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It Pays to do Your Homework When Buying a New Car from "My Car, My Life"

Updated on June 21, 2014
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The Automotive Blog for Independent Women

Doing homework often meant a lot of procrastinating and sniveling when we were kids. Now that we’re adults, however, we realize doing our homework can save us a lot of cha-ching!

And ladies, it’s time for hugs all around and to give out a big “Woohoo!!” cuz when it comes to doing car-shopping homework, you’ve got the R-E-P-U-T-A-T-I-O-N. When MCML talked with marketing executives at an auto show recently, the response across the board was, “When women today go car shopping, they’ve done their homework.” So kudos to you all – and keep it up!

To help keep this reputation growing, here are some websites we recommend visiting when you’re in the midst of new and used car shopping. Now, be forewarned, most of the information is written by gear heads and so some of it may get a little overwhelming. But consider this, finding out what you need to get the best price on the best vehicle for you will turn every trip to an auto dealership into an adventure at Barney’s Annual Warehouse Sale. The discounts you receive will give you bragging rights!

So check out these sites like you’d clip coupons…


www.kbb.com: This is the site of the company that has always been known as the go-to source of automotive pricing. Back in the day, they published a little book that was actually blue, hence the name, “Kelley Blue Book”. It was the bible for used car dealers – and they used to protect this information like it was Fort Knox Gold. Of course, for them it was. If the customer didn’t know the Blue Book price, dealers could charge whatever they felt they could get. Blue Book pricing really helped make used car dealers more reputable by offering the industry a pricing standard. Wanna know the price of a new or used car? Check kbb.com.

For new cars, kbb offers the MSRP, Dealer Invoice and New Car Book Value. MSRP is the price the manufacturer wants to get for the vehicle. Dealer Invoice is what the dealer pays for the vehicle (without any incentives or deals). New Car Book Value is the typical/average price people are paying. Knowing these figures give you an idea of the pond in which you need to swim. The site also has a whole lot of other important information such as resale values over 5 years. Spend some time navigating around. What you learn may save you money.

For used vehicles, kbb.com provides three levels of pricing – retail, trade-in and private party. Retail is the price you’d expect to pay on a lot from a dealer. Trade-in is the price a dealer will give you for your vehicle when you trade it in. Private party is the price you can expect to pay when dealing with a private individual. There are also allowances for the condition of the vehicle (Excellent, Good, Fair), so it is always important to know what condition the vehicle is to set proper pricing. Condition is also a great haggling point. If you can convince the seller that, “no this isn’t excellent condition, this is just good condition,” then you’ve saved a couple of hundred dollars.

The information is organized by make, model and year for both new and used.


www.edmunds.com: This is an auto enthusiast site and is a source of probably more than you want to know. But the information is there if you do want to know. It offers pricing, too, for new and used vehicles, though it is not considered the standard in vehicle pricing. One of the great features of this site is the consumer reviews of both new and used vehicles. Enter in the make, model and year of interest, and you’ll find plenty of real-life experiences with the vehicle to read. It’s usually a mixed bag, so you’ll have to use some discretion in terms of what and what not to weigh more than others.


www.truecar.com: When looking for pricing information on new vehicles, this site is Christian Louboutin pumps at 80% off! Enter the make and model of a current year vehicle and the site will analyze all the sales data for your zip code. The result is a bell curve analysis of pricing from too high to “how sweet is that!!” It’ll also provide the “true cost” of the vehicle – the actual price the dealer paid, including all the incentives. If you’re truly interested in getting the best possible deal – which is the goal of every independent woman -- you need to dive into this information as though it were a guaranteed zero-calorie fountain of melted chocolate. Come negotiation time, you’ll know when to say, “Deal!” or when to slip on the running shoes and wave, “Ba-bye.”

Memorize all the information – or better yet, write it down. That way, you won’t get flustered. When the sales person pushes back on your pricing request, pull out your notes. Stand your ground. Equipped with the information provided in these sites, you can confidently go mono e mono with any new or used car dealership sales person and know you’re going to be treated fairly, honestly and respectfully… because you’ve done your homework.

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