The Armed Forces are filled with people who risk their lives for our freedom every day, and yet they are being tricked into bad car loan deals. How can you be a smart car shopper in the military?

Car Buying Tips for Military Personnel

You have served our country and fought for our rights, and now you're being taken advantage of by a crooked salesman at the dealership? As unfair as it is, it happens all the time to those servicemen and women that are first time buyers looking to purchase a car, and don't know the ropes just yet. Unfortunately, young military personnel are the most vulnerable to car salesmen tactics for a few reasons:

  • This is the first time they have a steady paycheck and they are overly excited to spend it
  • They feel pressured into the deal because they don't want to get in trouble with their superior officers for owing money to a local business

There is no way to stop these crooks from taking advantage of the most hard-working people who fight for them to even have their jobs, but you can beat them at their own game. Whether you're a solider or a civilian, there are many car buying tips you should follow to ensure that you are getting the best deal possible, and not being taken advantage of!

Compare Vehicle Prices with Different Sources

This is something that not a lot of people do before entering a dealership car lot because they believe all local new car dealerships have the cars listed at the same price – this is not true. To be sure that you are getting a fair price, you should always call or visit multiple dealerships to compare which dealers are marking the price up to get a bigger profit.

If you don't want to drive around town all day you can do price comparisons online. Sites like Kelley Blue Book,, and National Automotive Dealers Association offer new car prices and specs to see what price range you should stay within to get a good deal. If you're looking for a specific used car model, chances are that not every dealership you visit will have that vehicle on their lot, thus the internet can prove to be beneficial here. You will be able to see what private party sellers are asking for the same car, as well as the dealerships that do have it.

Budget Yourself for More than the Just the Monthly Payment

Your monthly payment on a vehicle loan is important. You must be able to afford the payment and not fall behind or default on the loan because it could land you in trouble with your military officers - but it shouldn't be your selling point. A salesman can help you meet pretty much any monthly budget you have set for yourself, within reason, by just extending the loan term a few more years. However, this will mean that you are paying more for your car over the entire loan term than you need to be, and you will be upside-down a lot longer.

If you want to get the biggest bang for your buck, you need to negotiate the entire purchase price of your car, and worry about monthly payments later. For example, you should be considering:

  • Gas prices and how fuel-efficient your car is.
  • How much it will cost you to register the vehicle with your state, and how much it will be to re-register it every year thereafter.
  • Insurance costs for vehicles vary by the make/model, your age, and your driving history. If you're under 25, have a few tickets and are buying a sports car; you take the risk of paying more for insurance than for the car.
  • Budgeting in maintenance costs is essential. You should factor in how much you will be spending each month in routine check-ups and oil changes.

If you don't think you'll be able to afford the car after factoring in all these costs, or the dealer simply can't make an attractive offer to you, be ready to walk away. There are many salesmen that will make you feel as though that if you don't take this deal now, you'll miss out on this car forever, don't fall for this. You've been through boot camp and deployments dealing with much scarier situations; don't fall for the scary "urgency" salesperson trick.  If they can't get you a good deal, another dealership can.

Gather Intel on the Enemy

No, the dealership and salespeople are not threats to national security, but can be threats to your personal finances if you don't work with the right company. Once you have found a dealership to work with you should get as much information about them as possible. Check the BBB (Better Business Bureau) to see what grade the company got. If they have an 'A' rating you know they are reputable and less likely to take advantage of you; if they have an 'F' rating get out of dodge!

Signing Your Life Away

Okay, that's a little drastic, but you will get my point. Signing your name on the documents of a car loan means you are now legally obligated to repay the debt to the lending company. You may have heard the rumor that there is a three-day grace period when buying a car. If you happen to have a change of heart about the purchase you can take it back to the dealership and you will no longer be responsible for the car note. This is completely false. There is no law stating that this is part of the auto financing process, however, there are a few dealerships throughout the country that offer some sort of grace period.

In order to prevent any possible second thoughts you should go home and sleep on it.  You may need to discuss this large purchase with a spouse, or maybe you just want to run it by some of your military brothers and sisters to get their opinion on the deal. This will give you adequate time to really think about if you can afford this deal and if it is the best financial decision for you, and in turn, could prevent you from making a big mistake.

As We See It

The brave men and women that serve our country and fight for our rights and freedom are being taken advantage of at certain car dealerships, which is not okay. Here at Auto Credit Express, we will help you get a fair deal on a car that you can not only afford, but that you want to drive around in. We have a large network of car dealerships throughout the United States that offer special military discounts without ripping you off.

If you're ready to get started on your first military car loan, apply now with our online application. You could be visiting a dealership and driving away in a new car with a favorable loan in just a few days.