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  • Know Before You Go: Preparing for the Car Dealership

    Walking into the car dealership may seem overwhelming, but it doesn’t need to be. With some preparation, your visit to the dealership can be as smooth as your new ride. To help you out, we put together a few tips to prepare you for success at the dealership and things you'll want to consider when planning for your next purchase.

    Here are a few things you should do before heading to the car dealership. 


    Get preapproved: An auto loan preapproval is a conditional approval (based on your credit, income, and other factors) from the lender that you secure prior to the finalized finance negotiation at the dealership. Our Auto Loan preapprovals are typically good for 30 days. To get preapproved, you can easily apply online through our secure loan application or visit any of our locations. Read our blog about the benefits of getting preapproved.

    Figure out what you can afford: Before heading to the car dealership, you should calculate what you can afford. It’s recommended that you spend no more than 10% to 15% of your net-pay on your car payment. Take into consideration the extra costs of gas, insurance, and maintenance. These additional costs combined with your monthly car payment should be no more than 20% of your take-home pay. Once you have the payment you can afford, you can calculate how much you can potentially borrow. Factors to consider include your credit score, loan term, and if you are buying new or used.

    Research makes and models: Your car shopping experience should begin with a little research. It's important to do your homework to find which make and model is best for you. Consider what is most important to you, like safety features, cargo space, seating, gas-powered or electric, reliability, and more. Once you determine your "must-haves" you can narrow down the vehicles that fit your needs.

    Determine trade-in value: If you are interested in trading in your current vehicle, you can research your trade-in value with Kelly Blue Book, J.D. Power, or others, to help determine how much your car is worth, adjusting for its age, condition, and mileage.

    Factor in additional expenses: In addition to the actual cost of the vehicle, there are other costs such as sales tax, GAP, warranty, dealers fees, and add-ons that could impact how much you need to borrow. For example, if the car is listed for $25k, you could end up financing around $29k-$30k once these extras are added in.


    Consider the long-term cost of owning the vehicle:

    When you're creating your budget to account for your monthly car payment, it's important to also consider the long-term expenses that come with owning a vehicle. The cost of fuel, maintenance, vehicles taxes, and insurance are a few of the other costs you'll want to think about. If there's a particular make and model you really like, review the manufacture's recommended maintenance schedule, potential repair costs, and reliability rating to get a better idea of the maintenance cost. Insurance premiums will vary depending on the type of car, coverage, and your driving record, so it's important to compare quotes from different insurance companies.


    The more informed and prepared you are, the smoother and more enjoyable your car-buying journey will be. If you have any questions or need assistance to kickstart the process, our dedicated team members are here to guide you every step of the way. Check out this blog featuring insights from Tracy, our centralized lending manager, addressing common queries about buying a car.

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