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Where can I go to find a good starting price for negotiating a new car deal?

I understand that for used cars I can check Kelley Blue Book, Edmunds, and NADA Guides. But what about new cars? Any advice?


(Yes, I know this has been asked before, but the topics I saw were > 6 years old. I hope it’s OK to revisit this topic.)

I’m sure that other forum members will have other–possibly better–suggestions, but here is what I do when I am shopping for a new car:

Visit the mfr’s website, use their “build your car” feature, and find out the list price for the car–equipped as you want it to be.
Visit websites such as and, to get “real” prices.
Visit at least 3 dealerships to get their prices.

Using the info from Edmunds and TrueCar, plus the lowest dealer price, can be very good “leverage” to get a lower price from the dealership from whom you really want to buy the vehicle.
I favor the dealership closest to my home, because they have an excellent service department, and because they provide free loaner cars when you bring your car in for anything more extensive than merely an oil change. Their salesmen rarely provide the lowest sale price right away, but when I show them the other prices that I received, and ask them if they can beat the lowest price quote, they always do so.

Just to be sure that you are dealing with a level playing field–so to speak–try to weed-out the dealerships that put a “dealer pack” on all of their cars. A “dealer pack” refers to that invisible “miracle” paint coating, invisible upholstery protectant, poor-quality aftermarket trim pieces, and other grossly overpriced junk. Make it clear that you will not buy a car with a dealer pack, and if you are told that this isn’t possible, I suggest that you avoid that dealership.

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Start with invoice. Go to a site like Edmunds to find the invoice price and subtract any rebates or factory to dealer incentives, then email multiple dealerships in your area with what your looking for in build, color and options. Don’t provide your full name or use an email that you would use with the dealer you intend to buy in the end. Once several tell you they have one in stock or one on the way, start negotiating with them on the phone, but DON’T reference your email. You don’t want them to know only they have the build, color and options you want. Just ask what they have in stock or coming in and tell them the one you want sounds interesting and ask what they can sell it to you for and go from there. You can then take their price and use it against another dealer who has the vehicle you want to play them off against each other. That’s how I bought my truck at invoice.

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What if the OP–like me–always custom-orders his cars?

Huh?? KBB HAS new car prices… the amount paid in your area and MSRP. Edmunds, too.

Once again I state nothing against the regular people here.

Mr. davidc8, in this day and age why don’t people with questions like this use their search feature like Google or Bing and the many others. You will get lots of places that do research much more extensive than any of us individuals can.

I did it myself and found firms that I did not know about with real time info.

That’s actually much easier since they don’t have the car on the lot or coming in for sale so it’s whomever can get the best price for you calling around and the minimum you need to put down. It’s obviously better if you can go with the same dealer you get any maintenance or warranty work done, so I’d personally lean on them to match others prices. A few hundred dollars difference may not be much if you have the advantage of getting problems resolved easier because you bought it from the same dealer and can threaten to take you business elsewhere.

It is really quite simple. 1. Find vehicle you like 2. Test drive and see if all controls are a fit for you and anyone else using vehicle. 3. If final price is acceptable to you purchase vehicle

The price you pay is no ones business because your friends , relatives and co-workers all will say you paid to much .

I’ve had the final price change on me from 3 separate visits to the same dealer over the course of a month. Just saying.

I used truecar last year when I bought my Mustang. It went very smoothly. What you might to try is to look at the Truecar price for the car you’re looking for with the options you want. But not actually sign up for the service, that way you can look at and see about where you should be in terms of how much you can reasonably expect to pay. Based on what I’ve heard, if you’re willing to haggle over floormats and/or spend a few hours going back and forth. You can can beat the Truecar price by $200 or so on average.

I recently purchased a new Rav4 for my wife. Here is a summary that I posted on a different forum. I test drove Kia, Honda, Mazda, and Toyota before we purchased.

Basically after talking to about 6 different dealers, the price came down significantly from both the True Car price and the prices that I was quoted while inside the dealers. I talked them down to where the price drops were to the point where they were non existent. A few dealers told me that they could not sell me a car for that price. One local dealer said they could only match it but they didn’t have the preference color. I negotiated over the phone then drove 110 miles to the dealer. We were in and out in about 1.5 hours included the final test drive, getting the car gassed up and washed and for the paperwork to get processed.

All prices were out the door cash pricing including junk fees and taxes. Note that registration taxes are separate in my state and I will get to avoid the normal taxes as I will register this through the Indian tribe. So my TTL will only be about $100.

Dealers do not want to you walk off their lot without a purchase. You must stay strong and say no. The Kia dealer was the worst in my experience as far as high pressure sales. Don’t fall for the gimmicks that this price is so low we are loosing money. That is false. The invoice is a joke of a price. I purchased my car that was about $5K below the fake invoice. The invoice is just that… FAKE. don’t fall for the gimmick. It is really about like a BOGO pricing. The dealer buys a few from the manufacture at the “invoice” price and then they get one free. So think of it like this. The Dealer buys 5 cars from the manufacture for $20K each but they get one free. They essentially get 6 cars for $16.6K each but the "invoice will show $20K for the one that they try and sell you.

Watch out for the junk fees. These can be substantial and are complete ripoffs. Part of selling a car is filling out the paperwork. When you get quotes from dealers you need to get the out the door price because the junk fees will vary by dealer.

Make sure if you need financing that you do your homework in advance. Go get qualified at your bank or credit union. If the rates the dealer offers are better than you can take those. What you want to avoid is getting caught up in the thrill of buying a new car and finding out your credit may not be as good as you thought and you end up signing at some crazy high interest rate.

Watch out for the extended warranties. These are very expensive ($1200-$2000). Most dealer will offer you extended warranties before your factory warranty is up. The price they offer you later is often 50% less than the time when you buy the car. Also you will avoid paying interest on this inflated warranty for a couple of years if you choose to buy it.

In person offers were $23.7-24.4
truecar/edmund offers were $23.9-27.1
my final price was $22.9

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That is exactly what I do, and it has worked very well for me.

Good one!

Just remember that both the buyer and seller need to agree on the price in order to make the deal. Just because a web site or book says what the price should be, doesn’t mean a dealer will go along with it. Better to have a deal both can live with than trying to squeeze the last dime out of it. Kinda depends on the local market, the availability of the model and features you want, how much they want your trade, and whether you are a jerk or not.

Several years ago, one of my female friends complained to me constantly about her husband’s penny-wise/dollar-foolish approach to car buying.

The difference in price on a new Outback–between the dealership just down the road from their house and a dealership about 150 miles away–was something on the order of $100.
Her husband–who has a PhD–decided to “save” $100 by driving to the dealership located 150 miles away.

She tried explaining to her husband that, between the cost of gas and tolls and the hours that he would spend in round-trip traffic, the “saving” was…at least miniscule…and possibly non-existent.
Hubby refused to listen to her, thus proving that a PhD doesn’t necessarily gift somebody with good reasoning skills.


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lmao…my 80 year old father does that every weekend by driving 10 miles out of way to save $0.05/gal on gas.

I think Consumer Reports had a service that provided that pricing info. You’d input the car and the options you wanted, and they’d tell you what the dealership paid for it. They charged a fee for this service, not a free-bee. Then I guess you’d begin your bargaining at that price, willing to move upwards a bit for dealership profit. Don’t know if they still offer that pricing service tho. Check their website maybe.

I can’t speak to how well that method works. It seems to me you can just price shop around the various dealerships in the area and accomplish the same thing. But have that info before-hand it might save a little time.

Thank you, @VDCdriver and @always_fixing for your valuable insights!
I knew that the MSRP and even the so-called “dealer invoice” were not good guidelines, but then what is, I wondered. What prompted my question was when I read in Consumer Reports that the price that was typically paid for a new car was actually LOWER than dealer invoice. That surprised me, so I asked my question here, because I know you folks are avid car enthusiasts and would probably have some insight and experience.
And no, I won’t be haggling over minutiae like floor mats.
Thank you all for your replies.
@Propane_Car: interesting!

…especially since WeatherTech floor mats–that you can order yourself, online–are much better than any car mfr’s own mats!

+1 on aftermarket floor mats. I purchased them for my wifes new car. Very deep and they catch all the mess. These are really nice for the back woods life where getting in the car with muddy boots is very common.

In fact, my dealer offered these, at the same price as online.