There are 3 ways to get an auto loan:

  • Car Company Finance(i.e. through car Dealer)
  • Credit Unions
  • Banks

Car Company Finance

First check with the car dealers whether they have any attractive auto loan scheme. Normally, all the car companies have such schemes running from time to time, either on all the models or some specific models, especially on some holidays. These deals are normally better than the other two options, as you might get rates like 0% to 4.9% APR. In case you are getting such a deal, then the dealer will take care of all the document work.
It is possible that such scheme might not be available for the kind of car and model you are looking for. In that case, you are dependent on Credit Union, or Banks for the auto loan.
Online Finance companies like E-LOAN

Credit Unions

Credit Unions are the most popular and reliable source to get an auto loan, especially if you are a first time buyer, as banks normally don't give auto loans to the first time buyers easily. Credit Unions are significantly useful to approve your loan fast and with competitive rates.

In order to avail this service, one has to be a member of Credit Union. Normally, there are few terms and conditions for the membership of such Credit Unions. In most of the cases, if your employer is a registered corporate member, then you become eligible to get this membership.

Other then Auto loan you can also avail the facility of having a checking and saving account with these Credit Unions. Credit Unions also provide credit cards without much of a hassle.

Few known names of Credit Unions are: DCU, TCU, and Patelco

Though the functionality is same as the banks, but services are limited to the members only. Facilities and interest rates also vary from Credit Union to Credit Union. To know more about their services and rates, visit their web sites, and discuss their reliability with your friends before joining them.
You can be a member of more than one Credit Union.

Banks

Banks should be considered as the third choice. It is difficult for a new comer to get a loan from any bank. Banks loan rates are normally higher than the other two options.
Once your loan is approved by either of the aforementioned means, you will be liable to pay some amount as an installment against your loan. Normal terms (simple interest payment or compound interest payment) are 24 months, 36 months, 48 months, 72 months etc. As installment grows, so will the APR (Interest). You may choose the best term for you. **Remember, the faster you get rid of your loan, the better it is. But at the same time, to make a good credit history, you should not pay it off before 6 months at least.

Do's

  • Talk to at least 2-3 car dealers; don't rely on one dealer's words.
  • Always compare rates among various Credit Unions.
  • If you have direct deposits for your salary to your credit union account, you might get better interest rates. Inquire about these options.
  • If at all you have to take loan from a bank, then talk to 3-4 banks and insist on better rates.
  • Discuss with your friends about your car loan deals, before finalizing it.

Don'ts

  • Don't forget to do the bargaining even with the credit unions, insist on better rates.
  • Don't forget that re-finance is always possible.

What is Refinancing?

If you are not satisfied with your current financial organization services or rates, you can anytime go for refinancing it through some other financial organization. This option is really helpful, as you might find better interest rates and terms from time to time, with different loan providers. For more details visit Auto Re-finance.

What is Credit History?

In US, each individual's financial history is maintained, and can be traced out through his records. This information is centrally available with government authorized credit report agencies, and can be requested in order to prove your good/bad buyers record. If you are new to US, there is no question of having a credit history period; It gets maintained with your stay in US. Such credit history normally contains records of all your major expenditures made by you, using your credit cards or any specific loan. Any failure to pay back your loan, rent or any bill etc., might lead to a bad credit history, resulting high rates or refusals for any other credit card, loan, rental apartment etc.

Links

Information available

MsnMoneyCentral

Good information on Car loan and other finance related

citi.com

Useful tips and information on Credit cards related.