How to maintain your used car!

Maintaining your car is easy and can save you lots of money!

Buying a car is an expensive process, we know. Here’s the number one secret that can end up saving you tons of cash:

Maintain your vehicle regularly!

The number one mistake a used car owner can make is falling into a cycle of breaks and repairs. The car is not a strange, mythical creature – in fact there are thousands of resources to help you! Don’t fall into a cycle of breaks and repairs. Instead, follow these simple tips to ensure that your car will never fail you, and remember that an inspection/scheduled service will be much, much cheaper than getting your car towed because of a mechanical failure – not to mention the cost of repair.

Get to know your vehicle.

There are tons of ways get to know your vehicle. It sounds cheesy and boring, but it works! Consult your car owner’s manual to access invaluable information such as:

  • When to bring in the car for service
  • How often the oil needs to be changed
  • What those tricky dash light symbols mean

If you don’t have an owner’s manual for whatever reason, 99% of the time you can simply Google your car’s make, model, and year followed by “owner’s manual PDF” and an electronic PDF version will be available! This can also be more convenient because car manuals are thick and dense – just print out your favorite reference pages into a packet and stick it somewhere safe in your car!

Inspect your car often.

There are a couple of inspections that every car owner should make, no matter what the car. Here’s a couple things you should always be inspecting:

Tire pressure and tread

Tires are what hold your car off the ground and keep your car from spinning off the road, so pay attention to them! Your car may be mechanically sound when buying it secondhand, but oftentimes the previous owner didn’t bother to even check the tire treads. Here’s a quick trick you can do with just a penny or a quarter to ensure that your tires are not worn out! If your tire treads are too worn out, you should think about replacing your tires.

  • Insert a penny into your tire’s deepest groove with Lincoln’s head upside down and facing you. If the groove covers the top of Lincoln’s head, the groove is greater than 2/32 inch and your tire is still safe to drive on. If you can see all of Lincoln’s head, the groove is less than 2/32 inch and you should get that tire replaced.

Tire pressure is just as important as tire tread depth. When your tire pressure is too high or too low, you’re putting you and your passengers in fatal danger. It’s important you inflate your tires to their optimal pressure to ensure your tires will never pop or cause rim damage.

  • Get an inexpensive and reliable tire pressure gauge online from a reputable vendor such as Amazon, or go to your local auto repair shop. Often times the tire pressure gauges at gas station air pressure pumps are unreliable, so get your own and leave it in your car or at home!
  • Find the recommended tire pressure for your tires! Sometimes the front tires will need a different air pressure than the back tires, so be sure to consult your owner’s manual! In some cars, there is also a small sheet of information printed on the driver’s side doorway. Worst case, try looking online for more information – but make sure you get your information from a reputable source!
  • Find the air pressure valve on your tire – just scan the outside of your tire for a small screw-cap similar to what you would see on a bicycle tire. From there you can check your tire’s pressure and adjust accordingly by either putting an air pump over the valve to pump air in, or let air out using a key or pen by pushing the needle inside the valve in.

Check your fluids

This is more specific to your car, so be sure to consult your owner’s manual again, or find resources online specific to your car’s make, model, and year! Here’s a list of the 5 essential fluids you should check:

  • Engine oil
  • Coolant
  • Power steering fluid
  • Brake fluid
  • Windshield washer fluid

All of these can be replaced for free at home very simply, so save some money and make sure you’re taking care of your car!

Check for leaks

You should never ignore a leak – if you see one, you have to get your car inspected! Leaks are a sure sign that your car is going to break down in the near future, so don’t cheap out because it will cost you more money in the long run.

The most important thing to remember is that maintaining your car will save you money, as well as increase the resale value of your car in the future! For extra help, there are tons of resources online to help you with your car! Here are some of our favorites:

  • ChrisFix – YouTube channel with informative how-to videos
  • Lifehacker – An article for preventative maintenance

What is a simple interest loan?

At Universal Financial Company, we keep it simple

There are many different ways to calculate interest. At Universal Financial Company, we provide you with simple interest loans, so you can pay it back in the form of affordable monthly payments. Simple interest is known as such because it’s calculated based on your principal balance, which is the amount you owe on your loan. Generally, it saves the borrower money because it does not compound on interest; your interest rate will stay the same during the lifetime of the loan.

What am I paying for each month?

Your interest rate will always stay the same, but the amount of money that goes to paying down principal versus the amount of money that goes to interest changes every month. In simpler terms, most of the payment at the beginning of the loan goes toward interest; at the end, most of it goes toward your principal balance. At the same time, however, your monthly payment always remains the same for the loan period. Although you are paying more interest at the beginning of your loan, at the end of the day your monthly payment stays the same.

What is APR?

APR stands for Annual Percentage Rate. It’s just a fancy term used to describe the cost of financing your car over a year including fees and interest accrued. Your APR will always be equal to or higher than your interest rate. They can be useful to compare rates among different lenders because they reflect the total cost of financing rather than just your interest rate.

How can I reduce my interest payments?

By paying extra in the form of early and unscheduled payments, you can pay down the principal balance on your loan sooner which will reduce the total amount toward interest charges over the course of your loan. By doing this, you might also be able to pay back your loan faster than originally planned. Regardless, you should always pay your loan payments on time. Even if you do make unscheduled payments toward your principal, you are still responsible for making your scheduled payments!

Where can I learn more about my loan?

If you’d like more information on simple interest auto loans, here is a more extensive article explaining how car loan interest works.

Alternatively, you can also head to our FAQ page, or if you have a loan-specific question be sure to call or email us!


Let’s Talk About Used Car Reliability

There are many financial advantages of buying a used car.

  • Used cars are less expensive.
  • Used cars do not depreciate in value the moment they roll off the lot.
  • Used cars do not cost much to insure.

However, there is one major disadvantage of buying a used car. Used cars don’t come with comprehensive new-car warranties, and therefore the owner must pay for all maintenance and repairs.

We understand this can be a scary proposition. After all, who wants to spend their hard-earned money paying for auto repairs? Nobody.

Here’s how you can help yourself. When searching for a used car to buy, look for models that are known for their reliability. This is the best way to minimize the risk of costly maintenance. And reliable cars stay on the road, so you won’t have to deal with the hassle of repairs.

Reliable used cars are a no-brainer! They won’t break the bank now and they won’t break the bank later. Talk about a win-win proposition!

See the list below for some great information on buying reliable used cars, courtesy of Consumer Reports, Edmunds, and Autobytel.

Let Universal Financial Help Improve Your Credit Score

Financing your auto loan with Universal Financial Company will provide you the opportunity to improve your credit score. Successfully completing a loan with us, making on time monthly payments will benefit you in obtaining better terms the next time you buy a car. As a consumer, it is important to be informed on what lenders look for in deciding to extend credit. Here are a few things they consider:

  • Credit accounts: How much debt do you currently have?
  • Payment history: How frequently are your payments made on time?
  • Income: How much income do you have to cover your payments?
  • Credit Inquiries: How often and how recently have you have applied for credit?

It is important to review your consumer credit report annually to know what your credit looks like and to find potential mistakes and/or identity theft. To request an annual credit report, visit Under federal law, you can get a FREE copy of your credit report every 12 months from each credit reporting company listed below:

  • TransUnion
  • Equifax
  • Experian

Five factors that affect your credit score

These are the different factors that bureaus use to calculate a credit score:

  • Payment history
  • Credit accounts
  • Length of credit history
  • Credit usage
  • Credit applications
FICO Scores

Image via My Fico

The chart above illustrates factors that will affect your credit score. Income, age, bank balances, marital status and debit and prepaid cards do not affect credit scores. Although, these factors do not affect your credit score, lenders might look for information such as your employment status and income when making their final decisions.

Tips to help you improve your credit score

Repairing bad credit or building new credit can take time, but managing it responsibly can improve it over time. Here are eight tips to improve your credit score:

  • Make timely payments
  • Keep your balances below credit limit
  • Do not max out your credit cards
  • Finish your loan terms
  • Do not transfer balances
  • Do not close unused accounts
  • Only apply and open new accounts when needed
  • Check your credit report annually

How to Obtain a California Driver License Under AB 60

The day that many Californians have been anticipating for has finally arrived.

Those who have been fined with tickets, court fees and car impoundments due to not having a driver license because of their legal status, don’t have to worry anymore. A new law signed by Jerry Brown, is allowing millions of people in California to drive legally.

This law is called Assembly Bill 60 (AB 60) and has been effective since January 1, 2015. The implementation of AB 60 has required the DMV in California to issue a driver license to those applicants that are unable to give satisfactory proof of legal presence in the United States.

According to the AB Driver License Implementation, applicants applying for an original driver license will need the following (

  • Complete a driver license application form (DL44) offered at the DMV office.
  • Must make an appointment online or call 1-800-777-0133 before visiting a DMV office. Walk-ins
  • are only available at the driver license processing centers (DLPCs)
  • Pass a vision test, written test, and if applicable, a road sign test
  • Give a thumb print
  • Have a picture taken
  • Take the behind-the-wheel driving test

Under AB 60, applicants will also need to provide DMV with proof of identity and California residency documentations. Here is a short guideline with the type of documents needed for proof of identity and California residency:

California driving license or California identification card

  • Proof of Identity
  • Foreign documents
  • Foreign passport
  • Foreign birth certificate
  • Income tax returns
  • School documents
  • Court documents
  • Divorce decrees

Proof of California Residency (Must have first & last name with California residence address)

  • Rental or Lease agreements with signatures of the owner/landlord & tenant/resident
  • Titles to residential real property
  • Mortgage bills
  • Home utility bills and cellular bills
  • Medical documents
  • Employment documents
  • Insurance documents ( medical, vision, life, rental, vehicle)

For a complete guideline to help you determine the documents needed when applying for a driver license please select one of the following forms: English (PDF) , Spanish (PDF).