Nothing lasts forever and that is especially true with your car. There will come a time when the odometer clicks over to a certain mileage milestone and you will be ready to get that ride replaced. Whether you will be in the market for a new car or a used model, there are some smart approaches you can take to score a great deal. Consider the following:

Do Your Homework

With all the resources available online, there is no excuse not to do your car research online. Stop by sites like Auto Trader, Consumer Reports or Kelly Blue Book and you’ll find that they’re just waiting to provide you all the information you need to make an informed buying decision. That includes digging up the “invoice price” not the MSRP. The invoice is what the dealer paid for the car. The MSRP is the markup. Your goal is to land on a price somewhere in between those two.

Get Pre-Approved

One of the most excruciating elements of buying a car is setting up the financing. Every dealer offers financing and that is how they make their money. However, you’re under no obligation to use their financing. Yes, they might have some great incentives and offer a nice rate but you might be able to find an even better one through your own bank or credit union. Actually, going into a dealership with a pre-approved loan could make them more amendable to a better offer. Use it as a bargaining chip.

Take Your Time

Unless you’re leaving on a road trip, then you can take your time shopping around. Just as you research the make and model of the car you want, you should also research the dealerships in your area. Pick two or three to visit and see what they have available and what you can test drive. Again, just because you’re looking doesn’t mean you’re under any obligation to buy.

Negotiate Your Terms

Every car purchase should involve haggling. You have a number and they have a number. You want to meet in the middle. For instance, if they offer you a great rate at 60 months, tell them you want the same rate for 48 months. If they can’t match your offer, then walk away. That same car will be at another dealership for the price you want to pay.

Consider New and Used

Starting in late August, every auto dealership is looking to swap out this year’s model of car for next year’s model. In a way, that makes the current models “used.” There will hardly be any significant design changes between this year and next year. There are also used cars with more miles on them that can also be on your shopping list. The big benefit of a used car is that all the features are already built in and the car is ready to drive off the lot. If it doesn’t have exactly what you want, then you can always consider after-market add-ons.

Hold Back on Your Trade-In

Your negotiating is about finding the “rock-bottom” price from the dealer. Obviously, they’re not going to want to lose money which is why knowing the invoice price is important. Once they’ve offered up their rock-bottom price and they’re not going to budge, that is when you want to bring up the trade-in. If you like that rock-bottom, then it just got better. However, if you open with the trade-in, then the dealer is going to make that work to their advantage.

Now you’re ready to go make a good deal on a car. Good luck.