In August (the dog days of summer!), stores are putting their peppermint coffees and Christmas decorations on the shelves. Although you may not be ready for that yet, it’s almost time to start prepping – which means thinking about what new car you’ll be driving in the new year. Soon dealers will be clearing their lots to make room for the new models, meaning it’s the perfect time to get you a great deal on a new ride.

To help you out, here are X tips for your next new car shopping trip – use them, and you’ll find yourself enjoying a much smoother buying experience!

Shop Around for the Best Interest Rates

If you’ve been looking for a new car, you may have noticed those great 0% financing offers are sometimes difficult to find for the make and model you are searching, but don’t worry – just because it’s harder does not mean it’s impossible. These deals will vary based on where you live. So it may be beneficial to search out of town dealerships as well. Even if you can’t find a 0% financing offer, there may still be great low interest deals available either through the dealer or the manufacturer.

Work With Your Bank for the Best Deals

If you find favorable financing terms through a dealership, great – but keep the interest rate as low as possible. If not, consider going through your local bank or credit union. You can sometimes find better rates through your bank or credit union than at your local dealership.

Big Picture: Decide Based on Purchase Price

When you’re buying a new car, especially if you’re strapped on cash, it’s very tempting to select a car based on the monthly payment – especially if it’s a make and model you love, the total price is a bit higher than you’d like to pay, but they’re offering monthly payments at a rate you’re practically drooling at. 

However, think about it: you’ll be paying interest on these monthly payments, so in the long run you’ll be paying a lot more than the total purchase price, especially if you’re making just the minimum payment, and double-especially if you have a high interest rate.

And a final tip: always, before agreeing to anything or signing your name anywhere, ensure you know the absolute, complete, full price of the car – that’s including any extra, hidden costs such as hidden taxes, car preparation and delivery fees, or dealership costs that dealers will not tell you about unless you ask directly. Once you have this full cost, negotiate based on that full price. Trust me, you’ll have a much easier time financially if you follow this advice.

Play It Cool: Do Not Mention Your Trade-In Upfront

Treat buying a new car like a card game: play all cards close to you until it’s the moment to reveal them. Reveal you have a trade-in too early, and the dealer could easily use that information against you, giving you an unfair deal in the process.

Let’s give you an example: You want a car being offered at $22,000. The dealer’s rock-bottom price is $18,000, but he’s not going to tell you this up front – it’s his job to make as much money as possible, after all! If your trade-in is worth $3,000, the dealer might offer to let you buy the new car for $20,000, subtracting the cost of your trade-in, meaning you pay $17,000 for the new car.

If, however, you hadn’t told the dealer about your trade-in up front, and had instead managed to negotiate down to $18,000 for the new car, then with the trade-in you’d be paying only $15,000 for the car. By holding your tongue until the end of the process you could have saved yourself $3,000!

In sum: if you have a trade-in treat this as a two-part process. First, get the best deal you can on the new car, and then negotiate the trade-in.

A Final Tip: Forget the Add-ons

The main goal of dealers is to make as much money as they can. They’ll try to sell you on all the available add-ons, but remember: if you’re financing the car, the cost for accessories will go through the roof. Keep the add-ons to a minimum, and your wallet will help you. Yes, you really can live without the seat warmers, and using GPS on your phone is much cheaper than an add-on system.