7 Tips to Help You Prepare for Buying a Car
Nico Leyva writes for NerdWallet.com, a consumer finance website that promotes financial literacy and looks for the best ways to save you money.
Looking for a car can be a long and arduous process. First, you have to decide whether it’s more practical to look for a used or new car. Then you have to narrow down the choices to fit your price range and budget. And finally, you have to make sure you get a car that makes you happy, because you will be driving it for a long time. This doesn’t even take into account financing the car or negotiating with a dealer. Fortunately, there are ways to make the car-buying process easier. Here are some helpful tips you can use the next time you look for a car.
- Do Your Homework – Get your budget ready. Know how much money you have immediately available and how much you could feasibly pay each month for car-related expenses. Get your credit report, and confirm that it is accurate. This will help you avoid getting a higher interest rate than you deserve. Do plenty of research on cars—browse in person at lots and dealerships, and use online resources. Is a used car right for you? Some used cars carry higher interest rates, which could end up costing you more than a new car. Finally, find out the worth of your current car, whether you sell it privately or to a dealership.
- Narrow Down Your List – Narrow down your car choices to a select few by comparing offers and interest rates. Look for special rebates or incentives, like monthly promotions or car-specific deals. Check if your local credit union has any cars for sale. Find out the vehicle history of each car you are considering.
- Go to Your Local Credit Union for a Loan – After narrowing your list, check out Arsenal Credit Union’s auto loans for financing. They offer low rates and extended payment options, as well as up to 100% financing for most new and used cars. Their Interest-Refund Auto Loan offers a below-market rate and the opportunity to get back the interest you paid in the last year of your loan. All you need to do to qualify is have and use a checking account at the credit union, receive eStatements, and have your loan payment automatically deducted from your checking account.
- Insure Your Car – Consider protecting your car with insurance from TruStage, provided by Arsenal Credit Union. You can also get GAP (guaranteed asset protection) and extended warranties from Arsenal, which can help offset the loss in value over time of your car.
- Save Up – It’s never silly to save up for big purchases—even if it means you just set aside some money each month in a savings account, or you set up a special account specifically for car expenses. Your savings act as a safety net, and the extra funds will help relieve some of your monthly financial burden.
- Negotiate – Visit several dealerships and compare offers. Be patient with each dealer, and don’t rush into any commitments. After you’ve carefully analyzed each option as it fits your budget, determine the best one. This should involve gas mileage, car history, payment plans and overall comfort. You are making an important decision, and it should be treated as such.
- Double-Check – Run through everything again before you finalize the deal. Take the time to fully review every aspect from the car itself to your financing terms, to make sure you are getting what you signed up for. And if you need some extra help figuring things out, ask a credit union loan officer for help. That individual will have your best interests in mind and will help you prepare for dealership negotiations and determine your best option.