DALLAS (CBS 11 NEWS) – As the debt ceiling debate rages in the U.S. Congress, area businesses plan ways to cope with the possibility of long term interest rates rising.

One industry depending on long-term loans is newly-manufactured automobiles.  And the economy is on the minds of new car shoppers.  “Trying to get the most value for the dollar,” says Irma Beasley, who  lives and works in Dallas.

She just purchased a Corolla for her son to replace a car totaled in an accident.  She had one eye on value, another on cost and interest rates.  “Yeah, we were concerned about that but as I said before, it was just a necessity for us to buy a car at this time.”

“Customers are definitely sharper today than they were before,” says Corey Byrd of Sport City Toyota.   He claims the recession—coupled with information on the internet—is creating a new breed of confident car buyer.  “They’re doing more research, they’re making better economical decisions, they’re buying more practical cars and making sure it’s a need, not just a want.”

Byrd says that his business is shielded a bit from the debt ceiling debate.  Most of his customers use Toyota Financial Services, and he doesn’t expect their rates to be affected.  But he believes there will be issues for customers who may have to finance through secondary lenders, like banks.  “The thing that we do have concern is the subprime lenders and we think they’re going to adjust their deals and that could hurt us in the long run.”

But economist Mike Davis, who teaches at SMU’s Cox School of Business, doesn’t think even the worst debt ceiling scenario in Washington will trigger much of anything.  “If some REALLY weird thing happened and the government defaulted on the bonds, which meant they just didn’t pay their bills, then that would be a problem.  But that’s not going to happen.  Anything that happens to the credit market short of a default is not going to have much of an impact on the street.”