You can never be too prepared when walking into a car dealer's showroom to negotiate the terms of a sale. You do it maybe every few years and they do it on a daily basis. Of course, it helps to do your homework, and these days you can have a smartphone app handy when your head starts to swim with numbers and calculations.
Car Negotiator for iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad is the latest in a growing number of car-buying apps. Released last week, it strikes a good balance between providing enough info to make sure you're on track with your car purchase and not overwhelming newbies with too many bells and whistles. The three-tab layout and intuitive user interface makes it a new favorite.
Well, that and the fact that it mentions our sister site Edmunds.com.
The three tabs along the bottom of the screen include (left to right): Calculator, My Cars and Game Plan. One small gripe right out the gate is that Game Plan should be the first tab on the far left since it's where many users may want to start. Hitting the tab brings up a seven-step plan for purchasing a car along with a brief introduction. Tap a step and you get straightforward advice (like "Visit car review sites such as Edmunds.com" under Step 2) along with a goal and several tips.
While the Game Plan tab offers good advice, if you already know the car-buying game and have done the legwork, you can go straight to the Calculator tab. Again, nothing groundbreaking here since many car-buying apps include something similar. But Car Negotiator's calculator is a snap to use and includes an "i" info button for more info on anything that isn't clear. It will also calculate sales tax for each state and includes fields for destination charges and document and registration fees.
The third and middle tab, My Cars, is simply a way to keep track of the vehicles you're researching. My Cars has an email icon so you can send the info to yourself or someone else if, for example, you want your friends to know that you're shopping for a Ferrari.
When combined with our own Edmunds app that lets you research cars, find out their True Market Value, read dealer reviews, check vehicle inventories and more, the Car Negotiator app can be a formidable weapon for car shoppers. Whip it out while crunching numbers on your next visit to a car dealer and the $1.99 price of the app will probably end up paying for itself.
Gretchen McFarlan, Contributor
To find a dealership that knows how to treat shoppers right, please visit Edmunds.com's Dealer Ratings and Reviews.