Auto Buying Tips

  • Purchasing Tips
  • Used Car Buying Myths & Mistakes
  • Used Car Buying Process

Auto Purchasing Tips


Do Your Research

If you find a car you like, be patient and do a lot of research. Research everything regarding the vehicle as well as the dealers who carry that vehicle. The more you know the better equipped you will be at controlling the negotiations in your favor.


Know Your Trade-In Value
If you are going to trade-in a vehicle, know the estimated value of yours at its current condition so you will be equipped to negotiate the trade-in value. There are a number of ways to research this, but in addition to those take your vehicle to several dealers to find out what each might suggest they would give toward your vehicle trade-in before you actually start shopping for a vehicle.


Get Pre-approved

Find out how much you would like to spend and then stop by Texas DPS Credit Union to get pre-approved for an auto loan. This can help strengthen your ability to negotiate with the dealers when you already know a pre-approved dollar amount to work with.


Make Them Compete

Don't be afraid to make them compete for your business. Shop around and bring the competitors quotes with you. Work them against each other, but be polite in doing so. An angered sales person will be less willing to work with you.


Do Not Be Afraid To Walk Away

If they wont come to your terms, walk away. Don't let yourself get pulled into a buy you do not feel confident about. Buyers remorse is an awful feeling that can haunt you every time you step into that vehicle. It can help to bring someone with you who has little interest in the matter that will keep a level head and ensure you don't get pulled into something you might regret.


Check Online

Be sure to use caution when shopping online, but there are many reputable online dealers that can provide you with a great deal and save you the time, as well as the hassle of having to run all over town to visit the various dealers. Keep in mind that most local dealers have a website that you can check out, as well.


Timing Of Purchase Can Save You Money

A great time to purchase a car is often in December when most people are concentrated on spending money on holiday gifts and not on purchasing a car. Late summer and early fall can also be very good times to purchase a new vehicle as many dealers are looking to create room for new models. Finally, the end of the month can be a good time to find a deal. As monthly goals approach, many are more likely to cut better deals to simply get a car on the road in time to meet their goals.


Be Aware of Costs

So you are getting the best overall buy, be aware of the costs associated with the car,
such as the following:

  • Average asking price at various dealers verses the actual value.
    Compare price tags and the bells & whistles available on the vehicle with a similar model
    at other dealers.
  • Average cost on insurance for that make and model.
    Speak with various insurance carriers to determine what the average cost for insurance on
    the vehicle will be.
  • Average cost for maintenance and parts.
    Cost on maintenance and parts can vary. For instance, you might be getting a great deal on a vehicle, but those savings can be lost on the back end if the vehicle carries a higher price tag on parts and maintenance, as well as a wait time for shipment of parts.


Beware Of Relocation

If a dealer is bringing the vehicle from another location, do not sign anything until you have seen the vehicle. If you have to sign something, make sure it gives you an out, without loss of money, if the vehicle is not in the condition you desire. Also, find out exactly what the fees will be that the dealer will add on to relocate that vehicle to their location.


Be Cautious With The Latest Deal Of The Month

Find out what the fine print is before committing to their latest sales gimmick.


Run a Vehicle History Report & Do An Inspection

If the vehicle is a used vehicle run a Vehicle History Report and have a mechanic do a full inspection. You never know when a vehicle that appears to be in great shape was involved in an accident or a flood that will create issues later down the road. If you're uncertain who to use for a vehicle inspection, we recommend Auto P.I.


Read Before You Sign

Before signing, read the contract thoroughly and beware of As Is statements. If you sign an As Is statement, you’re pretty much stuck with the vehicle once you drive it off the lot, regardless of the issue. Happy Auto Hunting!

Top 10 Used Car Buying Myths, Mistakes and Pitfalls

(Why Bad Used Cars are Purchased and Financed)


Any one of the following 10 items can cause a nightmare when purchasing a used vehicle. ALL of these items can be avoided if your members understand them before purchase.


1) "AS-IS" Document

Buyers are required to sign the AS-IS document when purchasing a vehicle from a used car dealer. The “AS-IS” document has 2 check boxes, “AS-IS No Warranty” and “Warranty”. If the warranty box is checked on the document, be sure you understand what is covered and for what length of time .You always have the right to have the vehicle professionally inspected to determine the true condition before purchase. Buyers have little or no rights after the sale.


2) Automatic Warranty

Many used car buyers still believe there is an automatic warrantee when you purchase a used vehicle. However, dealers are not required to give any type of warranty. Any limited warranty given by the dealer must be in writing to be enforceable. If you get a limited warranty, make sure you understand what is systems and components are covered and for what length of time. Many warrantees just cover the drive train, not the entire vehicle. Note: A used vehicle might have some factory warranty still remaining. This is different from the warrantee given by a dealer.


3) Take Back Period

Many buyers still believe there is a 3-day take back period, or they can take it back if they have not made the first payment. There is no law stating the buyer can get their money back if the buyer is not satisfied after the purchase.


4) Used Car Lemon Law

There is no Lemon Law for used vehicles in Texas. Buyers assume that since there is a new car Lemon Law protecting consumers, there must be a used car Lemon Law. Most states do not have lemon laws for used vehicles.


5) Used Car Values

There are many web sites that give used car values. Normally there are price additions and deductions for optional equipment, excessive miles, etc… However, there are no deductions for the actual mechanical condition of the vehicle. If a pre-purchase inspection discovers needed repairs, the cost of the repairs should be deducted from the book value.


6) Vehicle History Reports

No vehicle history report can tell the buyer the actual condition of the vehicle. Vehicle history companies admit that they have incomplete accident history on used vehicles, and have little repair history on used vehicles. History reports cannot tell if there are existing problems, potential problems, or the quality of any accident repairs made to the vehicle. Only a professional pre-purchase inspection can tell you the exact condition of the vehicle before you purchase.


7) Frame Damaged and Flooded Vehicles

It is estimated that 1 in 14 vehicles on the road today are rebuilt from salvage and that 40% of all frame repairs are substandard. Many of these totaled vehicles still have clean titles. These vehicles have a high likelihood of safety and reliability problems. Only a professional inspection can determine if the vehicle was in a flood or accident and the quality of any repairs.


8) Certified Vehicles

There is no standard criteria for a "Certified" used car. Every manufacturer or independent dealer has their own certification standards and warranty. These certification standards and limited warranties can vary greatly from dealer to dealer. A professional inspection is still needed to determine any problems not covered under the limited warranty or if their junior technicians missed existing problems.


9) Odometer Fraud

It is estimated that 1 in 4 used vehicles have odometer discrepancies. A professional inspection should determine if the wear and tear on the vehicle is consistent with the odometer reading. Buyers will pay more than the vehicle is worth if the odometer has been spun back.


10) Pre-Purchase Inspections

There is a huge difference in the level of expertise for Automotive Technicians. Today’s vehicles are so complex that most automotive technicians are just certified in a couple of automotive areas. However, the used car buyer must have every mechanical, electrical, body and frame system tested and evaluated before purchased. Only an ASE Master Certified Technician is qualified to inspect and evaluate all the mechanical and electrical systems, and a Body and Frame Specialist is needed to determine any previous accident and/or frame damage and the quality of any repairs.


Go to for more information about these 10 items and additional ways to reduce the risks on used car loans.

3 Step Used Car Buying Process


Step 1: Getting Pre-Approved

Having a pre-approved loan allows you to concentrate on finding a good vehicle and not worrying about the pitfalls of third party financing. Contact the Texas DPS Credit Union Loan Department and get pre-approved for a used car loan before you look at vehicles.


Quick Tip: Credit Unions traditionally offer their members the best loan rates for used vehicles.


Step 2: Finding a Used Vehicle

Finding a good used car is the most difficult part of the used car buying process. However, doing a little homework can save wasted trips looking at vehicles. Go online and view used car buying sites to compare vehicles and prices. This will give you an idea of availability and pricing.


Once you found a vehicle be sure you follow the steps below:

  • Take it for a test drive.
    A test drive should last at least 10 minutes over different road conditions and speeds. Be sure you check all electrical components and accessories.
  • Negotiate a price.
    Call one of our loan officers and ask for the “Book vale” of the vehicle. When you negotiate a price always make it contingent upon a profession pre-purchase inspection. You cannot determine the true value of a used vehicle without knowing the true condition of the vehicle.
  • Have the vehicle professionally inspected.
    Do not let the salesperson or seller talk you out of your right to an unbiased professional inspection.
    Auto P.I. is a great choice and there is a discount offered through Texas DPS Credit Union.


Quick Tip: CARFAX and other vehicle history reports cannot tell you the true condition of the vehicle. It also cannot tell you the quality of any repairs made to the vehicle.


Quick Tip: Certified Pre-Owned Vehicles have no standard for certification. A certified vehicle needs to be inspected to determine if there are problems that are not covered under the certified vehicle’s warranty.



Step 3: Getting a Pre-Purchase Inspection

A pre-purchase inspection is the most important step when purchasing the used vehicle. It is always the buyer's responsibility to determine the true condition of a used vehicle before purchase.


However, a pre-purchase inspection is only as good as the automotive Technician, and all automotive technicians are not equal. There is a huge difference between a mechanic’s check and a pre-purchase inspection. A mechanic’s check is usually performed on a vehicle with a specific problem. An Automotive Technician, certified on a particular system or component, can diagnose and repair that system or component. However, a pre-purchase inspection requires that the Technician be certified on each and every automotive system and component. Only an ASE Certified Master Technician is certified on every mechanical and electrical system.


A professional pre-purchase inspection by an ASE Master Technician should provide answers to the following questions:

  • How has the vehicle been driven?
    Did the previous owner(s) misuse and/or abuse the vehicle? Or, was it driven sensibly?
  • Is the vehicle in good working order?
    Does the vehicle have existing problems, or have someone try to disguise or hide needed repairs?
    Was regular maintenance performed? What is the current condition of every mechanical and
    electrical system?
  • Has the vehicle ever been in an accident?
    A Body & Chassis inspection will tell if the vehicle was involved in a small non-structural fender-bender? Or, is the vehicle a collection of wrecked cars welded together? What is the quality of all accident repairs?


How to locate a qualified Technician:

Search "used car inspections" on the web or call Auto P.I. Used Car Inspections. Auto P.I. actually goes to the car! They perform a 600-point inspection performed by an ASE Master Technician, and then tell you the unvarnished truth about the vehicle. Texas DPS Credit Union members receive a discount (coupon).
Auto P.I.'s website also contains valuable information. Other used-car inspection sources may also include diagnostic and service garages. Just be sure the person performing the pre-purchase inspection is an ASE Certified Master Technician.

The above Helpful Hints are simply suggestions that can help with the process of shopping for a vehicle and are not intended
as professional advice.
Additional Loan Coverage
Insure your loan payments today so you can worry less tomorrow with Credit Life & Disability. Keep your vehicle running extra miles and extra years with Mechanical Repair Coverage.
Guaranteed Asset Protection
Accidents happen and with GAP (Guaranteed Asset Protection) you can rest assured if an accident does occur then the gap between what your car is worth and how much you owe is covered.

Auto P.I. offers a $20 coupon for Texas DPS Credit Union Members!

Go To & Print Coupon >>


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Texas DPS Credit Union | 621 W. St. Johns Ave | Austin, TX 78752
Mailing Address | PO Box 15346 | Austin, TX 78761
Toll Free 1(877)252-9199 | Austin (512)452-5211

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