First Time Auto Loans

Helpful resources to make car buying a breeze.

Are you a first-time car buyer?

Here at South Carolina Federal, we are passionate about exceeding expectations and providing “Life Simplified” experiences for our members – that includes helping you buy your first car.

On this page, you’ll find the resources you need to make car buying a breeze.

Let's get started!

Setting a Budget

Unless you plan on purchasing your car with cash, you’ll need a loan. Before applying for a loan, it’s important to establish a budget. A good starting point is having enough savings for a 20% down payment and then being able to dedicate 20% of your monthly take home pay to your car payment.

Use our calculator to learn how much vehicle you can afford.

Obtaining Financing

Once you’ve determined your budget, you’re ready to begin arranging your financing options.

If you have little, to no credit, and are ready to embark on the purchase of your first car, we offer low rates1, payment deferment for the first 90 days2, and an excellent means to establish your credit history. Our LifeSimplified pre-approval process will help get you on your way.

Click here to get started.

Choosing and Finding a Car

Everyone’s needs are different based on their individual life stage, so basing your car choice on functionality is key.

Here are some questions to keep in mind when starting your search that will help you determine the type of car that will best fit your needs:

  • How many passengers will you typically have with you?
  • What type of driving do you do: highway, off-road, surface streets?
  • Is fuel economy important because you have a long commute?
  • What safety features are important to you?
  • How much cargo space do you need?
  • Do you prefer new or used?

Choosing between a new or used car is a decision that only you can make. However here are some tips that may help you.

ADVANTAGES OF BUYING NEW Made to order
Factory Warranty/Low Maintenance
Latest Technology and Safety
High Fuel Efficiency
ADVANTAGES OF BUYING USED Affordable Pricing
Slower Depreciation
Reasonable Insurance Rates

Completing the Transaction

When you’ve found your dream car, the next step is to sit down and talk numbers. If you decided to get pre-qualified for an auto loan, you’ll be able to tell the salesperson exactly what you can spend and that will leave little room for them to try to upsell items that you may not need. If the conversation does lead to a negotiation, stay firm on what you can spend and ask for the full purchase price breakdown of the car as there may be hidden fees, including car preparation or delivery fees.

Finally, as the paperwork begins, be sure to review it thoroughly, especially when it comes to your information and how it is typed on the forms. Keep copies of all paperwork, which the dealer should automatically provide, and ask questions about anything that you simply don’t understand.

After it’s all said and done, once those keys are in your hands, you’ll officially be a car owner. Congratulations!


1Subject to credit approval. Your actual rate will depend on your creditworthiness, term and collateral.
2Offer not available on internal refinances.