Car Prices Hit a Record High, What Does this Mean for You?

The average new car price hit a record high of $38,255 last month, according to JD Power. That’s up 12% from the same period a year ago.

If you’re out car shopping right now, be prepared to pay bigger bucks than usual for that vehicle. About two-thirds of car buyers paid within 5% of the sticker price last month, with some even paying above sticker price. That means there are fewer deals to be had and fewer negotiations taking place.

Why? Due to a computer chip shortage at auto plants around the world, car dealers are left with a fraction of the vehicles (both new and used) than what they typically have on hand. Since more people are buying used cars, they are also becoming as difficult to get as new cars.

Here are a few things to keep in mind if you’re in the market for a new or used vehicle right now:

  • Don’t expect a great deal: Don’t be surprised if the dealership only discounts the vehicle you’re looking at by a few hundred dollars, if anything at all.
  • Search outside of your community: Not finding what you want in your local area? Look at dealerships a bit further away from home. This can make a difference in getting the car you want or in hopefully getting a better deal.
  • Ask for top dollar for your trade-in: One bright spot is if you have a vehicle to trade-in, because of the shortage – trade-in values are at an all-time high. This can help cushion the higher sales price.
  • Hit pause: According to Edmunds, the vehicle shortages might last for another six months or so. If you’re not in a hurry to buy a car right now, their best advice is to wait a bit.

Are you still considering buying a new or used vehicle and need a loan? Click here to find out about a First Financial Auto Loan or get pre-approved to ensure you know where to start, what monthly payments you can afford and get the best deal possible for you.*

Waiting it out? You may be able to save by refinancing your current vehicle from another lender.** Click here to get started by filling out our online quick Auto Loan Review inquiry form.

Do you have a lease coming due soon? Another option is to keep the car you already know and love, by buying out your car lease.* Get started here.

*APR = Annual Percentage Rate. Not all applicants will qualify, subject to credit approval. Additional terms & conditions may apply. Actual rate may vary based on credit worthiness and term. A First Financial membership is required to obtain a First Financial auto loan and is available to anyone who lives, works, worships, volunteers or attends school in Monmouth or Ocean Counties. See credit union for details. A $5 deposit in a base savings account is required for credit union membership prior to opening any other account/loan.

**Not all applicants will qualify, subject to credit approval. First Financial FCU maintains the right to not extend credit, after you respond, if we determine you do not meet our guidelines for creditworthiness. Current loans financed with First Financial FCU are not eligible for review or refinance. 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 to establish membership.

What to Know Before You Buy a Car

Have you been considering purchasing a vehicle? Now could be the right time for you to buy, as dealerships and DMVs start to open back up in New Jersey.

Due to declining sales in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, dealerships are most likely highly motivated to sell vehicles right now – but you may not necessarily get the deal that is best for you. Our goal is to encourage you to do your due diligence and buy a vehicle that works for your lifestyle and budget. To help you make a smart decision, we’re providing a few tips to ensure you’re well-informed.

Know you have choices. Due to dealerships looking to make up for lost sales, they’re probably offering flashy, headline-making deals. However, once you take a look under the hood, the deals aren’t always as great as they can seem. For instance, a cash rebate is more likely to be a better deal than 0 percent interest when paired with a low-interest loan that can lower your monthly payment. Therefore, consider taking the rebate and finance or refinance your ride with First Financial!*

Consider your warranty options. When you’re buying a vehicle, whether new or used – dealers will try to sell you or automatically include add-ins like warranties to your loan. When buying a car, think of how long you plan to own it. If you trade or upgrade your vehicle often, you may not need an extended warranty. Typically, new vehicles come with manufacturer warranties that supersede any extended warranties. This means that your extended warranty has no value until the original manufacturer warranty expires.

If you plan on keeping your vehicle for an extended length of time, an extended warranty could be right for you. Compare the costs of the warranties the dealer offers with our Mechanical Repair Coverage options.**

GAP Insurance. GAP stands for Guaranteed Asset Protection. What is GAP insurance? It’s optional car insurance coverage that helps you pay off your auto loan in the event that your car is totaled or stolen, and you owe more than the car’s current value. This helps bridge the “gap” between what you owe and what your insurance is willing to pay. For example, say you owe $25,000 on your car but the actual value is $19,000. If you incur a total loss accident, your insurance will most likely only pay the value amount of $19,000. GAP insurance will pay the other $6,000 so that you are debt-free. Compare the GAP insurance from the dealership with our Loan Payment Protection options.

If you’ve made up your mind to purchase a vehicle, don’t be intimidated by the dealership. Take control of your car buying journey and get pre-approved with First Financial.* Learn more about our current auto loan offerings, or fill out a quick inquiry form online. We can help you compare the numbers and guide you to make the best financial decision for you!

*APR = Annual Percentage Rate. Not all applicants will qualify, subject to credit approval. Additional terms & conditions may apply. Actual rate may vary based on credit worthiness and term. A First Financial membership is required to obtain a First Financial auto loan and is available to anyone who lives, works, worships, volunteers or attends school in Monmouth or Ocean Counties. See credit union for details. A $5 deposit in a base savings account is required for credit union membership prior to opening any other account/loan.

 **Mechanical Repair Coverage is provided and administered by Consumer Program Administrators, Inc. in all states except CA, where coverage is offered as insurance by Virginia Surety Company, Inc., in WA, where coverage is provided by National Product Care Company and administered by Consumer Program Administrators, Inc., in FL, LA and OK, where coverage is provided and administered by Automotive Warranty Services of Florida, Inc. (Florida License #60023 and Oklahoma License #44198051), all located at 175 West Jackson Blvd., Chicago Illinois 60604, 800.752.6265. This coverage is made available to you by CUNA Mutual Insurance Agency, Inc. In CA, where Mechanical Repair Coverage is offered as insurance (form MBIP 08/16), it is underwritten by Virginia Surety Company, Inc. Coverage varies by state. Be sure to read the Vehicle Service Contract or the Insurance Policy, which will explain the exact terms, conditions, and exclusions of this voluntary product. MRC-2341946.1-1218-0121 © CUNA Mutual Group

3 Important Car Buying Tips

Are you looking to buy a new ride before the end of the year?  Here are three important factors to consider before you sign your name on the dotted line.

Needs vs. wants: What do you plan to use your new ride for – commuting, weekend trips? These are just a few questions you should consider.  A smart car might get incredible gas mileage during your long commute, but really lacks in terms of cargo space. You may be able to get a bag of groceries home, but what about that 6-foot ladder you need? Don’t forget about things like Bluetooth connectivity and heated seats also. Weigh all your options before getting too excited about what car looks the coolest.

Monthly payments vs. total price: You love the lower monthly payments, but are you really considering how much a new car is going to cost you by the time you’ve paid it off in six years? Maybe you’re a big fan of the total price you’re getting, but you know the monthly payments are going to take some sacrifice in your budget. Is that something you really want to endure? Have you also factored in other costs like insurance, gas, oil changes, tires, and preventative maintenance? Take your time and make a list so you get a better idea of the true cost of your new vehicle.

Know your car before you buy: Do some research and see how other owners are feeling about their purchase.  Always take a test drive, and try riding through parking lots. How does it ride? Is it only smooth on smooth roads? What’s it like going over a speed bump? When it comes time to buy, it shouldn’t be a mystery and you should feel comfortable with your decision – this is a big purchase you will be using daily over at least the next several years.

In the market for a vehicle? If you’re just starting to shop, get preapproved and if you’re ready to make the purchase – apply for an auto loan online 24/7. We have quick approval decisions and same day closings!

APR = Annual Percentage Rate. Not all applicants will qualify, subject to credit approval. Additional terms & conditions may apply. Actual rate may vary based on credit worthiness and term. A First Financial membership is required to obtain a First Financial auto loan and is available to anyone who lives, works, worships, volunteers or attends school in Monmouth or Ocean Counties. See credit union for details. A $5 deposit in a base savings account is required for credit union membership prior to opening any other account/loan.

Article Source: John Pettit for CUInsight.com