Buying a car is considered one of the biggest purchases you make in a lifetime after a house and this applies to any vehicle, including hybrids, EV and diesel-powered ones.

There are many things to consider before hitting the sales lot and filling out the paperwork when searching for the perfect car to fit your personal needs,

Edmunds compiled the following tips to simplify the car buying process and help improve your overall shopping experience.

Determine Budget

Before getting your heart set on a car that could break the bank, you need to calculate your estimated price range. To avoid getting in over your head, follow the general rule of thumb that payments shouldn’t exceed more than 20 percent of your monthly take-home pay.

Do Your Research

Start your search on sites that allow you to browse and compare vehicles from various automakers side by side, so you can learn how they stack up.

Decide What Is Right For You

The type of car you choose should reflect your lifestyle. Narrow your options by considering how you’ll use the car on a daily basis. Ask yourself questions, like how many passengers you’ll need to accommodate; whether you typically drive on the highway, in the city or off-road; and how much cargo space you’ll need.

Browse Inventory Online

Before heading out the door, review a listing of the available cars in your area from the comfort of your own home.

Secure the Price

Once you’ve found the car you would like to purchase, the next step is to obtain price quotes from a few different dealers and compare them with the market value.

Edmunds said you can bypass the negotiation process and secure a fair price upfront by getting an Edmunds Price Promise certificate, which is a dealer guaranteed, vehicle specific price quote. Take the price certificate along with you to the dealer to simplify the purchasing process.

Once you have the car in mind and a price in hand, arrange for a test drive and move forward with the purchase.

Edmunds as well as most automotive experts believe that by following these tips before you step foot on the sales lot, the entire car buying process should be a more enjoyable experience.