AWARE, a nonprofit group that educates consumers about the auto financing process and ways to make informed financing decisions, has launched a new Web site,, for students and parents to understand how the vehicle financing process works.

AWARE recommends that young car buyers and their parents make some key evaluations before starting the car buying process:

-Know what you can afford: Determine what type of vehicle best meets your needs, set a realistic price range and develop a comprehensive budget for owning and operating your car or truck.

-Decide how you’re going to pay for it: Some first-time car buyers purchase a used car or truck with cash they’ve saved or borrowed from a family member. Others, however, work on their own or with their parents to finance a vehicle through a bank, credit union or at a dealership.

-Review your credit report: Obtain a free copy of your credit report. You have access to three credit reports a year—one from each three consumer credit reporting companies. Span out requests to see ongoing changes in your credit record and check if there are any persistent problems. Correct any errors you find.

-Comparison shop: Compare annual percentage rates and other important financing terms from multiple sources, such as banks, credit unions, finance companies and auto dealers.

-Know your stuff: Make sure you are familiar with common terms you’re likely to hear or read in the course of purchasing or financing a vehicle, such as down payment, fixed- and variable-rate financing and on- and off-site financing.

-Negotiate: The finance rate you are offered may be negotiable, as well as the price of the vehicle.

-Understand the value and price of optional services: Examples include credit insurance, GAP and extended service contracts.

-Read any contract before signing it: Ask questions about anything you do not understand.