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One of your biggest and most significant purchases will probably be a car. Hence, military members usually benefit from special loans and incentives for automobile purchases. But even in the military, you still need to plan your finances carefully and do your homework before making a significant purchase. This article details the important steps military members should consider before buying a car.
How Can Military Members Purchase a Car?
Before purchasing a car, there is a lot to learn, including information on sticker costs, auto loans, and warranties. To avoid scams or misleading sales practices, do your research in advance, seek advice from a person you trust, and take the following steps.
Assess your needs
Consider how owning a car fits into your military lifestyle. Even while the new car can appear nice, keep in mind that it will begin to lose value the instant you drive off after paying for it. So you can begin by asking yourself these questions:
- What is your main purpose for buying the car?
- What will you do with the vehicle while you are deployed?
- What kind of vehicle would be suitable for your new location if you were allowed to drive to your new installation?
- If you PCS to a location where driving is prohibited, would you feel at ease storing your car?
Make a Budget
The next step is planning your budget by figuring out how much you can afford to spend. Use consumer reports and online automobile purchase resources, accessible through the DOD MWR Libraries, to evaluate the cost and durability of the vehicles you are considering.
Furthermore, remember to account for the monthly and yearly costs of having a car, such as state vehicle property taxes, insurance, registration, and maintenance. It’s crucial to understand the projected gas mileage of the car you’re thinking about purchasing and to account for it in your monthly budget.
Read the available online customer reviews. Reviews can assist you in the following:
- Finding the right vehicle. You can learn about the characteristics of the vehicles that interest you and check out car owner satisfaction rankings.
- Choosing a reliable car dealer. Check out websites like the Better Business Bureau to see how reputable any potential car dealers are. You can also perform a search using the dealer’s name and the word “complaint.”
Shop for Financing
Before visiting the dealer, decide on your car financing strategy. You should compare the dealer’s offer with others you have received by shopping around for financing options before you arrive at the car lot.
Despite the protections provided by the Military Lending Act, which places a cap on the fees creditors can collect, service members should become familiar with the financing process. You can negotiate the best financing terms when you know your credit score before visiting the dealer.
Unique Considerations for Military Car Buyers
Military car buyers are a prime target for ethical and dishonest lenders due to their unique circumstances. Fortunately, military personnel and their families can also obtain certain support. The Office of Servicemembers Affairs (OSA) was established in 2011 to help military personnel. The OSA deals with problems with consumer finances that affect service members, veterans, and their families.
According to the OSA, it’s essential to understand the following while purchasing a car:
- Your consistent, regular income may be garnished if you don’t make the agreed-upon payments.
- Lenders know that maintaining good financial standing is essential for military service.
- It’s easy to collect their loan from you because you are easy to find.
- Several military personnel purchasing a car are first-time buyers with limited expertise in making important financial decisions.
Where Can Service Members Get Auto Financing?
As previously stated, lenders typically prefer working with active-duty service members. They know that you have a reliable job and income source and that you would face severe consequences if you default on a payment. According to Credit Karma, notable banks and auto lenders that support the military include:
- Navy Federal Credit Union
- Service Credit Union
- PenFed Credit Union
Purchasing a car is a significant investment whether you are a military member. Military personnel and their families must be savvy buyers, learn to spot shady business practices, and avoid scams to get the best deal. They should also take advantage of the discounts and protections offered exclusively to military personnel.