Pricing Research

As you’ll see by the end of this page, finding the best price you’ll be able to buy your new car for is generally not as simple as looking at a few online pricing guides and making an offer. Its only once you’ve started negotiating that you’ll know what sort of discount you can get from dealers in your area.

That being said, its a good idea to do some initial research before starting negotiations so you can:

  1. Avoid the pitfall of making an offer that’s not in your best interest
  2. Get an idea of what people in your area are paying for the same car
  3. Find out what current incentives and rebates are available for the car you’re interested in.
  4. Decide which of the 3 main paths of negotiation you’re taking

1. What should I be offering?
That’s usually the question car buyers want answered before they enter negotiations. That’s not the question you should be asking. You are far better off finding out what dealers in your area are willing to offer before making any sort of offer yourself.

Why? Because when you make the first offer, you set the bar for negotiations. Say you go into a dealership and offer $23,000 for the car you want. The dealer was actually willing to sell that car for $21,000 but you’ll never know because you’ve already stated you’re willing to pay more.

2. Whats the going price in your area right now?
Room for negotiation and incentives can vary significantly at different times and by region. What someone 3 states over paid for the same car you’re interested in 3 months ago isn’t terribly relevant. There may be different incentives from the manufacturer now than there were 3 months ago and they may vary significantly from whats offered in your area. has a tool that allows you to price out cars to your specifications and for your region here(link). This will give you some idea of what pricing is in your region as well as some information on incentives. This number is often quite conservative though, with a little effort on your part you can often beat the price they suggest by a substantial amount.

You can also look in edmunds forums or other forums specific to the make and model you’re looking for to see what people are reporting they paid for the car you’re interested in. For example, the Bimmerfest has a forum dedicated to users reporting what they paid for their car. This will give you some more information as to what to aim for. Be aware that people arent always honest about the price they paid, someone claiming a discount far greater than you see anyone else getting is likely exaggerating.

Another good source for pricing information is the newspaper. It used to be true that no-one got those rock bottom deals that were advertised but that isnt the case any more. Look to see which dealer in your general area is advertising the lowest prices on the car you’re looking for. Even if you don’t go to that dealership to buy, its information you can use in your negotiations

Which incentives and rebates can I get? has an updated list of what incentives are available for different makes and models here. It’s generally accurate although make and model specific forums sometimes have details on additional unadvertised incentives the general information sites can miss.

The most common incentives are:

  • Manufacturer to customer cash rebates
  • Manufacturer supported low financing rates
  • Manufacturer supported low lease rates
  • Manufacturer to dealer cash incentives

Customer cash is usually no trouble to get if it is available, the dealer cannot pocket that money and is obligated to disclose it to you so its in his best interest to make it available to you. For rebates for recent college graduates and military service personnel, you will need to meet the eiligibility requirements to get them. If for some reason the dealer you’re trying to work with doesnt appear to be taking all of the incentives you have found into account feel free to ask about them.

You need to have high enough credit to qualify for both the subsidised financing and lease rates. There can be marked up by the dealer if you’re not careful. So it pays to know what the available rates are so you don’t get fleeced.

Manufacturer to dealer incentives are a little trickier. The information is less readily available and the dealer has no obligation to disclose what money they are getting from the manufacturer to sell you a particular car. Don’t worry though, if you follow the guidelines in the next section on negotiation you’ll be maximizing the amount you can get of what there is to be had.

Armed with this information its time to:

Move on to Negotiation