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The RAIN Method for Car Buying

The average cost of a new vehicle today is around $35,000. Whether you're looking for a brand new car or a reliable used vehicle, you want to get the most for your money. The process can be made easier by following the RAIN method: 

Understand the Advantages of Pre-Approved Auto Loans. Make sure you speak with a First Florida Credit Union lending staff member to find out what you qualify for before you shop. Then, begin the RAIN process:

Research
Check out Consumer Reports, Kelley Blue Book, and other sources to make sure the vehicle you want is reliable and right for you. Use the buyer’s guide to find the wholesale price -- the price the dealership paid minus any rebates, hold-backs, or incentives. That is the price you'll use to negotiate.

Ask
Ask the dealership for information about the average cost of upkeep. This information is critical as you examine the overall costs of the purchase. Insurance is another big cost. Contact your insurance company to find out the rates you can expect with that vehicle.

Investigate or Inspect  
If you're thinking of buying a new car, tell the salesperson at the dealership that on this trip you will be test driving only and not ready to make a deal yet. This is your opportunity to get a feel for the car. Will it meet your needs? How does it handle? Will you be happy with it for years to come? 

If you're buying a used vehicle, the inspection process is very important. Check out the exterior and interior. Take it for a test drive to see how it handles, how it accelerates, and brakes. If everything looks good, take it to a certified mechanic for a full diagnostic check. It may cost you $100, but not only will you get a detailed report of the condition, most will provide you with a list of problem areas and the cost to fix them. This will be helpful for your last step.

Negotiate
Many people find the negotiation process is intimidating, but it's important if you want to get a good deal. Pick out two to three dealerships to visit. 

Tell the salesperson that you're checking out other dealerships and the one that offers the best deal will be getting your business. Ask them "What's the lowest price you can offer on this vehicle?” Take that number and visit your other dealerships. See which offer comes in the best. If you still aren’t happy with the offers, tell them what you think is fair based on the research you have done. If they say no, move on. 

Purchasing a vehicle is one of life’s big expenses. Being prepared is key to getting the best deal.  

Copyright 2018 Credit Union National Association Inc.