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Being in a position to buy your first car is a huge accomplishment. While the search for your new ride can be an exciting experience, it can also be a stressful endeavor if not done correctly. Planning ahead can help make the car buying process easier for first-time buyers. At Community West Credit Union, we strive to help you reach your financial goals, including purchasing your first car. Here, we have comprised a list of things first-time car buyers should consider as they begin the quest for a new set of wheels.

Think About Your Budget

Before you begin looking at different automobile makes and models, it’s best to first take a detailed look at your finances to determine a realistic budget. The best way to establish this is to figure out what you can afford per month. It’s also important to look beyond the car’s purchase price when calculating your budget. Maintenance, repairs, fuel economy, and auto insurance should all factor into your budget considerations.

When financing your new vehicle, you should also consider how much of a down payment you can afford. While a down payment is not typically required for auto loans, it can be a smart financial decision. Putting down more money reduces the amount of money needed to be borrowed, which in turn results in a lower monthly payment. Generally, every $1,000 in down payment reduces the payment by $15-$20 per month.

Be Honest About Your Needs and Wants

While diving deeper into your car search, it can be easy to become distracted by all the bells and whistles offered in some vehicles. However, it’s important to know these features often come at a price. To help stay focused during your search, make a list of what you need and want in a new vehicle. As you begin to form your list, take into consideration your lifestyle, the weather where you live, and the driving conditions you will face. A prioritized list of your needs and wants will help you be better equipped to locate the ideal car.

Explore Options and Do Research

Buying a car has never been easier. The Internet offers a wealth of reliable resources as well as countless automobile dealerships. With many dealers capable and willing to transport a vehicle to your area (for a fee), you have more options to choose from and more leverage to bargain. Use the online resources available to you to narrow down your search and filter options with your specific wants and needs. Ask dealers for a quote on a vehicle you’re interested in to get a general idea of how much you will be paying. Use that quote to shop around at other dealers to ensure you are getting the best price possible. Auto Smart is just one of the helpful tools Community West Credit Union offers to aid in your search for the perfect car. On the Auto Smart website, you can search for vehicles, compare and contrast different dealerships, and apply for financing through our indirect program.

Test Drive Before You Buy

Before you can know if a car is truly a good fit for you and your current lifestyle, you need to test drive it. Viewing pictures and watching videos of car reviews online can provide good insight, but given this is going to be your future ride, it’s worth testing it yourself. During the test drive, pay attention to how you feel in the car, as well as how it performs. If after your test drive, you aren’t convinced this is the right car for you, walk away. Keep in mind there are plenty of other options out there for you to look at.

Apply for a First-Time Car Buyer Loan

Securing proper financing is a critical step in the car buying process. A first-time car buyer loan offers you the luxury of stable flat rates and steady repayment options. The lenders at Community West Credit Union work closely with first-time car buyers to help them understand the financing process, including:

  • Interest rates and terms of the loan
  • An appropriate amount of money down
  • Credit score needed for an auto loan

Community West Credit Union proudly offers first-time car buyer loans to members in Allegan, Barry, Ionia, Kent, and Ottawa counties. For more information about purchasing your first vehicle as well as the document checklist needed to apply for a loan, contact us today.

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