Dealers tend to get overwhelmed with buyers during the last two weeks of the year and may be less likely to negotiate during that time period. If you plan to buy a car before the end of the year, the best time to purchase is before mid-December, says LeeAnn Shattuck, co-owner of Women's Automotive Solutions in Charlotte, N.C.
To prep for your purchase, research which type of car you want and settle on a budget for the vehicle. Cars.com and the CarZen website can help narrow your options. Once you find a car type you like, compare this year's model with the upcoming year's version. If there are no major changes in technology or safety features, you may be just as happy with the earlier -- and better-priced -- model.
You'll also want to test-drive the vehicles you're considering. Head to the dealer, and when you take the car out, drive on local roads and highways to see how well it handles in both settings, says Mike Rabkin, president of the From Car to Finish website. Test the brakes, turning ability and acceleration to make sure they fit your needs.