Article | June 3, 2022

4 Steps to Purchasing a Vehicle and Getting on the Road Faster

Buy & Borrow

Smiling man closely admiring the finish on a car

If you’re in the market for a new (or new-to-you) vehicle, you have a wide variety of shopping options. Before you start shopping, follow this simple guide to streamline your loan process.

Step 1: Get Your Pre-Approval
An auto loan pre-approval is a lender’s statement that that you qualify for a loan at a certain amount of money. With a pre-approval in hand, you can be confident that you have the financing in place to purchase your next vehicle.

Use our auto loan calculator to determine the monthly payment that will fit into your budget. You have several options to get a pre-approval quickly and easily:

• Visit the auto loans page on our website, choose “Apply Now” and then select pre-approval from the dropdown menu.
• Visit your local Golden 1 Branch (Tip: Reduce your wait time by scheduling an appointment).  
• Call us at 1-877-GOLDEN 1 (1-877-465-3361) and talk to one of our lending professionals.

Step 2: Know the Right Steps for Each Seller 
Once you have your pre-approval in hand, you’ll be ready to find your perfect vehicle. Depending on the car you choose and its seller, your loan finalization process may be a little different. We’ve outlined some common seller types and how to work through the loan process with each of them.

Carmax® Vehicle Purchases 
Found your perfect vehicle at CarMax? After signing the purchase order, submit it along with any other requested documents to your Golden 1 loan processor, so we may begin processing your loan.

CarMax requires full payment within 3 business days from the date the purchase order is signed. To ensure your loan finalization goes smoothly, stay in close touch with us during those days so we can work together to expedite the process.

Private Party Vehicle Purchases 
If you find a great deal from a private party seller, you’ll be responsible for collecting the paperwork and working with your local branch.

You’ll need to submit:

• A copy of the Seller’s current vehicle registration
• A 10-day loan (if vehicle is currently financed) 
• A copy of the vehicle’s smog certification (if required by DMV)

Plan to visit the branch with the vehicle seller so you can complete the required DMV paperwork and make the transfer of ownership. The seller should bring a valid form of identification, and if there is no lienholder on the registration, the original California Title.

Once DMV documentation is completed and the loan is finalized, your Golden 1 Branch will provide a Cashier’s Check to the Seller and finalize your transaction.

Purchasing From A Franchise Dealership
A franchise dealership (associated with a manufacturer, such as a Nissan or Chevrolet dealer) sells both new and used vehicles and the purchase process is similar for both (Learn more from our podcast on new and used car buying!). If you choose a franchise dealership for your vehicle purchase, let the dealership representative know you would like your vehicle financed with Golden 1.

If the dealership participates in our Credit Union Direct Lending (CUDL) Program, their representatives will gather all the required documentation and take care of everything for you! (Tip: You can search our list of Preferred Dealers online!)

Purchasing From A Non-Franchise Dealership 
A non-franchise dealership only sells used cars. If you choose to buy a vehicle at one of these dealerships, sign your purchase order and submit it to your Golden 1 Loan Processor along with any other required paperwork as soon as possible.

The Dealership will need to provide Golden 1 the California Title for the vehicle. Once all required documentation has been completed, your Golden 1 Loan Processor will discuss and confirm whether you will sign in person or via DocuSign – a secure and convenient e-Signature platform.

Step 3: Submit Your Documentation 
When you complete the initial loan application, you’ll receive a secure link where you can upload necessary files and documents during the loan process.

You may also choose to submit your documents in person at your local Golden 1 branch. Once we receive all your documents, your Golden 1 Loan Processor will contact you to finalize your loan.

Step 4: Pay DMV Fees

If registration renewal fees for the new car are due within 30 days, the fees must be paid at a DMV office or online prior to completing the loan. The DMV receipt showing that the fees have been paid will be required.

Getting this step handled quickly means that you can avoid unnecessary delays in the loan finalization process and get your new vehicle on the road sooner.

Buying a new car can be an exciting experience. Let’s make it even better by working together, getting you through the loan finalization process as quickly as possible, and getting you behind the wheel of that new car!

Other resources you can use as you prepare to buy your new vehicle: 

• Loan and Payment Calculators  
• Buying New or Used? (podcast) 
• Auto Insurance  
• How to Drive Away Happy (podcast)