A Look at Service Members' Special Car Buying Considerations

Nov 12, 2012, 10:43 ET from Americans Well-informed on Auto Retailing Economics (AWARE)

Educational Coalition AWARE Shares Ways Deployment Can Affect Vehicle Shopping

WASHINGTON, Nov. 12, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The men and women of our armed forces face special considerations when buying or leasing a vehicle due to frequent change in duty stations and deployments, which often include a tour of duty overseas. This Veterans Day, AWARE (Americans Well-informed on Automobile Retailing Economics) highlights some military-specific considerations to help service members make educated vehicle decisions prior to deployment.

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"As consumers, the travel circumstances of service members set them apart from civilians," said Eric Hoffman, AWARE spokesman. "Service members need to be aware of the ways overseas deployment can impact a vehicle finance sales contract."

Before buying or leasing a vehicle, service members should understand restrictions regarding taking a vehicle overseas. Here are a few things to remember:

  • Leased vehicles typically are not permitted to be sent overseas.
  • Under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act, service members can terminate a lease early without penalty if they have orders for a deployment or certain permanent changes of station for more than 180 days.
  • If a vehicle purchase is financed, a letter of permission from the bank, credit union, or finance company is usually necessary for the vehicle to leave the country. If permission is received from the lienholder to move the vehicle, a service member should check with his/her auto insurance company about coverage in the foreign country.
  • Vehicle warranties generally are valid nationwide, but not overseas. All consumers should always carefully read the warranty agreement to understand its restrictions.   

One of the many decisions service members need to make before an overseas deployment is what to do with their vehicle. Alternatives to taking it overseas include placing it in storage or leaving it with a trusted family member or friend.

Storing a vehicle in a long-term storage lot or deployed parking on base may entitle service members to an insurance rate reduction – service members should check with their auto insurance provider for details. The amount of security can vary between lots.

Service members who leave a vehicle in the care of a spouse, family member or friend should make it clear if they have permission to drive it or not, and take a few special steps:

  • Check with the military legal affairs office to determine if a power of attorney is necessary when leaving a vehicle with another individual.
  • Notify their auto insurance company about the arrangement.
  • Provide the vehicle keeper a record of maintenance, mechanic contact information and a checklist of maintenance requirements, such as oil changes, tire rotations and state inspections.

In addition, service members with a vehicle loan should notify their creditors – including auto insurance provider – of a deployment, how payments will be made and how they can be contacted.

"With a bit of planning and by taking a few steps, members of the military can decide how best to care for their vehicles during deployments and ensure there's no gap in their payment records," Hoffman said. "With this peace of mind, they can concentrate on doing their very important jobs."

"The members of AWARE thank the men and women currently in uniform and those retired for their service to our country," Hoffman said.

Additional information in English and Spanish can be found at www.autofinancing101.org.

AWARE is a vehicle financing industry coalition that helps consumers understand how auto financing works. The group provides potential buyers of new and used autos with the tools and resources they need to successfully navigate the auto financing process.

AWARE's members include: American Financial Services Association, National Automobile Dealers Association, National Association of Minority Automobile Dealers, American International Automobile Dealers Association, Ally Financial, American Honda Finance Corp., American Suzuki Financial Services, AutoNation, Ford Motor Credit Company, GM Financial, Group 1 Automotive, Inc., Lithia Motors, National Auto Finance Co., Nissan Motor Acceptance Corp., Saab Financial Services Corp., Sonic Automotive, Inc., Southeast Toyota Finance, Toyota Financial Services, United Auto Group, Inc., and Wells Fargo Dealer Services.

SOURCE Americans Well-informed on Auto Retailing Economics (AWARE)