An automobile is a major investment. Just think about it: In the last 10 years, have you bought anything that costs more than a car? A house or your kid’s education, maybe. Yet, unlike a house, a car is not going to appreciate in value; and unlike an education, an SUV is not going to increase your offspring’s earning potential.

A car isn’t an investment after all because you’re not going to receive a return on it. It’s an expense, and the best you can do is to get the maximum use and pleasure from the money you spend. Getting the most out of your car is a matter of careful maintenance. Getting the most out of your money is a matter of getting a good price on the car and a good deal on the related financing.

Here are some  do’s and don’ts to making your car shopping experience as easy as possible. That you can go into the experience confident you’re going to end up with the best car for you.

| Do Consider Buying Used

Maybe you’re not. Some people only want to buy new cars. New cars have time left on their warranties, can be customized to exact specifications of the buyer and help reduce uncertainty. If those are important to you, you might be willing to spend the extra money to buy a new car. Grab a copy of Consumer Reports’ 2017 car buying guide, or pay the $6.95 for a one-month subscription. Consumer Reports is generally fantastic, and its car guide is still better than anything you’re going to find online for free.

Buying a used car is a much better value for most people, however. Few products lose their value faster than a car, whose value plummets the minute it’s driven off the lot. Maybe buying dinner at a fancy restaurant loses its resale value more quickly than a new car, but little else does. Buying a one- or two-year-old vehicle can save thousands of dollars off the sticker price of a vehicle, but even buying a used version of this year’s model can be a windfall, because someone else has paid for the initial depreciation once the vehicle lost its new car smell.

| Don’t Lease a Car

Unless you have a lot of extra money to spend, leasing is not usually the best option for most people. Leases are tempting because you can get a more expensive car than you would with a purchase. But remember … that’s just temporary. It’s similar to renting a nicer home than you could afford to buy. While you may be making lower payments, you’re still not making any progress towards owning the home. Or, in the case of a lease, the car.

| Do Your Research

The internet is a fantastic resource. Once upon a time, the salesperson knew more than the customer about car prices, and that was particularly true of used cars. Now, you can determine the price you’re willing to pay before you ever walk in, and refuse to pay one cent more than that. If you want, you can even email back and forth between multiple salespeople, to get the best price. Grab a copy of Consumer Reports’ 2017 car buying guide, or pay the $6.95 for a one-month subscription. Consumer Reports is generally fantastic, and its car guide is still better than anything you’re going to find online for free.

| Don’t Wait to Get Your Financing

One of the keys to negotiating a car deal, whether at the dealership or from a private seller, is securing the best financing available. After all, even 1% difference in your interest rate can be worth hundreds, or even thousands, of dollars over the life of the loan. The best way to get the best rate is to borrow from your credit union. Our auto loans have fantastic rates, and we’re not trying to sneak in any hidden charges or fees. If you come to us first, you can make a clear plan for how much you can spend, so you’re not surprised when that first payment is due. We can also tell you how much you’ll need as a down payment, and we might even have some good tips on who you can trust in town. You can start the preapproval process here!

| Do Negotiate on Price

Negotiating a car sale isn’t most people’s cup of tea. If you’re buying from a dealer, it means sitting down with someone who may have more experience than you do, particularly with car sales. It doesn’t have to be an intimidating process, though. You have all the power in the transaction: You can buy a car from the first person or the 10th, while the salesperson needs to make every sale he or she can.

Remember to take your time while buying a car, it’s not a small decision. Do your research and let us help you with the process! Fill out an application online for an auto loan or stop by for a visit at our branch. Happy car shopping!

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