The car market is trending down since reaching its highest point in 2022 due to global supply chain issues. Many of us have been anxiously awaiting the market to decline, and experts say we should expect prices to drop in the near future.
If you are buying a car in DC, we have tips for planning ahead on your purchase! We recommend you begin monitoring interest rates as soon as Sept. 1, 2023.
Car Buying Tips in DC for the Upcoming Market Changes
The worst of the high market car prices may be behind us. Now it’s time to look ahead and prepare for new market changes. With the predicted market declines, here is how we suggest preparing for your next vehicle purchase:
- Plan ahead. Understand that the car you have your heart set on may not be readily available. Broaden the scope of your search – not just on models, but your zone. You may need to look outside your neighborhood or city to find the car you want or need.
- If you want to test drive a car, it’s wise to check what the dealer actually has on the lot before making the trip and spending the gas. Even better – call before you go. As fluid as the market is, it’s wise to confirm what you see online is what you’ll see in person.
- Prepare to negotiate. What you see on the sticker price is not what dealers are willing to sell it for. Browse consumer reviews like Edmunds or Car and Driver – take note of a vehicle’s MSRP and the “fair market” price.
- When you’re evaluating your budget and deciding on what you can afford, make sure you don’t forget about taxes, title, and registration fees + insurance costs. Factor these into your total monthly estimate. Experts suggest that your total car payment should only take up 10-15% of your monthly income.
- Once you decide on a car, make sure you know how everything works before you leave the lot. Cars these days, even the base trims, come with lots of bells and whistles. Make sure you understand all the features and how they operate – before you’re behind the wheel and on the road.
- Don’t sign blind. You might be exhausted from all the researching, car shopping, and test driving, but make sure you’re aware of everything you’re signing. Pay attention, and don’t accidentally agree to any add-ons like extended warranties without realizing it.
- Ask about any Armed Services, Law Enforcement, or First Responder discounts. Many MD, VA, and D.C.-area dealers recognize the service and sacrifice of our national and local heroes and will provide some kind of discount on the purchase of a new car.
- The best time to buy is at the end of the month – but not necessarily at the end of the day.
Buying a Car in DC – Get Pre-Approved for an Auto Loan
One of the smartest things you can do when car shopping is to get pre-approved for a car loan ahead of time. Don’t wait until you are ready to sign a contract before figuring out this crucial part.
Here are some reasons why you want to walk into the car dealer pre-approved:
- You want to know your limits. Pre-approval lets you know what you can afford and plan your budget based on the interest rate you’re given. (Don’t forget insurance and fees!)
- If you shop for a loan through the dealer, they can add extra percentage points to your rate – putting more of your money in their pocket.
- You can avoid haggling and upselling. Once you’re pre-approved, you’re essentially a cash buyer. You know what you can afford – and what you can’t. The dealer can’t press the issue of all the little extras that you don’t really need.
In Maryland, VA, and the DC area, Police FCU is a great option for financing a car for several reasons:
- Low, fixed rates (as low as 4.49% APR*)
- Exclusive .20% rate reduction on hybrid or electric vehicles
- Up to 120% financing, including taxes, fees, and GAP Plus insurance
- No payments for 60 days
- Flexible terms up to 84 months
- Easy application options: online, phone, fax, in-person, or mail
- Line of Duty debt protection
Rates may vary. View our Auto Loans page to see the current rates.
Buying a Car in DC is Easy when You Plan Ahead!
We hope these tips are helpful as you plan to buy a car in DC. Make it a little bit easier with a pre-approval from Police FCU. See our Auto Loans page to get things rolling. We want to help you secure the car you really want.
Police FCU provides the personalized care and support that you expect from your local credit union. Visit our website for membership details.
*APR = Annual Percentage Rate. Rates are subject to change without prior notice. Rates are based on applicant(s) credit score. Your rate may vary. Motorcycle loan rates 1% higher.