Here are some things to consider when you’re ready to buy a car. These things will help you see the big picture, and perhaps point out some forgotten items.

Tips on buying a new vehicle

  • Find out the total cost of the car you want to buy, including interest rate and loan term. You'll need to know how much you need for a down payment and what you can afford to pay monthly.
  • Decide between which options you need and those you can live without. Costly options can drive up the price and might not be worth it in the long run.
  • Talk to friends and co-workers who own that type of car. Find out about dealers they've done business with and trust.
  • Compare the cost of extended warranty packages to the cost of repairs you might realistically incur.

Tips on buying a used vehicle

  • Check out the model you're interested in buying. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) will tell you if a car model has ever been recalled and give you information about that recall. Also determine its reliability by checking for the frequency-of-repair records.
  • Find out the value of the car you want to buy, including options. Find out the retail and wholesale price of the car or truck you're interested in buying. This will improve your negotiating position.
  • Look for the "Buyer's Guide" sticker on a window of the vehicle. It is required by law and tells you important information regarding the warranty and possible problems with the car.
  • Test-drive the vehicle you plan to buy and have a mechanic you trust do an independent inspection.
  • Ask the seller if the car has ever been in an accident. Check for rust, dents, paint discolorations, etc. If you’re seriously considering a car, using CARFAX® Vehicle History Reports are a good idea to learn about the car's history.
  • Make sure any oral promises made by the dealer are included in the sales contract or your Buyer's Guide sticker.
  • Keep the original or copy of the Buyer's Guide sticker when you purchase the vehicle in case anything goes wrong and there is a question regarding the dealer's liability.

Other tips on car buying

  • When you're ready to shop, consider carefully dealer add-ons, manufacturer incentives and miscellaneous fees.
  • Add-ons like pin stripes, rust proofing and floor mats that only cost the dealer a few dollars could end up costing you hundreds.
  • Many car manufacturers offer dealerships monetary incentives for selling their cars. So stick to your price, even if the dealer tells you he wouldn't make any money by selling the car at your price.
  • Ask the dealer about fees up front and make sure they are negotiated into the final price. Some of these are document fees, additional dealer markups, national advertising fees, adjusted market value fees and destination charges.

If you have any questions or if we can help you in any way, please contact Member Services at (804) 323-6800 or (800) 285-6609.