Navigating the Car Buying Process: A Guide for First-Time Buyers - Yolo Federal Credit Union Skip to main content

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If you’re a first-time car buyer, you may know it can be daunting to navigate the car buying process. In this blog we’ll give you the information you need to make an informed decision.

Determine Your Vehicle Needs

When deciding you should consider the following factors:

  • Daily commute—Your daily mileage may be an important factor when evaluating the Miles Per Gallon (MPG) of a vehicle. Or, with electric vehicles you’ll need to know how you can go before charging.
  • Storage needs—Different manufacturers of the same body style may have different trunks or back-end storage. Evaluate how much room you need before deciding on a vehicle.
  • Driving experience—Not all cars drive the same. Some vehicles are easier to drive, while others may require additional skills like large trucks or manual transmissions (aka stick shift).

Evaluate Different Body Styles

Here is an overview of the most common body styles you could consider:

  • Crossover—Nearly half of all auto shoppers opt for crossovers, which combine efficiency and driving characteristics of traditional cars with some SUV off-road capabilities.
  • Coupes & Sedans—Traditional vehicles tend to be lighter, easier to handle, and are often smaller. Which can be great for street parking or small garages.
  • Trucks & SUVs—If you are looking for a vehicle you can use for towing and off-road driving, a SUV or truck may be the best option.
  • Minivans—Often an ideal option if you have a large family or help with carpooling to school or sports.
  • Electric Vehicles—Going green could be a great option! Before you decide, make sure you have access to an outlet that meets the vehicle’s charging requirements. Or, have access to charging stations near your work or home.

New or Used

Trying to choose between a new or used? Here are some factors to consider:

  • Depreciation—Have you ever heard “A new car depreciates the minute you drive off the lot?” Not all vehicles depreciate the same, so many buyers factor this in when choosing between new or used. (Depreciation is the decrease in value of a vehicle over time.)
  • Market Factors—In the current market, the supply of used cars available for purchase has decreased. Coupled with vehicles holding their value (or not depreciating as fast), it could be harder to find a good deal on a used car.
  • Vehicle Benefits—Manufacturers or dealerships often offer warranties and incentives with the purchase of a new vehicle. Some used vehicles may come with limited warranties when sold by dealerships.

Before You Decide

  • Be Prepared—You may need to act quickly to get a good deal in today’s economy. So do your research and know what you want before visiting a dealership.
  • Financing—Get preapproved with Yolo Federal before you shop. Knowing what you can afford will help you choose a vehicle that fits your needs and budget.
  • Budgeting—A car loan could significantly impact your monthly budget. Prices and interest rates for vehicles have increased, so it’s crucial not to overextend your budget. Experts advise spending 20% or less of your monthly income on a vehicle, which includes loan payments, insurance, and fuel or electricity costs.

At Yolo Federal, we’re committed to your financial success. We’ll provide you with personalized service and help you navigate the car buying process. So, whether you’re looking to buy a new or used car, schedule an appointment with us today and let us help you get started.

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