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Sounds like you're buying the deal not the car. The first thing to do is to identify the car you want. The best deal may be for the worst car. Buy the car, not the deal.

You can get 5k off MSRP if the MSRP is high enough, 5k might be easy on a Mercedes but tough when the list price of the car is in the 14-18k range. That would probably only happen to last year's models or an end of year clearance sale and you're already past that point for most models.

Any thoughts on the 2014 Jetta S Automatic? Truecar shows a base model for $12,900.. Is it a comfy ride? Are repairs pricey? Reliable?

AndroAsc said:   Is it possible to buy a car in a FWF way without commuting to a specific make/model until the very end? Has anyone tried this before?

I guess I'll need to identify the specific car model and email all the dealers in my area, and repeat this for every make that I am interested in? Any other advice?

Lastly, I've seen a lot of post where you guys are getting >$5k off MSRP, but based on the type of cars I want and TrueCar data, it seems that getting $5k off MSRP is a huge challenge. Do I have the facts wrong?

Two things:
1) Depending on a number of factors, not committing to a set of specific options can provide you a little bargaining and/or time leeway. For example: it's mid-November 2014 now, and if you want exactly "X" from your dealer they will have to order it and chances are it will arrive in January 2015. That does not help their Nov/Dec or overall 2014 unit volume. However, if you advise the salesperson, "what have you currently got which is close?" -- that can help you. For example, he may have the same model you want, same options, BUT it also has (example) satellite radio installed. For the dealer this may be a $200 cost. Tell the salesperson you'd take that car, today, for $25 over what he as quoted you on the ordered model. See what happens with that.

2) Depending on a number of factors, the discount on MSRP will vary. End of the year through February is always slow for car dealers. You'll get the biggest discounts then. Competitive atmosphere is another factor; go and price a Range Rover Evoque right now. They are selling right at MSRP, and the salesperson will stand firm on that. On the other hand Mercedes and BMW are currently in a calendar year volume war right now in the mini-SUV and entry luxury markets. So you will find that you can get 10% off MSRP on a BMW 3 series or X1 right now. But price a Mercedes E350 or 5-series and it's a different story. Built into Truecar, btw, is a ~$400 fee for "forwarding" interested buyers to a participating dealer. So if you print out a Truecar estimate, and take it to a nearby non-participating dealer, they will generally match it or beat it to some extent, since it builds in about $400 up front. Careful also with "what's included" when doing A/B comparisons. To return to a prior example, BMW includes 4yrs/50K miles maintenance into their MSRP; Mercedes offers 2/3/4yr maintenance plans as extra-cost options.

I would avoid looking at the discount as an absolute value ("$5K" in your example) and instead work it as a percentage off MSRP. It's a hell of lot easier to get 5K knocked off a 100K car than 5K knocked off a 25K car; but the former is only 5% off MSRP and the latter is a whopping 20% off MSRP. It would be more fair to say that getting 10% off MSRP would generally be considered a GREAT deal. On a 25K car that's 2.5K. So start with 10% as a rough benchmark.


I thought you guys might get a kick out of one of the responses I just received on a counter offer I made. Here's the background: I'm looking to buy a Mazda 6 and have a PenFed loan check (1.49%) ready for the purchase. All the Mazda dealers are pushing hard for me to use Mazda for the financing and they are all offering prices between $500 and $1000 higher if I bring my own cash/financing. I decided to counter the dealer that offered the smallest difference between the Mazda loan and cash price ($500 difference) by requesting he sell to me at the lower price for cash. I decided to throw in a mention of the large corporation I work for as I know a lot of local dealerships offer some kind of discount/special pricing for our employees.
My counter said: [Sales Manager Guy],

I appreciate you providing the quote on the Red Mazda 6. To be honest with you, I am aiming to purchase this car around the $xxxxx financed price but I am certain I will not be financing through Mazda. Please let me know if you are able to do any better than your initial offer when bringing my own cash/financing. Hopefully you can find some additional discounts somewhere. Does your dealership offer any kind of discount for [Large Corporation] employees?


[My name]

Dealer's reply said: [My name], It is amazing to me that hardly any of our customers want us to make a profit. I am sure that [Large Corporation] does not conduct it's business with a losing intention. The price I offered you has all the margin taken out of it and since you are not willing to finance with Mazda there are no extra incentives available. Good luck with your Target number and your new car.

His meltdown made me chuckle so I wanted to share. Everyone please begin playing your tiny violins for the poor dealer whose customers don't want to maximize his profits.

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