Financial Advice

Buy & Own a Car


Make the Most of Summer Car Deals

Car shopping during the dog days of a Texas summer may not sound like your idea of a vacation. But, the truth is that car buyers willing to brave the heat may walk away with some cool deals. Whether you’re in the market for a used car or a new car, here are some tips to consider when it comes to summer shopping.

Seek Out the Best Deals
In the later summer months, many car dealers are preparing for the coming year’s models to arrive. That means they need to clear space in their showrooms, and potentially lots of it, for newer cars. Many times, they are willing to offer deep discounts to move their remaining inventory.

As the temperatures heat up, so do the ads. Watch for manufacturer cash rebates and incentives on new vehicles. Even beyond the discounts offered, though, be prepared to negotiate your own deal. Even if they have incentives, you may still be able to negotiate a lower price if you are armed with research.

Do Your Research
Be sure to begin your research in advance, and go shopping armed with information on the models you’re considering. Here are our top tips for where to focus when it’s time to start researching:

  • Expand Your Search Area — Some local markets simply might be more expensive than others. Don’t limit your search to the city or county in which you live. Instead, expand your search to include nearby cities. You might find that a 2–4 hour drive to a neighboring city is well worth the financial savings.
  • Know the Car’s Value — Take advantage of resources like the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) and Kelley Blue Book®, and be sure to check the online inventory of any dealers you might be considering. These steps can help you determine whether you’re getting a good deal.
  • Know the Car’s History — If you’re purchasing a used vehicle, be sure you know its history. Have a mechanic look at it, or get a CarFax™ report, which contains historical information, including reported accidents, damage history, previous owners, mileage, and service history, as well as the location in which the vehicle was most recently owned. Keep in mind, however, that although this is a useful tool, it may not always be comprehensive because they can only report the information they have been given.
If this is your year for new or used car shopping, our auto financing experts can help. Call us at (800) 252-8311, or stop by any branch to learn more.

Be Ready to Buy
You can expect plenty of competition from other discount-seeking buyers. Some buyers will hold off on purchases in hopes that dealers will slash prices even further. But for the best options on makes, models, colors, and options, do your research and be prepared to make your best offer. And even if it seems to be a close-to-perfect deal for you, don’t be afraid to walk away if it’s not the deal you really want. Remember, the car you’re hoping for is probably not unique. You can most likely find plenty of cars similar to the make and model you want in an inventory of another dealer.

Get Prequalified
Before venturing out to dealerships, talk with a trusted lender to get prequalified for your auto loan. Prequalification gives you several advantages: 

  • You know in advance what your budget is, and what your anticipated car payment will be. Preapproved buyers are less likely to break the bank with an impulse purchase that doesn’t make sound financial sense for them.
  • You are in a better negotiating stance when the dealer knows in advance that you, in fact, qualify for the cars you are considering. The salesman will be more motivated to make sure he or she gets your business before you leave for another dealership.
  • You save time at the dealership. With a preapproved car loan in hand, you keep the focus on getting the car you want, rather than getting approved for financing with the dealership.

Weigh the Impact of New Car Depreciation
Vehicles depreciate the most in their first year, ranging from about 18% for SUVs to 35% for sedans and electric vehicles, according to AAA. If you’re someone who likes purchasing cars often, you might consider shopping used, as used cars will already have experienced that initial depreciation.