Wauna Credit Union owns several small businesses that offer additional useful services to our members. These kinds of businesses are called CUSOs, or Credit Union Service Organizations. You can learn more about CUSOs here.
One of our CUSOs is Auto Answers, which assists people in finding quality used cars. The service goes so far as to finds the car, take care of all the paperwork and deliver it to the member’s door! It’s most vital service is the expertise of Auto Answers chief car buyer, our VP of Consumer Lending and a full-fledged Black Belt, Norm Dufton.
The Wonderful World of Wauna caught up with Norm to learn more about Auto Answers, and find out how it serves Wauna CU members and the public.
Would you explain what Auto Answers is? Auto Answers is a Credit Union Service Organization. It’s a dealership, and its wholly owned by Wauna Credit Union. We are just a bit different than a traditional used car dealership. We normally carry 1 to 3 cars, normally newer lower mile cars. We also broker, or negotiate on your behalf for a $495 fee (no fee on Auto Answers owned cars). I have a network of dealers I work with to get a good price on some new and used cars.
What makes you such an expert on pre-owned cars? How do you find quality used cars? What do you look for? I have been an auto dealer and credit union advocate for more than 10 years. I frequently go to auctions both in person and online. This keeps me current on market conditions.
When a dealer goes to auction there are 3 categories of cars – Green light: Cars that can be bought subject to a wholesale frame and major mechanical inspection. Red light: Bought as is. And once in a while, Yellow light: With a frame-only inspection.
I buy green light cars with very few exceptions. Then, I know if they have had a major accident, and that the motor and transmission are solid. The car may still have maintenance due or dings or paint touch up, but nothing major.
I also buy 1-year-old rental cars. These usually have less than 40k miles, and often have some warranty left. Almost every care I buy is pre-inspected. There are too many cars sold with issues.
Nowadays, many shoppers go to Craigslist and look for the cheapest cars. These are often red light cars that don’t get all the love they need prior to selling, and end up being a bad buy.
What can a person expect if they buy an Auto Answers car? If someone buys one of our cars, it is safe, dependable and a good value. I don’t mind paying a premium for a good car, and I won’t sell a car I wouldn’t put family in.
Mostly I buy cars $10k and above. The reason is so it will last a long time and have the proper maintenance done. In over 10 years, I have only had 1 car come back with issues and it was a cheap under $5k car with high miles.
How does financing work with auto answers cars? We love to finance cars and sell extra service contracts. You can pay cash, or we even had a car sold that was financed at another financial institution.
What advice can you give someone looking for a quality used car at a reasonable price, no matter where they shop? Shopping for a used car is tough. Don’t look for the best deal, look for the best car. Run a CarFax, it will spot many accidents, but not all. Deal with new car stores, as they normally buy cream of the crop used cars.
If you buy private party have the car inspected by a shop. If you buy at an independent, pay for a new car store to inspect it. I have almost all cars inspected and I do this often. Buy in Oregon, our Attorney General is pro-consumer.
Thanks for the words of wisdom Norm!