Once you know what you can afford, look for models that match your needs. Three important factors to consider are:
Before buying any car, be sure to test-drive it. Have a mechanic inspect it if you’re buying a used one. Get a clear title history, too.
In addition to finding out who owned it previously, try to find out how well they took care of it. Ask for maintenance and repair records.
Vehicles, especially new ones, are expensive items — ones that most people don’t pay for with cash. Of course, loans can cost a lot of money, too. Be sure to consider options beyond what a dealership offers you — particularly an auto loan from your credit union. (Check our current rates.)
After closing the deal, you have more than a new car: You have a credit history. Take good care of it by making all your payments on time. If you don’t want the hassle of writing a check every month, sign up for payroll deduction. That way your payments will be deducted from your account automatically.