to allocate no more than 20 percent of your total monthly income for car-related expenses. Keep this rule in mind and choose an auto loan that does not exceed your budget.R – Reliable There was a time when car buyers applied for an auto loan with the local bank only. Today, there are several ways of obtaining an auto loan. You can apply with a bank, a credit union, or an online auto financing company.No matter what option you choose, you must ensure that the lender is a reliable one. If you opt for an online auto financing company, check the website’s security certificate. If the website doesn’t have one, stay away from it and save yourself from a potential identity theft.T – Time Car buyers are afraid of rate shopping because they believe that multiple credit inquiries will damage their credit score. But, do not refrain from rate shopping instead, finish it within 30 days. Why?A time-bound search for an auto loan will ensure that you do not harm your credit score. FICO does not consider inquiries made in the 30 days prior to scoring. So, if you are able to get a loan within 30 days, it won’t affect your score. This span of time can change to 14 days if the lender uses older versions of FICO and can increase to 45 days if the lender uses the newest formula.Car buying is one of the most expensive purchases that Americans make. If you do not pay attention to your auto loan, you can make the worst financial mistake of your life. So, avoid making a bad decision and follow the S.M.A.R.T. tips.