The 6 Biggest Blunders When Shopping For A New Car

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Buying a new car should be an exciting and happy process. But all too often, we see car buyers who are stressed out or even ill-prepared for the details. Here’s an expanded and updated version of a similar list I made years ago, recalling the missteps that I see with members I help every day.

Let me give you the big takeaway right up front – the next time you are looking for a new ride, don’t rush into it! Be prepared and know what not to do before you even set foot in a car dealership.

Six Car-Buying Mistakes That People Commonly Make

Pay close attention to this list of what NOT to do and you’ll be ahead of the game for every step of the car buying process.

1. Skipping the Research

To some, this seems like common knowledge, but research may be the most important place to start. It’s worth noting that you don’t have to buy the first car you see and it is definitely worth looking around at different car dealers for better deals. If you have a trade-in, this step also includes researching how much your car is worth and the market value for the vehicle you are about to purchase. Some great resources are TrueCar and

2. Financing Through the Dealer

You do not—I repeat, DO NOT—have to go with dealership financing. Checking with your financial institution first could save you hundreds if not thousands of dollars through the life of your car loan. Having a pre-approval from your bank or credit union in hand before going to the dealer takes a lot of the power away from the car salesman and puts it into your hands.

Plus, your financial institution can help work through the numbers so you know how much you can actually afford to spend for a new vehicle as well as help with any credit issues beforehand to ensure you are getting the best rate and deal. With an idea of what the monthly payments and interest rate will be on your auto loan, you can go into your local dealer empowered to approach the car buying experience with confidence.

3. Neglecting to Calculate the Total Cost

So you have found your dream car in your price range. You’re ready to buy. Before you sign, make sure you take a look at all the costs added to the sale. A car purchase is more than the sticker price. Tax, extended warranty, GAP, and more can add significant costs to the purchase price.

Plus, you still need to factor in insurance every year. You can do a quick check on most of these with your financial institution, which can save hundreds since they usually offer the same products as the dealerships but at a significantly lower price. Regardless, talking to an insurance agent to see how a new vehicle will affect your premium is never a bad idea.

4.Check the Fine Print on the “Deal”

If it seems too good to be true upfront, it usually is. Sure, 0% financing sounds great, but there are usually non-negotiable stipulations in order to get that deal that may not fit your needs.

5. Not Test-Driving

This is as simple as it sounds. Take the car for a solid test drive to ensure that it is everything you want it to be. Most times, there is a short return window or no returns allowed at all. Test-driving could show you an aspect of the car that you do not like and would otherwise be stuck with if you bought it without this additional step first.

6. Letting Emotions Rule

We all have brands we are loyal to—there is nothing wrong with that—but vehicle models can change significantly from one year to the next. What worked a few years ago may not be a good fit now. Make sure to take the blinders off and look around at all options in your price range, including brands you had never considered.

Know Before You Go

Everyone who is buying a car wants a good deal, but you don’t have to be intimidated by the process. Knowledge is definitely power when it comes to shopping, selecting, and financing a new car. With the right preparation, car buying can actually be a joy and not a chore.

Even better news: you don’t have to go it alone.

When you finance through a credit union, you’ve got someone in your corner. You can expect to enjoy better, more affordable rates. As member-owned nonprofits, credit unions are in a terrific position to help you out, since they pass along their profits to their members through competitive interest rates.

Not only that, but you’re not a number, you’re a member! That means we work with you as an individual, looking at your circumstances to help you reach your personal and financial goals. Whether that’s helping improve your financial wellness through financial coaching with a Call Federal Financial Counselor, or building credit with a Call Federal Visa Platinum or Visa Platinum Secured Card.

At Call Federal, we’ve made the car buying process as seamless as possible. With our Check-in-Hand preapproval, you can comparison shop from the comfort of your own home, searching for your dream car online.

If you’re ready to get started on your car buying journey, Call Federal is ready to lend a hand! Happy Hunting!

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