4 Car Buying Tips to Save the Most Money

December 20, 2022 by Spectrum Credit Union

Looking for a new ride? Historically, December has been the best month to buy a car. The end of the year has the highest MSRP discount — hitting 6.1% on average, according to Edmunds.com.

In recent years, the ongoing semiconductor shortage led to depleted vehicle shortages and inflated prices on both used and new vehicles, cutting into the normal December discounts. But, some experts are predicting the shortage will come to an endby the close of 2022, meaning dealerships will start to see more inventory this month.

If you’re in the market for a new or used car, you may have more options now, but you should still consider that prices won’t be as low as we saw pre-pandemic. Consider these tips to make sure you’re getting the best deal:

Do your homework

While the inventory is improving, prices on used and new cars are still inflated. Before you head to the dealership, research the MSRP of any vehicle you are considering to make sure you’re getting a good deal.

There are other things you will want to consider when researching your next potential vehicle including:

●       Reliability: Having a predictable ride can help keep maintenance costs down and keep you on the road.

●       Insurance costs: Insurance costs vary by make, model and even year. Make sure to factor those costs into your budget.

●       Maintenance costs: Some cars cost more to maintain and repair than other models.

Knowing what models will work for you and what price points are fair before you start shopping can help you narrow down your search and find a good deal.

Secure financing first

Many people opt to set up financing through the car dealership after they have found a vehicle and agreed on a price. However, you may be able to get a better interest rate if you secure outside financing before even test-driving a car. Typically, dealerships do not offer direct financing, opting to work as a middleman between car buyers and lenders. To cover this service, many dealerships add a markup to your interest rate — driving up the total cost of your loan.

With Spectrum Credit Union, you can get pre-approved for auto financing in minutes to see what interest rates and terms you qualify for. Knowing what you can be approved for allows you to compare rates offered by local dealerships and feel confident that you're getting the best deal.


Historically, negotiating for a new or used car at the dealership was the norm. During the global chip shortage, many car buyers paid well above MSRP to secure a vehicle and were unable to negotiate simply because the inventory wasn’t available.

As the inventory returns, don’t be tempted to pay sticker price right off the bat. Even if you can’t get much taken off the price of a car right now, some dealerships bake extras and add-ons like warranties, undercarriage coverage and maintenance into the price of a car. Removing any service you don’t want or won’t use may help save you money.

Consider refinancing your current auto loan

If you aren’t in the market for a new car, but are carrying an auto loan, consider looking into refinancing.

Many newer cars are eligible for refinancing, and you could qualify for a lower interest rate than you initially signed up for. Be sure to compare rates with other banks and your credit union to make sure you’re getting the best deal.

Time to start shopping

Ready to start shopping for a new car? Before you take that test drive, let Spectrum Credit Union help you find a good deal on your financing. Unlock low rates and flexible terms from 12 to 84 months by applying online through our Auto Loan center. We make auto financing quick, convenient and flexible for our members. 

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