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8 Essential Tips for Buying a Car for Less

Getting a new car is an important financial decision, especially if you have the luxury of planning out your purchase ahead of time. If you’re in the market for a new vehicle this fall, there are 8 factors to consider so you get the best deal:
1. Time It Right
Buying at the end of the model year (this is usually August through October) will get you the current model year discount. If this doesn’t fit your timetable, shoot for the end of the month when salesmen are trying to meet their quota.
2. Buy Used
While everyone loves that new car smell, used cars are generally going to be more economical. Cars suffer the most depreciation in the first few years. According to Edmunds, the average new car loses 11% of its value as soon as it’s driven off the lot. So the goal is to find one that’s a year or two old and in good shape. Enterprise Car Sales is a great resource for used vehicles and credit union members can take advantage of extra incentives.
3. Forgo the dealership completely
Dealerships have huge overhead expenses, which means you may score better deals on the private market. If you plan on buying from a private seller, be sure to get a full inspection from a mechanic before forking over any dough.
4. Pay cash
Sellers that are eager to unload their vehicle may be willing to take a hit if you offer a full cash payment. In any case, it could be a negotiating strategy to get a few hundred dollars off your purchase.
5. Do your homework
Get educated on what a good deal is. has a “true market value” feature that reveals what buyers are paying for the same make and model in your area vs. nationally. One of the most powerful sources of information on incentives is the automakers own websites. Once you’ve got the numbers, compare them with your budget. It’s likely you’ll eliminate a few options as too expensive, or not quite what you’re looking for.
6. Don’t mention your trade-in (don’t even drive it to the dealership!)
“To help ensure you get the best price for your new car and maximize your trade-in value, wait to mention your trade-in until you’ve negotiated the cost of your new purchase,” says Angie Anderson of Credit Union Lending Systems. “Although, to get the best value for your trade-in, you may consider selling it privately outside of this transaction all together.”
7. Everything is negotiable
This is probably everyone’s least favorite part, and for good reason. The salesman does this for a living. You do it every few years. Odds are he will be better at it than you are. Be willing to ask for help if you know someone who is genuinely a good negotiator. If you aren’t getting a deal you like, or they just can’t get the price down to your budget, be willing to walk away. For some great insights on haggling over the price, check out our Seminar Highlights for Negotiating for the Best Price.
8. BYOF (Bring Your Own Financing)
Apply for your auto loan before you start car shopping. Doing so affords you the time to shop around for better terms, and lets you make a decision without a high-pressure salesman sitting across from you. After shopping for the best rate, your pre-approval should be good for about 60 days, giving you plenty of time to select your car and close the deal. >> Get Pre-Approved Now

BONUS Auto-Related product discounts through your credit union
These coverage options are more comprehensive and cost less than you’ll find elsewhere. Ask Member Services for more information.

  • Extended Warranty is the most comprehensive extended warranty coverage for all makes and models of automobiles. Coverage helps you enjoy your new purchase and maintain peace of mind because even the most reliable vehicle can develop a mechanical problem.
  • Guaranteed Auto Protection (GAP) helps pay off your remaining loan balance if your vehicle is stolen or totaled in an accident, allowing you to start fresh with a new vehicle purchase. It is also inexpensive and can be rolled into your loan payments.
  • Trustage Auto Insurance – Credit Union members receive exclusive discounts that could save you up to $519.52 on car insurance. It’s easy to get a quote and make the switch- even if you are already covered with another company, you won’t lose a penny!

Find out what you can afford with this loan calculator.
Have you bought a car recently, or do you have any tips to share? Let us know in the comments.