7 options for negotiating a price for a new car

Kathryn Hawkins

When you’re shopping for a new car, it’s easy to get caught up in the excitement and agree to a price that’s higher than you should be paying. In fact, haggling over pricing is the typical consumer’s least favorite part of buying a car. In a Car Connection survey of more than 2,000 consumers, just 8 percent of shoppers enjoyed negotiating a sale price.

The good news is that you don’t have to negotiate with a salesman anymore. Many online and membership-based services can help you decide on a purchase price for a new car — with no pressure from salespeople. Here are seven options for no-haggle car purchases.

1. TrueCar.com

This online car-buying service lets you research what others have paid for the car you’re interested in, both locally and nationally. You then can request a “Guaranteed Savings Certificate” from one of the site’s dealership partners, which you can bring with you to receive a guaranteed discount — for instance, in a test search we ran, a 2013 Subaru Forester is offered for a discount of more than 7 percent off the standard retail pricing at a dealership in Maine. There’s no fee for a consumer to use the service.

2. CarWoo.com

This car-buying startup helps you tell auto dealerships what kind of car you’re seeking anonymously — that is, it keeps your information confidential so dealerships can’t learn anything about you until you’re ready to buy. Dealerships will send you their best-price offers so that you can choose the best value for the money. The dealership never receives your phone number or email address; that way, you won’t get any follow-up messages. The “basic” plan, which lets you obtain bids for one type of car, is free. If you’d like to receive three options, the “plus” plan costs $99.

3. USAA Car Buying Service

If you’re a member of USAA, an insurer open to current and retired members of the military and their families, you can take advantage of USAA’s free Car Buying Service. This service helps you get guaranteed no-haggle pricing on vehicles and shows you offers available only to USAA members. For example, in one recent promotion, USAA members were able to save 0.5 percentage points on the interest rate of an auto loan when using the service.

4. AAA Auto Buying Service

If you’re an AAA member, you can take advantage of the club’s car-buying service to research dealers’ invoice pricing for various makes and models. The service also will help you find an AAA-recommended dealer; simply show your AAA card to receive the dealer’s best price upfront. If you’re not an AAA member, you can join for an annual $49 membership fee, which also provides complimentary jump-start and towing services along with other benefits.

5. American Car Buying Service

If you’re looking for a vehicle with a lot of custom features, it can be more difficult to use one of the traditional online car-buying services. American Car Buying Service can get you a quote for a standard make and model from a dealership free of charge. For a $75 fee, the service will help you obtain a customized quote for a vehicle with all the features you want, as well as any special rebates or incentives you may qualify for.

If you buy the car, you’ll pay an additional $275 — a small amount compared with the thousands of dollars you stand to save.

6. CarsDirect.com

This free service lets you submit a request for a quote on a vehicle with whatever features you want, including options like alloy wheels and iPod console trays. Unlike some of the other services, you’re able to collect quotes on new and used vehicles. However, your information does go directly to the dealership, so you may receive follow-up calls.

On the bright side, this site includes a “deals” page that shows you current rebates for cars available in your area — a great feature if you’re concerned about value but haven’t settled on a make or model.

7. Authority Auto

Authority Auto refers to itself as a “car concierge.” It does everything from analyzing your trade-in to scheduling test drives to setting up delivery of your new car. As with the other services, it also aims to help you find the best deal on the make and model you’re looking for. If you already have an offer under consideration, the company will split the difference of what it can save you compared with the best deal you’ve found.

Because the company doesn’t accept money from dealerships, it doesn’t impose a service charge. You’ll pay a $200 retainer to initiate the process, with total fees ranging between $595 and $1595 for a completed deal, depending on the cost of the car.

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