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With your pre-qualification info in your back pocket, you can navigate the car-buying process with confidence and stay firm on your budget during negotiations

Pre-qualification is a great way to know how much of an auto loan you qualify for before visiting a dealership. It can allow you to shop with confidence, knowing that when you find the vehicle you want, you already have a good idea how your interest rate, down payment and financing term could affect your payments.

But once you get that information, what can you do with it?

Finalize your budget

Take a closer look at your pre-qualified loan amount and consider your down payment options. It’s a good idea to re-evaluate your budget to determine if you can comfortably afford the monthly payments associated with the loan amount — feel free to adjust your budget as necessary to ensure you’re prepared to handle the financial commitment.

Shop with confidence

With your finalized budget in mind, you can start looking for your dream vehicle within those bounds. Dive into some research about different car makes, models and features. Consider factors such as safety ratings, fuel efficiency, maintenance costs, and potential resale value. This information will help you narrow down your options and find an affordable vehicle that aligns with your needs and preferences.

Check out 5 Steps to Finding the Right Vehicle for more practical advice on finding your dream ride

Negotiate the purchase

It’s important to note that pre-qualification does not guarantee approval once you formally apply for a loan. That being said, a pre-qualification is an excellent resource to use during negotiations. Once you have your desired vehicle in mind, be sure to mention your pre-qualification status and stay firm on that budget when discussing financing with the dealer.

Make sure to ask if there are manufacturer incentives and rebates available for your purchase as well. Your car dealer may call it by another name, such as consumer credit, bonus cash, or a purchaser allowance, but it all means money in your pocket. These offers may range up to thousands of dollars!

It’s important to be confident and trust your research during negotiations. Don’t be afraid to go to other dealerships if the first dealer won’t budge on a price over market value.

For more advice on landing the best deal in auto negotiations, read Tips for Negotiating the Best Deal on Your New Vehicle

Formalize the contract

After finalizing the purchase price and terms with the dealership, you’ll need to complete the loan application process with your chosen lender. Provide the necessary documentation, such as proof of income, identification, and vehicle information, to initiate the loan approval process. Be responsive to any requests from the lender to ensure a smooth and timely loan approval.

Once you put pen to paper and formalize your auto financing, you can drive off the lot with your new vehicle!

If you’re in the market for a car loan and haven’t gotten pre-qualified yet, RBC clients can get pre-qualified in minutes with no changes to their credit score.