Buying a vehicle is a significant purchase. Typically, vehicle payments account for 10% of the average consumer’s income. That payment is only surpassed by their housing payment, which is usually about 30% of their income. With the average auto loan lasting 72 months, it’s wise to take a practical approach to the vehicle buying process.
When it comes time for your next vehicle purchase, one of the first things to assess is your budget. Everyone’s budget is different, but with a little help from an online calculator or by applying for pre-approval, you can find a vehicle price range that works for you.
Now that you have a price range, it’s time to start shopping. While a new vehicle may come equipped with all the latest bells and whistles, a used vehicle may allow you to get more options for your purchasing dollar.
Your search for a used vehicle may take you to a dealership, one of which may even be in our Indirect Dealer Network. You may also want to consider using a site such as DealerRater.com for reviews on dealerships in your area.
If you’re buying from a private seller and trustworthiness is unknown, make sure to ask a few extra questions. For example, is the seller the original owner of the vehicle? Are there any liens on the car? Why is it for sale? How many miles are on the car? The answers to these questions can be compared against a CARFAX report to identify any discrepancies and alert you to any red flags.
Once you narrow your search to a specific vehicle, it’s important to fully inspect it. Go beyond what you can see with your own eyes. CARFAX reports provide vital details about a vehicle—details you may not know otherwise. Accident history, lemon history, flood damage, recall information and so much more! Plus, Vantage Credit Union members can obtain CARFAX reports for only $25.00 (regularly $39.99 if purchased directly from CARFAX).
Before you start to negotiate price, consider getting an independent inspection from a trusted mechanic. Ask for a written report detailing any problems found and the cost for repair. You could use this to negotiate the price with the seller.
From deciding upon your needs to negotiating the price and everything in between, the process isn’t easy! But with a little preparation and a practical approach, you can find the right vehicle to fit your needs and budget!
Secure your financing before you start the search!
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