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Bottom Line Up Front

  • Securing preapproval before you head to the dealership could help you get a better deal and help you get the car you want faster. 
  • Compare vehicles and get up-front price offers before you commit at the dealership. Navy Federal’s Car Buying Service, powered by TrueCar®, helps simplify your auto search.
  • Bring a buddy to be a second set of eyes and ears so you don’t get lost in the facts and figures of the car-buying process.

Time to Read

4 minutes

July 29, 2022

Itching to jump into a new ride? Before you make a dash for the nearest dealer, slow your approach and watch out for car-buying hurdles. Here are five mistakes that could derail your auto purchase process.

  1. Shopping for a Car Before Finding a Loan. Dealerships like to advertise their financing specials almost as much as the cars themselves—and there’s a reason for that. Some dealers make their monthly payments sound very attractive while letting the total cost of the car balloon. If you want the actual price of the car to be the subject of negotiation, you’ll need to come with a loan in hand. Try to secure a preapproved auto loan from your financial institution before you head to the dealership. You might even get a lower rate than what the dealership offers!
  2. Buying on the First Visit. Car salespeople don’t want to miss their opportunity to make a sale. It’s in their best interest to make a sale the same day a customer walks on the lot. But, it’s in your best interest to go elsewhere before you commit to a vehicle. Sometimes, the simple act of going elsewhere can lead to your original dealer coming back to you with a better offer.

    Consider including an online car-buying site like Navy Federal’s Car Buying Service, powered by TrueCar®1, in your car search. You can compare and shop for your next car, get up-front price offers and, with some dealers, get an estimated trade-in value for your current car, all online.
  3. Skipping the Test Drive. If you’re desperate to drive away with a car, it can be tempting to skip the test drive. After all, don’t you already know the features you’re getting? On the contrary, the test drive is when you really get to know your future car. For example, you can confirm whether there’s enough head- and leg-room, see if the visibility is good and feel if the suspension makes for a comfortable ride.
  4. Having a Time Constraint. Nobody wants to go car shopping under the stress of limited time. To avoid unnecessary anxiety, start car shopping before you need to do so. If you have a car on its last legs, start your search now instead of when your old car breaks down for the last time. If you’re likely to move away soon, go car shopping when you still have a month or two before moving day.
  5. Doing It Alone. It takes a village to…buy a car? Not quite, but it is wise to bring someone along for the ride! A lot of facts and figures get thrown at you throughout the car-buying process. Even if you’ve bought a car before, it’s easy to get lost in the weeds of add-ons or miss numbers that don’t add up. By bringing a partner or friend along, you’ll have a second set of eyes and ears to help you.

Start Your Car Search Wisely

Navy Federal Credit Union is your hassle-free partner in car buying. With our Car Buying Service, powered by TrueCar1, you can see up-front price offers on cars from local TrueCar Certified Dealers2 and enjoy additional military incentives.

Next Steps Next Steps

  1. Begin your car search by creating a budget and determining what type of cars fit within your financial situation. Turn to Navy Federal to get preapproved for an auto loan before you head to the dealer.
  2. Take time to shop for a new car. Visit multiple dealerships, include online car-buying websites like Navy Federal's Car Buying Service, powered by TrueCar and don’t forget to test drive each possible purchase!
  3. Compare the cars you’ve explored and bring a friend or family member along when you've determined the best time to buy.



TrueCar operates the Navy Federal Car Buying Service. Navy Federal is not responsible for any offer, purchase, lease, or service provided by or through the Navy Federal Car Buying Service.

2 Some TrueCar Certified Dealers may have limited inventory due to a global microchip shortage, which could impact availability of the vehicle you select and the price you receive through the Car Buying Service. Vehicles may sell out quickly due to inventory shortages and TrueCar recommends members contact the dealer directly to confirm in-stock availability before visiting the dealership. Also, if you experience issues with the price you receive, please contact the TrueCar customer support center at 1-877-638-4124 for assistance.

This content is intended to provide general information and shouldn't be considered legal, tax or financial advice. It's always a good idea to consult a tax or financial advisor for specific information on how certain laws apply to your situation and about your individual financial situation.