Car Buying Tips

Car Buying Made Easy

Whether you already own a vehicle or you're in the vehicle market for the first time, buying a car is an exciting experience. But it can also be stressful because there are many things to consider when making this important purchase.

Get a Great Auto Loan Rate

Long before considering a visit to a dealership, you need to know what you want to buy. Once you zero in on the model of car, the more flexible you can be on color and options, the more negotiating room you’ll have. Know that there is a big savings between “sticker” price (what is actually printed on the sticker you see on the car) and “invoice” price (the price the dealer pays for the car). And in today’s market, with rebates and incentives, know that paying below sticker price is a reasonable scenario.

Who gets 0% dealer financing anyway?

While it is true that there may be restrictions on the amount that can be financed, the number of months available to finance, and particularly, the credit scores required to qualify, 0% dealer financing is sometimes available for those who meet the guidelines. Many people will not qualify for 0% financing, but the prospect of getting that rate can lure people into the dealership before they’ve done their homework. So before you head straight to the dealer to see if you qualify, do all of the appropriate homework first to know what you want to buy, what rebates and incentives are available, etc. Finally, have a fallback plan for financing if you don’t qualify for the 0%. Getting pre-approved for a low interest auto loan before you ever walk on the first dealer’s lot can give you more negotiating power and won’t leave you vulnerable to a last minute dealer financed rate that could end up well above the enticing 0% advertised offer.

Should I refinance my current auto loan?

If you still owe at least 24 months on your current auto loan, you may want to consider refinancing your loan. Just do the calculations to see if it might make sense for you. Check our current loan rates here and then use our handy calculator to see what the difference is in the monthly payment at your current rate and number of months left to pay, and what it might be at Cornerstone.* Stop by a Cornerstone branch today, call 615-385-6898 or email us. One of our loan experts will be happy to help you get pre-approved for a loan or to talk with you about refinancing your current auto loan.

Put Yourself in the Driver's Seat

Buying the right used car the right way can be a great financial decision for several reasons:

  • You’ll be able to take advantage of that “immediate” depreciation that occurs as soon as a new car has been driven off the lot. In just the first year, that can mean as 20% or more.
  • If you buy a newer used car, it may still be under warranty.
  • Insurance premiums will be lower on a used car than on a new car.

So how do you choose the right vehicle? Here are a few things you’ll want to do:

  • Establish a budget
  • Determine what vehicles fit within your price range.
  • Know the history of the vehicle you are considering. There are a number of services – like Carfax or Autocheck available that allow you to check the history of a particular vehicle.

How do you get the best deal on financing?

One of the best things you can do to increase your leverage when buying a new or used auto is to have your financing pre-approved in advance. Getting pre-approved doesn’t obligate you. But it does give you negotiating power. Whether you are buying from a private owner or through a dealership, finding out ahead of time what you can borrow and securing a competitive rate will prepare you to shop confidently.

There is a misperception that in today’s economy, it is all but impossible to get a loan if you don’t have a perfect credit score. While it is true that the rate you receive on a loan typically is dependent on your credit score, at Cornerstone our credit policies are the same as they’ve always been. It is our mission at Cornerstone to help our members make sound financial decisions and to provide competitive rates and products to support their goals.

What Do You Really Want in a Car?

What do you really want in a car? Think about it before you ever go to a dealership. Are you more concerned with the safety features, the price, or the image? Or is it something else entirely? When you’ve determined your true motivation, research, research, research before you make a move.

Do you have a car you plan to trade in? If so, research its value. The experts at Cornerstone can help with this. Be reasonable about its condition. Clean it up and make any minor repairs you can do at home before you are on the car lot and the salesperson is going over it with a fine tooth comb. This way you will be in a position of control by knowing what it is truly worth.

Don’t forget the importance of researching the value of your desired car, too. Your position of control increases when you know how much you are willing to take for your trade-in as well as how much you’re willing to spend.

Your research should also include the cost of insurance on the new vehicle as well as the cost of fuel and maintenance. Finding this information is easy. Just call your current insurance agent to give you an idea of cost over the phone. Check out consumer magazines and reports online to give you an idea of fuel consumption, tire costs, and other required maintenance costs.

Finally, have the strength to walk away. Don’t succumb to sales pressure. If it’s too much to pay or too little to take on the trade-in, just don’t do it. There are plenty of car sellers who will work with you. Don’t give in on the first try if it doesn’t feel right.

For help researching the value of your auto or anything else you need to know about getting an auto loan, call Cornerstone at 615-385-6866 today!