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Tips for Buying a Car

Buying a car can seem like a daunting process — it’s typically second only to a home as the most expensive purchase that many of us will make. But with TCU’s Car Buying Guide, the keys to that new vehicle can be yours.

Buying a car requires a lot of time and effort, but TCU’s Car Buying Guide can help you make a smart deal, providing information about buying the best-quality vehicle at the lowest price.

Some tips and strategies:

  • Start with your budget and not the car. Prior to visiting any dealership, have a sense of what kind of deposit you can put down and what monthly payment you can afford. TCU’s Auto Loan Calculator can help you calculate monthly payments and see how much car you can afford.
     
  • Research the cars you might be interested in before heading to the dealership. To determine what kind of car you want, use resources like Consumer Reports which generally gives excellent, objective information on safety and reliability. Another resource is US News Best Cars, where you can search anything from “best cars for families” to “best used cars under 10k.”
     
  • Know your car’s trade-in value, don’t wait for the salesperson to tell you what it’s worth. On Kelley Blue Book, you can get a sense of the value ahead of time, so you know if you’re receiving a good offer.
     
  • Compare prices. Don't give a deposit until your offer is approved in writing. Price the car at different dealerships and use online services to get invoice and deal pricing.
     
  • Spring for an inspection. Get an inspection from a mechanic before purchase to ensure there aren’t any problems. While a mechanic may charge $100 or more for such an inspection, it can be worth it if it saves you from thousands of dollars in potential repairs.
     

To pay for a car, most people need financing. TCU’s “Apply for a Loan” webpage, can help you apply for a loan with competitive rates.