We Unfortunately Have Discontinued Our CarBargains Service
We are sorry to announce that, beginning on September 15, 2023, we ceased operations for our CarBargains and LeaseWise services.
For 32 years, our program helped consumers get the best prices on new vehicles by having dealers compete with one another to bid for our customers’ business. Unfortunately, in recent years a lack of demand, changing market conditions, and our commitment to using our resources to help as many consumers as possible led us to make this difficult decision.
We will continue to advise consumers on how to get the best deals on new cars, including sharing our strategies for getting dealers to compete for your business. And we will continue to help you navigate the numerous car-buying pitfalls. Our advice in this section will help you save money and avoid trouble.
We are grateful to our CarBargains and LeaseWise customers. You trusted us, told your friends and relatives about us, and helped us make buying or leasing a new car less stressful for many people.
Strategies to Get the Best Price and Avoid Dealers’ Traps
If you’re ready to buy a new car we have some good news, some bad news, and a bit more bad news.
First, the good news: The production slowdowns that plagued the auto industry over the last several years have eased somewhat. For most—but not all—makes and models, dealers once again have vehicles in stock and ready for sale and aren’t placing orders for customers and adding them to months- or years-long waitlists. Plus, manufacturers continue to roll out newly designed models, which means buyers now have more choices, especially for those considering electric vehicles (EVs) and hybrids.
Better supply means competition has resumed among dealers for many models, allowing buyers to shop for price. Some manufacturers have even restarted incentive programs, a sign that they need help to move growing inventories.
Data from Kelley Blue Book show that in March 2023, the average price for new vehicles fell by $515, compared to the month before. And selling prices averaged $171 less than MSRP—the first time in 20 months average sale prices dipped below list prices (in 2022, buyers paid about $1,000 more than MSRP, on average).
Now for the bad news: Manufacturers are mostly building expensive models, with very few options priced below $20,000, or even $30,000. Five years ago, almost one-fourth of all new cars sold in the U.S. went for less than $25,000; now, only four percent are purchased below that price point. In March 2023, the average transaction price was $47,713.
“In the past, automakers would offer affordable models to snag new buyers in order to build brand loyalty, moving them up to more expensive and profitable cars as their income increased. Not anymore. Nowadays, they don’t want to build ‘cheap and cheerful’ cars and SUVs,” said Tom Voelk, an automotive journalist who produces the Driven Car Reviews video podcasts. Because automakers can sell all the high-end cars they can build, Voelk said they are now focused on building vehicles that make them the most money.
Interested in buying an EV? Brace yourself for even higher price tags. Only a handful of EV models are priced below $40,000, and very few currently available models qualify for the $7,500 federal tax credit.
Even more bad news: Higher interest rates are adding even more costs for most buyers. In September 2023, the average APR for new-car loans was 6.5 percent, two points higher than the average three years earlier.
While we unfortunately can’t control interest rates or convince automakers to build more affordable rides, we can tell you how to get the best possible deal—and how to avoid trouble.
Although new EV manufacturers (Tesla, Fisker, Lucid, Rivian, etc.) rely on a direct-to-consumers retail strategy, shopping for most other makes and models still means navigating auto dealerships’ sales traps. The only way to secure a good price is to force dealers to compete for your business. We tell you how to do that.
No matter what you buy or where you buy it, you’ll still have to carefully navigate through common pitfalls—arranging sensible financing, avoiding wasteful service contracts and insurance plans, and ducking dumb add-ons like tire protection, rustproofing, and the like.