Step 5: Get a Sale Price and Ask About Extended Warranties
Once you have a target car, it's time to focus on getting a price. We recommend using one of these two ways to get a price quote on a car:
1: Call, text or email the internet sales department of three dealerships that have the car you want. Ask each for the total selling price, including any additional accessories that may have already been installed on the car. The best price will be obvious. You also can take that quote and ask the other dealerships to beat it. If you plan on leasing, this is the way to go.
2: You can save time and trouble by using Edmunds to get a locked-in price that's designed to be comparable to the average price that others are paying in your area. Make sure you ask the salesperson to email or text you a breakdown of the "out-the-door price," with all the taxes and fees factored in. That lets you see the total amount you'll be spending.
You also should ask for a preview of products the dealership plans to offer you after you buy a car — things like paint protection, an extended warranty and possibly a pre-paid maintenance plan. Usually, you won't hear about these until much later in the shopping process, but we suggest you get some information now to relieve pressure later.
Here's how you do it: Call the dealership finance manager and ask about these products and services. They may be of value to you, but just know that the price is often negotiable and you don't have to buy them when you buy the car, unless you intended to fold their price into the purchase contract.
Step 6: Review the Deal and Check for Dealer Financing
Now that you have a price quote for the car, your big question is probably whether it's competitive. Edmunds uses the term "Average Price Paid" — also known as Edmunds TMV — to measure this. It's the amount that others are paying in your area for a similarly equipped car. If you have any trouble finding that figure on our site or in our app, our Shopper Advice team will happily help you. This is a free service from Edmunds to help car shoppers get the best deal they can.
It's important to keep in mind that an average price paid is exactly that. Some people have paid more and others paid less. Some shoppers are only happy if they grind their way to a rock-bottom price. But for most shoppers, that usually isn't worth the hassle and frustration. If your price quote is above the average, it's not necessarily reason to walk away from a deal. Here's why:
A car's price isn't the only factor that determines a good car deal. You also should look at the interest rate, the loan term and the value of your trade-in, if that's part of your deal. There are even some intangibles, such as how the salesperson and the dealership treat you, and the time you save in the shopping process. Those are all factors in a good deal. In fact, at this point in the process, you may be able to improve parts of it.
In Step Two, you got pre-approved for financing. Now that you're close to purchase, there's a chance that you can get a better interest rate at the dealership.
To see if that's possible, let the dealership run a credit report and assess your interest rate. Or, if you know your credit score, tell the finance manager what it is and the rate for which you'd qualify. You can give your information to the finance manager over the phone. Some dealerships have credit applications on their websites and you can fill one out. If the interest rate is lower than the one in your pre-approved loan, go for it. If not, you already have a good loan locked in.