New Car Buying

Last Modified: March 17, 2020 by Jeff Ostroff  | Originally Published May 7, 1999

Using our car buying advice and tools, you'll get a great deal that is more than fair for the dealership. If you set out to and aren't prepared, then prepare to get ripped off, it's that simple. We'll explain how to get the most out of tools like TrueCar and RydeShopper.

People have no problem taking weeks to plan a vacation, but don't spend a few hours doing research before they buy a $30,000 vehicle. Remember, the lowest price is not always the best "deal." There are other factors that you need to take into account. You'll be able to save a ton of money by following our advice.

In this Chapter:

  1. Why the Best Price Doesn't Mean the Best Deal.
    There are several factors in car buying to consider aside from the price of your new car. Know and consider these before you buy a new car.
  2. When is The Best Time to Buy a New Car
    Car buying prices vary, depending on the time of the year. Know when you can get the best new car deal.
  3. All Prep Work Can be Done from Your PC, Tablet or Phone
    Know how to prepare for buying a new car through simple online research.
  4. How to Find Invoice Prices, Rebates and Incentives
    Here are FREE tips to finding the best new car deals and incentives online.
  5. Competition Gets You the Best Car Buying Deal
    New car sales competition works to your advantage. Find out how.

1. The Best Car Price Doesn't Mean You Got a Good Deal

A good deal means that you were treated fairly and the dealership made a reasonable profit. The most important thing you'll read here on is to make sure that you don't just focus on the final price. Some dealers will play the "Cash Flow Shell Game" so they can rip you off while making you think you're getting a good deal. An example:

The buyer in this example thought they were getting a good new car deal because of the low price, but they actually got ripped off. We'll explain all of the tricks to look out for and teach you how to avoid becoming a victim. To save the most money make sure you read the whole site. If you miss one valuable topic on it can cost you thousands of dollars.

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Begin by getting the lowest price using services like TrueCar, RydeShopper, Edmunds and Don't be a "monthly payment buyer" and only look at the payment amount - that is the worst thing you can do. Doing this or becoming a "trade-in buyer" is exactly what the dealer wants and you'll play right into their hand. Once this happens, you'll get ripped off, I guarantee it!

2. When is the best time to buy a new car?

This is more complex than you think. The incomplete answer is there are two "best times." September and October, as dealers sell off cars to clear space for the new models. Also, December when everyone is out shopping for XMAS gifts, leaving dealer lots void of customers, motivating them to cut prices to meet year end sales goals. For complete details visit our article: Best Time to Buy a Car.

3. All Prep Work Can be Done from Your PC, Tablet or Phone

The last time I bought a vehicle I was able to do all my homework without leaving my house. In the "old days" you wasted hours at many dealerships. Luckily, the internet was invented so you don't need to leave the comfort of your couch. There are many great sites that allow you to research and get quotes like TrueCar and RydeShopper. Once you have determined the best price, take your research to the dealership and calmly negotiate the best deal.

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Exclusive for our visitors, this Free Research Tool gives you special friends and family pricing. Leveraging volume purchasing power of large companies and membership groups. Choose your automobile and configure options online. Get an instant quote from a local dealer in the network. If you don't enjoy haggling, you'll love our service.

4. Invoice Vehicle Prices, Rebates and Incentives

As you follow this guide, you'll find there are a few critical pieces of information that you need to make sure you're getting a great deal. They include invoice price, rebates and incentives. We'll cover these in more detail later, but you should know, when talking about rebates and incentives there are some that are advertised and some that are "secret" between the manufacturer and the dealer.

The most important thing to remember about invoice price, is that it is not the amount the dealer paid for the automobile. We show you how to calculate what the dealer actually paid later in this guide. TrueCar will show you the invoice price for your selected vehicle.

What are secret car buying incentives

Secret factory to dealer incentives can be $1,000-$6,000 in addition to known rebates! Because of secret incentives, if you pay invoice, the dealer makes extra profit. You should haggle over this incentive, as many dealers willingly give up part or all of this incentive.

Your Car Buying Advantage: Fighting Chance Package

If you want the most accurate, complete and up to date data, I'd recommend acquiring the FightingChance package. They will also talk to if you have questions as you go through the buying process.

Get more in-depth details in our chapter on dealer invoice pricing >

5. Competition Gets You the Best Car Deal

Enter the dealership armed with "The Car Buying Folder" that I'll talk about in Chapter 3. Once they see you're prepared, it works to your advantage. The deal will now proceed on your terms, not theirs. Don't enter a dealership without having multiple price quotes! Commissioned salespeople fear "The Folder" because they know you did your homework. Salepeople rely on uneducated buyers who don't do their research.

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Recommended Car Price Quote Sites

TrueCar is an online marketplace for automobile shopping that provides transparency into prices that others paid for their vehicles. Consumers engage with TrueCar Certified Dealers. You'll be able to research the vehicle you are interested in and get accurate pricing on in-stock dealer inventory. See your potential savings before heading to the dealership. Start your stress-free search

RydeShopper searches pricing from their network of dealers to find the best price. Use their simple form to select make and model and start saving. Get quotes from the maximum number of dealers to give you the upper hand. Get a Quote gives you no-hassle and no-obligation FREE price quotes. You can view actual dealer inventory and prices in your area. Find the right car for you at lowest prices available. You can also use the Edmunds True Market Value™ pricing to get the best deal. Remember, when dealers compete, you win. They also list current factory to consumer rebates, as well as secret factory to dealer incentives. If you are aware of a secret factory to dealer incentive on your car, you can negotiate a lower price. Begin the FREE Quote Process gives you free, no-obligation quotes from up to 3 dealers. Select your make, model, color and options. Getting quotes from multiple dealers pressures them to give discounts. Free Quote

The Car Buying Service lets you get a guaranteed price quote without leaving your house. This exclusive program leverages volume buying power of large companies, employers and membership groups to get you a low price. Let’s Get Started

Autobytel has 20,000 dealers, they give you free no hassle low price quotes, list automobile prices and dealer cost. Get a Quote From Autobytel

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Use Competition to Your Advantage When Buying a New Car

Competition also works to get the best rate on your loan. The dealer is not the only one that can finance your automobile, online lenders are available. Once approved, you'll have a check in hand and know your APR before stepping foot in the dealership. Use your low rate to negotiate with the dealer or use your online financing if they won't match or beat the online rate. We cover this in more detail in our auto loans chapter. Remember, price is only one component of a complete deal.

Learn about getting multiple price quotes in advance >

TrueCar gives you great baseline pricing. Check the curve to see how your quotes stack up to what other paid. If their price is better, print the Guaranteed Savings Certificate and head to the dealership for a hassle free deal. Remember, you still have to pay attention to the other aspects of the deal that we discuss.

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Next: How New Car Dealers Pad Their Pockets at Your Expense > has affiliate relationships with multiple web sites. We are paid referral fees for leads or sales generated from visitors that click on some links or fill out certain forms on this site. Please view our advertising policy page for more information.