Car Buying 101

Looking for a new vehicle can be both exciting and daunting. It’s not like you’re out there on a weekly basis buying vehicles. For many of us, it happens only once every handful of years. We tend to forget all that goes into the buying process. Because vehicles are such a big investment, let’s review some of the things to consider when buying one.

Is it in your budget?

The sticker price of a car is just the beginning when it comes to how it’ll affect your budget. There are other things associated with a vehicle as well. How much will gas cost each week on a particular model? How about maintenance? Oil changes. New tires. Insurance. Then there are the other initial costs such as license plates and taxes. Use our calculator to get an idea of how much car you can afford.

New or used?

Some people would never buy a new car simply because of the depreciation involved with driving a new car off the dealer lot. And then some people would never buy a used vehicle because they wouldn’t know how the previous owner(s) treated and maintained the vehicle. You’ll need to weigh the pros and cons of each situation and decide for yourself what’s best. Obviously, price is often the biggest concern when purchasing used.

Around Town

Think long and hard about how you’ll use this vehicle. That sporty convertible would really look good with your new ‘do, but is it really the car to transport three kids and two dogs around town? Is that big SUV really the vehicle for little ol’ you and Bruiser the Yorky? A car is a big investment. Don’t make it a big, bad investment.


Some dealers have financing that’s hard to ignore with deals like zero percent financing, but check around. You’ll likely get the best rates from places like your credit union!


When you head to the dealer could dictate the price you’ll pay. Dealers run on a month-to-month timetable, so if you wait until the end of the month, you could take advantage of a dealer desperate to meet quotas. You can also find nice deals on outgoing model years as the new models roll into showrooms and inventory must be cut. During the week, aim for a midweek morning, when traffic is low and salesmen are hot to chalk up a sale.


The wonderful world of online shopping allows you to research most vehicles in which you have an interest. Some dealer sites let you check specifications and reviews. If fuel economy is your priority, visit the Department of Energy’s Fuel Economy site, where you’ll find info for new and used vehicles as well as side-by-side comparisons and fuel-saving tips. You can also search for dealerships in your area with our dealer search tool. Our Indirect Dealer Network is a network of nearly 150 local automotive dealerships that makes car buying a simple process. When you’re ready, you can finance your new or used vehicle with Vantage Credit Union right at the dealer!

Just Say No

As much as you might be in love with the car you’re negotiating to buy, always be ready to walk away from the deal. Remember, you have the power if you don’t feel you’re getting a good deal, or you just don’t feel comfortable. You can always head on down the road to the next dealer.

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