Tips for Buying Your First Car

Purchasing your first car is one of the most exciting experiences in life. However, it can also be overwhelming and costly if you don’t know what to do. Fortunately, we’ve prepared a short guide to help you with the process.

Do Your Research and Be Prepared

A car buyer’s best friend is information. There are many websites today that can give consumers data on the features and pricing of every vehicle available. Before stepping into a car dealership, you should know the vehicle you want to purchase and the price you’re willing to pay.

What you don’t want to do is to go to a dealership without having a financing offer. Many car dealers make much of their profit via their financing offices. This means they get a cut of any auto loan they get when their buyers accept. That’s why before visiting dealerships, you should get a pre-approved financing offer from a credit union. This way, your dealer will have to come up with a better offer if they want to make a sale.

Compare Prices from Different Dealerships

The various auto dealerships out there are not the same, even if they display the same exact makes and models. Most people start and end their car shopping experiences at the dealer that is most convenient to them, which can be an expensive mistake.

According to COX Automotive, 41% of car buyers only go to a single dealership when buying a new car. When you shop with just one dealer, you can’t make comparisons to know if a better deal is available to you. Just like any purchase, you should compare the prices of the same vehicle from different dealerships. Letting another dealer know that they have competition is often enough to make them strive to earn your business.

Don’t Be Pressured into Getting Costly Add-Ons

Apart from financing, dealers also make money by selling add-on products. Although some may be valuable, many of them have high markups and can be purchased at lower prices outside the dealership. Avoid being tempted to purchase these products since they’ll only add cost to your monthly payment. A good trick to get the real price of any add-on is to multiply the extra cost by the length of your auto loan.

Close the Deal the Right Way

If the pricing and financing look right to you, then it’s time to close the deal. Be sure that you review the contract carefully. Check to ensure that the numbers match what you have agreed upon and make sure there are no extra fees or charges. After signing the contract, the vehicle is now yours to drive.


Purchasing your first car is truly an exciting process. By following the above tips, you can get the car that you want without overspending. Also, be sure to ask your local credit union if they have a First Time Car Buyer’s Program. Here at First Financial, we absolutely do! This program allows our first time member car buyers to finance their first vehicle without a co-signer, as well as we offer terms up to 84 months.*

Learn more and apply online today!

*Not all applicants will qualify, subject to credit approval. No credit required, however no derogatory credit allowed. Rates are fixed and will be based on model year of vehicle & term. Maximum loan amount is $12,000 and minimum is $6,000. Not all applicants qualify for 84 month term, term will be based on model year of vehicle. No co-signer is required, but other terms and conditions apply to qualify for loan. Must meet all of the following underwriting guidelines for approval: Minimum 15% down payment, no previous auto loans, must be ages 18-30, minimum 12 months employment or employment contract, and debt to income ratio no more than 40%. Must provide 2 references, 2 most recent paystubs, and proof of insurance prior to funding. Enrollment in automatic payments is required. Applicants who close on a First Time Auto Loan, and post a selfie with their new car using hash tag #FirstFiFirstCar on Instagram, will be entered to win a $50 Visa gift card. Drawings are bi-annual (June 30th & December 31st). One winner per drawing. Winners will be contacted within 1 week of drawing. A First Financial membership is required to obtain an Auto Loan and is available to anyone who lives, works, worships, volunteers, or attends school in Monmouth or Ocean counties. A $5 deposit in a base savings account is required for membership. Other terms and conditions may apply, see credit union for details.


Cox Automotive 2019 Car Buyer Journey Study:


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