Buying a Car: What I Wish I Had Known

Blog Author Jamie Raines

Written by: Jamie Raines, Specialist, Consumer Lending Administration

Published: April 17, 2015

Found in: Loans

Buying a Car: What I Wish I Had Known

My first car buying experience from a dealership was probably similar to most people. I was browsing cars online from a local dealership when I came across one particular vehicle I had to have. At that point in my life I knew very little about purchasing vehicles so I dove head first into it. I hopped into my 1988 Toyota Camry (nicknamed Cherry-Bomb) and drove to the dealership right away. I told them what car I was interested in and within half an hour, I was sitting in the finance office trying to get approved for a loan. Here are things I wish I would have known then:

  1. It’s a good idea to get pre-approved before you go shopping for a vehicle. Your financial institution can run your credit and pre-qualify you before your make the purchase. By getting pre-qualified before you start shopping, you will know the loan amount, rate and term you are eligible for, as well as any approval condition that may apply. By going this route you eliminate any “surprises” on your credit report that might limit you on your purchase.
  2. Do research! Have an idea of what type of car you want to purchase and familiarize yourself with the new or used car values. You will also need to decide if you are going to trade in your current vehicle. I drove myself to the dealer to purchase a vehicle and decided not to trade in my car. I had to figure out how one person could get two vehicles home.
  3. Now for the fun part! Test drive the vehicle. This means you need to go to the dealership prepared to drive. Take your license and proof of insurance with you and be sure to wear good driving shoes.
  4. If you do get pre-qualified at your financial institution, take the pre-qualification letter to the dealership with you. Ultimately this will let the dealer know you want to finance with a specific financial institution, which will allow for faster financing.
  5. The dealer will offer a lot of extra products! Be prepared to decide which products fit your needs. Some popular products are GAP coverage, warranties, maintenance plans, paint sealants and anti-theft plans. If you don’t know what these products are, it’s okay. Ask for more information or do some research beforehand. Remember that most financial institutions also offer some extra products that tend to cost less than what the dealer can offer.

Remember, if the purchase doesn’t feel right, it’s okay to walk away. Most pre-qualifications are good for 30 days so take your time to think it over.

Hopefully these tips help you feel more confident about any future vehicle purchase and make your car buying experience an enjoyable one.

Jamie Raines