Imagine this: It’s a cold, windy, wet January. And your car breaks down while you’re driving home from work. You get a tow to the shop and a ride home.
The technician calls you the next day with the bad news — the repairs will cost about twice as much as your car is worth. (Yes, you’ve been frugally limping along with an older car.)
You’ve got two options:
- Pony up the funds to repair a car that is likely to experience other costly mechanical breakdowns.
- Buy a new (or new-to-you) car.
In this case, buying a car makes the most financial sense in the long run.
Here’s your winter car-buying survival guide:
Check Loan Rates and Get Pre-Approved
Before you head out to the dealership or scour the ads for private sales, check in with us here at Lincoln Park Community Credit Union. You can learn about our loan options and work with us to get pre-approved for your new set of wheels.
Be Ready to Get a Lot of Attention at the Dealership
Winter tends to be a slow time for sales at car dealerships, so you might feel like a rock star when you walk in. The sales staff is looking for commissions, so they’ll roll out the red carpet. You’ll also have the freedom to look around without worrying about crowds of other prospective car buyers.
Take your time and take advantage of the fact that sales are slow in this season. You should be able to negotiate a good deal with a perk or two because staff is eager to make a sale. And, because you’re coming in with financing already lined up, the sales process will be much faster (no need to fill out miles of loan paperwork) and you can take advantage of cash incentives. You may also find a brand-new model from a previous year that the dealership can’t wait to get off their hands.
Use Weekends and Public Locations for Private Sales
One of the drawbacks of winter is the short days and long, dark nights. Stay safe if you’re checking out privately sold vehicles by choosing public meeting spots during the day — weekends are the times most sellers will be available.
Consider bringing a friend with you when you look. (Bonus points if that friend is an auto technician.) Used cars can be a great value, but you’ll want a second opinion.
Run the Car through Its Winter Driving Paces
Because you’ll be checking your new car out during the winter, you can test out it’s handling in rain and snow and how well it works in cold weather.
If you’re looking at a car with all-wheel drive, look at how well it handles in winter conditions without traction devices — some all-wheel drive cars can’t use chains, so you’ll want it to handle well without them or consider a potential investment in snow tires.
Contrast that to a car you buy in July that ends up being a bear to start on a cold morning. If you’re buying a used car that does have trouble cranking in the cold, consider asking for a new battery or a discount on the purchase price so you can buy one.
Although we started out with an emergency scenario, you might enjoy the process of winter car buying so much that you make it a habit every time you need a new vehicle. We’re here to help no matter what time of year you want to buy!
To learn more about getting pre-approved for an auto loan, contact us today at (313) 389-2300 or visit our office located at 1400 Emmons in Lincoln Park.