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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 negotiating.

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 diminish your savings. Consider a car that’s 2 or 3 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 They can then make a more informed buying decision.
  • Review safety ratings. Newer cars have safety features beyond airbags and anti-lock brakes, including crash avoidance features such as auto emergency braking, forward collision warning and blind spot monitoring. You may wish to consult safety ratings from sites such as, a nonprofit organization focused on improving highway safety.
  • 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. Check out our side-by-side comparison tool to view up to 3 different vehicles at one time and ensure that you find the best vehicle that fits your needs.
  • 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 low-rate auto loan and 100% financing, you’ll be ready to close the deal with confidence. Check out our current auto rates and apply via mobile* or online.


Descriptive Transcript below

1Two 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 Report. 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.


This article 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.