The price of new cars dropped for the first time in months this April, a sign that inflation is slowing. But dealerships continue to sell cars above the manufacturer's suggested retail price (MSRP), tacking on so-called “market adjustments” to take advantage of the tight auto market. Avoiding these markups is often easier said than done. Some dealerships are cagey about their prices online. Others will flat-out lie and catch you in a shady bait-and-switch offer. But fed-up consumers have come up with a solution: Markups.org.
How To Avoid Dealer Markups Using Markups.org
The crowdsourced website lets consumers browse an extensive catalog of dealership markups, all of which are reported by fellow car buyers. Some listings even include screenshots and window stickers — proof of the dealership’s outrageous extortionate pricing.
The site’s basic features, like a dealer or keyword search, are free. But given the time and money Markups.org can save consumers, it’s worth paying the $10 monthly fee to access the site’s more advanced search tools. Chances are you won’t need to pay for more than a few months; just remember to cancel your subscription.
Other Car Buying Strategies
Beyond checking Markups.org to find the best deals on new cars, you can:
Avoid dealer add-ons: Dealerships that want to take a sneakier approach to price-gouging often include thousands of dollars of extras, some of which can’t be removed. If you want to pay at or below MSRP, look for a car without dealer add-ons and market adjustments.
Expand your search: Don’t just shop at your neighborhood dealership. Use Markups.org to find establishments that aren’t inflating prices (they exist), and don’t be afraid to pick up the phone.
Negotiate: You don’t have to settle for an overpriced car. Instead, negotiate and try to bring the price down back to MSRP.
Order the car: Ordering a car directly from the factory will likely cost more than MSRP, but at least you’ll get the exact make, model, and color that you want. The downside is that you may have to wait months before you can take your dream car home.
Shop for high-inventory makes and models: Less popular car manufacturers — Buick, Jeep, Infiniti, etc. — are likelier to have deeper inventories. You can use that to your advantage, as these brands need to sell their stock and are more likely to negotiate.
Looking Ahead: Lower Prices on the Horizon
At the beginning of the pandemic, new car prices were high because of disrupted supply chains. Microchips were particularly scarce because manufacturers had to satisfy high demand for consumer electronics, leaving automakers without components. As the pandemic receded and car sales picked up again, there was a mismatch between supply and demand, which inflated the price of vehicles.
While microchip and auto manufacturers have since resolved many of these issues, new car prices remain high. In April, the average price Americans paid for a new car was $48,275 — nearly $10,000 more than what consumers were paying in 2020.
But there’s reason to be hopeful. According to Cox Automotive, the average price for a new car remained below manufacturer MSRP for the second consecutive month in April. And with some dealers sitting on a surplus of cars — cars that they need to sell quickly — consumers could see further price drops. The only problem is that automakers are unwilling to reintroduce discount programs because they want to keep prices and profits high in today's market. But as consumer spending slows, automakers and dealers might not have a choice.
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