FEATUREBy Jordan RaneGetting a great auto deal
If you’re in the market for a new car and not sure where to start, understanding these essential steps can help ensure that you get the best bang for your buck
Buying a new or used vehicle can be a stressful — and expensive — proposition for most consumers these days. According to 2020 statistics from the U.S. Department of Transportation, households spent an average of $9,826 on transportation, second only to housing. Today’s overheated pandemic-era market has changed the game even further, reflecting a perfect storm of rising prices and decreased inventory.

So, what’s the best way to get a quality car at a reasonable price? According to American Airlines Federal Credit Union Regional Director Paul Vaught — doing your homework is key.

“There are a lot of things we can educate our members on, set their expectations to help understand the environment they’re driving into, and to have a better understanding of what they really need,” he said.
Find the perfect car for you
Being tech-savvy is one of the simplest ways to research the vehicle you want and it will help you avoid spending hours driving from dealership to dealership. COVID-19 has accelerated this transition, and a number of vehicle retail websites are now established resources for buyers.
With more than 6,000 vehicles in its database, the Credit Union’s online research tool, CAARS.org, makes it easy to locate a dealer, compare prices and find the car you want. The Credit Union also routinely makes referrals to dealerships that have provided exceptional service to members in the past.
Visit the Credit Union’s website to learn more.
Lock down your loan
Getting preapproved for a loan can help you identify any credit issues, set up the optimal down payment and loan term for you, and potentially serve as a bargaining chip with the dealership.

“During preapproval, we want you to know your rate and how much you can afford before you go to the dealer,” Vaught said. It’s important to remember that the car you might want is not necessarily the car you can afford. This includes factoring in add-ons dealers are likely to push, as well as the cost of insuring your new vehicle.
   Discover more details here     Find out fair market price
“If you’re looking at a specific vehicle, we can share with you what the actual MSRP [Manufacturer Suggested Retail Price] value is, depending on all the options,” Vaught said. The Credit Union can also provide the NADA [National Automobile Dealers Association] value for your current vehicle marked for trade-in and allow you to ballpark a figure when it comes to negotiating with the dealership. Additionally, vehicle pricing research is available on the Credit Union’s website through its dealer partnerships.
Building a
big-ticket budget
American Airlines Credit Union offers a number of financial calculators designed to aid members in finding loan options that fit their budgetary needs and educate them on financial decisions. Along with the auto calculator for members in the market for a new vehicle, calculators for personal finance, home lending, savings, credit cards and small business are available to members. Loan officers can also talk you through the process and help you understand how to structure payments.
Say no to the hard close
Dealerships can be a high-pressure environment, now more than ever. “They’re going to try and sell you all types of services. They’re going to try to and sell you their financing, extended warranties, GAP [Guaranteed Asset Protection] coverage and other add-ons,” Vaught said. “If something doesn’t feel right, then it probably isn’t. Trust your instincts and don’t feel bad walking away from a deal.” Remember, many of these add-on options are available at the Credit Union at a typically lower cost.

Is the deal right?
In the current environment with sticker prices greatly exceeding MSRP values, patience is vital. “When you find the vehicle of your choice, before your close the deal, make certain you talk with your lender and have them review your purchase order to make sure you’re getting good value,” Vaught said. “A lot of people forget that step, because it’s easy to be overwhelmed by the process. But it’s something we encourage our members to do.”
Brian Keagy is Dallas-based freelance writer and editor whose finely honed haggling skills are the stuff of legend at a handful of Metroplex car dealerhips.