Want a better price on a new car?
Service says it cuts out haggling, makes buyers' lives easier
For everyone who hates shopping for a car, there's a way to skip all of the haggling, and get the best price possible.
That's because there's a service out there that shops for you -- and all you have to do is pay and pick up your car.
It's not some website that suggests what a good price might be, or one that connects you with dealers. These are people who pick up the phone and call, on your behalf, which means you do have to pay for the service.
But that's part of the leverage. Because you're paying for the service, this basically stamps you as a serious buyer. It proves you're serious, you're ready to buy, the sellers know they're competing, and they know if they don't offer the best prices, they will lose the sale.
"It's just very difficult to haggle for anything because you really don't know what the bottom-line lowest price is," said Kevin Brasler, the executive editor of Consumers' Checkbook.
Consumers' Checkbook is a nonprofit consumer advocate website and magazine. It offers a service called CarBargains, to get the bottom-line lowest price for car buyers, and on top of that, lock in that price.
"It's a business-like approach," Brasler said. "'Give me your best price. You have one chance.' And if they don't give you a good price, you're not going to buy from them and they know that."
Brasler explained how it works: the CarBargains team does it the old-fashioned way -- actually picking up the phone and calling at least five competing dealers in the same area, and speaking, not with salesmen, trying to make the most off a sale, but with fleet managers because they're more interested in meeting quotas.
"Fleet managers: they're there to move inventory, so they're less likely to be concerned with whether the profit is $300 or $400," Brasler said. "A lot of the other websites out there, basically all of them, they generate sales leads for the dealerships and the dealerships pay them to supply this feed of customers."
Brasler said Consumers' Checkbook is paid by consumers. Each CarBargains report is $250 and it shows you what each dealer is willing to sell you a car for, above, at, or even below invoice price, and if the dealer is getting rebates or incentives from the manufacturer.
So, how good of a deal can CarBargains get you?
For an example, for us, they used a 2017 Honda Accord LX. The MSRP for this car, or sticker price, is $23,255 -- that number is all over the internet. The dealer invoice, what they pay for the car, is $21,285, and it's also listed online.
So here's the big question: how much can you get it for?
The CarBargains report on that same 2017 Honda Accord showed that one local dealer was willing to sell the car for $2,307 under invoice.
So, News 6 called or emailed eight of the dealers that CarBargains called and Brasler was right. Most didn't make it easy to compare, and some wouldn't give us a price at all.
What we did get ranged from above MSRP to below invoice. The best deal was $2,286 under invoice for the Honda.
CarBargains, in this case, beat us by $21, but you have to factor in the $250 that CarBargains charges for the service. It's also unclear if we would have gotten the same deal we were quoted over the phone if we walked in.
CarBargains does get results. A brand new Honda for $18,978 came before tax, tag, title and any dealer fees. But you can also get results -- and CarBargains actually encourages it, because ultimately, it is a consumer advocacy group.
You just have to do the work. It takes time to call around and you have be direct: tell dealers they're competing against each other and tell them you're really going to buy the car so they understand you're serious, and they have one chance to give you their lowest price. If you don't want to deal with that, they can do it for you.
There's one thing to note. The report doesn't ask for specific colors or options from the dealers. That's because it's easier to compare that way. If you start with a base model, the numbers should all be the same and then you can really see how much a dealer is willing to budge. If you order the 44-page CarBargains report, it also will include the invoice price for all options, so you can add them in, one by one, at invoice price.
Consumers’ Checkbook also has a service for people who prefer to lease a new car called LeaseWise. The reportcosts $350.
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