Auto Buying Tips

The following are some things to keep in mind before you start to search for your new or used car.

Auto ImageFigure Out How Much You Can Spend

Create a budget. Your monthly payment should be no more than 20 percent of your monthly gross income. Also, know your credit up front. Use our Auto Loan Calculator to determine the vehicle cost and monthly payment that meets your income.

Do Your Research

Don't let your purchase be an emotional decision — research online before visiting the dealership.

Know How Much the Dealer Paid for the Vehicle

Knowing the invoice price on a new vehicle will help you negotiate a better deal. This is the price the dealer paid for the vehicle, not including any costs for advertising, destination charges, or special regional pricing. Research pricing on new or used vehicles through the CUDL AutoSmart site and click on the Kelley Blue Book logo on the right.

Set Your Price

Figure out the cost for options and subtract any rebates or incentives currently offered for a new vehicle. Also consider whether you will be paying cash or financing, and if you have a trade-in, find out how much it is worth. Research trade-in values and make sure to accurately factor in the condition of your vehicle.


Negotiate up from invoice, not down from Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) or "sticker" price on a new vehicle. On a used vehicle, negotiate up from wholesale value, not down from retail value. Research pricing on new or used vehicles through the CUDL AutoSmart site and click on the Kelley Blue Book logo on the right.

Credit Union Financing Will Usually Save You Money Don't be fooled by zero percent or low interest rate financing. Here is more information on 0% financing.

Test Drive

Don't ever buy a car without taking a test drive – even on a new vehicle! On used vehicles, we highly recommend that you request a conditioning report and have your own mechanic check out the vehicle. Some dealers now call these conditioning reports "certification." A certified used vehicle is usually a little more expensive, but includes a warranty and special financing terms.

Close the Deal

Don't forget to use the information you researched on your trade to get the most for it. Have the dealer show you the price for your trade separate from the deal – often dealers disguise the amount offered on your trade into the final figure of your monthly payment. One way you can ensure this doesn't happen is to offer the trade at the last minute. It's important that you get the best overall price for the car, a reasonable monthly payment and a good deal on your trade.

Avoid all the Extras

Once you reach the financing stage of your deal, the dealer will try to sell you on all kinds of extras, most of them needless.

0% Financing

With the major auto manufacturers offering 0% financing on many of their popular makes and models, the general auto buying public has been mesmerized by the seemingly attractive low rates. Consumers are flocking to dealerships to see how they too can take advantage of the incredible deals being offered. While 0% financing offers are enticing, you should read the fine print and know the facts before you head off to your local dealer.

Teaser rates have always been offered to drive more business to the dealerships, but often, these offers are not beneficial to everyone. The variations, like pricing, can change from dealership to dealership, but knowing what to look for and which questions to ask the dealer will help you decide if 0% is the best deal for you. Here are a few of the facts and restrictions that often apply:

  • Almost perfect credit may be needed to qualify for these offers.
  • You may be required to give up a manufacturer's rebate.
  • It usually means shorter loan terms, larger down payments and large monthly payments.
  • You may be buying a slower selling vehicle which could have a lower resale value.
  • You are likely to pay full sticker price. Very few people who opt for 0% financing actually haggle over price. They assume they're already getting the best deal possible.
  • Limitations to on-site stock or dealer selected models (the ones that aren't selling) so you sacrifice color, style or options or you are forced to add unwanted options, adding up to 30% to the sticker price.
  • A larger principal balance to pay if you decide to pay off the loan early.

Research Your Options

As a credit union member you are already aware of the many benefits Advantis offers including low interest rate auto loans paired with great service tailored to your needs. Use Advantis financing and take advantage of any available rebates to get the best possible deal!

When you take the rebate, the price of the vehicle drops and the monthly payment also drops. Also, by taking the rebate, you are reducing the amount that you are financing even further; and in combination with low Advantis rates your overall costs are lower than if you had received the special factory financing.