10 Car Buying Tips to Know | SCFCU


1. Set a budget BEFORE heading to the lot.

Knowing how much you can spend on a car will help you narrow down your choices when choosing the right car. Paying cash for a car is the ideal way to go, you’ll have more room to negotiate and get the best deal possible. But if paying cash is not a choice then consider making a budget and figuring out how much you can set a side each month for a car payment (don’t forget the auto insurance).

#Suntip: Consider a certified pre-owned vehicle over a brand new one. New vehicles tend to depreciate very quickly putting you in a situation where the car’s value is lower than how much you owe on the loan.

2. Narrow down your choices

Your local Imperial Valley and Coachella Valley dealerships more than likely have a website with the vehicles they have in stock. Take a few minutes and narrow down which vehicles you like most. Consider things like, gas mileage, safety, storage, and comfort. Note: If you are a cash buyer and the car you like is a little over your budget, add it on your list. You’ll have the advantage of negotiating the price and dropping it with cash on hand.

3. Do your research!

Now, here's a big one! Make sure you take some time to do your research on the car you're looking to buy. Consider googling consumer reviews, checking out the Kelly Blue Book value, researching any recalls it might have. Believe it or not, new cars do breakdown, and even if they're still under warranty, going through the headache of taking it to the dealership and having no car for days is not worth it.

If you decide to go with a used car, then consider asking the dealership for the car’s accident history report and maintenance history report. With this, you’ll get an idea of how well the previous owners cared for that car.

If you see any red flags on the vehicle’s history (flooding, severe front damage, hail damage) then make sure to stay as far away from that vehicle as possible. Vehicles with a history of severe damage can quickly become endless money pits.

4. Get a car insurance quote

By now you’ll have an idea of what car best fits you. Now it's time to make sure your insurance bill falls within your budget. Contact various insurance companies to get the best coverage and price for your vehicle.

#Suntip: Sitting down with an insurance agent is the best way to get the most out of your insurance. Many times an insurance agent will find discounts that you would never get with an online quote.

5. Take a test drive

It’s time to buckle up and go for a spin!
When taking a car out for a test drive, choose a route that will have different styles of driving. Take a highway to feel the car up to speed, a neighborhood to feel the car on stops and long stoplights to feel the car when sitting on idle. Take note of any noises or odd things the car does.

6. Get a car inspection

When buying a used car have someone who knows about cars (a car mechanic) check it out. Let them know what you herd when test driving it and have them check it out. Sellers can sometimes lie when a lot of money is on the line. While the car may seem smooth, you never know what is under the hood. Don’t be awkward about asking for a car inspection. Consider this as the normal process of car buying.

7. Be patient - Wait for the right time to buy

According to Autotrader, the best time to purchase a car is at the end of the month, during holiday weekend sales, and at the end of each quarter. Consider going out car shopping during March, May (Memorial Day weekend) , June, July (4th of July), September (Labor Day sale), and December. During these seasons dealerships are trying to meet their sales goals and as a result, they slash prices to make it easier to sell.

It might sound like a simple tip but waiting for the right time to buy a car can save you hundreds on your purchase.

8. Negotiate towards a lower price

At this point you have an advantage. You did your research, looked at the car's pros and cons, and hopefully have the full cash on hand. Give your price to the seller and make sure to it is lower than the selling price. Don’t be afraid to counteroffer. Remember, the seller also wants you to take the car home.

#Suntip: If another dealership is selling the same model car, it is good idea to bring that price to the table. Let them know if you have other options you’re considering if this offer doesn’t go through.

9. Don’t get caught up on the Extras

Don’t pay for things you don’t need like an extra layer of paint, tinted windows, or extended warranties. If you have an emergency fund in place and if your car payment falls within your budget you’ll be safe knowing repairs can be made later if needed.

According to Consumerreprts.org, 55% of car buyers never use their extended warranties and those who did, spent on average $375 more on the extended warranty price. This means paying the repair themselves would of turned out cheaper. So skipping out on extended warranties might be a good idea.

10. Two minds are better than one.

Our final tip would be to invite whoever you trust to go car shopping with you. It is always a good idea to have a second opinion, an opinion from someone who will not fully benefit from the purchase. Why, you ask? Well, car shopping can be super exciting and it can be easy to forget about your budget with all the excitement of a brand new vehicle.

Just remember, a car is a tool to get you from point A to point B. Never buy a car to try to prove your social status to the world. As tempting as it may be to drive off with an expensive car, it is more likely to become a burden in your life rather than a blessing--especially if it falls out of your budget.


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