Frequently Asked Questions
What is meant by "internet pricing" for cars at dealerships?
“Internet pricing” for cars at dealerships refers to the pricing strategy that dealerships use when advertising and selling vehicles online. There are a lot of issues with internet pricing on free car buying sites because the prices set are typically not the price that dealerships deliver on when you go to their dealership.
What fees and charges are typically not included in advertised internet prices?
Taxes, title, documentation fees and any dealer markups, addendums they choose to add are not included in internet prices.
Why do dealerships advertise low internet prices if they don't honor them?
The purpose of listing a lower internet price for dealerships is to attract consumers to their dealership. If they can get you to the dealership spending your time there at length, it is highly unlikely you will want to go anywhere else and spend more time doing the same. It’s just a marketing ploy. When a dealership lists a price lower than everyone else, they are aiming to show up first in the list of vehicles sorted by low price. They get more eyeballs, and likely more customers that way.
How can I find the full breakdown of fees and extras not in the advertised price?
You need to call the dealership who is listing the vehicle and ask for a breakdown of the pricing of the vehicle. You can ask for a buyer’s order or a menu as it’s called by some dealerships.
What fine print should I look for when researching online car prices?
Some listings or advertisements may claim a particular payment or price and it could be only for particular buyers or incentives for those with specific qualifications. Reading fine print will help but talking specifically to the dealer is necessary to get the actual pricing details.
Are there certain car makes/models more likely to have extra fees added?
Every dealership no matter the make or model has fees.
How much should I expect to pay above the advertised internet price?
To know the total cost of a vehicle, you must get a buyer’s order from the dealership. There is no percentage or estimated amount that one can guess or say based on a posted internet price.
What questions should I ask the dealer to clarify the total price?
Ask for a buyer’s order which should detail out the total price of the vehicle. Ask for the out the door number with tax, title and fees included. You can ask for this information over the phone, there is no reason you need to visit the dealership to get the total price of a vehicle. But be prepared for dealerships to try to get you to come in to give you that information.
Is it common for dealers to claim I don't qualify for an advertised rebate?
Rebates and incentives are often advertised to everyone but the fine print will often disclose who or in what situation the incentive or rebate can be applied to. Additionally, you can’t usually combine incentives or rebates. It’s usually a one or another offer but advertisements won’t typically disclose that up front to get you in the door.
What are "documentation fees" that may be added to the price?
Doc fees or documentation fees are simply profit centers for dealerships and each dealership can have a different fee. Some states have max doc fees set.
Is negotiating online vs at the dealership better for price?
If you want the best price or deal you need to make dealers compete. It would take a lot of time if you visited 4-5 dealerships to get pricing on a vehicle. That’s why we recommend that you locate 4-5 dealers with the vehicle you want to purchase and contact each of them to get a buyer’s order. Once you do that, you can see the difference in price between each dealer. You can then begin to negotiate so that you know what to expect to pay and can do your due diligence. If you don’t contact more than one dealership and simply walk on the lot, you cannot know if you’re getting the “best” deal you can get because you haven’t made dealerships compete.
What tricks do dealers use to avoid honoring low online prices?
Once a dealership gets you in the door, you are less likely to go anywhere else. Dealers’ best tactics are to get you to spend time sitting in the vehicle, test driving, sitting at the sales desks, where you waste and invest a lot of your time and day. This breaks a lot of consumers down so they overlook a lot of sales tactics like a lower online price that turns out to be much higher. Often dealers will list low prices or mystery vehicles that don’t even exist on the lot. When you get there you find out that the vehicle is “sold” or no longer there.
How can I get a dealer's internet price guaranteed in writing?
Call them and ask them to send you a buyer’s order by email or even text message. Transparent and upfront dealers will send it to you without a problem. Those who refuse to send that information want you to come into the dealership. That’s a bit of a red flag.
What are my options if a dealer won't honor a quoted internet price?
Simply walk away and find a dealer that will be upfront and transparent with their pricing. You can also leave a review so others know what to expect.