Car Finance: An Easy Button

Buying a new car is exciting, but as soon as you have to think about car finance the anxiety starts to build. Not knowing which car you can afford or if a lender will let you borrow can cause feelings of dread. Driving around town, or multiple towns finding the right vehicle at the right price is hard. Not to mention all the different sales people and negotiations that you have to go through every time you want to buy a car.

We have simplified the process and now buying a car can be done in four simple steps.

Step 1: Car Finance Options and Preapproval

A car loan preapproval is a documentation that shows, based on your credit report and other information, how large of a loan you can get from the lender.

During the preapproval process, the lender will provide you with the loan amount and interest rate for the loan. The lender will determine your monthly payments by factoring in the price of the car, interest rate, and credit score. Current rates are as low as 1.95 percent – making the car buying more affordable than ever before. 

Obtaining a preapproval is an important step to take prior to visiting a car dealership. Some advantages of a preapproval are:

  • Knowing your budget helps you during the shopping process. It will save you time because you already know how much you can borrow before you set out for the dealership. You won’t waste your day test driving cars that are above or below your price range.
  • It saves you disappointment. You won’t invest interest in a vehicle only to find out the car of your dreams is over your budget.
  • Car dealers will see you as a serious buyer. You will be in a stronger negotiating position because they know you have already gone through the preapproval steps to get the car finance information. They understand you are close to making a decision if the car is a good fit.
  • You have an easy out when the salesperson starts talking add-ons. When the dealer starts talking about adding on a roof rack, tire package or custom paint you simply say that it doesn’t fit your budget. And if you really want to add-on a navigation system, remote car starter, or pinstriping it can help you prioritize these extras so you only select the ones that are most important to you.

Easy Car Finance


Step 2: Shop for a Car

Now that you have gone through the finance portion you have an idea of your budget. It is time to go shopping. Begin with online research on our website to get started. You can learn more about our stress-free car-buying search while you are there. 

You may already have an idea of the car you want which will make the online research easier. If you are starting from scratch at least now you have a budget to keep in mind while you are clicking around.

Most dealerships have a photo gallery of models showing trim, colors, and features. Many will offer videos, so you get a real sense of space and vehicle features.

Online shopping also gives you an opportunity to compare dealerships. You will be able to search dealer inventory from the comfort of your home at your leisure. You may find a dealership located a little further from your home that has the car of your dreams, or the one close to home has more inventory.

Looking online will help you whittle down 

your choices to two or three models before you even step foot in a dealership.

This is the part that is fun! Looking around at all of the vehicle options in your price range and choosing which you like best.

Step 3: Test Drive Your Favorite Cars

When you find the car you love, go to the dealership and start test driving!

You may want to consider making an appointment. This will give you priority on test drives to ensure the specific model you want is on the lot when you arrive. Be sure to bring your valid driver’s license and proof of insurance which will be required to test drive.

Some dealerships will require you to test drive with one of their salespeople, others will let you take the car out by yourself if you ask.

Before you start driving check a few areas of the car:

  • Size up the vehicle: Is the car easy to get in and out of? Try sitting in all seats, not just the driver’s seat. Consider legroom. The legroom needed for a toddler is different from teens. If you will have kids or other passengers consistently riding in the back seat is there enough space to make them comfortable? If you have a third row or sliding doors can you or your passengers easily get in and out of the vehicle?
  • Adjust the seats: If you are taller, do you have enough headspace? If you are shorter, can the seats adjust to give you proper visibility? Can you adjust the seat to your ideal position?
  • Controls: Do you like the layout of the controls on the steering wheel or panels? Are everything within easy reach and simple to locate? Have the car salesperson provide you an overview of where the turn signals, headlights, wiper, and other controls are located. Every car is different, and you don’t want to get out for a test drive not knowing where the basic controls are located.
  • Adjust the mirrors: How easy are the side mirrors to adjust? Do you have large blind spots? If so, does the car feature a blind-spot detection system and how does it work?
  • Car seat check: If you have kids you will want to try installing your car seat(s) into the vehicle. Are they easy to take in and out? Is there enough space? If you require multiple car seats – will they all fit? Keep in mind the car seat your child currently sits in changes as they grow. Can the car accommodate your future needs?
  • Climate control: How are the fans and vents? Check the car’s front and rear vents to make sure they adequately adjust to make for a comfortable environment.
  • Cargo space: Trunk space is important. Do you have enough space to accommodate what you need? Will you need the rear seats to collapse? Do you regularly need space for strollers, kayaks or other bulky items? Can all your stuff fit?

Now that you have the basics down it is time to take the car on the road and see how it drives.

  • Steering: How does the car respond to turning? How responsive is the vehicle?
  • Suspension: Try driving over railroad tracks or bumps. Are you comfortable when going over a rough road?
  • Brakes: How do the brakes feel? Is breaking sudden or smooth?
  • Safety features: Does the car have a backup camera? How does it work? Can you clearly see the backup indicators? If the car is self-parking how does that feature work?
  • Engine acceleration: Try driving up hills and on the highway. Is there enough power to accelerate? How does the vehicle sound? Is it quiet inside the car when you accelerate or do you hear a lot of engine noise?
  • Connectivity: If the car has Bluetooth, try it out. How is the sound and performance?
  • Navigation and electronics: Are the map and directions easy to see? Are road names legible? If the car has a rear entertainment system how does it work? Can passengers control the system?
  • Maneuverability: How does the car drive overall? Are you comfortable making turns and driving on curved roads? How easy is it to merge into traffic? Does it drive well on streets and highways?

Man buying a car easily

Step 4: Buy the Car 

You have checked out all the cars you wanted and test drove some options.

Once you’ve made the choice that is right for you, sign the contract at the dealership and let us know you’re ready to go! Then, you can drive home in the car of your dreams.

To become a member at Focus Federal Credit Union and get access to this great car buying experience and super low rates go to our website at and fill out our auto loan application.

We make the car finance process easy, it only takes 3 minutes!