Pre-approval involves some of the same steps as legitimately applying for a car loan, like a hard credit inquiry. During this process, your credit score will take a slight and temporary hit. But your credit report gives potential lenders a more accurate understanding of your financial picture in order to determine whether you’d be approved for a car loan and, if so, for how much.
This all allows you to get your finances in order and negotiate. You can better budget because you know the amount of the loan you would be approved for.
When you walk into a dealership, you can choose a car within your budget and use your pre-approved loan amount to negotiate the price of the car you want to buy. This can save a lot of time and hassle.