Car Buying Guide: Get A Price Quote To Save Money

June 20, 2010

Readers are encouraged to send in their questions about the car buying process. Get answers from an industry insider!

Yesterday I answered the questions: What is the best way to start looking for a new car? Should I begin online or visit my local car dealer? The short answer is:

  • Save hundreds, if not thousands of dollars by contacting your local dealer by email and asking for a quote.

Most dealers assume you’re shopping around when you contact their Internet department. They don’t want to lose a potential deal so they often begin by quoting a price closer to invoice (depending upon make, model, and dealer, of course) to earn your business. Walk in the front door and you’ll probably be quoted the much higher Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) or higher. The difference between the two can be substantial.

Email or Phone?

Should you call or email your local dealer? Email is best. Car dealers spend lots of time and money training their sales staff to answer the phone. The staff’s objective is always to get the customer into the showroom. If you succumb to this effort too early in the process you’ll lose the benefit discussed above.

Try navigating to the dealer’s website. A method I use to find local dealers is go to Google maps. In the top search box, type in the manufacturer, along with your locale (city and state). For example, if you are looking for a Ford Mustang and live in Houston, TX type in “Ford Houston, TX.” Then click “Search Maps.”

The next screen provides a visual map of all Ford dealers in your area. On the left you’ll find their address, contact details, and usually a link to their website. Click on the dealer’s name and you often get customer feedback and other useful information.

When you land on the dealer’s site, look for an “Instant Quote” link. Don’t see one? Click on the Contact Us page and email the Internet or Sales department directly. Identify the make and model you want and ask for a price quote. The more detailed you can be on the vehicle you want, the better.  

What’s Next

Should you contact other dealers in your area? What about other items which add to the cost of a car? Can you pre-negotiate those, too? Check back in the next few days for answers to these questions.

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