To continue enjoying all the features of Navy Federal Online, please use a compatible browser. You can confirm your browser capability here.

Bottom Line Up Front

  • Put your vehicle needs and budget first when considering a new car.
  • New and used cars may will have different costs and features that you’ll want to compare to meet your budget.
  • Consider financing options and get preapproved before you shop.

Time to Read

4 minutes

August 15, 2022

Choosing the right car can be exciting and daunting. To ensure you get the best deal on the best car for your needs, you’ll want to take time to establish what you’re looking for in a car before you start shopping.  

Here are some factors to consider as you search for the ideal car.

  • Assess your needs: Consider functionality and how you plan to use the vehicle. How many passengers do you need to carry? Do you drive mostly on highways and city streets or off-road? Do you need to haul equipment or fit into tight parking spaces? Think about how your needs could change a few years down the road, too.
  • Set your budget: Look at your monthly spending to see how much you can afford to put toward a car payment. You can use Navy Federal’s car loan calculator to run the numbers.
  • Compare new vs. used: An older car might be cheaper, but potential repair costs could put a dent in your savings. To compromise, consider a car that’s two or three years old to get affordable modern features without the wear and tear of an older model. We offer free CARFAX Vehicle History ReportsTM to our members who are approved for a used auto loan through Navy Federal.1 This allows them to make a more informed buying decision. You can also use our new versus used car calculator to consider the long-term costs.
  • Identify must-have features: Create a list of non-negotiable items and another list of nice-to-have features (e.g., rear camera, keyless entry, navigation system, heated seats). If you’re buying new, resist add-ons you weren’t already planning to get. With so many vehicles and options to choose from, it can be difficult to make a decision.
  • Review safety ratings: Newer cars have safety features beyond airbags and anti-lock brakes. These include crash avoidance features, such as auto emergency braking, forward collision warning and blind spot monitoring. You may want to consult safety ratings from sites such as, a nonprofit organization focused on improving highway safety.

Get a preapproval

Making a smart car-buying decision isn’t just about the vehicle; it’s also about the financing. That’s why it makes sense to get preapproved for an auto loan from Navy Federal before you take a test drive. With a Navy Federal preapproved auto loan, you’ll be ready to close the deal with confidence. Check out our current auto rates and apply via mobile* or online.

Next Steps Next Steps

  1. Make a new-car game plan that includes your driving needs, must-have features and vehicle budget. Use this as a roadmap while searching for new cars.
  2. Compare the costs of cars you find, including the long-term costs of used vehicles and potential maintenance or repairs.
  3. When you’re ready to begin shopping, contact Navy Federal to discuss rates and get preapproved for an auto loan.



Two CARFAX Vehicle History Reports™ may be accessed while your auto loan preapproval through Navy Federal remains open. If you do not obtain a preapproval, a CARFAX Vehicle History Report™ will be sent to you for the used vehicle you finance with Navy Federal. Offer may expire at any time. It is intended for personal use only and may not be used for commercial purposes. Navy Federal Credit Union is in no way responsible for the accuracy of the CARFAX Vehicle History Reports™. Access to CARFAX Vehicle History Reports™ is subject to CARFAX consumer Terms and Conditions. CARFAX reserves the right to take appropriate action for the misuse of this offer. CARFAX is a registered trademark of CARFAX, Inc. CARFAX Vehicle History products and services are based only on information supplied to CARFAX. CARFAX does not have the complete history of every vehicle. Use the CARFAX search as one important tool, along with a vehicle inspection and test drive, to make a better decision about your next used car.

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.