Car Buying Mistakes to Avoid

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Buying a car is a big purchase, so it’s important to make sure you’re making wise decisions at each step of the process. It’s easy to focus too much on one particular aspect over all the other important elements of the car buying process, but that tunnel vision in the moment can often lead to regrets later in the life of the loan. Here are some common car buying mistakes that you can avoid with your next vehicle purchase so you can make sure you get the ride (and the loan) of your dreams:

Focusing Too Much on Price

The price you pay for a car is only one factor of the car buying process, albeit the biggest factor. It’s common to want to make sure you’re getting a fair deal on the vehicle, and not getting ripped off. But total cost isn’t the only thing you need to consider. You want to make sure you’re buying the right vehicle to fit your needs, paying attention to loan terms, and not buying more car than you can afford. Even if you are offered a vehicle at a seemingly great price, make sure you’re not buying the deal instead of the vehicle.

Failing to Shop for Financing

Don’t wait until you’re at the dealership to think about financing. Research your options before you step foot on the lot so you’ll already have an idea of your needs and what works for you. Don’t base your decisions and negotiations solely on monthly payment. A longer loan period will lower your monthly payment, but you will likely end up paying more interest over the life of the loan. Pay attention to all of the loan terms so you get the full picture, and be sure to shop around for the best loan rate. Oftentimes, your credit union is able to offer a much better rate than you will be offered through a dealership. Robins Financial Credit Union offers great rates and up to 100% financing on new, used, and refinanced auto loans. Getting the wrong loan can end up costing you more than what you may save negotiating the sticker price.

Underestimating the Total Cost of Car Ownership

While it’s easy to fall in love with a vehicle once you picture yourself behind the wheel, it’s important to remain practical and not be driven by emotion. Beyond making sure you’re getting a good overall deal, consider the mileage, resale value, and how reliable it is. You’ll also need to factor in ongoing costs like gas, maintenance, insurance and taxes when comparing models so you can see how they truly stack up.

Choosing the Wrong Car for Your Needs

Evaluate how you will need to use your car before you start shopping. This will help you determine the right kind of vehicle to suit your needs. Do your homework and research different models to help you evaluate your best options. Check the ratings, reviews, and safety information. Don’t let yourself get stuck with more car than you really need just to meet occasional needs; you’d be better off buying a car suited to your everyday needs, and renting a vehicle for those specific occasions where a different vehicle would work better.

Skipping the Test Drive

The test drive is one of the most important parts of the car buying process. Take full advantage of your test driving opportunity and spend plenty of time behind the wheel before you buy; it’s your best chance to test a vehicle’s performance and features, and see how well it fits your needs and expectations. Taking your time to perform a thorough test drive and inspection is the best way to avoid buyer’s remorse. A thorough test drive should take around 30 minutes, and includes a variety of conditions and speeds. Drive on back roads, highways, parking lots, even the interstate if you are close by. Take note of how it performs as you accelerate and slow down. And don’t limit your test drive to just your top choice, you should test drive each of the models you are most interested in so you can fairly compare and contrast each one’s features and drivability.

Falling in Love with Features

Create a list of the features you absolutely must have, and don’t let optional features become a necessity. Especially if those features don’t fall within your budget. Choose your desired features wisely, and make sure the ones you pick will be useful to you. Leather seats and a sunroof are nice features, but these can increase cost and are less useful than Bluetooth, for example.

Blowing the Budget

After you’ve done your research, evaluated your needs, and determined your financing plan, you should have a clear idea of what you can afford. Don’t let yourself be swayed into a vehicle that’s well outside of your price point. Stick to your budget, and don’t be afraid to walk away.

Rushing to Buy

Buying a car is a major financial decision; don’t rush it. Take your time and weigh your options carefully, even if that means you have to rent a vehicle for a few days or weeks until you determine what is right for you.

At Robins Financial Credit Union, we understand that the car buying process can be intimidating. We’re here to help make that process easier. When you’re ready to buy, our friendly staff can walk you through the process. We also offer financial calculators for a quick and easy way to estimate your monthly payment. Apply for a loan online today, or stop by any of our branch locations to speak to a representative about your financing options.

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