Buying a new or pre-owned car at the dealership can be a stressful experience. You can be totally excited at the prospect of owning that shiny new vehicle, but downright distraught at the thought of visiting multiple dealerships, going on test drives and listening to salespeople trying to make a deal. Is flat-fee or no-haggle pricing the answer for these buyers?
The flat-fee or no-haggle pricing model provides a guaranteed price for a specific car that is actually sitting on a dealer lot, usually right within your vicinity. It’s based on the premise that with free information so readily available online, dealers have to put their best foot forward with competitive pricing right from the beginning.
With so many dedicated car sites, you really can get a great deal on a car without having to go through a painful negotiation process. Sites like Truecar.com and Edmunds.com offer a wealth of information to help car shoppers research specific vehicles. By accessing recent sales data, you can easily see what others have paid for similar cars and calculate your costs. These sites include a boatload of other helpful information, such as customer reviews, available specs and features, photographs and comparable cars others have considered.
When you’re done with your research, you can go a step further and request pricing from area dealers on the car you have targeted. Because most dealers assume you are shopping competitively online, they will often give you a price that aligns with your expectations. With a simple test drive and some documents to sign, you may be good to go.
Even with an agreed-upon price, however, there are some common pitfalls to be aware of:
- Make sure you are talking about the same specific car. You don’t want to arrive at the dealer’s lot and find out the exact model you want isn’t there. Instead, get the car’s VIN number on the quote ahead of time and match that number to the car you test drive and purchase.
- Don’t forget about options and extras. If you want an all-weather package, for example, make sure it’s included in the online quote—before you head to the dealer.
- If you need financing and/or have a trade-in to consider, you have a lot more work ahead of you! You may still need to do some negotiating to get these within your price points.
- Even with an online price quote, there is no guarantee that you can’t still find a lower price. You can always expand your search area and contact other dealers directly.
The good news is that the old way of doing business works just fine too. If you’re the type of person that loves to make the deal in person—test-drive the car, ask questions, discuss your trade and financing options, and, of course, haggle—you could possibly end up with the best deal of all. But a word to the wise: still do your research before you go.