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Richard Cordray

Need a car loan? Be aware of subprime lending

Need a car loan? Be aware of subprime lending

If you want a car loan, the good news is that you will probably get it — even if your finances aren't in the best shape. But that could be bad news, too.

If your money has been tight lately, or if you haven't been on top of your bills, you might be relieved to find that you are likely to qualify for a car loan — perhaps one known as a "subprime" loan, or the type of loan offered to iffy borrowers. But realize you need to be on your toes so you don't overstretch on the size of the loan or interest rate, and don't get led astray by a fast-talking salesman.

Some people assume that if they are offered a loan, it means the lender figures the individual can...