How to Make Car Buying an Easier Process

Buying a car is stereotypically a dreaded process. It takes a lot of time, energy, effort and patience, but there are actions you can take and things you can consider from the very beginning to make it a little less daunting, and can save you money along the way.

 Shop only within your means

What can you afford right now with the income you currently earn and any savings you have accumulated for your car purchase? A good rule of thumb is not to count on overtime pay, future raises or a large sum of money you are expecting to come in the future.  Think of that as a bonus and save as much of it as you can.

Having a financing plan will help you save money in the long run. A great way to get started is to get preapproved for an auto loan before you hit the dealerships. By getting preapproved, you will know how your credit score impacts your financing terms and the rate for which you qualify. You can visit any Jeanne D’Arc Credit Union branch to quickly get your preapproval. Once you’re armed with this information, you can decide how many months (the term) you will need to finance your car. Keep in mind that the longer the term of your loan, the smaller the payment will be, but this also means you will end up paying more interest over a longer period of time. If you will likely switch vehicles down the road before your loan is paid in full, depending on the trade in value, any balance remaining will be added to your next vehicle, which may result in a higher rate and a higher payment. Using our online payment calculator will help you figure out what finance options work best for you. Just don’t base your purchase around a payment you have in mind. Take the whole picture into account, such as the full cost of the vehicle, including what you would pay over time.

Once these questions are answered, you’ll be able to shop within a price range that you can afford. This narrows down your options, making your choice a little easier.

Do your research beforehand

Once you have your spending plan, you will be better equipped to figure out what vehicle is right for you. Think of your future needs in a few years. What will your commute be like? Will you have a growing family or aging family members? Will you need a compact car or large trunk space? What has the best features and gas mileage for your lifestyle? Will you be able to afford this vehicle if gas prices go back up significantly?

Ask your insurance agent how much the auto insurance will be for the type of vehicle you are interested in. This will help guide you to the right vehicles within your spending plan. Remember that SUVs and trucks cost more to insure than sedans.

A dealership’s inventory is often correctly reflected on their website, new or used. If you’re looking into buying a used vehicle, know the mileage and check the estimated value – there are many resources available online. Know the value of your current vehicle as well to get as much for your trade in as possible. Ask the dealership how you can tell if a vehicle was previously leased or rented, usually by the stock number. Former lease vehicles tend to be well cared for. New vehicles are required to have a sticker on the window telling you the MSRP (manufacturer suggested retail price), as well as the average gas mileage.

Buy before it becomes a crisis

Give yourself time to research your purchase and financing sooner than later. The trade-in value of your current vehicle will be higher if you don’t wait until it breaks down or you are over a mileage milestone. You will be in a better position to make the right choice when you are prepared and not in a hurry to make a decision.

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