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Fall Car Deals

Drivers hoping to snag a cheap car during dealerships' model-year-end clearances may have to do a little more wheeling and dealing this year. Automakers have fewer cars to sell, which has changed the deals on offer. Kelli Grant, Senior Consumer Reporter for SmartMoney.com tells where you can find the bargains.

Reassess the sales. It's not your typical lot-clearing sale lineup of splashy cash discounts. There are fewer cash rebates, and far more financing and leasing deals available. Automakers have also offered more so-called dealer cash - unadvertised rebates that they authorize dealerships to extend as needed to sweeten advertised offers. Bottom line: weigh your options before hitting the dealership so you know how you'll save most.

Watch the selection. Usually, selection is slim this time of year. But you may have a tough time finding 2012 models at all. Automakers have been more careful about only producing what they can sell. Be prepared to be flexible on the color and options, if you want a particular special.

Check for cash rebates. Big trucks and SUVs currently have some of the biggest discounts, as well as ample supply. Another deal area: 2012 models set for a redesign for 2013. The Chevy Impala have $3,500 cash rebates on 2012 models, and some also have dealer cash worth up to $4,500 more.

Calculate the financing. The credit market has loosened enough that more drivers may be able to qualify for the wide variety of 0% and other low-rate financing offers available. Some offers are for up to 72 months. But keep in mind that newly redesigned vehicles and very popular ones can command higher interest rates, as will the latest 2013 models.

Do consider leasing. A combination of low interest rates and high used-car values has led auto makers to drop leasing prices in recent months. Many popular models are less than $200 per month - that's ever cheaper than monthly payments under 0% financing. But drivers in the market for a luxury vehicle may want to wait until November, when brands' big holiday promotions kick in.

For more information on buying a car and other consumer tips click here.