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Tips and Advice Back

Top 10 Buying Tips

  1. Determine How Much You Can Spend
  2. Research Online
  3. Know How Much the Dealer Paid for the Vehicle
  4. Set Your Price
  5. Contact the Dealer for Pricing Online
  6. Negotiate
  7. Credit Union Financing Is Usually Your Best Bet
  8. Test Drive
  9. Close the Deal
  10. What about the Extras

Determine How Much You Can Spend
Create a budget. According to most financial planners, a monthly auto payment should be no more than 20% of your gross monthly income. Also, know your credit score up front and what it means to you. To obtain your credit report before you visit the dealer,click here. Use our online payment calculators to help you figure out which vehicles fit your budget and what the monthly payment might be. 

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Research Online
Try not to let your purchase decision be an emotional one. There is an incredible amount of information available on the internet, but what specifically should you be looking for? There’s pricing, different option packages, safety, and even long-term cost of ownership to consider. The more information you have, the better prepared you will be to make that all important final decision: what car is right for me? When you CLICK HERE you will be taken to some of the information mentioned above and from there links to other valuable information you’ll need when researching new, used and pre-owned vehicles on the CUDL AutoSMART website.

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Know How Much the Dealer Paid for the Vehicle
Knowing the invoice price on a new vehicle can help you negotiate a better deal. This is the price the dealer paid for the vehicle, excluding any costs for advertising, destination charges or special regional pricing. Click here to research new vehicle pricing using the CUDL AutoSMART website. On a used vehicle, it’s important to know the wholesale and retail values. Our  trade-in values section can help you find this information.

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Set Your Price
Figure out the cost for vehicle options and subtract any rebates or incentives currently offered for a new vehicle. Used or Certified Pre-owned vehicles are also a smart option for the value conscious among us. Also, consider whether you will be paying cash or will be financing your vehicle. If you have a trade-in, find out how much it is worth. Research trade-in values and make sure to factor in the condition of your vehicle.  

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Contact the Dealer for Pricing Online
Through the CUDL AutoSMART program you can work with local CUDL AutoSMART dealers to receive pricing and availability on new or used vehicles before visiting the dealership (either online or by phone). By phone, make sure to detail all options and descriptions so that the information you receive will compare apples to apples. For online requests, the vehicle and options you have selected are sent directly to the dealer. This program provides you with a contact, usually from the dealer’s Fleet or Internet Departments, who will work with you from start to finish of your vehicle purchase process. Use this person as a resource. Working with fleet personnel helps ensure that you get a better deal, since they usually work the entire deal by themselves without a lot of intervention from other managers at the dealership.   

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Negotiate
Negotiate up from invoice, not down from Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) or “sticker” price on a new vehicle. On a used vehicle, negotiate up from wholesale value, not down from retail value.  

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Credit Union Financing Is Usually Your Best Bet
Don’t be fooled by 0% or low-interest rate financing. We’ve done the math for you! Click here for more information. 

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Test Drive
Don’t ever buy a car without taking a test drive (in the vehicle you are planning to purchase), even with a new vehicle! Once you’ve negotiated the best price, set an appointment with your contact at the dealership. With a used vehicle, we highly recommend that you request a conditioning report and have your own mechanic inspect the vehicle. Some dealers now call these conditioning reports "certification." A certified used vehicle is usually a little more expensive, but can include a warranty and special financing terms. 

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Close the Deal
Don’t forget to use the information you researched on your trade-in to get the most for it. Have the dealer show you the price for your trade separate from the deal; dealers often package the amount offered on your trade with the final figure of your monthly payment. It’s important that you get the best overall purchase price, a reasonable monthly payment, and a good deal on your trade.  

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What about the Extras
Once you reach the Finance & Insurance (F&I) office, the dealer will offer you various extras to protect your vehicle or loan. Listen closely to what the dealer is offering, and ask yourself which extras makes sense to you and adds value to your purchase. Before saying yes to any extras, ask yourself whether they will fit into your budget and what you might be willing to sacrifice to take them. Of all the choices you might be offered, we recommend that you consider the following two:

  • Guaranteed Auto Protection (GAP): Purchasing GAP is crucial if you owed more on your last vehicle than it was worth and agreed to have the dealer add it to your loan. GAP is also a wise choice if you drive a lot of miles each year, even if you make a down payment of 20%. The value of your new vehicle at the time of delivery decreases tremendously the minute you drive off the lot (and even more with a used vehicle). GAP protects you from the difference between what your insurance company says your vehicle is worth and what you actually owe the lender. Read the fine print. Not all GAP coverage is the same.
  • Service Contract: If you’ve financed or leased for a short term (36 months), you probably don’t need a service contract. If you are planning to keep the vehicle for longer than 36 months or you drive a lot of miles, you should consider this purchase. Make sure the service contract covers wear and tear and mechanical breakdown. Also, know the difference between a service contract and an MBI policy. With MBI, a part usually has to break on the car to warrant repair, and often you must pay the bill with the repair shop and submit a claim on your own. Service contracts are accepted almost everywhere, they usually cost a little more, but they normally provide more coverage. The more dependable a car you choose, the cheaper the warranty. Don’t be fooled by the Manufacturers’ Standard Warranty that gives you 100,000 miles of protection! They don’t typically cover everything that could breakdown on your vehicle.

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