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4 Tips for Buying a Car in Today’s Environment

Authored By: Financial Access FCU on 5/4/2020

man with mask buying new car

Regardless of what is happening in the world around you, there are times when you simply need a new car. However, many are wondering how car buying differs now than before the current pandemic.

While automakers and dealerships are offering hefty incentives to stir up business, these offers usually aren’t all they’re cracked up to be once you begin reading the fine print. These tips will help you avoid major missteps in the car-buying process and help you get a better overall deal on the car you do purchase.

1. Avoid Long-Term Loans

Ideally, a new car loan term will not exceed 60 months. In some rare instances, you may elect to finance your vehicle for 72 months. Going 84 months, though, is rarely advantageous to buyers.

Longer car loan terms increase the risks of you becoming underwater or upside down on your auto loan. Then, if there are mechanical issues or you’re involved in an accident, you will find yourself owing more than the value of your car, which is detrimental to you and may impede your ability to purchase another vehicle.

Dealerships are pushing 84-month loans because they lower your monthly payments and help in today’s climate. But long-term loans on vehicles rarely play out well for the consumer.

2. Carefully Review Dealer Incentives

Many of the offers you hear about on the radio or read about online are simply ploys to get you through the door where you will receive a high-pressure push to purchase. Few buyers with excellent credit qualify for the zero-percent APR offers so widely made today.

Plus, in the current low-rate environment, it’s usually a better deal to finance with the credit union and accept dealer cash incentives or rebates versus zero-percent APR offers. Remember, dealerships are in it for the profit – while your credit union is not-for-profit.

If you’re at a dealership and have questions on financing, simply give us a call. We’re happy to run numbers with you and determine which incentives will help you save the most in the long run.

3. Plan Your Finances

Right now, we’re in the midst of a global pandemic. It’s more important than ever to manage your finances wisely. Many people are already feeling the pinch with millions of others facing employment uncertainty as the pandemic continues. You must plan your finances accordingly before making new car purchases.

Remember, it’s not just the auto purchase you have to consider, but also the insurance. Make sure you get an insurance quote BEFORE you buy (for the car you are considering). This will help you get a clear picture of how much the new car purchase will impact your monthly budget and allow you to plan accordingly.

4. Get a Pre-Approval BEFORE You Shop

A pre-approval is one of the most powerful tools when it comes to buying a new car, even more so right now during the current pandemic. It gives you the upper hand during price negotiations at dealerships and prevents you from spending more than you can comfortably afford.

Our credit union staff will review your finances with you and help you make wise, cost-effective buying decisions. Armed with a pre-approval, you will know exactly how much you can afford to spend on your new vehicle and avoid costly add-ons.

We’re Here to Help!

Buying a new vehicle is a significant financial decision, especially right now. However, with our current low-rates and generous dealer incentives, right now may be the perfect time to land a great deal.

Before you begin shopping, we encourage you to contact us at Our loan experts will review your current financial situation, arm you with a pre-approval, and help you avoid any missteps along the way.


Each individual’s financial situation is unique and readers are encouraged to contact the Credit Union when seeking financial advice on the products and services discussed. This article is for educational purposes only; the authors assume no legal responsibility for the completeness or accuracy of the contents.

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