Auto Buying Tips & Tricks

by Lauren Beichner

Marketing Specialist

Member Tips

Are you in the market to buy or refinance your vehicle? Coastal's got you covered with our latest auto buying tips and tricks: 

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It's no secret that buying a car can often be overwhelming. Thankfully, we have the tools you need to help you get behind the wheel of your dream car faster and stress-free. Check out a variety of financial learning tools, including articles and videos, to help answer all your top car buying questions. 

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Credit Report Tips 

Before you buy or refinance a vehicle, it's essential that you have a good credit report in place. A seller will check your credit score to ensure that you have a history of good credit before they sell you a car. There are three major credit reporting agencies: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. These agencies collect data about your credit and how you use it so that they can share it as a "score" to lenders and car dealers to help them determine what rate to give you. It's a good idea to pull your credit report once a year so that you know what rate you can expect. In addition to the three credit reporting agencies above, you can also get a free credit report at

To ensure that you maintain a good credit score follow these tips: 

1. Pay On Time

Paying your bills on time is the biggest indicator of how you're going to pay in the future. Make it a priority to spend within your means and pay your bills when they are due to keep your credit score in good shape. 

2. Don't Max Out Your Credit 

Having numerous credit cards that are all maxed out is going to hurt you in the long-run. Maxing out your credit cards shows credit reporting agencies that you are currently overextended on your revolving debt so they will be less likely to give you a good rating. 

3. Don't Close Your Old Credit Cards 

How long you have had your accounts open is a big part of your credit score which is why it's critical that you don't close any of your old credit cards. You may want to consider keeping your old credit cards open to ensure that you establish a good credit score.

4. Use Bankruptcy As A Last Resort 

Filing for bankruptcy may negatively impact your credit score so make sure you seek financial advice before you file bankruptcy if you are in financial trouble. 

5. Don't Forget Any Credit Freezes 

A credit feeze is when you contact the credit bureaus to lock your credit report so nobody can pull your credit score. Always make sure to unfreeze your credit before you make a large purchase such as a vehicle to avoid any delays. 

Buying or Refinancing a Vehicle 

When it comes to refinancing a vehicle it's important to ask yourself why you are looking to refinance. Are you looking to lower your monthly car payment? Are you trying to pay your car off faster? Knowing your goal is key. Here's some things to consider before you refinance or purchase a vehicle:

Before You Refinance A Vehicle: 

  • Check the value of your car to see if you have negative equity 
  • Check to see whether you have GAP coverage through your current lender or insurance provider 
  • Make sure you get the lowest interest rate that you can qualify for 

Before You Purchase A Vehicle: 

  • Look around at similar models of vehicles for better deals 
  • Consider renting the vehicle for a short period of time to see if you like the vehicle 
  • In order to purchase a vehicle you'll need to make sure you have proof of insurance, a driver's license, and a buyer's order from the dealer

Things to Watch Out For 

When it comes to buying or refinancing a car, make sure to avoid making a straw purchase. A straw purchase is a car that you are purchasing for someone else but it's in your name. The only exception to this is if you are purchasing a car for a child who is under 18. The problem with straw purchases is if the person you purchased the car for can't make their loan payments, you are then responsible to make the payments. 

You should also look out for hidden and excessive fees. Knowing what you are signing is critically important. Have someone else view the terms and conditions of the contract before you sign it to ensure that you are fully aware of what you are agreeing to. Always read over your paperwork more than once so you can be completely confident in what you are signing for. In addition, always get a vehicle history report to make certain that you aren't getting a damaged car. 

Last but not least, know what you can afford and get a payment plan that fits into your budget. Look out for loans such as balloon loans where you have low payments at first but in a couple of years when the term is up your payments will drastically increase. 

Last But Not Least

With these tips & tricks you'll be that much more prepared to hit the road. And if you're looking to purchase or refinance*, be sure to talk to Coastal to see how we can help you bank better to live better.

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*All loans are subject to approval. 
1. Consumers are entitled to one free report from each major CRA annually. The report will not contain a numeric score but will give overall picture of credit history.