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How To Buy a Vehicle

Why Buy a Car Instead of Lease?

The decision to buy a vehicle instead of lease is based on your personal needs, wants, and driving habits. While many factors play a role in this auto ownership decision, each buyer has a unique situation. Our Buying vs. Leasing page offers a side-by-side comparison of the facts, pros, and cons of each option for you to reference to begin the process of deciding. If you’re leaning towards purchasing a car, there are some things you should consider: vehicle financing options, cost of auto ownership, your daily commute, and your driving style to name a few. On this page, we’ve created a step-by-step guide to buying a vehicle to help you learn more about the important factors to consider when purchasing a vehicle, financing terms and options, and lastly, the cost of ownership.

So, why buy a vehicle? Here are a few reasons to buy a vehicle instead of lease:

  • Freedom to modify/customize your vehicle as you see fit
  • When you’ve paid off your loan, you’ll no longer have car payments and will have the possibility to save money.
  • No mileage restrictions.
  • You can trade or sell your vehicle as you see fit.
  • You own the vehicle once you’re done with payments.

Buying a vehicle instead of leasing is often beneficial for drivers who are prone to putting a lot of miles on their vehicle, would like to customize or modify their car, or want to have the ability to trade or sell at any time. In the following sections on this page we’ll help you understand the car buying process, guide you through the auto financing options and terms you’ll need to know, and review the cost of ownership that comes with buying a vehicle.

At Graff Bay City, we understand that purchasing a vehicle is a big investment, so we want to not only make the process easy for you, but also work with you to come up with a plan that works for your needs. We have an expert financing team that will work with you to figure out the best financing and payment option for your budget. It’s our goal at Graff Bay City to give you all the information you need to make a comfortable decision in purchasing your next vehicle at our dealership. Feel free to get in touch with us at (989) 684-4411 if you have any questions.

How to Buy a Vehicle – Step-by-Step Auto Buying Process

How To Buy a Vehicle

Consider Your Vehicle Needs and Driving Style

This may be the most important step in the buying process because it helps determine what vehicle is right for you. Once you establish your needs and driving habits, it will be easier to determine the type of vehicle that will fit your needs. Take a look at some points you’ll want to consider:

  • Fluctuating gas prices
  • Number of vehicle seats you need
  • Number of miles you drive daily/monthly/yearly
  • Monthly budget
  • Amount of cargo space you need

Considering these points and more will help you determine what type of vehicle you’ll need based on what you can afford, your driving habits, and vehicle needs. Besides these points, you should also consider the climate and environment you typically drive in. Will you need 4WD or AWD? Do you usually drive in the city or on the highway? Are you driving to a dirty work site everyday where your vehicle could easily be damaged? Will someone else be driving this vehicle as well? All of these factors can affect the type of vehicle you should consider purchasing. Taking time to consider your needs will allow you to make the best decision possible with your purchase.

How To Buy a Vehicle

Determine Which Features Are On Your 'Must Have' List

Are you looking for the latest and greatest technology features in your car? Maybe you want leather seats or heated seats? Whatever it is, form a list of all the must have features you want in your next vehicle. With this list we’ll be able to help find the right vehicle and trim level for you. It’s worth mentioning that extra features may only slightly impact in your monthly payment. You will be driving this vehicle every day, so we want to make sure we help you find exactly what you want, at a price you can afford. For these must have features, you may find it valuable to spend few extra dollars per month for the features that will change your daily driving experience!

How To Buy a Vehicle

Check Out Our Auto Resources and Vehicle Inventory Online

It’s our goal to provide the best dealership experience at Graff Bay City. That’s why we try to provide you with all the information you need in your vehicle search before you even have to step inside our dealership, so you can be confident in your decision to buy a vehicle from us. We offer many different resources online that you can take advantage of to learn more about purchasing your next vehicle. Explore the Financing section on our website to learn more about the documents you need in order to apply for an auto loan. We also explain how we can get you the best interest rate. You can even submit your credit application online to get pre-approved and save time at our Bay City dealership.

If you’re looking to do some vehicle shopping online before coming into the dealership, take a look at the Vehicles section of our website where you can view all of our new Chevrolet Models available. Within each vehicle’s model overview you’ll learn more about each car, truck, or SUV, including its features, gas mileage, and inventory available at our dealership. If you’re planning on trading in your vehicle, Value Your Trade online to see how much you can get for your vehicle! Keep in mind that our inventory is updated daily, and if you don’t see what you’re looking for you can put in a request on our Find Me A Vehicle (link to: http://www.graffbaycity.com/vehicle/find-me-this-vehicle) page. Our friendly sales team is happy to find the best vehicle for you at Graff Bay City.

How To Buy a Vehicle

Make a Visit to Hank Graff Chevrolet in Bay City, Michigan

You’ve made a list of your vehicle wants and needs, reviewed all of our resources online, and have found a few vehicles you’re interested in. The next step in your vehicle buying journey is to visit us at Graff Bay City on Wilder Rd! If you see a vehicle you like in our inventory, submit a request online and one of our friendly sales professionals will set up a test drive for you to experience the vehicle hands-on. Submitting a request allows us to have the vehicle ready to go when you arrive at our Bay City dealership so you don’t have to wait. Once you’ve taken as many test drives as you’d like and have found your perfect car, truck, or SUV, one of our knowledgeable team members will sit with you to explain all of the offers, incentives, or rebates available to you. We’re proud to offer a transparent and comfortable dealership experience for you at Graff Bay City. We’re dedicated to finding you the best vehicle at a price you can afford. Give us a call at (989) 684-4411 if you have any questions.

How To Buy a Vehicle

Buying Process at the Dealership

Once you’ve picked out the vehicle you’d like to take home with you, and have been pre-approved for financing, your sales representative will guide you through the remaining portion of the buying process:

  • Review Payment Options: When you buy a vehicle from Graff Bay City, our team members make sure to review all of the available payment options with you so that you can choose the method that works best for your needs and budget. Your sales team member will walk you through all of your choices and answer any questions you may have.
  • Establish Financing: If you’ve decided to finance through your bank or credit union, just let your sales representative know and they can handle the rest. If you decide to finance your vehicle through the dealership, we’ll introduce you to the experts in our F&I (Finance & Insurance) department to help you evaluate all your financing options. The finance team will also work with you and your sales representative to finalize all of your paperwork on your new vehicle.
  • Schedule Delivery: Once your paperwork is completed, you and your sales representative will schedule your vehicle’s delivery – this may be immediately or over the next few days. The delivery time is scheduled so we can make sure your vehicle is looking its absolute best before it’s ready to go home with you.
  • Check Out Your New Car: When you arrive for your vehicle’s delivery, it’s your time to explore everything your new car, truck, or SUV has to offer inside and out. This is also the perfect time to ask your Graff team member if you have any questions about any of the vehicle’s features or technologies.

You can always expect the best dealership experience at Graff Bay City. Our friendly team of auto professionals is always ready to help you with anything you need throughout your vehicle buying process. If you have any questions about any of these steps, call us at (989) 684-4411 and we’ll be happy to answer them for you.

Financing Options for Buying a Vehicle

When it comes to buying a vehicle, financing is oftentimes the most confusing step for car buyers. Financing can seem overwhelming if you don’t thoroughly understand the terms being used throughout the process. Our goal is to make you feel completely comfortable and knowledgeable about all of these terms. We want you to feel confident in every step of the buying process, including financing. Knowing the common financial terms in the car buying process will give you a better understanding of your upfront costs, auto loan, loan interest, and how you’ll be making monthly payments. Explore the list of terms below to get a better understanding of what each one means.

Auto Loan
When deciding to buy a vehicle, you’ll have two different options for financing. You can finance through your chosen bank or credit union, or you can conveniently finance through the dealership. Before you choose which option works best for you, make sure you thoroughly review the APR rates, incentives, and discounts available through each to ensure you’re getting the best deal for you. Once you choose your financing method, that lien holder will own your vehicle until you fully pay off your loan. After you’re done paying the loan off, the lender will issue a release and the vehicle will officially be registered under your name. It’s also worth mentioning that you can purchase your vehicle outright at the dealership if you’d prefer not to enter into a loan.

Direct Lending
Direct lending is financing your vehicle through your own financial institution, like your bank or credit union. If you choose to go this route all your monthly payments will be paid to the bank. The bank is then responsible for transferring that payment to the dealership. This option is worth exploring because depending on your relationship with your financial institution, you may be able to acquire a more competitive interest rate on your loan.

Dealer Financing
If you choose to avoid involving a 3rd party, you can finance your vehicle directly through the dealership in which your auto loan would be provided through the lender that the dealership is in agreement with. Over an agreed amount of time, your monthly car payments will go to this lender to pay off your loan and interest. Car buyers often like this financing option because it’s convenient and doesn’t require a 3rd party. Additionally, many times the dealership has special programs or incentives available to lower your interest rate.

Credit Score
When it comes to getting an auto loan, your credit score is one of the most important elements that helps to determine the loan amount available to you, and the interest rate you’ll receive on that loan. Your credit score is a 3-digit number that’s based on your credit history. Some factors that can affect your credit score are: bill payment history, how long you’ve had credit, your credit limits, past payments to lenders, how regularly you make credit card payments, how many credit cards you’ve opened, and more. A good credit score is important because it helps lenders determine your ability to pay back a loan. Your credit score is typically evaluated as poor, bad, good, or great, and knowing how your credit score rates is helpful when making a decision to buy a vehicle. Keep in mind that if you haven’t yet established credit, buying a vehicle is a great way to start.

At Graff Bay City we’re happy to help with your specific financing needs no matter what your credit score is. Are you worried about bad credit or no credit? We work with customers with all different levels of credit, so don’t let that stop you from getting the new vehicle you deserve. Our experienced finance team will help you get the financing you need.

APR (Annual Percentage Rate)
APR, or Annual Percentage Rate, is the yearly interest rate you will pay on the total amount of your vehicle loan. The higher the APR, the higher your monthly payments will be, while a lower APR will result in lower monthly payments. It’s important to keep in mind that some companies will advertise APRs based on the monthly rate rather than the full annual rate. Many different factors can affect your APR including the length of your loan, your debt-to-income ratio, and your credit score.

Auto warranties protect many different components of your vehicle. Generally, when you purchase a new car, a warranty is included to cover certain components of the vehicle for a limited amount of time or a set number of miles. However, when you purchase a vehicle, your initial warranty may not protect your vehicle for the entire time you own it. Over time, your car will experience general wear and tear, and as it ages it may require more service and maintenance in its later years. Oftentimes this is after the initial warranty has expired, so this is where extended warranties are beneficial. Extended vehicle warranties range in coverage from some of your bigger services like your transmission and power train, to smaller things like defected factory-installed parts, tires, roadside assistance, and more. Extended warranties are not required when you purchase a vehicle, but they are highly recommended especially for the value they provide. While they do cost extra, over the course of your vehicle loan, an extended warranty may only add pennies more to your monthly payment.

GAP Insurance
GAP insurance, or Guaranteed Auto Protection, is an added protection similar to extended warranties. Once you purchase your vehicle, it will start to quickly depreciate in value. This means that you may find yourself in a situation where you owe more on the vehicle than it is actually worth at market value. GAP insurance will cover the difference between the amount you owe on your vehicle and its current market value in the event of a total vehicle loss due to an accident or theft. In this situation, GAP insurance is extremely valuable in helping you avoid getting into a scary financial situation.

At Graff Bay City we have a phenomenal team that’s ready to help you with any step of the buying process. If you have any financing questions, feel free to give us a call at (989) 684-4411 and we’ll be happy to answer them. We are happy to provide you with any information you need to make a confident decision in buying a vehicle from our dealership.

Cost of Owning a Vehicle

There’s a lot to think about when making the decision to buy a vehicle. We’ve already covered the benefits, the steps to purchasing a vehicle, and the financing terms you’ll encounter throughout that process. Now it’s time to look at the cost of ownership. What does that mean? In addition to your monthly vehicle payment, there are certain costs associated with owning a vehicle both in the short term and long term. We want to help you understand those costs for the vehicles you’re considering, so you can evaluate whether they agree with your budget. Here are some points to consider:

  • Insurance: Depending on the kind of vehicle you choose to buy, your insurance rate could increase or decrease. Get in touch with your insurance company to get rate estimates for any vehicles you’re interested in purchasing. This will help you choose a vehicle that is the right fit for you and your budget.
  • Fuel Efficiency: When you buy a vehicle, it’s likely that you’ll be driving it for at least a few years, if not more. Looking at the vehicles you’re interested in buying, you should consider how much you typically drive on a daily basis and the fuel economy offered by each vehicle option. Gas prices change daily, so it’s important to make sure you are comfortable affording enough gas for the vehicle, even if gas prices were to increase.
  • Tires: Your vehicle’s tires will need to be replaced throughout the life of your vehicle. How often will they need to be replaced? That depends on the number of miles you drive, how well you take care of routine maintenance like tire rotations, and the tread wear. However, it’s important to think about how much tires will cost on the vehicle you’re planning on purchasing so you aren’t surprised at the service shop. Typically, larger tires will cost more than smaller tires, and if you have a unique tire size, they may be costlier.
  • Brakes: Tires aren’t the only thing that will need to be serviced on your vehicle throughout its lifetime. Your brakes are another crucial component that will need to be replaced throughout your vehicle’s life. The speed at which your brakes wear will depend on your driving style and the traffic conditions you normally drive in. Take a look at our routine maintenance page to learn more about routine brake services.
  • Overall Maintenance: Make sure you think about the routine maintenance your car, truck, or SUV may require over the next 6 months, 2 years, and so on. If you purchase a newer vehicle you’ll likely only have to worry about routine maintenance for the first 2-3 years, but as your vehicle gets older it may need additional services. Making sure you’re able to cover these maintenance costs when buying a car is an important consideration.
  • New or Used: When making the decision to buy a car, you’ll have to consider whether new or used is the way to go for you. Part of this decision can be made by understanding the maintenance costs for each. New vehicles will probably only require routine maintenance for the first 2-3 years, however a used vehicle may require additional services sooner, like new brakes or tires. When choosing between a new or used vehicle, you should also think about the milestone services you’ll need to take care of and the condition of the transmission or drivetrain. Remember, we offer extended warranties to protect you in the event your vehicle requires major service as it ages. If you’re considering purchasing a used vehicle, we suggest looking at our Certified Pre-Owned Vehicles which are backed by a full in-depth vehicle inspection, and typically come with an extended warranty and roadside assistance.

Schedule a Test Drive Today at Hank Graff Chevrolet in Bay City, MI

Making the decision to purchase a vehicle is a big investment. We understand that at Graff Bay City, and that’s why want to make sure you have all the information you need to make a confident decision. Our helpful team of auto professionals at Graff Bay City is happy to help you through the entire buying process and will help find you the perfect vehicle to take home. Once you find a vehicle that meets your wants, needs, and budget, schedule a test drive with us. At Graff Bay City we offer you the best dealership experience around, so we’ll have the car ready to go when you arrive. Our dealership is located on Wilder Rd. in Bay City, MI, but we also gladly welcome customers from our neighboring communities of Pinconning, Frankenmuth, Mt. Morris, Midland, and more. Call us at (989) 684-4411 if you have any questions.