Searching for the Perfect Car Loan
Credit Unions have long been known as the place to go when you are in the market for a new or used car. Today's credit union pairs its long history of car financing with technological and bargaining tools that help consumers every step of the way.
Of course, programs vary among credit union, but generally your credit union makes the old get out the paper and go through the ads routine a thing of the past.
If you are in the market for a new or used car try your credit union's car locator service. Simply call your representative and give information about the car of your dreams (Kiplinger's Buyers Guide to New Cars & Trucks provides extensive information and articles, and can help narrow your choices). Include such preferences as color, make, model, seat types (i.e. leather, cloth, vinyl), and let your credit union do the rest. Backed by the power of reputation and volume, your credit union negotiates the best prices with local dealers and sometimes even surrounding states.
With a pre-approved car loan your credit union may even be able to arrange for delivery of your car to their location where you can close the deal and drive home. This convenient service eliminates the hassle, confusion and stress of approaching a local car dealer directly.
If you would like a more hands on approach, many credit unions also offer an onsite database program, which allows you to conduct your own search. An added bonus, the database even has information about the price paid by the dealer for the car you are considering. This can be important information for negotiating the best price.
Stop in to check out the database or other information sources such as bulletin board listings from other members and notebooks compiled by staff.
For additional options, combine credit union services with the Internet. Check out sites such as Edmunds.com and Carprices.com to learn about retail prices or Autobytel.com and CarsDirect.com for haggle-free pricing and buying.
No matter which options you choose your credit union can help you find the best deal at the best value. Inspecting a Car
Don't depend on your eyes to tell you if the car of your dreams has experienced a nightmare or two. Without question, it is a seller's job to sell cars. Toward that end, dealers present cars to buyers in the best possible light. With enough elbow grease, some duds can be cleaned up to look nearly new.
Don't be fooled. Your job as the buyer is to arm yourself with enough information to avoid buying a shiny new lemon. Before you decide on a car inspect it carefully to make sure the book is a good as its cover.
Begin with the Internet. Using a service such as Carfax.com or Autocheck.com you can put together a history of the car in question. These services provide information about accurate odometer readings, titles, repaint jobs, accidents and so forth. You will need the Vehicle Identification Number (usually located in the windshield on the driver's side) to conduct your search.
Don't limit your inspection to used or previously owned vehicles. New cars, too, should get a close look. For example: What information is available about the types of problems and/or repair issues that you can expect for this vehicle.
Consider a mechanic. It won't hurt to have a mechanic give the car a once over. In fact, it can be a great help. Remember, buying a car is not like buying a blouse - you can't take it back within 7 or 10 days for a full refund. Inspection should include major systems such as air conditioning, electrical, engine and brakes as well as smaller issues such as speaker sound and window seals. While it is true that these smaller issues won't necessarily impact performance, it is almost certain that they will impact satisfaction.
Talk with others who own a car in the same make/model family. What have their experiences with the car been like? Would they buy again or recommend the same car?
Finally, don't be afraid to really look at the car objectively. Yes, it can be disappointing after you have done the research and planning to find just the right car - but ignoring any problems you find will not ease your pain. You may be able to overlook some problems, but at some point you must draw the line. To avoid this scenario have a back up plan, just in case. If you found the car on one lot, chances are you can find the same car in better shape on another.
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