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Aside from buying a home, a vehicle is likely to be one of the largest purchases you will make in your life. By taking the time to plan and prepare for buying a car, you can save yourself money and gain peace of mind knowing you’re making an investment you can afford. Prior to shopping for the car of your dreams, follow these steps to set yourself up for a smooth car buying experience:
#1 Figure out what you can afford.
Complete a spending plan. As you create your spending plan, you can adjust the numbers to see how different transportation expenses would fit into your monthly expenses. Use our free online car loan calculator to help you quickly and easily calculate your monthly loan payments and determine what vehicle price you can afford.
#2 Monitor your credit.
Your credit score will play a role in the loan rate you qualify for, so it’s important to review your credit reports. To ensure the accuracy of the reports and pinpoint areas that may need work, use the credit bureaus’ annual credit report service to get free copies of your reports at http://www.annualcreditreport.com or take advantage of SDCCU’s free financial counseling services that are available to our members.
#3 Find the right car for you.
Think about how you will use the vehicle. Will you be using it to cross snow-covered mountain passes, or will you be using it to chauffeur your children to and from soccer practice?
Pay special attention to the safety and reliability ratings. No car meets your needs when it’s up on blocks next to the garage or puts you at personal risk of harm.
Check with your insurance provider. That cherry-red sports car might sound like the key to your eternal happiness, but you might not be as thrilled when you get your car insurance bill.
Once you decide what you want, use SDCCU’s Auto Buying Services to help you find it!
#4 Consider new vs. used, buying vs. leasing and down payment amount.
Decide whether you will buy a new or used vehicle. Do you prefer the negligible wear-and-tear and increased reliability of a new vehicle, even if it means the value may drop in the first few years? Or would you rather let someone else take on that depreciation by going with a used vehicle, but take the risk of not fully knowing the condition and history of the vehicle?
Think about how large of a down payment you can make. Making a down payment can help you get qualified for a loan, get a better interest rate, get a lower monthly payment, get a more expensive car for the same monthly payment or build equity (owing less on the vehicle than it is worth) more quickly.
Ready to Purchase?
These aren’t the only factors you need to consider before buying a car, but they will help get you off to a great start. Create a plan, do your research and once you’re ready to take the next step, let SDCCU® do the work for you. San Diego County Credit Union can not only finance your car, we can help you get a great deal on a new or used vehicle with our easy Online Auto Buying Service powered by TRUECar¹. It provides you with upfront dealer pricing for new and used vehicles, and you’ll receive Guaranteed Savings Certificates before you leave home. The service is FREE and there is never an obligation to buy!
¹TrueCar is not affiliated with SDCCU.
Guaranteed Savings not available in all states. In these states, a Target Price is shown, which is a market-based example of what you can reasonably expect to pay for your vehicle as configured. Your configured vehicle may not be available or in-stock at the Certified Dealer.
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