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Tips to Help You Find the Right Car for Your Family & Budget

Finding the right car for your family and budget may seem intimidating—but with a little research, you can find a cost-efficient option to suit your needs.

A Little Research Can Go a Long Way.

Getting started.

Before you ever set foot in a car lot, think about your needs and prioritize your “must-haves” and “nice-to-haves.” Will you primarily use it for commuting to work, taking the kids to school and activities, running errands, or taking family trips? Other considerations may include:

  • Size: Number of passengers and amount of cargo space
    Budget: What you can afford to spend monthly, and whether you have a trade-in
    Features: All-wheel drive, fuel efficiency, entertainment, navigation system, a roof rack, and others
  • Also, think about parking, how long you anticipate having the car, and options for a new, used or leased vehicle.

Conducting initial research.

Start your research online. It’s an easy way to learn about what’s available in your area.

Several websites can help you find options that fit your wish list and budget. You might try PenAir’s Auto Buying Service. Other options include Carfax.com, Kelleybluebook.com, Edmunds.com, and ConsumerReports.com.

You may also decide to visit a local dealership or attend an auto show to get hands-on with specific car models and types.

Once you have some initial ideas, ask around. Personal reviews and referrals from people you trust can prove most valuable.

You may ask: Which cars have you owned or driven? What did you like or dislike about the cars? Where did you purchase or lease your car, and how was your experience with the seller?

You’ll have more negotiating leverage with dealers or other sellers if you know exactly how much you can spend.

So, consider getting pre-approved for a car loan from your local credit union or PenAir before you start seriously shopping. Check out local rates and use a Car Loan Calculator to dial in your budget and ask PenAir for discounts that are available to you as a member of PenAir Federal Credit Union.

Get Answers Quickly

PenAir has the tools you need right at your fingertips.

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Managing the search process—and the test-drive

Once you’ve narrowed your list to a few selected car types and models that meet your needs visit a few dealerships and test-drive any options you may be interested in. A visit to the dealership is an opportunity to learn as much as possible about before you make a major purchase, so don’t buy impulsively or feel pressured to sign on the dotted line.

After the test drive, take a few days to review your options. When you’re close to a decision, check Kelleybluebook.com or Edmunds.com for information on the new car’s price range or the used car’s value, based on its condition. This information will prove invaluable to you when negotiating the price. Both sites have apps, so download them and bring them along for instant access to this information if needed. You can also check PenAir’s Auto Buying Service for a no-hassle buying experience.

With some research, budget-planning, and money management, you can find the perfect car for you and your family.

Next Steps

When you are ready to take off on a new driving adventure, check out the resources we have for you here at PenAir:

Auto Loans for New or Used Cars
Learn More and Apply
Auto Loan Calculators
What Can You Afford?
Money Management Tool
Build Your Budget
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