A stress-free guide to buying a car

Family in their new car

Buying a car an exciting and stressful experience. New wheels are a major investment. When you’re laying down a chunk of change, you don’t want the wheels to fall off as you exit the parking lot.

We’ve got some handy tips to make your next vehicle purchase a stress-free event. So, let’s get started!

Define your budget.

If you’ll be financing part or all of your purchase, it’s wise to know what your loan limits are before shopping. TwinStar offers easy auto loan pre-approvals online, by phone or at any branch, with some of the best rates around. You can even estimate your loan payments with our handy loan calculator. Knowing how much you need to spend before you walk onto the car lot will help keep your purchase aligned with your budget so you can focus on the car you want. That said, most dealers participate in Credit Union Direct lending which allows you to easily apply for your TwinStar loan at the dealership in a seamless transaction.

Narrow your choices.

Take advantage of online tools to help you narrow your search for a vehicle. Websites like AutoTrader.com, Edmunds.com, and vehicle value sites like Kelly Blue Book and NADA Guides can give you an idea of what is available in your area and the going rate. It is recommended to narrow your selections to 3-4 models before visiting a dealership, so you don’t overwhelm yourself.

Negotiate your best deal. 

Buyers can find the invoice amount a dealer paid for new vehicles and see comparable prices at online auto sales sites. You can ask your car salesperson to see the purchase or trade-in value if you’re looking at a used vehicle. Most will share this information. 

Trust, but verify.

Check the vehicle’s history when considering a used vehicle. Many dealers provide a CarFax or AutoCheck report that details the history of the vehicle, including whether it’s been in an accident, how the vehicle may have been used, service records, “lemon” histories and title information. However, to ensure you’re not purchasing an expensive fixer-upper, have a used vehicle inspected by an auto shop you trust. Most dealers will loan you the vehicle long enough to have it independently inspected.

An automotive shop will typically take the vehicle on a test drive, do a visual inspection, check vital components and scan the vehicle with an engine analyzer that can identify potential problems. Most inspections take about two hours and cost around $100, which is a small price to pay for peace of mind on an investment that can run tens of thousands of dollars.

Happy motoring!