Power Steering: Questions to Ask When Buying a Vehicle - Millstream Area Credit Union
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November 23, 2021

Power Steering: Questions to Ask When Buying a Vehicle


Power Steering: Questions to Ask When Buying a Vehicle

Buying a car can be an intimidating process. Even the friendliest salespersons have knowledge and experience in selling vehicles that gives them an advantage over most buyers. When knowledge is power, that means there is a power imbalance working against you at the dealership.  

But if you know the right questions to ask, you can hold your own in a face-off against a salesperson—and there is one move in particular that can give you more power to steer the purchasing process. We will come back to that in a minute. 

Before you ever set foot on the lot, you need to ask yourself a few basic questions:

  • “What kind of car do I want to buy?” 
  • “How much am I willing to pay for it?” Get a range in mind so you can remain firm about it when pressed by a salesperson. 
  • “How do I plan to finance my purchase?” Will you opt for the dealership’s in-house financing or third-party financing through your bank or credit union?
  • “How much is my trade-in vehicle worth?” Kelley Blue Book should have a reliable answer for you.   

Once you’ve sized up the cars on the dealership lot and landed on a car that piques your interest, be sure to ask the salesperson these questions:

  • “What is the mileage on the vehicle?”
  • “Can I look at a vehicle history report?” 
  • “How much will you pay for my trade-in?” 
  • “Does this vehicle have a warranty and, if so, what does it cover?”

If you plan to secure in-house financing through the dealership, you will also want to ask these questions:

  • “What kind of interest rate can I expect to pay on my auto loan?” 
  • “Do I need a down payment and, if so, how much?”
  • “Will I be penalized for paying off my loan early?” 
  • “What will the final cost of the vehicle be, including any fees that might factor into the purchasing process?”

If, on the other hand, you plan to opt for third-party financing, there are a few decided advantages. By financing through your credit union, you benefit by dealing with a financial institution you already know and trust. At Millstream Area Credit Union, we work with members like you before you even visit the dealership, helping you understand what you can afford, and prequalifying you for financing. 

When you walk into a dealership with a preapproval letter, it’s a power move—the one we mentioned earlier. The letter tells the salesperson how much you can afford to spend in no uncertain terms, which prevents the salesperson from pressuring you to purchase a car outside of your range.

Controlling this aspect of the vehicle search eliminates much of the stress and confusion that come with negotiating vehicle prices and loan interest rates. Which means you and the salesperson are free to focus instead on finding the right vehicle for you. 

At Millstream Area Credit Union, we want your vehicle purchasing experience to be a pleasant one—and with preapproval, it’s actually possible! We want you to end up with the vehicle you want and need, and for a price you can afford.

If you’re already living with a car loan that’s punishing your pocketbook, however, we can help you, too. Refinance with us and lock in an interest rate that will put less of a strain on your finances so you can experience more financial freedom.

If you already know what kind of vehicle you want to buy and you are ready to preapprove, or if you are interested in refinancing, call us today. We are here to help you figure out your next step—and we will take it with you when the time comes.


Before visiting the dealership to buy a vehicle, stop and ask yourself a few important questions—and then get preapproval with us so you can walk onto the lot with purchasing power in hand. If you need a more affordable auto loan, contact us today to start the refinancing process. 

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