Know what you can (and should) afford
Ideally, your car payment will be less than 10% of your take-home pay. Talk to a loan officer at the credit union before you shop to find out what amount you are pre-approved for.
Shop and test-drive
Once you know how much you are looking to spend, you can have fun at local dealers. And you’ll be a better negotiator because you’ll know your budget and won’t budge. Compare dealer offers to online research.
Beware of Hazards
If you’re buying used, get a vehicle history report like Carfax, and get it inspected by a mechanic you trust. If you’re buying at a dealer, beware of 0% financing offers; typically you have to forego other discounts to receive the 0% financing. Do you own math, or talk to your loan officer, to make sure you get the best deal.
Finalize the loan with your loan officer
AND enjoy your ride knowing you did your research and got the best deal!