Websites like Edmunds.com will give you a pretty good idea how much you should pay for any new or used vehicle. For any new car or used car, have a “target” purchase price. The target should be realistic.
New Car: How much does Edmunds.com recommend you pay over dealer invoice? Are rebates available?
Through your research you determine that a brand new Camry LE with a standard option package usually sells for $400 over dealer invoice, “$400 over invoice is your target”. When you begin “negotiations” keep this target to yourself. Who knows, the Dealership might just ask $300 over invoice. Target met.
Don’t set a target based on MSRP. MSRP is meaningless. Ask about Customer Rebates and Dealer Rebates/Incentives.
Used Car: How much should you pay for the used car with 75,000 miles in good condition?
If you are thinking of purchasing a used Camry, price out the car with the options you desire. You may wish to try several model years (2002, 2003, 2004), several base models (4cyl LE, 6cyl XLE), and several options in order to determine a general price range. Setting a target is a little more difficult here because you don’t know specifically what’s currently available.
Consider setting a range: “I expect to pay between $8,000 and $9,000 for a 2002 Camry or Accord with 60,000 miles in good condition”
Before signing a purchase agreement, you may want to run your selected new or used vehicle through the Edmunds.com site in order to evaluate the dealership’s pricing. This is a good reason why being patient and taking 24 hours to think about any car purchase can be important.
Homework, Shop, Homework, Buy!
Consider shopping around the end of a month. Ask whether buying at the end of this month or the beginning of next month will make any difference in the price. Sometimes a dealer will sell below their cost to qualify for the next “tier” of dealer incentives. Example: If they can sell just three more cars this month a special factory-to-dealer incentive increases from $300 per vehicle to $500 per vehicle for each of the last 200 vehicles sold. ($200 x 200 vehicles is $40,000) Could they give up an extra $2,000 in your deal? Although this is rare, it happens more often than most people think.
If you tend to keep your vehicles for 5 years or more, your best time to buy may be at the end of the model year. Sometimes the discount is large enough for this to make sense. However, if you tend to trade every 2 or 3 years, the newer model year may be a better value.