Last year, about 6.3 million cars were sold to customers in the United States.
It’s no secret that, for most people, buying a car can be stressful and time-consuming. Ardent Credit Union recently introduced a new Auto Buying Concierge service for its members that helps to take the hassle out of the car-buying process. Members who have used the Auto Buying Concierge have saved an average of $3,556.
Below, Steve Roberts, the Assistant Vice President of Auto Lending at Ardent Credit Union, shares his top tips on how to best navigate the car-buying process.
What to do/not do at the dealership:
Do your research prior to visiting the dealership. Identify exactly what make and model you’re looking for, check the Carfax report and any online reviews that detail the reliability of the vehicle. If you are planning to trade in a vehicle when you get to the dealership, do not share that information in advance. Negotiate the price for the new vehicle you decide on first, and only after you are satisfied with that price do you share that you will also be trading in a vehicle. You should also research the value of your trade-in beforehand. At that point, you can also negotiate a warranty.
What to look for during the test drive:
When test driving a pre-owned vehicle, take the vehicle to an area where you let the steering wheel go a little bit. See if it the car pulls to one side or the other. You should also shift from drive to reverse a few times and see if there are any loud noises with the change in transmission. And if you’re test driving a used car in particular, keep an eye out for any smoke coming out of the car. You should also look for uneven wear on the tires, and evidence of possible body work that has been done.
What to ask for regarding financing options:
The term and interest rate are what you need to pay attention to. Keep the term as short as you can afford to in order to minimize the amount of interest you end up paying. When given the choice of a rebate or low interest rate by the manufacturer, I often recommend getting a low-interest rate loan from your favorite credit union, which enables you to grab the rebate.
Determining when to buy vs lease:
If you’re not driving too many miles per year (less than 15,000), and if you’re someone who always wants to have a new car in the driveway, leasing might be the right option for you. However, only certain people qualify for leasing based on credit score and driving habits. If you exceed the number of miles outlined in your lease contract, you could end up paying a substantial fee. In addition, the leased vehicle must be returned in good shape or additional costs may be applied.
What to do/not do when negotiating price:
When negotiating the price of a vehicle, think of it solely as a business transaction, and leave emotions out of it. The more uncomfortable you get, the easier it will be for a sales person to close you. Stick to the realistic number you have in mind. Finally, do not be afraid to get up and leave if they’re not willing to negotiate. The dealership is aware that if you leave, there’s a 70 percent chance that you won’t return. They’ll most likely make an effort to work with you on pricing.
As a quick postscript, buying at the end of the month, quarter, and year will work in your favor. The dealership and the sales staff are all motivated by term-end totals.