May 14, 2009 by Jessica Anderson, from Kiplinger's June Issue Here's are five steps for a smooth ride to and from the lot. 1. Your top price. Run the numbers with our monthly-car-payment calculator to figure out how much you can spend. Never reveal to a dealer your top monthly payment. 2. Financing. Get preapproved by your bank or credit union and know what rate you qualify for so that you can compare it with the rate the dealer's finance office offers you. 3. Target price. Look up dealer retail prices on Edmunds.com for each model you'll test-drive. Be sure to factor in options, mileage and the condition of the vehicle. Sponsored Content 4. Competing deals. Arm yourself with printouts on similar vehicles from AutoTrader.com, Cars.com or the local classifieds. A competing offer is probably the best motivator for a seller to lower the price. Advertisement 5. When to walk away. If something feels fishy or the price is too high, go to the next seller on your list. If you've done your homework, you'll know when the deal is right. Not sure what you're looking for? See our picks for 10 BEST USED CARS and our comprehensive look at the 2009 used car market. RELATED CONTENT: 2009 Car Buying Guide TOOL: Find Your Next Car TOOL: Get Car Fax History Report TOOL: How Safe Is the Car You Want to Buy?