Consumers are most concerned with gas mileage and monthly payments when purchasing a vehicle in Georgia, according to a 2015 End-of-Year Consumer Survey conducted by Georgia Credit Union Affiliates.
The survey shows 30 percent of respondents are considering buying a vehicle in 2016 and 79 percent of those potential buyers are more likely to finance it than pay cash.
When it comes to making their purchasing decision, 70 percent of respondents said gas mileage, 68 percent said monthly payments and 53 percent said consumer reviews influenced their choice. Other deciding factors include cost of operation, safety rating, vehicle history report and what the vehicle looks like.
According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) purchasing a used vehicle can save consumers a lot of money, but whether buying from an individual or a dealer, it’s important to do some homework.
The FTC suggests getting an independent review of a vehicle’s history. Check a trusted database service that gathers information from state and local authorities, salvage yards and insurance companies. For example, for a fee, the Department of Justice’s National Motor Vehicle Title Information System (NMVTIS) offers information about a vehicle’s title, odometer data and certain damage history. Consumers can also investigate with a Vehicle Identification Number (VIN). The FTC also suggests test driving the vehicle on a variety of roads in different conditions and talking to the previous owner if possible before negotiating a purchase.
According to DMV.org, the top mistakes consumers make when purchasing a vehicle include not shopping around enough, forgoing a test drive and overlooking the cost of vehicle maintenance and repair. Another important factor is a mechanical inspection, which DMV.org advises could save a consumer thousands of dollars in unexpected repairs down the road.
Augusta Metro Federal Credit Union Centralized Lending Manager Ann Marie O’Brien said it’s important for consumers to first pinpoint what it is they need in a vehicle and then conduct research to narrow down the best options.
“The majority of car buyers in our area seem to be more impulsive than informed,” O’Brien said. “They tend to get caught up in the moment. When in the market for a vehicle, once you narrow down your selections, it’s a good idea to refer to consumer reviews and reports.”
O’Brien said with 100-percent financing being offered on a regular basis, down payments are not the requirement they used to be. She said anyone wanting to utilize this option needs to plan ahead.
“Set a goal for when you want to be able to purchase the vehicle,” advised O’Brien. “Determine how much you think you would like to have available for a down payment. Then, calculate how much you need to save.”
Chuck Head, EVP and Chief Operating Officer for Atlanta Postal Credit Union said about 60 percent of APCU members opt to buy used vehicles.
“The most important thing is, if you can’t afford a new vehicle, don’t buy one,” said Head. “Buy a used vehicle instead. Then, you can get a loan for a lesser amount of time and when there’s some equity in the vehicle, plus whatever money you’ve managed to save, you can put it towards a new one. It’s crucial consumers don’t borrow the down payment and end up with two loans to pay.”
Head suggests taking things like warranty, insurance cost and GAP (Guaranteed Asset Protection) coverage into consideration before purchasing a vehicle.
“Instead of purchasing these items through a dealership, a credit union will be able to help you save money,” said Head. “Also, consumers should get preapproved before going shopping so they know what they can afford and aren’t tempted to get in over their head with a loan based solely on payments.”
Most credit unions offer lower loan rates and fewer and lower fees than other financial institutions. In addition, many credit unions utilize indirect lending to better serve members.
Tips For Buying a Vehicle:
- Pinpoint your needs. – Do you need a four-wheel-drive truck or should you invest in a hybrid car to save on gas? Figure out what make and model vehicle will best suit your needs before shopping.
- Do the research. – Once you pinpoint the make and model, begin comparing options. Take into consideration fuel efficiency, safety rating, consumer reviews, cost of insurance, vehicle history report and maintenance costs.
- Test drive it. – Make sure to test drive a vehicle before purchasing it. Try driving it on multiple terrains and in various traffic and weather conditions if possible.
- Get preapproved. – Before venturing out to vehicle shop, make sure to get preapproved first. It will save you time and money to know what your financial boundaries should be.
- Check with a credit union. – Consider getting your loan at a credit union. Credit unions offer lower and fewer fees, lower loan rates and continually have higher service ratings from consumers as compared to banks. Rather than purchasing items like a warranty and Guaranteed Asset Protection (GAP) coverage at the dealership, check with a credit union. Most credit unions offer these items at a lower cost than what you would find at a dealership.
- To learn more about credit unions in your community and how they help people afford life, visit: http://www.asmarterchoice.org/.
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To learn more about credit unions in your community and how they help people afford life, visit http://www.asmarterchoice.org/.
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