Ready to Go to the Dealership? Make Sure You Have Done These 5 Things First.

Heading to the dealership can seem like a Herculean task for some. That so-called “new car stress” is even greater than that of getting married, for many Americans, but that doesn’t mean it’s an impossible hurdle to surmount.

Careful preparation before your trip to the dealership can make all the difference, and ensure your time spent shopping for a new car is worthwhile. Here’s what you should know before you go.

1. Shop Around

At least part of that car buying stress stems from the uncertainty surrounding how much you might have to pay for a new vehicle. The remedy, naturally, is to do some research beforehand so you know what sort of price range to expect. 

After you have a good idea of the make and model of the car you’re after, hit the internet to do some research. You’ll be able to ascertain the MSRP (the manufacturer suggested retail price) of your chosen vehicle, but, more importantly, you’ll get an idea of what other people are actually paying for said vehicle.

This will put you in a better position to bargain down from that sticker price, as you’ll be able to show the dealership they have some competition for your hard-earned dollars.

2. Know Your Trade-In Value

Just like knowing how much the car you want to buy is worth beforehand, you’ll also want to head to the dealership armed with some knowledge about how much your current vehicle is worth.

Whether you intend on selling your current ride on your own or plan on using it at the dealership as a trade-in to help pay for your new one, knowing in advance how much you can get for it will go a long way in improving your bargaining position.

3. Look at Your Loan Options

One of the biggest (and headache-inducing) mistakes you can make is heading to the dealership without pre-shopping for loans or financing, says Forbes.

Most people require a loan of some sort to purchase a new vehicle. Regardless of whether you intend to secure your own financing or go through the dealership, “knowing your credit history will give you a better idea of what to expect from lenders,” according to Car & Driver.

4. Have a List of Questions

It’s natural for you to have questions about the car buying process, and even the vehicle you want to buy itself. Be sure to make a note of these before heading to the dealership so that you can gain as much information as possible prior to making a final purchasing decision.

Under ideal circumstances, you’ll decide what car you want to buy (and how much you’re willing to pay for it) based on facts rather than emotions. A thorough list of questions is one of the best ways to get the facts you need to stay informed.

5. Make an Appointment With a Salesperson

Heading to the dealership haphazardly is a good way to waste your precious time. Instead of arriving unannounced, call ahead and schedule an appointment beforehand. This way, you can signal your serious intentions on buying a new car, increasing the likelihood the dealership will pair you with one of their more knowledgeable salespeople and improving your chances of finding what you’re looking for with less hassle.

When it comes to buying a car, preparation is the key to success. Following some of these tips and working with a dealership that knows their stuff will give you the best chance at finding a great deal on a new vehicle with the least amount of headache possible.