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Understanding the Auto Buying Process

Burbank City Federal Credit Union would like to extend a huge thank you to Luis Hernandez, from the Automobile Club of Southern California, for coming out in the rain to teach all of us the ins and outs of buying an automobile. Wow, the two hours flew by! I’ve purchased several cars in my time and found that I’d made almost all of the mistakes outlined by Luis!

The question of how much car you can afford also addressed the “new or used” debate. Luis explained that a new car is best if you can swing the payments and insurance. The car won’t have any issues stemming from misuse, neglect, or wear and tear. If “used” is more your speed, try to purchase a vehicles no more than 3 years old. This allows for the previous owner to absorb the bulk of the depreciation without, hopefully, running the car into the ground.

Cash vs. Financing vs. Leasing:

For the record cash is best. If you can pay for your car all at once, without adding interest to the cost, that’s what you should do. If cash isn’t an option for you, securing financing will be necessary. Depending on your age, you may qualify for a better rate if your parents co-sign the auto loan with you. Don’t forget to stop by the Burbank City Credit Union where you can get pre-qualified for your loan. Try not to stretch the loan out for more than 5 years. The payments may look more attractive, but in the long run you’ll pay more over the life of the loan.

Leasing is the most complicated of the three. The monthly payments may look attractive, but there are back end charges and restrictions that make it necessary to read the contract carefully.

Here are our top picks for most helpful tips!

autoSmartResearch your car: get prices, quotes and more through our CUDL AutoSmart Auto Buying Center. With AutoSmart, you'll get to know lots of stuff about your new car, including the invoice price, which is how much the dealer paid. That information will help you to make the best deal possible. You can also request a quote from a dealer in your area. That means a car dealer will e-mail you with their best price, and you can take it, or leave it! AutoSmart is a great advantage for a car buyer.

Don’t give the salesperson information regarding your age, the monthly payment you can afford, whether this is your first time buying a car, or how much you’re prepared to spend.

For the best deals, without haggling, ask to see the fleet manager when you walk through the door. The fleet manager will generally give you the best deal he’s able to give you. His sales are so much higher than the salespeople on the floor that your purchase isn’t going to make or break him.

Lastly do your homework! Whether you’re buying new or used, all cars have issues. Know what they are before you purchase anything. Luis tells us that there are several resources available on the Automobile Club website. Some services are available to the general public, but most are reserved for auto club members. Check with your folks, they may be members without you knowing.