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Tips When Buying a Used or Pre-Owned Car

Purchasing a pre-owned vehicle can be a smart financial decision. You can avoid the significant depreciation associated with a new vehicle, and you may be able to afford a higher-end model than you would if you were to purchase something brand-new.

Most "franchised" dealerships (those dealerships associated with specific brand names) offer pre-owned as well as new vehicles, so you can often work with the same dealership to explore all your options and make the choice that's right for you.

The biggest concern that most people have when buying a used vehicle is the thought that they might be "buying someone else's troubles" or a concern that the vehicle will no longer be under warranty. A little research on your part can go a long way towards eliminating those concerns.

SCCU can help you with the financing and warranties to protect your investment. We offer the same low rates for model years 2013 to the present, so you'll get "new car" treatment when it comes to your loan!

Here are some steps to take when purchasing a used vehicle:

Research the Vehicle's Value

Research the value of the vehicle you plan to buy. When you apply for financing, lenders compare the value of a vehicle to the loan amount to help determine if your loan will be approved and what interest rate you will be charged. There are several pricing sites online.

SCCU uses NADA pricing when valuing a used vehicle. NADA displays three values for vehicles. "Clean trade in" is the closest to the value that SCCU will use in determining the amount we can lend on the vehicle.

Plan Your Down Payment

If at all possible, put some money down. This can help you get approved for a loan, get the best interest rate, and keep your monthly payments low. Trading in your current vehicle is a great way to reduce the purchasing price on a new one. In addition, SCCU offers assistance with valuing all trade-ins.

Estimate Payments Before You Buy

You can use SCCU's calculators to estimate monthly payments for various loan amounts at different rates and terms (number of months). One thing you may find is that the maximum term that a lender offers is not available for a used vehicle. In other words, when you're doing your research on monthly payments, don't count on 84 months as a loan term. You can also call Express Sales to get pre-approved for a loan so you'll know exactly what your payments would be for a particular loan amount and term.

Check the Vehicle's Condition

"Certified" programs from major brands offer assurance that a vehicle has met certain standards. Take the time to understand what the certification covers and what protection you have in case of a problem after the sale. Don't hesitate to ask questions. Even if you are purchasing a "certified" used vehicle, it's a smart move to have the car inspected by a mechanic you hire.

Check the Vehicle History

A CARFAX report can be helpful, and many dealers will provide a report, but keep in mind this reporting can only track repairs that were reported to the insurance company or dealership and cannot guarantee a complete history. An inspection by your own mechanic can help detect unreported repairs.

Check the Cost of Insurance

Contact your current insurance provider and ask about the cost of insurance for the make, model, and year you are considering. While you can always shop around for insurance, contacting your current provider lets you easily compare the cost of buying the same coverage you have now for another vehicle. A "bargain" could prove costly if it's expensive to insure!

Check the Dealer

If you are considering purchasing a used vehicle at a smaller, 'independent' used car lot, here are some tips for researching the reliability of the dealership:

  1. Is it an SCCU participating dealer? Participating Dealers allow you to finance your loan with SCCU right at the dealership when you buy.
  2. Check the dealer's reputation. Does anyone you know use or recommend the dealer?
  3. Does the lot look "professional"? Is it paved?
  4. Does the dealer advertise "buy here, pay here" or "easy credit"? This lets you know that their target customer is more interested in getting any car than a great car.

Consider a Warranty

SCCU offers warranties that provide protection for low, mid-use, and high-mileage vehicles. An Express Sales Associate can provide you with information about coverage and cost. The dealer may also offer warranties, but be sure to compare the cost and coverage to those available from SCCU.

  • SCCU Routing Number: 263177903

Space Coast Credit Union membership is open to all who work or live in Brevard, Broward, Collier, Flagler, Indian River, Lake, Lee, Manatee, Marion, Martin, Miami-Dade, Monroe, Okeechobee, Orange, Osceola, Palm Beach, Pasco, Polk, Putnam, Seminole, St. Johns, St. Lucie, Sumter, or Volusia Counties in Florida.

  • Brevard: 321-752-2222
  • Broward: 954-704-5000
  • Miami-Dade: 305-882-5000
  • All Other Areas: 800-447-7228

*APR = Annual Percentage Rate. ^APY = Annual Percentage Yield.

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