The number of active duty personnel in the US has dropped by 62% over the last 50 years, from 3.5 million to around 1.3 million. However, veterans still represent a significant portion of the US population and face a myriad of challenges upon coming home. With worries over quality and overpaying, buying a second hand car is stressful enough. For veterans, many of whom may have accessibility requirements, finding the right vehicle can be all the more arduous a task.
Why buy second hand
Buying second hand has a number of advantages, the most obvious of which being price. It is estimated that up to 40% of those who were planning to buy new are now considering a used model instead. A new car will take the biggest hit to its value over its first two or three years on the road. Buying used, the resale value of your vehicle won’t be affected nearly as much as it was for the original owner. This is a distinct advantage if you plan on replacing the vehicle after a few years. You may well be able to upgrade to a newer second hand car without paying much more. Secondly, with a bit of research you will be significantly better informed than those buying new cars. This is because you will have years of reviews and reports at your disposal to identify cars that have performed well in the years since release.
Assistance for veterans
For veterans, the process of buying a car can be particularly difficult. This is because a veteran’s unique situation makes them a target for both benevolent and predatory lenders. Before considering any form of finance understand your financial rights as a veteran and be aware of bad actors, especially lenders who advertise ties to the military. Some lenders may try to use a service member’s loyalty to entice them into predatory loans.
If possible, speak to a financial advisor before making any large purchase. If you’re buying second hand, make sure to shop around and examine other cars at each dealership. If their vehicles look neglected, chances are the internals aren’t in great shape either. Ask to see the title to the car before you buy, this way you can be sure the previous loan has been paid off. A good warranty period is an encouraging sign of a dealer’s confidence in their vehicle. A few weeks should be enough to demonstrate this.
Some manufacturers and credit unions offer assistance to veterans with discounts on models and loans. However, if you were disabled during the course of your service you may not need a loan. The Veteran’s Association offers a one-time payment of $21,488 to help disabled veteran’s purchase specially equipped vehicles. Depending on the situation it may also offer adaptive-equipment grants to make accessibility changes to a vehicle.
For veterans, large purchases are a challenge and cars definitely fall into this category. Thankfully, assistance is available through credit unions, manufacturer deals and VA payments. However, finding the right vehicle is up to you and to be successful will require some research. Read up on a model’s performance over the years and inspect it physically before buying so you can be sure it’s reliable.