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For some reason, I have a lot of people recently asking where they can get the dealer invoice price on a particular vehicle. This is a tough question, I�ve not found any online source that I would trust to be accurate. Moreover, what a business pays for the product they sell is nobody�s business.
Considering my radio show, website, Facebook page etc., I may easily talk to more potential auto buyers than anyone in the country.
For those who do not know, before the Car Pro Radio Show was created in 2001, I was in the retail automobile business for over 3 decades. I have to admit, when I get the question about what dealerships pay for cars, it irritates me a little.
I consider myself a consumer advocate in every way. I do my best to help people make good car buying decisions. When it comes to dealer cost on a car, as I mentioned earlier, I frankly don�t think that is anybody�s business. Would you ask a clerk at Walmart what they paid for that 60� HD TV you want to purchase? Would you ask a homebuilder how much it cost to build that dream home you want to buy? I don�t think so.
The bottom line is that as a consumer, you should be more interested in the best price you can get, without regard to what a dealer paid for a car. Profit is not a dirty word and car dealers have a huge investment in their business, and like everyone else, they deserve a return on that investment.
The next problem for �dealer-cost chasers� is getting accurate information. I�ve seen some big name websites with the wrong numbers, wrong cost of transportation, and wrong incentive information. This is frustrating for the consumer and the dealership both. Dealers don�t open every day to NOT sell cars, but when you are armed with bad info, you leave a dealership in the car you drove in there, mad at the dealer, and not understanding why the dealer didn�t accept your offer.
Some people choose to go through �buying services� and brokers in those states where it is legal. TrueCar has done a ton of advertising and tout that they �changed car buying forever� and they�ll give you �upfront pricing estimates.� Not exactly sure how a pricing estimate is going to help you get the best deal, but consider this; according to car dealers I have spoken with, they pay TrueCar on average $300 for every person who buys a car through the TrueCar website. There is nothing illegal or immoral about it, but don�t you think the dealers consider that fee when calculating the lowest price they can sell a car for?
When I am shopping, whether it be a car, an electronic gadget, computer, or lawnmower, I just want to pay a fair price. I consider the value of my time in the calculations too. Can I afford to drive one hour to save $50 on a purchase? I want to be treated well, respected as a consumer, and get a fair deal. I don�t mind paying a profit to any business. I just want a fair deal.
The next problem for people wanting dealer cost is; you aren�t going to figure it out anyway. You can get close to what factory invoice is on a car, but that�s not the same as dealer cost. Even with my experience, I can�t know what incentives are being paid to the dealers direct from the factory. Often times, these are based on a dealer�s volume and the amounts change the more a dealer sells. Many of the factory-to-dealer bonuses are based on how well people are treated or its customer satisfaction ratings.
I am in favor of researching the car you want to buy and doing your homework, but obsessing over what a dealer paid for a car will make you crazy. Dealerships have tremendous overhead and trust me, you want them to be there after you purchase a car in case you need them.
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