First time car buyer, what you need to know

Buying your first car can be intimidating. But following these simple guidelines can help ease the stress of the process and make it a memorable experience.

Know your budget

Before you obligate yourself to monthly auto loan payments, get pre-qualified at a credit union so you’ll know how much of a loan you can afford and how much you can spend on a car. While this will narrow your selection it will help you stay within your budget.

Do your research

Based on your budget, you’ll get a better sense of the type of car to buy. Research is key here to get the most features for your dollars. Focus your search around what you will be doing with the vehicle. Will it be your commuter car? Will you use it to go camping or hiking? Will you be towing a trailer? Will you be carrying a lot of passengers? There are many types of makes and models in every price range so it is beneficial to have a general idea of what type of car you want.

Test drive it

The best way to know how a car performs is to get behind the wheel. Test drive all the vehicles that are appealing to you and compare the features offered with what you’re looking for. Eventually, you’ll find the one that checks off all of your wants that you’ll truly enjoy driving.

Check your credit score

It is a good idea to check your credit score as soon as you start thinking about buying your first car. Your credit score will help lenders determine how much risk there is to offer you an auto loan and will affect the interest rate you get on that loan. Checking your credit score months before you buy allows you to address any negative marks or flags on your credit report that may concern lenders.

Some of the more common items to research when purchasing a car include the gas mileage and safety features such as the crash rating, rollover risks and advanced safety systems. Also, you’ll also need to shop for auto insurance and spend money on regular car.

All in all, remember to take your time when buying your first car. Test drive cars multiple times, research cars (reviews, videos and blogs) and know the market. Most importantly, don’t feel pressured or rushed to buy a car. You are in control.

Are you ready to buy your first car? Get prequalified at any Travis Credit Union branch. You can learn more about our auto loans by visiting www.traviscu.org/auto-loans. Or, you can call us at (800) 877-8328 during normal business hours.

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