Shopping for a new car can be stressful and intimidating for many hopeful car buyers. But, you can get a good deal on a new car, if you know how to manage the process. Follow these simple steps to help you get the best deal on a new car!

1) Do Your Research:

Before you step foot on the lot of a car dealership, spend time researching the value, reliability and resale value of cars that might interest you. The annual Consumer Reports car buying edition is well worth the investment. Most public libraries will also carry a subscription, so you can review the guide for free.

Online pricing and review sites can also be incredibly helpful in narrowing your list of car choices. Kelley Blue Book, Edmunds and NADA will all give detailed pricing guides based on the model, color, options and region, which will give you a good idea of how much you could expect to pay for a certain car.

2) Get Your Money:

Arrange your financing before you begin your shopping. Credit unions and local banks often offer much better financing deals than dealerships, especially if your credit is less than perfect. Online options, such as E-Loan, may also offer you an attractive financing package.

The only exception to arranging your financing in advance is when the manufacturers are offering no or low percentage financing. Keep in mind that you must have exceptional credit to qualify for these offers, so if your credit is less than perfect, you will likely not be offered these deals.

3) Know the Deals:

Many car manufacturers offer rebates and incentives with the purchase of new cars. Unfortunately, some dealerships will not always disclose rebates and incentives that you might receive. Review the manufacturer websites or call to be sure you are aware of any offers you could receive. If your sales representative doesn’t offer the information, ask.

4) Know Your Needs and Be Flexible:

Do you need a vehicle that can haul heavy loads? Do you often have more than 3 passengers? Do you have a long commute and need good gas mileage? Think about what you need in a vehicle, and make a list of priorities. If gas mileage is most important to you, consider hybrids or cars with smaller engines. If you drive a carpool, you will likely need a 4-door car or maybe even an SUV with a third seat. Many cars look attractive on the lot or in commercials, but they may not be the right fit for you.

Try not to limit yourself during your initial research and shopping phase. Be open to a wide variety of manufacturers, colors, and options. The more flexible you are, the more likely you will be to find a great deal.

5) Visit Several Dealerships and Drive Several Cars:

Once you have arranged your financing, know what incentives you might be eligible, and know what type of car you want, it’s time to start shopping! In many cities, car dealerships are often clustered in the same area of town. Set aside a whole day to visit several dealerships and drive several cars.

Be prepared for the process when you drive on to a dealership lot. At most dealerships, the sales staff works primarily on commission, so they are eager to talk to you as soon as you arrive. If you want to browse on your own, then tell them so. Politely say, “I am browsing now, and I’ll come in to talk with you if I have questions or would like to test drive a car.”

Never buy the first car you drive or from the first dealership you visit. A new car is a huge investment, and you want to be sure you are buying the best car for you and the best price. Even if you have settled on a particular make and model, drive several cars from at least 2-3 dealerships. Every car will drive slightly differently, and you might like the handling and comfort of one particular car best.

6) Learn to Haggle:

There isn’t usually as much negotiating room on new cars as there is on used cars. But every car price has some room for negotiation. No sales associate is ever telling the truth if he or she says the car is priced at “cost” or that the dealership isn’t making a profit. That would be a lousy business plan if it really happened that way. Your initial research should give you an idea of the reasonable cost for the particular car you want to buy. If the price is significantly more, it’s fair to ask why.

Price isn’t the only thing you can negotiate. Most dealerships have service, body and retail divisions. You can ask for service package, accessories or custom bodywork as part of the negotiation. You might even ask for a free dealership warranty (never pay for a dealership or third-party warranty). If the deal you are offered isn’t exactly what you want, don’t be afraid to walk away. The price often drops a bit more once you leave and they try to get you back.

7) Timing is Key:

Know the best time to look for a new car. Late fall is usually a great time to shop for a car, as dealerships are receiving the next year’s models and would like to see the current year. These are still considered new cars and come with warranties, incentives, and more, but they dealership will be more likely to negotiate to make room for the new models.

The end of the month is often a better time to negotiate a good deal than the beginning of the month. Since the sales staff works on commission, they want to make as many sales as possible before the month’s end. It might only mean a discount of a few hundred dollars, but you are more likely to get that discount late in the month.

The middle of the week is also generally a better time to shop and negotiate than the weekends. Most sales happen on the weekends, so the sales staff are often eager to complete a sale during the work week. If you can shop during regular business hours during the work-week, you might find more willing sales associates.

8) Know Your Rights:

Every state has different “lemon laws” and return rights. Know your rights in case the car isn’t what it seems. Make sure you also understand your warranties. Manufacturer warranties are always safer than dealership or third-party warranties.