Many levels to auto maintenance

Tallahassee auto professionals said students should receive guidance before deciding to purchase a vehicle or auto insurance or applying for an auto loan.

Mitsubishi Sales Consultant Luis D. Morales explained that some auto dealers have programs for first-time car buyers.

“These programs require no credit and allow students to purchase a car with low to no down payment upfront,” Morales said.

In addition, Morales explained that Mitsubishi also provides an informative pamphlet titled “Credit Score Tune-up Handbook,” which educates students about ways to improve credit scores.

Christopher Scott, financial services officer at Envision Credit Union, said students should research before making a final decision to purchase a vehicle.

“It doesn’t hurt to look online,” Scott said.

Envision Credit Union encourages students to take advantage of auto services, Envision Auto Adviser Dee Watson said.

During the consultation the customers explain exactly what they are looking in a vehicle, such as the make, model, color and features. The adviser then negotiates and locates a car for the least possible price, Watson explained.

“My job is cut and dry. You tell me what you want and I go get it,” Watson said.

In addition, Watson said students should use this service because it is a convenient way for students to purchase a car and get guidance from an experienced professional.

Online quotes can be misleading. The only way to determine the exact quote of a car is to review the customer’s driving records, social security number and credit score, said Duane Putney, owner and agent of Putney Insurance.

“One hundred percent of the time, online quotes aren’t accurate,” Putney said.

State Farm Agent Shiloh Wallace said students under 25 should look for vehicles with higher safety rates.

“Older, less expensive cars have a higher safety rate. Therefore, the premium rates are lower,” Wallace said.

Morales said students should know that when purchasing a vehicle, it is important to have certain documentation.

“Dealerships won’t allow you to leave with the car if you don’t have insurance and a valid driver’s license,” Morales said.

Wallace said many students do not understand the importance of auto insurance.

“It’s mandatory!” he said.

Prices for insurance vary, but are usually affordable and worth it, Wallace said. “People need to keep in mind car insurance is expensive, but it is a lot more expensive if you get into an accident without insurance,” Wallace said.

When deciding on an insurance plan, students should avoid choosing a minimum, Personal Injury Protection-only policy. Other policies may be more expensive but are worth it, Putney said.

In addition, Wallace said State Farm offers special discounts to students with a 3.0 GPA or higher and students who purchase the “Steer Clear” program, offered to State Farm students 25 and under who have no at-fault accidents or violations. This program also provides teen drivers with safety tips.