Top Credit Union Tips for Buying a Used Car

If you are in the market for a used car, you’re not alone. According to research, the number of used vehicles sold in the U.S. between 2010 and 2020 was twice as much as new cars.

Buying a used car can be a wise choice because the vehicle won’t depreciate as quickly as a new car. Depending on the make and model, you will likely spend less money on registration, property taxes, and insurance than you would when purchasing a brand new car.

With some planning and research, you can get a great deal on a used vehicle. Here are the top credit union tips for buying a used car.

Determine the Features You Want

Although most cars come with some basic technology, decide which features are must-haves for your new ride and your specific needs. Whether this is a rear windshield wiper, heated seats, integrated GPS, or fuel efficiency.

Set a Budget

Whether you are buying used or new, you still have to establish a budget so you know what you can afford. Don’t forget to include insurance, taxes, and maintenance costs in your budget.

Shop at Peak Times

Car dealerships run holiday sales at certain times of the year, such as Memorial and Labor Day. They also try to shift inventory at the end of the year when they get new models on the shop floor.

If you can’t wait for a holiday or the end of the year, keep in mind that dealership employees have to meet monthly and quarterly quotas, so shop around the end of the month or quarter for the best deals.

Comparison Shop

Regardless of whether you want to use a private seller or go to a dealership, make sure you comparison shop, so you get a good deal. When shopping for a used car, there are some critical questions to ask the seller to ensure you don’t get scammed or stuck with a lemon. 

  • Asking price and if it has a clear title with no liens
  • How many owners it has had and if the title is in the seller’s name
  • Mileage, service records, and vehicle history
  • Inspection reports and if it has had any major repairs

If you buy from a private seller, you can search the National Insurance Bureau’s database to see if the car has been reported as stolen or declared as salvage. If you have the vehicle identification number or license plate, you can get a vehicle history report from CARFAX.

Negotiate a Deal

Once you have found the used car you want and taken it for a test drive, it’s time to negotiate the price. Check the Kelley Blue Book to determine what the vehicle is worth. If you are buying a used car from a dealership, seek preapproval from your credit union so you know exactly how much you can afford to finance based on your income, expenses, and credit score.

Also, make sure you focus on the total sales price and not the monthly payment. Dealerships may offer you a long-term loan with a higher loan rate to accommodate your monthly payment budget. However, this extends the life of the loan and costs you more in interest over the life of the loan.

Trade-in Your Current Vehicle

If you are purchasing your used vehicle from a dealership, you can trade-in your current vehicle to save money—research how much your car is worth ahead of time at the Edmunds website. Although the dealership may not give you as much as you would make from a private sale, the convenience may be worth the lower trade-in price.

Credit Union Tips

Financing a Used Car

Most people don’t have the cash to buy a used car outright and need to obtain financing. When you get pre-approved for an auto loan at T&I Credit Union, you will know your interest rates, term options, and your budget before entering the dealership, making you a better negotiator.

At T&I Credit Union, our used car loans start at 3.99% (rates are subject to change) for up to 60 months. We just need to know the make, model, miles, and value of your vehicle, as well as some personal information.

Getting pre-approved for a used car loan at T&I Credit Union takes about 20 minutes online, and we can perform a soft pull on your credit score to determine your APR. When you apply for the loan, we perform a full credit pull as part of the process.

If you are still shopping around, try our auto loan calculator to learn what you can afford.

GAP Insurance

As a T&I Credit Union member, we want to protect you against taking a loss on a totaled vehicle. Our GAP Insurance covers the difference between what the insurance company pays and what is still owed.

T&I Credit Union Can Help You Get the Car You Love

Founded in 1955 by Ford Tractor Employees, our mission is to empower people to enjoy life, and we do so by offering low-interest rates on loans, special deals, and money-saving tips to our members.

At T&I Credit Union, we want you to get the vehicle you want at a fair price. Contact us today at (248)-397-9471 to get started on our loan application.

About Jeff Jacobs