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February 5, 2020

What to Know Before Buying a Car

Follow these steps to prepare yourself for purchasing your next vehicle.

Buying a new vehicle can be a stressful experience for many. Follow these steps to prepare yourself to negotiate and make sure you get the best-quality vehicle at the best price.

Check your credit score.

Before any large purchase, knowing your credit score is an important step. Check your credit report and fix any possible errors to ensure it’s accurate. If your credit score is lower than you’d like, look for ways to raise it  before applying for an auto loan. Pay off outstanding debt,  and update incorrect income information to quickly raise your score.

Consider financing options.

Before you visit a dealership, figure out what kind of down payment you can afford. Ask yourself what monthly payment fits within your budget. Research available auto loans to get an idea of what options are available.

Shop and compare.

Auto sales is a competitive industry. Dealerships take advantage of unprepared customers who don’t know competitors’ prices and offers. Research the vehicles you’re interested in thoroughly. Check pricing, special deals, and offers at different dealerships. Use online tools like Autotrader or Kelly Blue Book to compare prices on similar vehicles. Use these tools to give yourself an idea of your current vehicle’s trade-in value as well.

Research the vehicle history. 

Be as prepared as possible. Research dealerships and read reviews to avoid a bad experience. When choosing a specific vehicle, use a service like CARFAX to learn about the car’s history from its first purchase to now. In a more general sense, research the particular year, model, and make to see if it is known as a reliable model or if it tends to require frequent repairs. When buying a used car, it’s a good idea to request an inspection by a mechanic before purchasing to ensure everything is in working order. While an inspection can be expensive, it can save you money in the long run if you buy a vehicle that needs significant repairs soon after purchasing.

Drive before you buy. 

Everything can look good on paper, but be sure to get behind the wheel of the car you’re interested in purchasing. Take a test drive, or better yet, rent or borrow a car of the same year, make, and model to see how it handles over a longer period of time, at night, in traffic, in your garage, etc.

Shopping for your next car can be a scary experience, but with research and preparation, you can be confident you found the right vehicle. Stop by your local branch to learn about auto loans or work with a personal banker to help you plan for your next vehicle purchase.