What Can You Do To Make The Car-Buying Process Less Stressful?

While nearly everyone is excited about the prospect of getting a new (or "new" used) vehicle, few are as excited about the purchase process. If you're dreading the thought of stepping onto a car lot for the "hard sell," you may be wondering whether you have any alternatives. Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to ensure that you're well-educated on your purchase and can get the vehicle you want at a price you can afford. Read on for a few tips on making the vehicle purchase process as stress-free as possible.

Get preapproval for your purchase amount

One source of consternation during the car-buying process can be the point at which you realize your budget simply won't support the vehicle you've fallen in love with. Although some lenders are now willing to extend auto loans out to 7 years or more, you may be reluctant to commit to a monthly payment for this period of time. By applying for pre-approval -- either from the dealership at which you wish to purchase, or through an online lender -- you'll be given both a monthly payment and total sale amount that represents the maximum you'll be permitted to borrow. Some services deal with credit reports for auto dealers, and can make the pre-approval process quicker for you and the dealership. This can make your shopping easier by allowing you to quickly eliminate any vehicles that are outside your budget.

Look into "no haggle" car lots

If you hate haggling, or feel your negotiation skills aren't up to par, you may want to investigate auto dealers that advertise themselves as haggle-free. Vehicles sold by these lots have a firm purchase price that is clearly advertised, without dealer incentives, military discounts, or any of the other fine print that can go into a teaser price. You'll be able to arrive, test-drive your vehicle, and sign the purchasing documents without spending time debating the purchase price or being up-sold on warranties or other extras.

Trade in your old vehicle

If your current vehicle is in good running condition, you may be tempted to keep it and sell it later, pocketing any cash you receive. However, dealers can often use your traded in vehicle to knock down the purchase price of a new vehicle by several thousand dollars or more, helping the amount for which you were pre-approved stretch even further.

If your vehicle is not in good shape, it can still be sold by the dealership as scrap or sent to auction after being traded in, so don't assume that an older or poorly-running vehicle has no value as a trade in.