The Lease Guide says that a car's invoice price is the amount a dealer pays for a vehicle. Other factors affect what a dealer actually pays to the manufacturer. Cynthia Brodrick of Bankrate says factory-to-dealer incentives and other amounts may reduce the dealer's payments. However, the car dealer's invoice price gives a baseline that car buyers can use in their negotiations. The internet makes it easy for buyers to locate an accurate invoice price.
Decide on the exact make, model and trim line of the vehicle you wish to price. Car models can come in a wide variety of trim lines, each with its own standard equipment and special features. You must know the trim line of the vehicle you are interested in, because it can significantly affect both invoice and retail prices.
Make a list of any options you would like to price. The car dealer invoice will break out options and their individual prices. Some may only let you get certain options if you purchase a specific package.
Visit Kelly Blue Book, Edmunds or a similar car buying information website. Cynthia Brodrick of Bankrate recommends both KBB and Edmunds as reliable sites. They offer a great deal of information for new car buyers, including dealer invoice prices. There is no cost to do research on these sites.
Enter the information on the vehicle you wish to price. Choose the correct make, model, trim line and options, and go over your choices to ensure their accuracy. You will see a side-by-side comparison of the car dealer invoice price and the retail price.
Verify the car dealer invoice price with another website. The major online car buying sites usually provide accurate information. However, car manufacturers periodically change their invoice prices. Not all websites update their data immediately. If the prices on two websites do not agree, one may not have the latest prices yet.
Many car dealers will be willing to show you their invoice price right at the dealership. They know this information is readily available online, so they will provide it to you as a sign of good faith if they believe you are a serious buyer.