Buying a car is a serious investment! Between gas, monthly payments, insurance, and repairs, your car will end up costing way more than just the sticker price. Before you go to the car lot, use these tricks of the trade to get the best car possible for the cheapest price.

Shop for Loans Before You Shop on the Lot

Car dealers advertise “buy here pay here” options but financing with a dealership often results in higher interest rates. Go to at least one bank first and apply for a car loan. When you have pre-approval, you can compare the bank’s interest rate with the one offered by the dealership.

All Used Cars Aren’t Created Equal

Buying a used car comes with a measure of risk, but a certified pre-owned vehicle is less risky. These cars come with a warranty and have been approved by a licensed mechanic. Although certified vehicles are less likely to break down, they do cost more than un-certified used cars.

Certification is NOT a Golden Ticket

Certified pre-owned vehicles come with a detailed inspection report. The car is certified because all of the major parts are in working order, but there still could be cosmetic issues with the car. Although it passed inspection, some parts may be in need of replacement in the near future.

Prepare for the Process

Some car buyers suggest clearing your calendar and packing lunch when you go to the dealership. This is because salesmen purposely make the process very, very long. This gives them time to upsell you and makes you disoriented. Get mentally prepared so that you won’t make any rash decisions.

Do Your Research

Although your goal is to leave with a great car for the cheapest price possible, you need to be reasonable. Research the book value of the type of car you want before you go to the dealership. You can win at negotiations if you’re starting at a reasonable price.