Guide to calculating the Invoice price on a BMW and help with buying any car

OK, so lots of the same questions keep on popping up on this forum so I thought I would do some basic bullet points on how to get the deal you want from a dealer without wasting their time and hopefully have everyone happy at the end of the day.

Before you read below, it is important to remember a lease is made up of 3 main components. (Price, Money Factor, Residual) A dealer will always ask what monthly price do you want to pay. Ignore this, they have no control over the monthly price other than discounting the price of the car. The residual is made up by the finance house and cannot be changed and if you stand firm they should not mark up the MF either.

So, the focus is on the discount on the car!

  1. And this is important! Find the car you want on the dealer websites, never just call them and say you are interested in a 3 series. Have the stock number ready before you call

  2. Once you have found the car you like. Do some research, find out what other people are paying. Truecar, Edmunds, KBB are all good resources to get rough estimates although they are often conservative. Owner forums are also really good resources.

  3. Use my tool to work out the invoice price for the car. For this you will need the MSRP and the Base price of the car. The Base price is easy to find on the BMW configurator, it is at the top right as you build the car.!Ah4J6LMTs44puKsaKu06byiphB7Pfg

  4. Once you have the invoice price work out a realistic sale price. For an X3 this might be $1500-$2000 below invoice where as an M3 might be $500-$1000 above invoice. (others might be able to tell me what to expect on other models)

  5. Use the lease calculator on this forum to plug in the MSRP and the Sale price which you just calculated. Now, people always ask about residual and MF for specific cars. just Google “BMW X5 edmunds forum” and up will come results like “2017 BMW X5 lease questions”. In that post you will find all the current MF and and Residulas for the car you are looking at. The rebates are often talked about in there too and don’t forget to put the rebates int he calculator.

  6. Once you have entered all your numbers in to the Calculator you should end up with a monthly payment. If you are happy with that payment it is now TIME TO CALL THE DEALER!!!

  7. Be straight with the dealer. Tell them, if you can do the following sale price on the car you will buy it today because it will give you $XXX a month on the payments. All the other numbers will fall into place for the lease if you are clear with them. Often it requires talking to a manager or someone in finance to get the full numbers because sales people are not trained in the dark art of lease numbers, MSDs and acquisition fees.

  8. If the dealer’s numbers don’t come close to yours, talk to them, they have probably done something wrong. Things that often are done wrong are the following:

a. Rolling the Acquisition fee into the lease when you did not want it to be
b. Marking up the Money Factor
C. Including the rebates in their calculation to get you to the sale price you asked for. Important to be clear that your sale price does not include the rebates.

N.B. I have not gone into things like MSDs and if you want to pay the acquisition fee upfront because they are covered in this forum many times over.

I hope this helps someone get the deal they wanted, I know this all worked for me.


Bravo :clap:

Anyone reading this who is not familiar with BMW leases should definitely research MSD as well.

Much needed guide and much appreciated :slight_smile:

Good stuff. Thanks. This will work for other brands as well I suppose.

Yes, absolutely, it is just the invoice calculator that is for BMW only.

Ed, I’d love to empower prospective BMW clients with an accurate way to estimate invoices, especially since the markups were changed quite a bit a few months ago. I figure this will help them to know what actually IS a good deal and have more realistic expectations which would save everyone time.

I tried clicking on your link in the OP but that Excel workbook didn’t seem to have any formulas in it. Am I missing something?

Thanks @BMW_Dave, seems like someone had gone in there and deleted all of the formulas. I have put them back in.

Sweet. I’m actually taking your spreadsheet and revising it to match exact invoices of cars I have in stock and will be making a separate sheet for each model. What I’d like to do is forward it to you along with the invoices so that you can verify the math and vouch for the calculator as a neutral third party. It might take me a couple days. Can you please PM me your email address or email me directly at

Thanks for your help. Together we will help people get great deals and actually know what a great deal looks like! Lol

Happy to @BMW_Dave. Thank you for the help. My calculations were from a year ago and only approximate. Be interested to see how far off they are.

@BMW_Dave did you have a chance to update the spreadsheet?

It’s been a slow work in progress and I’ve had so many late night deals this month that by the time I get home the last thing I want to do is get on my laptop and do more work stuff. I’ll add it here and probably start a new thread once I’m done.

Only the RWD 2’s and 3 Sedans are done but let me know what you guys think about the formatting etc. All you have to do is put in the MSRP of the car you’re considering and it will calculate the invoice for that model (and the percentage of markup from invoice to MSRP).!At9noeGaV7KSg0p39DhikA1AzyrJ

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Is there a 2019 update?

Links are dead