Car Buying Articles

How to Use TMV

Know the True Market Value of a New or Used Car

Car Buying Learning Center

How to Use TMV's True Market Value (TMV®) pricing is a powerful tool that helps shoppers get a good deal on a new or used car. Based on actual sales data, TMV is a guide to what other people in your area paid for the same car.

Knowing the TMV price helps buyers negotiate the price of a new car as well as the value of their trade-in vehicle. Additionally, sellers can use TMV to set the price of their used car when selling it to a private party.

Car buyers can see TMV pricing on once they've selected a car's manufacturer, model, trim level (style) and options. Edmunds displays TMV pricing of a new car along with two other key pieces of information: the invoice price of a car (roughly what the dealer paid for it) and the manufacturer's suggested retail price (MSRP), which is also known as the sticker price.

TMV is essential information for shoppers because cars sell at very different prices depending on their availability and popularity. Knowing TMV allows a shopper to make an offer that a dealer will immediately recognize as reasonable. Thus, negotiations will take less time and be more relaxed.

TMV is also built into's iPad and mobile phone apps so shoppers can check TMV pricing while they're on the car lot.

On Edmunds' FAQ page you will find more information about TMV and a step-by-step example of how to get TMV for a new or used car. This short video offers some tips on ways to use TMV in your negotiations.

TMV Strategies for New Car Shopping
Now that you know what TMV is and where to find it, here are some tips about using it to help you get a great deal.

If you're an experienced negotiator, or someone who is willing to spend several hours haggling, look up the TMV price but don't disclose this information to the salesperson. Instead, make an opening offer well below TMV and slowly raise the price as the salesperson counters your offers. Usually, the final sales price will be below TMV.

Other buyers just want to cut to the chase and will be satisfied with a fair deal, if not the absolutely lowest price on a car. If this is your style, offer to pay TMV and explain to the salesperson that, a respected car-shopping information source, says this is an average price. It helps to have a printout of the TMV price handy, or have the TMV information ready to display on a computer or mobile phone as you talk.

There is no guarantee that the salesperson will accept your offer to pay the TMV price. In some cases, dealers try to tell buyers that the TMV figure isn't realistic. Buyers can respond by saying that Edmunds bases TMV on real-world sales data. If this has no effect, buyers should tell the salesman they will look for another dealer who will accept their offer. An easy way to locate a dealer who understands TMV is by using's dealer Internet quote system.

Other Uses for TMV
In addition to its use in new-car shopping, TMV is a handy appraisal tool for establishing the value of used cars. You can find the TMV price for your vehicle when the time comes to sell it or use it as a trade-in. If you are buying a used car from a dealership, you also can look up its "dealer retail" TMV price using the appraisal tool.

Edmunds also provides TMV prices for certified pre-owned cars. Once you've entered a car's make, model, year, options, mileage and condition, the information for a certified pre-owned car displays at the bottom of the "What Is Your Car Worth?" results page. Again, these are average prices, and the final cost of the car is negotiable.

While Edmunds does not offer TMV prices for leasing, the TMV price of a car is a useful piece of information if you plan to lease. A monthly lease payment is based on the selling price of the car, or the "cap cost" in leasing lingo. The lower the cost of the car, the lower the monthly lease payment.

TMV's on Your Side
You'll hear lots of car pricing terms tossed around when you're shopping and negotiating for a new car or used car. Amid all the talk of MSRP, sticker and invoice, keep coming back to TMV. That's the number you truly need to know.

Car Buying Learning Center

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Most Recommended Comments

By digitalcarguy
on 02/22/11
6:07 AM PST

As a 20 year or so professional I have found no matter what the product you are selling may be, people want to be treated fairly. Selling cars is really about relationships, whether you are the buyer or seller. I agree with having the information and using it as a tool. We are all humans and people react differently to aggressive behavior, with that said I believe that people like to do business with like kind and like mind people. In addition profit is not a dirty word, in order to stay in business, no matter what business it is, you must be profitable to STAY in business. I have found that most people want to be treated fairly and professionally.

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By philip17
on 08/08/11
1:17 PM PST

People often suggest negotiating the new car first (using TMV as a guide) and then introducing the trade-in only after the new car price is set. Usually, you don't have to be that secretive. But you should use TMV as a guide for both new and used. Getting your price on the trade-in is tougher than reducing the price on the new car. If you are very price sensitive, get multiple quotes on the trade-in first. But keep you eye on the big picture rather than just one component.

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By kpatter3
on 08/07/11
10:41 AM PST

how does a trade in factor in? Should I negotiate for TMV then present the trade in?

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