Car ownership is, in many parts of the country, a necessary evil. You need one if you want to access local services, run errands or visit friends and family, but traditional vehicles are a threat to the environment. They power our massive appetite for oil and contribute to ecological destruction. That’s why, if you’re going to drive, it’s worth investing in an eco-friendly vehicle if you can.

Whether you choose a fuel-efficient hybrid or a fully electric car, you’ll want to look into smart financing options to help you afford it — keep these four tips in mind as you shop.

1. Choose a Cheaper Model

Many people don’t realize how extensive the options are when it comes to eco-friendly vehicles. Because of this perspective, buyers often end up purchasing the newest, most-hyped vehicles without considering the range of fuel-efficient economy cars that could also fit the bill. You might also look at old electric or hybrid vehicles to cut costs.

Consumer Reports is a good resource when researching marketplace options. Their list of fuel-efficient vehicles includes both hybrids and standard options, making it a perfect tool for comparing competitive options point by point.

2. Assess Your Loan Options

The costs of an eco-friendly vehicle are contingent on several factors that go beyond the vehicle itself — for example, your credit score. Buyers with a better credit score will get a lower interest rate on their loans, while those with a weak credit score will pay above market rate. It’s generally worth spending time to improve your credit before buying a car in order to gain long-term savings.

It’s also important to finalize your loan before you make a purchase. Lenders are fickle and a quote is just that until the papers are signed. Secure your rate before you buy. While you may be able to refinance your loan down the road if your credit score improves, it’s better…