If you're a member of an auto club, credit union, or other organization that offers auto purchasing programs, and you're looking for another car, those programs offering you assistance with finding the car you want may look really tempting. They do have some very positive aspects and have helped a lot of people, but you have to be sure one of those programs is right for you before you jump in. Think about these four issues to determine whether you should participate in one of these programs.
Whether you're buying a used or new car, there's a good chance you may end up bargaining over the price. One of the things these buyer-assistance programs do is set a price for a particular car so you don't have to bargain if you want a lower price than what the dealership originally offered. If you prefer to have one known price to work with when looking at a car, working with these programs is your best choice.
Known Quantity and Quality
These programs also help you find specific cars, not just generally advertised models. This is helpful if you're looking for used cars where you can't easily substitute another car on the lot for the one you were interested in.
One of the drawbacks to these programs, though, is that they may restrict where you can look. Many of these programs work by having pre-arranged contracts with specific dealerships (for example, an auto club might work only with dealerships that are members of the club themselves). That restricts the inventory that you can search through. If you find a great deal at a dealership outside the network used by the program, you wouldn't be able to use the benefits of the program. Searching independently for a car gives you many more options.
Back to Square One
Another issue is that, if you check out the car from the program and it turns out to not be the one you would like to buy, you're back at square one. If you want to keep using the program, you have to search for another specific car and travel to another dealership. You could look at other cars at the dealership, but they would not be covered by the terms of the buyer-assistance program.
If you want to know more about what you might find at dealerships, start looking now. Talk to the customer service departments for the buyer-assistance programs and see how many dealerships they work with.