Prepare to get the best deal possible.

If getting a good deal is important to you, it's critical to prepare for all aspects of a vehicle purchase before you begin shopping. Otherwise, you're likely to pay too much.

“First, determine what features you want in a vehicle. Then, compare and contrast the vehicles you’re interested in and create a list of your top three,” says Dora Idosor, a loan servicing supervisor for California Coast Credit Union. “Finally, set a realistic budget taking into account not only your monthly payment, but also insurance and yearly registration fees.”

As a rule of thumb, your total monthly car payments—for all the vehicles you own—shouldn't exceed 20% of your monthly take-home pay. Also consider what extras you want. If you've decided beforehand what features are must haves, you're less likely to purchase more than you need.

There are numerous publications and online resources available to help you decide what car best suits you. For example, Edmunds' buyers' guides, Consumer Reports, Kelley Blue Book and J.D. Power and Associates all include vehicle descriptions, ratings, reviews, comparisons and other useful information.

Most importantly, you need to know how much your desired vehicle is selling for in your area. California Coast’s car buying services can provide you with resources to research local vehicle prices and help you get the car you want at the right price.

If you plan to finance your purchase, get pre-approved for a low-rate auto loan with California Coast before you shop. You can even get a Drive Your Deal check from California Coast to take with you to a dealership to streamline your transaction.

If you’re trading in your old car, find out up front what your existing car is worth to expedite the trade-in process. Then, visit a number of dealerships and see what they'll do for you. The more information you walk in with, the better deal you'll walk out with.

Ready to get on the road? To get pre-approved, go to our online application centervisit a local branch to find a branch/ATM near youor call us at (877) 495-1600.