In my line of work, I see the fallout from the mistakes that people make when they buy cars. It breaks my heart. Almost literally. It then falls on us, as a credit union, to try and help our members get into a better financial position. In an effort to help more of you, and to save you money, headaches, and hassles, here are the things you need to stop doing when you buy a car. And stop it today. 1. Do NOT walk into a dealership to buy a car. You have to prepare. It is imperative. Vital to your health and success. Before you ever set foot in a dealership, call your credit union and get preapproved. Discuss your financing options, including payment amount, interest, and maximum loan amount. Know how much car you can afford as well as what you want. 2. NEVER discuss your trade in before you have discussed the price of the vehicle being sold to you. Your trade in is your leverage. Once you have a final price on the vehicle you want, you can negotiate your trade amount as a down payment. This also prevents someone from concealing the real amount they are giving you for your vehicle. By the way, your credit union can tell you what the book value is four your trade-in so that you know what a fair price would be. 3. Be willing to NOT buy a car at that time, on that day, at that dealer. If you are determined to buy a car before you leave the dealership, you have given all of your leverage away. Your ONLY power in a sales negotiation, aside from preparation, is your willingness to walk away. Dealerships want to sell cars. And make money. If you do not buy a car, they do not make money. Do not give up that power. Preparation is power. Talk to your credit union. Strategize your attack. Then go get your new wheels, get on the road, and enjoy this great spring weather.

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