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Car buying guide

137,537 new-car shoppers have used our game-changing,
3-step competitive bidding process to get the lowest price
possible, without walking into a single car store to haggle!

How To Shop For a New Car The Only Smart Way
And Get The Best Price In The Market Every Time

  • With our empowering guide to buying or leasing a new car, you'll be in total control, conducting a step-by-step competitive bidding process from your home or office among several dealers that you choose, without walking into a single car store. We teach you exactly what to say and do to get the lowest price on a new car, and when to do it. And unlike every other new-car info site, we'll be here to answer your questions by phone every step of the way. (e.g., If you're leasing, we'll go through the best-offer numbers with you before you sign the papers.)

    You Need The Whole Truth About The New-Car Business,
    And This Is The Only Website Where You'll Find It.

  • No dealer wants you to understand this fact: Every new car is a commodity, the same vehicle with the same price structure at every dealership. And the only leverage you have comes from having several sellers compete for your business. There's ZERO LEVERAGE in walking into a car store and haggling the price of that commodity. ZERO!

  • Why aren't those "trusted" auto-info old-boy clubs (Kelley Blue Book, Edmunds, TrueCar, cars.com, Consumer Reports, etc.) telling you this? Because they get $300 to $500 when you buy a car from dealers in their "networks" - money which comes from your pocket. They're in business to help dealers sell cars profitably, not to help you get the lowest price. If they told you the truth, they'd be out of business tomorrow. (Our customers almost always beat their prices, frequently by a lot. That's why over half of our orders come from previous customers and their referrals to others.)

    No Auto-Info Site Can Serve Two Masters.
    He Serves Just One: You, The New-Car Buyer.

  • Founder James Bragg, a Yale and Harvard Business School graduate, is a career-long change agent who has always challenged "conventional wisdom." With 20+ years and over 65,000 hours focused solely on this subject, he's the country's most knowledgeable new-car buyers' consumer advocate. And unlike every "old-boy club" source of new-car info and advice (including, sadly, Consumer Re-ports), he's never taken a dime from dealers or automakers. As a result, he's become the sole source of the long-hidden truth about the dealer invoice price, dealer cash incentives and the only smart way to buy a new car in today's market.

    His Discovery That The Invoice Price Has Nothing To Do With
    Any Dealer Cost Shocked Consumer Reports Into Killing Its
    "New Car Price Service," a Major Cash Cow Since 1983!

  • To him, truth is the consumer's ultimate weapon. Over three years ago he proved to Consumer Reports and four other auto-info biggies that "the dealer invoice price" has had no relationship to any vehicle's cost since 1994, invalidating the core assumption behind their "target price" advice. That ancient, invoice-based negotiating approach is dead as a doornail.

  • Embarrassed by its two-decade failure to recognize that obvious fact, Consumer Reports has dumped its legendary New Car Price Service - the one they claimed would tell you "the dealer's true cost," which hasn't been true for 20+ years. CAN THERE BE ANY STRONGER EVIDENCE THAT THE WAY TO GET THE BEST PRICE HAS CHANGED FOREVER?

    Check Out His 12 Eye-Opening "Truth Pieces" About
    Buying a New Car On Clark Howard's Website

  • Rock-solid evidence of his expertise: He's become a regular contributor to the website of Clark Howard, America's best-known and most respected consumer advocate, whose weekday radio broadcasts are carried on over 200 stations. Why was he invited to do that? Because he's the only one telling you the truth.

  • To see his ugly face and all the articles he's contributed to Clark's site, including It's Time To Jettison The Conventional Wisdom About How To Buy A New Car and The Eye-Opening Truth About The Dealer Invoice Price, click here and scroll down to the 9th photo.
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    "Here's Why September Is A Special Month To Be New-Car Shopping"

  • "The March-August 'peak sales window' is in every dealer's rear view mirror. Those were all above-average months. But September has always been a below-average month, with folks back to work after vacations and kids back to school. Dealers are still hoping to beat last year's all-time sales record, but sales have been sluggish this year."

  • "Total industry sales inched up a tiny 1.1% in the first 7 months, but all of that gain came from a 9% surge in less-profitable fleet sales to rental car outfits and corporate fleets. If you subtract fleet's 143,400-unit gain, retail sales to consumers actually slipped 0.1%. (Fleet units were 19% of total sales.) That tepid retail performance definitely works in your favor in September."

  • "Whether you want one of the remaining 2016 models or a recently-arrived 2017,this is a great month to deal."

    JAMES BRAGG
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    How To Order The Package, And When And How You'll Get It

  • To place an order on our secure, encrypted order form, click on the "Ordering" link in the upper left column. If you'd prefer to place a phone order, or if you have questions that aren't answered on our web site, you may call our order desk at 1-562-433-8489 between 9:15AM and 4:00PM Pacific time, Monday through Friday. To see the vehicles for which we have pricing info, click on the "Auto Pricing" link in that column.

  • Normal Delivery Timing: 99% of our customers request email delivery. Weekday orders received by 4:00 PM Pacific time will usually be emailed that day. Late Friday and weekend orders will be processed and sent out Monday.
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    The Dealer Invoice Price Has Become a Bloated Imposter That Has
    Nothing To Do With Any New Car's Real Cost! And The Industry Has
    Moved It Further From Any Cost Number Every Year Since 1995.

  • Bragg proved it to senior execs of Consumer Reports, Kelley Blue Book, Edmunds, Cars.com and TrueCar in a 11/27/12 USA TODAY Automotive Roundtable discussion of "whether online car shopping and information services are believable and are relevant in today's market." The centerpiece of that meeting was the "bombshell" exhibit that shocked them. To see it, Click here.

  • You could have heard a pin drop. Incredibly, no one was aware of the total reconstruction of the invoice/retail price relationship that had been in front of their noses for almost two decades! No one disputed it. But the widespread knowledge of that truth is their worst nightmare because it because it exposes their "pay what others paid" as really bad advice.
    (Jack Nicholson would bellow at them, "You can't handle the truth!")

  • For example, check out the tiny differences between the base invoice prices and the base retail/sticker prices on the most expensive versions of these models, which typically have a higher gross profit percentage than the lower trim levels:
    2016 Ford Fiesta: invoice 21,139, retail 21,460 - a 1.5% gross profit.
    2016 Honda HRV: invoice 25,261, retail 25,990 - a 2.8% gross profit.
    2017 Hyundai Elantra: invoice 21,311, retail 22,350 - a 4.6% gross profit.
    2017 Jeep Cherokee: invoice 37,410, retail 38,595 - a 3.1% gross profit.

  • And that's if you pay the full sticker price! Who does that? The guy who thinks Taco Bell is a Mexican phone company and the National Guard is an all-American football player.

  • Add the facts that (1) today there's an average of just a 6% to 8% gross profit built into sticker prices of the high trim levels, and (2) every dealership has an overhead expense of 12% to 17% of its revenue, and you'd have to be brain-dead to believe the invoice price is in the same area code as any new car's real cost.

  • Yet there's a big auto information industry on the Internet that's built on your believing that fairy tale, which gets further from the truth year after year, as automakers continue reducing the spread between the invoice price and the MSRP!
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    "I never did give anybody hell.

    "I just told the truth, and they thought it was hell."

    - Harry Truman
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  • The inside story of the discovery of that game-changing fact is told in our book, "Letting The Cat Out Of The Bag: How The Auto Industry 'Redesigned' The Dealer invoice Price When The Internet Arrived," available in paperback and Kindle format at Amazon. To read the back cover copy, Preface, Table of Contents and the first four chapters, click here. If you'd like a author-signed copy ($14.95 including postage), you can add that to your order for the Fighting Chance information package.
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    Here's Bragg's Take On Those Consumer Auto Pricing Sites

  • Those sites are: (a) pitching the range of what other clueless shoppers have paid as the "holy grail" of transaction prices, (b) using rebates (which everyone gets) and a comparison of their prices to the full sticker price (which almost no one pays) to inflate their claims of "savings" from using their services, and (c) sending you on a 'milk run' to a small number of dealers in their "networks," who relish the thought of selling you a car at those prices and reward those "conduit sites" handsomely with the advertising and/or "finder's fee" dollars that come out of your pocket.

  • Example: For each sale made, TrueCar dealers pay TrueCar $299. Even Consumer Reports sends its "Build & Buy" site visitors to TrueCar dealers, but somehow "forgets" to tell us that $299 comes out of our pockets. Apparently the organization that claims to be our fountain of truth and transparency doesn't want the truth to get in the way of its financial agenda. Because CR admits in the fine print on its site that True Car sends Consumers Union "a fee" for each sale made. My guess: about half of that $299. (That's what I'd pay for slam-dunk sales at prices that have CR's "seal of approval.")

  • I noted to Consumer Reports' meeting representative that the financial relationship with TrueCar seemed in conflict with the "No Commercial Use Policy" stated then on CR's website, which "helps ensure we avoid even the appearance of endorsing a particular product or service for financial gain." His response was, "Oh, now he's throwing those words at me!" (Guilty, as charged. I don't make this stuff up. A court reporter transcribed every word said in that USA TODAY meeting.) And now CR has removed those underlined words from its website. Can you spell h-y-p-o-c-r-i-s-y?

  • In that meeting, I challenged their "pay what others paid" recommendations with "You're treating consumers like they're idiots. Why would anyone pay close to an average price, when, by definition, it means that about half the people got a better price, maybe a much better price?" The Kelley Blue Book representative's reply was, "Overwhelmingly, our market research shows that consumers ultimately don't want the best price. They just want a fair price," which he said "means that when I tell my neighbor what I paid for the car, I won't be embarrassed." TrueCar's Executive VP echoed that claim, saying, "We have data to support exactly what he said." No one disagreed.

  • Do those statements accurately describe your objective when you're buying a new car? Are you sitting there thinking, "I sure hope I get a price that's in the ballpark of what others are paying?"

  • To read the full USA TODAY "Don't Trust That Invoice Price" write-up on that meeting (in which I was dubbed a "peppery contrarian"), click here. All those executives left with that exhibit, smart enough to realize what it meant but praying that you'd never see it. I was not their favorite participant. I asked the Consumer Reports person, "Who's been running your New Car Price Service for the past 20 years, Rip Van Winkle?" He was not amused.

  • After the post-meeting lunch, I said to him, "Give me name of that person and I'll update him or her on the two-decade inversion of the invoice-retail price relationship." He gave me a dismissive smirk and left the building, like Elvis, without a word. Was there a message there?

  • I believe we need to hold powerful institutions accountable for the dichotomy between their talk and their actions, between their claims of competence and their record of incompetence, and for their willingness to abandon their long-term mission statement and commitment to avoid conflicts of interest for financial gain. Those actions should be grounds for charges. (Again, can you spell h-y-p-o-c-r-i-s-y?)

  • I'll remain the "peppery contrarian," the one who's only on your side, until all the organizations that should be telling you the truth about the second most expensive purchase you make start doing exactly that. But when you get all that revenue from car companies and dealers, I guess your motto has to be "Silence Is Golden," with Golden's six letters being $$$$$$.

    JAMES BRAGG
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    "The truth is incontrovertible. Malice may attack it.
    Ignorance may deride it, but in the end, there it is.
    "

    - Winston Churchill
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    This Transaction Report Is An Eye-Opener.

  • "Using your method, I got a great deal on a Kia Optima EX with Premium and Technology packages. The total invoice price (including the regional advertising fee) was $28,521. My price was $27,535, $986 below the invoice. And that was BEFORE subtracting Kia's $2,000 rebate!."

  • "I checked TrueCar.com, and their best estimated price was $27,521, which at first seemed impressive. But when I read further, I learned that their price INCLUDED that $2,000 rebate! MY PRICE BEAT THEIRS BY $1,986! So in reality TrueCar is worthless to anyone who wants the best price."
    B.C., Wade, NC. (Here's a cornucopia of great testimonials).

  • Question: So whom should you trust for reliable information and negotiating advice? The one source that's telling you the whole truth and takes no money from the auto industry? Or all the others, who send you on a milk run to a small number of their network dealers with pre-sold prices that aren't great and hide the truth from you to protect their revenue stream from those dealers, revenue that comes from your pocket?

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    These Are The Facts About How The New-Car Business Works Today.
    It's 2016, not 1994, and that world isn't flat anymore, it's round.
    (But apparently no other auto-info site wants you to know that.)

  • When you walk into a car store to haggle, you have ZERO leverage and leave with a deal well short of the best price available. But tens of thousands do that every day, believing the invoice price on the Internet is a real cost number. Read my lips again: The only leverage you have when you buy any commodity, including a new car, comes from having several sellers compete for your business.

  • And given how "The Truth" about the invoice price has revamped the automaker-dealer financial relationship, the 'best price' on your car will change from dealer to dealer and month to month.

  • 90% of the bucks spent on "dealer cash" are in multi-month programs based on total sales targets, NOT sales of specific vehicles. The rewards can be six-and seven-figure bonuses. Some are "stair-step" promotions, in which per-vehicle bonuses increase as dealers reach higher volume thresholds. And no one can tell you any dealership's targets or when these programs start and end.

  • So whether these programs are based on monthly or multi-month targets, reaching month-end goals is crucially important. That keeps steady sales pressure on, month after month. Dealers trailing their monthly targets will sell for much less, and that will be different dealers each month.

  • If your objective is to get the best price, you're unlikely to get from the dealer networks of the companies named above. None of them would debate this subject with me in a national media forum. (CNN would love to host that one.)

  • If what I've said so far isn't convincing, you're probably not a Fighting Chance candidate. If it is, read on for more solid reasons to use us.
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    What Can Fighting Chance Do For You That All The Others Can't?

  • 1. You'll have in us the only independent, unbiased source of truthful information and powerful negotiating advice on the Internet. We serve our master (you). Those other auto info sites, including Consumer Reports, serve theirs (not you).

  • 2. In the package's "centerpiece," How The Phone+Email Attack Can Get You The Best Deal, Saving You Time, Money and Aggravation, you'll learn exactly what to do and say each step of the way as you conduct a competitive bidding process from your home or office, without walking into a single car store. You'll enlist 6 to 10 dealers (10 is better) that you choose to make price proposals, and you'll go with the winner. We even tell you the best day(s) of the month to start the process.

  • It's not unusual to have a $1,000 to $2,000+ difference between the high and low bidders on even a mid-priced vehicle. And this month's high bidder may be next month's low bidder, depending on where a dealership stands vs. its hidden targets. (Check our long list of testimonials here. Note there how far off the mark those auto info websites "target prices" can be!) This is why it's nuts to aim for any "target price." That puts a floor under your price, when some dealer might sell for less, maybe a lot less.

  • 3. YOU'LL HAVE US AS YOUR COACHES as you go through the process. Got a question? Call us. Want to run the numbers before you sign a lease? Call us. There's no such thing as a "silly question" here. We've been at this for over 20 years, and much of our knowledge has come from our customers' feedback.

  • 4. You'll receive our signature "Big Picture" analysis of how the brand(s) and the specific vehicle(s) you're interested in have been doing in the market. Are sales up or down so far this year? Does the average dealer sell 2 per month or 22? This piece also reveals the current "holdback" information for brands that use it (several don't). Here's a sample "Big Picture" analysis (not a current file).

  • 5. You will, of course, get the complete current sticker/MSRP and dealer invoice pricing data for the vehicle(s) you're considering, covering all trim levels and equipment packages. Here's a current list of model pricing available. And a sample vehicle pricing file (not a current one) in pdf format.

  • 6. You'll also receive the latest issue of CarDeals, a bi-weekly report of current national rebates/cash incentive offers and cut-rate financing programs. Here's a sample CarDeals report (not a current edition).

  • (Our unique $39.95 package includes all the information you need to negotiate the best price on for any one vehicle. Additional vehicles are $15 each. You may place an order here on a secure, encrypted order form at any time.)

    You'll Also Get All These Other Insightful Car Buying Tips:

  • "How To Avoid The Big Leasing Rip-Off."

  • "Things To Consider About Placing a Factory Order."

  • What I've Learned About "Below-The-Line" Dealer Cash Programs, Facts No One Else Is Telling You.

  • "Dealing With A Trade-In."

  • "Should You Buy A Demo? At What Price?"

  • "The Crucial Financial Importance Of A Dealership's Customer Satisfaction Rating."

  • "Smart Ways To Buy An Extended Warranty."

  • "Have You Chosen A Crashworthy Vehicle?"

  • "Can You Get The Vehicle Configuration You Want?"

  • "Should You Buy Last Year's Model?"
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    Check Out The Quality Of These Pieces?

  • As examples of the information pieces we create, read "Leasing A New Car? Here's Everything You Need To Know" the clearest explanation you'll find of what leasing's all about, and "Test Driving 101" to learn how to handle that process without getting into a price negotiation.
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    Special Message To Previous Customers

  • The Fighting Chance package is always changing to reflect new knowledge and the best ways to deal with the changing realities in the retail car business. Sometimes the changes are dramatic. For example, the method for getting competitive bids differs substantially from the arms-length "fax attack" process we recommended just a few years ago. At other times the changes are small, but represent worthwhile improvements. The suggested wording in the note you'll send dealers is fine-tuned often. The package you'd receive today will typically include several insightful changes compared to the one you ordered years ago.

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    The Cost Of This Unique Package?

  • $39.95 (Includes all the information you need for any one vehicle.)

  • Additional vehicles: $15.00 each. (More than half of our customers add one or more additional vehicles as "fall-back" alternatives. This could become a small, but wise $15.00 decision if you find it difficult to deal on your first choice.)

  • Considering the substantial cost of the new vehicle you're about to buy or lease, isn't this a relatively small price to pay for the comprehensive Fighting Chance information package?

  • To place an order on our secure, encrypted order form, click on the "Ordering" link at the top of the page.

    If you'd prefer to place a phone order, or if you have questions that aren't answered on our web site, you may call our order desk at 1-800-288-1134 between 9:15AM and 4:00PM Pacific time, Monday through Friday. (We don't work on weekends.)


    Click here for current list of model pricing available.


    Important Note: This is a service for NEW VEHICLES ONLY. We have no information on used vehicles. Also, we have NO CANADIAN PRICING DATA. (For Canadian pricing, visit carcostcanada.com)


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