If you’re buying a car, don’t be intimidated by the thought of price negotiations. With a few tips, you can find the right car for your budget.

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First, nail down how much you can afford to spend — Pen Air’s car loan calculator can help — and make sure you have hard numbers in mind before you shop. You should also ask your credit union about getting pre-approved for a car loan. At Pen Air, you can apply for an auto loan online anytime, over the phone, or at your nearest branch.

Do your research

Before you ever talk to a dealer, consider your priorities for a new or used vehicle: number of passengers and amount of cargo space, desired features, gas mileage, and other considerations. (Finding the Right Car for Your Family and Budget) You may also want to research prices: Pen Air’s Car Buying Service, powered by TrueCar, can help you find a new or used car, look up what others have paid for a particular vehicle, or check used car prices.

Negotiating tips  

Before you look at a car, prepare yourself for the trip to the dealership. Arrange your own financing, and have the information in hand when you go. If the dealer asks if you need financing, tell him or her no, because you’ve already set it up with your credit union.  Also, be aware that you’ll generally get a better deal by going direct than you will through a car dealership.

Pen Air member Mike C. says, “Having a Pen Air auto loan pre-approved before I went car shopping really changed my car shopping experience. I was able to go on the lot without hassle and pressure from the finance department and the sales guys. As soon as I found the car I wanted, I was able to negotiate the deal and sign off because I already had my paperwork ready to go.”

Additionally, you may want to bring in printouts of comparable cars from other dealers at the price you want to pay (or have this information handy on your phone). When you talk to the dealer, agree on the final price of the car first, and don’t talk about trade-ins until after the price is settled. Finally, and most importantly, be prepared to walk away if you don’t get the price you want.

With a little time and research, you can prepare yourself for successful negotiations to find the right car at the right price.