By Porsche Miles-Grant
Summer time is right around the corner and what better time than now to prepare for buying a car. However, car buying is a process. It’s not something that you just jump into. Taking our time when purchasing a car will allow us the opportunity to make wiser decisions. In an effort to assist you with this process, I will provide some valuable information that will help consumers become informed buyers. From experience, I know that the best deals are available to those who are well educated on the car buying process.
Car dealerships need to sell cars in order to stay in business. Therefore, they need YOU! As a result of the auto industry’s unprecedented struggles, more great deals are accessible to buyers. However, you must still make savvy choices, and be ready for some foolery that comes along with purchasing a car. In order to be proactive and effective, we must consider the following questions. Is this the right time for you to purchase a vehicle? Do you need a vehicle or do you want a new vehicle? Can you afford a vehicle at this time? If you decide to go forward with the purchase, familiarize yourself with the type of vehicles available and beneficial for your situation. (A van for a big family, a sports car, SUV, etc.)
Use various reputable sites to do further research on vehicles you are interested in (Cars.com, Autotrader.com, Carfax.com). You may also need to decide whether you will be purchasing new or used. If you are buying new, it is crucial to factor into the potential car payment, the cost of full coverage insurance, which may be required before driving off the lot. Let’s even go a step deeper, is the car you are choosing front-wheel, rear-wheel, four-wheel, or all-wheel drive? Will it take unleaded, mid-grade or premium gas? All of these factors are important for budgeting purposes.
Ok, so maybe you decided to purchase a used vehicle. Most manufacturers have a certified preowned program that may be worth reviewing. Anticipate not understanding some of the verbiage used by the car salesman. Don’t be afraid to ask for further explanation or clarification. Read all the fine print before signing on the dotted line. If necessary, feel free to bring a qualified mechanic along with you on this car buying process. Once you have thoroughly analyzed all aspects of the car buying process, it’s time to actually get to work.
Never buy the first vehicle you see. It is always wiser to take some time to compare and contrast vehicles, and deals. Beware of possible car salesman’s tricks, and arm yourself with clever car buying tactics. For instance, never agree to the first offer. Always counter or suggest that you found a lower deal that you will consider first elsewhere. This will force the car dealer to make a choice. Will he let you walk off the lot without a car? Or, will he negotiate a better deal for you? Remember, when negotiating an offer, the worst that can happen is they can only say yes or no, but at least you tried. Make sure to ask what kind of coverage the vehicle has. Is it “as is”? Is there a warranty? There are tons of things to think about before buying a car. If you need further assistance or help, feel free to drop into any CASE Credit Union branch. We have great auto loans and Certified Financial Counselors that can help every step of the way.
Porsche Miles-Grant is the Community Engagement Coordinator at CASE Credit Union. Contact her at 517.367.1001 or send an email to Pmilesgrant@casecu.org. Log on to www.casecu.org for more information.
This column was printed in the April 17, 2016 - April 30, 2016 edition.