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MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. - Pete Gante, the class instructor, explains the importance of preparing a budget before buying a car. The Car buying and getting a fair deal class is offered by the Marine Corps Community Services can help service and family members in their quest to buy a reliable car without over straining their budget. (Official U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Brandon R. Holgersen)

Photo by Lance Cpl. Brandon R. Holgersen

Class teachs smart car buying

10 Nov 2005 | Lance Cpl. Brandon R. Holgersen

A car can be one of the first things on a Marine’s or sailor’s mind once they get to their first duty station.

A class on car buying can help a prospective buyer sort out the details of what they need to know when shopping for a car and how to prepare for such a big purchase. A car buying and getting a fair deal class is offered by Marine Corps Community Services to help service and family members in their quest to buy a reliable car without over straining their budget.

“The class was interesting, and the information is important to know how to buy a car so you don’t get surprised [at the dealership],” said Sandra Schinittser, who attended the class.

The class teaches how to budget money and what kind of things to look for when at the dealership. It also teaches how to research cars and insurance before shopping.

“Most dealerships will finance you if you just have an active duty [identification] card, and then the bills come in, and you can’t even make minimum payments,” said Pete Gante, a Marine Federal Credit Union employee who helps teach financial management classes. He works with MCCS under the agreement that he does not try to sell a financial institution to anyone.

One subject that is covered in the class is to decide what type of car a person should buy that meets all their needs and whether they should by a new or used car. A new car usually has less mechanical problems and a warranty, but the car will depreciate by as much as 10-40 percent of the original value as soon as the back tires leave the dealership. A used car may have more mechanical problems but will depreciate less and my offer warranties.

“A lot of Marines get in trouble with cars because they are trying to look cool,” Gante said.

The class also teaches people how to find out how expensive a car they can afford. A person should use about 20 percent of the net income, which is how much money they have after taxes and deductions for debts including a car payment and insurance, according to Gante. This number allows a person to have debt but not be overwhelmed by bills.

The average Marine uses 38-45 percent of his net income for bills, according to Gante.

It is also important to do research when shopping for a car, according to Gante. The class gives resources to find the invoice price of cars and the trade-in value. A buyer can usually find out the approximate amount of a car payment by visiting their financial institutions Web site. The site will usually offer a way to calculate monthly car payments and interest.

Buyers can find a huge amount of useful information about car prices and values by visiting or, according to Gante.

Where to buy a car is also important, according to Gante. It is important to buy a car from a place that is reliable and has a good reputation. A way to find out about a dealerships reputation is by visiting the Better Business Bureau’s Web Site at

“The best advertisements are not the ones you see or the ones in newspapers,” said Gante. “The best advertisements are a person’s recommendations.”

Gante also explained the different places to buy a car including dealerships, private sellers, rental car agencies and the Internet.

“The last place I would by a car would be on the [Internet],” Gante said. “If a dealership doesn’t have a paved lot or lights to see the car at night it is probably a good indication that you shouldn’t buy from them.”

The class also showed how to negotiate the price of a car with a dealer.

“You have to negotiate the price toward the invoice price for a new car and negotiate the price of a used car toward the dealer’s trade-in cost of the car,” Gante said.

The class offers information to first-time car buyers, spouses or anyone interested on how they can get a good deal. Information on future classes can be found by calling 451-2865.