Winter is traditionally the biggest months for car buying in the United States. If you are in the market for a car this time of year, there are three quick things you can do to save thousands on your purchase:

1. Check your credit reports & scores – Because your auto loan rates are directly tied to your credit scores, even a small inaccuracy on your credit report could cost you. Before you start shopping for your dream car, take an hour to check all three of your credit reports and credit scores online.

2. Shop for a loan online – Unless you qualify for a special 0% offer from the dealer, you are better off shopping for a loan somewhere else. Auto loan rates and fees offered by online auto lenders are usually a lot lower than the rates offered by a dealership’s financing program. Some have rates as low as 3.9%.

3. Negotiate the price of the car – According to the book Women Don’t Ask, women are willing to pay $1,353 more just in order to avoid negotiating the price of a car with a salesperson. Luckily, the internet makes negotiating with car dealers a whole lot easier these days. Before you start shopping, look up the listed price, invoice and MSRP of the car you want through an unbiased site like Kelley Blue Book and request free price quotes online.

Do these three simple steps really add up to $3,000 in savings? Using this auto loan calculator, I crunched the numbers. If you are buying a $12,000 car and had $1,000 for a down payment, your basic financing option from the dealer would cost you about $14,946 over the life of your loan.

If you improved your credit score a few points, you could reduce this cost to $14,257. If you financed the same loan with an online lender, your costs would drop to $13,587. And if you negotiated the price of the car down to $11,000, your total loan costs would lower even further to $11,323.

Tips For Saving Money When Financing and Purchasing a new Car`