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Before you buy a car this winter, arm yourself with the tools you’ll need to get a great deal. I’m Kristin Arnold with your Bankrate.com Personal Finance Minute.

If you plan to buy a car before the end of the year, the best time to purchase is in mid-December.

To prep for your purchase, research which type of car you want and settle on a budget for the vehicle. When test driving the cars you’ve chosen, drive on local roads and highways to see how they handle in both settings.

Remember, at the end of the year, manufacturers can offer dealers more incentives to boost their final sales figures. This allows dealers to pass along those savings — a move that results in price cuts, cash rebate offers and financing discounts.

The dealer is still making a profit and salesmen are eager to improve their end-of-year standing. So there’s room to negotiate.

And before settling on financing from the dealer, check out financing options with your bank or credit union. You may find their loan rates make for a more affordable option. For more about auto loans, go to Bankrate.com. I’m Kristin Arnold.