How do you figure out the market price for a car?

Say you don’t see the car you’re after on the Marketplace, and there’s no broker or dealer in your region that specializes in that particular brand. You’re left to your own devices.

This seems to be a very real possibility outside of CA or the Northeast. What tools do you use to determine the target discount to aim for?

For me, it’s a combination of things:

  1. Search for deals posted by others on Leasehackr. Examples should be fairly recent and within your same geography.

  2. Check Edmunds, CarGurus, and/or TrueCar. Each of these lead generation sites have suggested prices for your location; some even provide a range of prices from “good” to “excellent.” Most of the discounts include incentives, so be sure to exclude that from the expected dealer contribution.

  3. Check dealer website ads and specials – with a grain of salt while reading the fine print carefully. Realize that some brands, like Toyota and Mercedes, prohibit below-invoice advertising, while some brands like CDJR and Kia may be especially suspect.

  4. Have a general understanding and feel of what’s possible with different brands and how much more to push. Some people have general rules of thumb – target X% off for new BMWs, more if it’s a car, less if it’s a truck, etc.

Any other steps or tools you use to figure out the market price of a particular car?

On lead generation sites, do you submit all your contact info to get bombarded with emails, or is the preview info enough?

I have a dummy email account that I keep for that purpose. I’m interested in learning a more refined way of determining what % discount to shoot for.

I’d use #1 and #4. Can’t think of anything else, really. Maybe just browsing cargurus to get general idea on pricing/discounts.

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I’d also suggest pricing discussion threads in brand-specific forums and the “prices paid” section of Edmunds forums and try to back out purchase/financing rebates to get to the pre-incentive discount.

I generally will determine available incentives first, then use a tool like Cargurus to find the cheapest one within my area. I’ll assume worst case scenario and add all the available incentives back into the price to get a general idea of what the sales price actually is.

I use all of the above. And when possible try to look for dealer invoice and hold back as percentages off MSRP.