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Car Buying Tips



This will help you determine your needs and narrow your selection. A new car smell is nice, but not everyone can afford it. Depending on your budget, a late-model used car might be a better option. Use our Calculators to see what a monthly payment would look like if you borrow a specific amount.



Determine a price range you want to spend for your next vehicle purchase. It is important for you to know what you can afford. We can then get you pre-approved for that amount. A pre-approval will provide you with that cash-in-hand advantage when negotiating with a salesperson at the dealership.

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    Keep in mind, there's more to the cost of the car than just the price including:


  • Insurance costs can vary. Find out the insurance premium for the vehicle before you make the purchase.
  • Gas mileage may be a huge concern if you do a lot of driving.
  • Maintenance will be required from time to time such as: oil changes, air filters, etc.
  • Replacement Parts will be needed from time to time such as: tires, windshield wipers, etc.

To estimate your budget, go to OnTrack, an online budgeting tool from BALANCE Financial Fitness Program. It is important to take the time and learn about what you can afford by comparing your income versus your expenses.


Private Sale

It makes sense to buy a previously-owned vehicle, but when purchasing from a private party you are on your own. The plus side is that the pricing is usually fair, but the person selling the vehicle is usually selling for a reason. There are no guarantees or warranties. Before making the purchase examine: the interior, exterior and under the hood. Take it for a test drive. Consider having the vehicle inspected by a professional mechanic. There may be a cost to do so, but it is a great way to be sure you know exactly what you are buying.


Traditional Dealerships for New and Used Vehicles

  • BE CAREFUL - Salespeople are well trained. Their job is to sell you a car. The more cars sold, the more money the salesperson earns. Be sure to do your homework before you start to shop around. Select a car based on your research and needs.
  • Pricing - Don't get fooled by the sticker price or the Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP). Arrive armed with the invoice price of your car, including the invoice cost for the options you want.
  • Just Say No - Don't let a salesperson talk you into extras that you don't want or need. This will increase the purchase price of the vehicle.
  • Keep Your Focus - Don't be confused with the added element of the financing and a "great" low interest rate. The dealership is usually subsidizing your cut-rate loan by charging you more for the car itself. Using your pre-approved loan from the Credit Union will give you that cash-in hand negotiating power to get a good price for the vehicle.
  • Trade-In - If you plan to trade in your vehicle, make sure to do your research and know what the vehicle is worth before you go shopping.
  • Keep Your Emotions in Check and Stand Your Ground - Once you find the perfect vehicle, stay calm, cool and collected so the salesperson won't think that he's got you hooked. Remember, you are in control of this deal. If you are unable to reach an agreement then walk away. Perhaps you should consider shopping elsewhere.

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