By Buddy Blouin

The U.S. military has a very open secret: recruiting is not going so well. Since becoming a military of volunteers in 1973, recruitment has been a big part of making sure we have enough members to defend our country. But times are hard. Perception of the military isn’t exactly what it used to be and it’s harder to get new generations to serve. This means more recruiting efforts and more monetary incentives. Purchasing a vehicle with a signing bonus can be a great way to spend your newfound funds but there are several mistakes you can make along the way. We’re here to help you avoid them and still get a quality ride.

Related read: A Service Member’s Ultimate Guide to PCSMYPOV

Avoid These Five Mistakes When Purchasing a Vehicle With Your Military Bonus

It doesn’t matter which vehicle you purchase, as there are several different personal factors that will determine whether or not a vehicle is right for any individual. What does matter, however, is failing to take your time and go through the process the right way.

Nearly 40% of consumers feel this sting due to car-buying regrets, and considering you’ve signed up to be shot at for your bonus, you’re not going to want to be one of them. Military members purchasing vehicles with their enlistment bonuses are common occurrences. Here are the top mistakes to avoid:

1. Not Doing Enough Research

The good news is that if you’re reading this, you’re well on your way to correcting this particular mistake. However, you’ll need to do a bit more than simply reading one article. It’s important to look at the pros and cons of the vehicles in question and to be sure that they fit your needs.

You’re also going to want to do your research about pricing, fuel economy, insurance costs, and potential resale value. Overall, you’ll want to research everything involved in owning a specific vehicle and save that information for consideration, starting with safety features and working on through your ownership and maintenance down the line.

2. Stretching Your Budget Too Far

Especially in today’s market, it’s easier than you think to locate the top of your budget and even blow right past it. This ties directly into doing your research because, through due diligence, you’ll be able to find out how much the vehicle you want is going for in your area, and also discover a price range that’ll comfortably suit your needs in the first place.

It’s easy to get lost in the zeroes and see your bank account flush with cash, but things can move very quickly if you haven’t had a lot of experience with managing your finances. Take your time and be sure that you not only set a realistic budget but also do everything in your power to stick to it. Finding a financial planner or even a great podcast can be a big first step.

Suggested read: Military Base Access for Civilians and How to Host Guests

3. Only Shopping for New Vehicles

Who doesn’t like nice things? A new vehicle has a lot of benefits. However, it’s also likely going to cost more to purchase. Used vehicles, especially when verified and inspected by a trusted dealership, can be viable options for your transportation needs. You will ultimately save on lost residual value as the vehicle already has some use and miles put on it.

It’s not that you shouldn’t automatically go for a used vehicle, but it’s far too common that buyers can be blinded by the prospects of purchasing a new vehicle and won’t even consider buying a pre-owned one. If you are willing to buy a used vehicle, be sure to look at certified pre-owned vehicles, as they generally have more extensive inspections and reconditioning applied, and may provide longer-term value and reliability.

You can save money on used vehicles, which is an obvious plus, but there’s also the facet of inventory to consider. The timing of your purchase may mean that you won’t have access to a new vehicle as soon as you’d like it, but a reliable used model may be available.

One item to consider when shopping for a used vehicle is financing. If you’re going to finance the purchase through a bank or other lending institution, then generally speaking, the interest rate on a used vehicle will be higher than on a vehicle that’s brand new off the lot. Spend some time researching both new and used vehicles from similar makes to see which option is best for your needs.

4. Failing to Think Long-Term

A new vehicle feels great at first, however, your note will be the same today as it is a year three, or five years from now if you’re still paying. Furthermore, you’re going to want to invest in a vehicle that fits your lifestyle today and tomorrow. Oh, and remember, reselling matters. Don’t forget to consider resale value down the line, and also the potential maintenance costs over time, before you purchase.

5. Consider All of Your Financial Options

Staying out of debt is always a good decision, but if you have debt elsewhere that would save you money to pay off rather than financing your new vehicle, it’s important to weigh all of your options. For many, using a military bonus elsewhere may be a better decision, while you can still allocate some money for a down payment and negotiate a favorable financing option for your new ride. Or you might find that setting your expectations on a pre-owned vehicle may allow you to both pay down debt and drive away with a great car.

Hertrich Family of Auto Dealerships Is Proudly Serving Dover AFB

Buying a vehicle is a major decision for civilians and military members alike. The Hertrich Family of Auto Dealerships understands this unlike anyone, which makes sense, seeing as the company has ties to the automotive industry reaching back to 1903.

Proudly a part of the military community, throughout their 24 dealerships across Delaware, Maryland, and New Jersey, the Hertrich Family of Auto Dealerships is proud to have hired 200 Veterans over the last three years.

Many Hertrich Family-certified used vehicles come with a 7-year, 70,000-mile warranty that can help ensure you come away with a reliable and satisfying ownership experience if pre-owned vehicles fit your budget and needs. You can see their current selection of Hertrich Certified Pre-Owned vehicles here.

There’s no comparison for those serving at Dover AFB. If you’re in need of a vehicle, the team at Hertrich Family of Auto Dealerships understands your unique requirements and is there to help guide you in the right direction. They have four locations with distinct brands near Dover AFB:

  • Hertrich Capitol Mazda/Lincoln
  • Hertrich Nissan of Dover
  • Hertrich Chevrolet of Dover
  • Hertrich Ford/Lincoln of Milford

Representing a variety of brands and locations, visiting a showroom for the Hertrich Family of Auto Dealerships is a no-pressure, hassle-free process unlike any other dealership around. Drive on by today and find your next great ride.

Read next: Can You Register a Car Without Insurance Post-PCS?

This article is the result of a paid collaboration with the Hertrich Family of Auto Dealerships.




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