It used to be that consumers had 3 things to go off of when it came to car shopping. The MSRP, what a friend paid for their vehicle and consumer reports' new car buying advice and ratings. Dealers knew one thing back then, it was gross, gross, gross. No, not that gross, but $$$ cash flow, (of income, profit, or interest) without deduction of tax or other contributions; total. Purchasing a car took a lot of time, a lot of haggling and left a bad taste in everyone's mouth.
Of course, that's the way things used to be. Fret not, for the game has changed. The internet has leveled the playing field and is fully equipped with the tools and information consumers need for the road ahead.
Do your Homework. Only you can help you.
I know what you're thinking, "Where do I start?" I'll tell you where to start. First things first, don't get overwhelmed. There are a lot of tools available to help you, the consumer find the right car, the right deal and the best bang for the buck.
Edmunds.com has Edmunds Price Promise® a pricing tool that "makes it easy to connect with dealers that have agreed to provide you with an up-front price on a specific car you want. You'll also have a personal contact at the dealership when you're ready to buy."
Truecar.com has a great new app that lets you scan vehicles and find out what others have paid for the same model and trim in the surrounding area. They too, like Edmunds, partner with dealers to give consumers an upfront haggle free price. Nobody likes to negotiate, and if they do, odds are their sitting in the seat across from you.
Costco members get access to an already pre-negotiated price as well, some costco pricing is spot on and usually only about $500 over invoice. Everybody wins.
Two-words: Internet Department. Most dealerships now have dedicated departments to helping consumers get everything done and negotiated before they even walk in the door. The dealership's website is the very best route to take when looking into buying a car. Most dealerships have a chat service, contact form and even a trade-in appraisal page to help make buying a car as easy and painless as possible. You shouldn't even have to worry about a bait and switch, and if they do try and pull something fishy on you, pull up your net and turn around and never come back. Most dealerships will be pretty straight forward with buyers.
Remember, as evil as car dealers may seem to be at times, everyone's got to eat. Just do a little bit of homework and research before you walk in the door, you'll save some dough and be happy you did.