The Ultimate Guide to Dealer Invoice Price Lookup: Your Key to Negotiation Leverage!

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Last updated May 10, 2024

When shopping for a new car, it’s essential to understand the dealer invoice price to ensure you’re getting the best deal possible. This guide will show you how to look up the dealer invoice price, and will provide you with all the information you need to negotiate with confidence.

What is Dealer Invoice Price?

Dealer invoice price refers to the amount a car dealership pays to the manufacturer for a vehicle. It’s important to know this price because it can serve as a valuable tool in negotiating the final cost of a car. By understanding the dealer invoice price, you can have a better idea of a fair price for the vehicle you’re thinking of buying.

Franchised car dealerships buy their inventory directly from their manufacturers. Similarly to you and I, dealers “floor plan” their purchases. Floor plan is industry jargon for “finance,” and it means that dealerships take out loans to pay for all of the vehicles you see on their lot, just like most consumers do when they finance the purchase of a new vehicle.

Dealerships receive an invoice directly from the factory telling them the price of the car (including the destination fee) that they owe. The dealer invoice is something you’ll want access to when negotiating the price of a new car.

When it comes to used cars, they are primarily bought and sold from the auctions or customer trade-ins, and in these cases looking at a dealer invoice price won’t be an option. You can always ask a dealer what they paid for a used car, but there typically won’t be a willingness to share that information.

On the new car side of things, dealers are much more likely to be open and transparent about the invoice cost they paid to purchase a vehicle. This has become a sales tactic that nearly all car dealerships use to convince customers that they are getting a fair deal.

How to Find the Dealer Invoice Price

Ask the Sales Manager for the dealer invoice

At the end of the day, there is only one foolproof way to get the invoice price of any new car — ask the salesperson or sales manager at the dealership. This doesn’t have to be overly complicated. A quick email that says, “Hi, I am interested in this Ram 1500 pickup truck, and I want a fair deal. Can you please send me out-the-door pricing, a copy of the Monroney label, and the invoice you paid from the factory?” Will go a long way.

example invoice from dealer
Here’s an example of a dealer letting us know she is $1,800 under her cost of the car.

Referencing the out-the-door price is a great way to show a salesperson or sales manager that you know what you’re talking about, and you don’t want to spend hours discussing monthly payment goals. Asking for the Monroney label, or window sticker is also a great way to show you’re on top of your game. You want to know what options and features the vehicle has, and what better way than to look at the Monroney label? And finally, asking for the factory invoice makes it clear to the dealer that you want to make a fair deal.

The same thing applies to money factors when leasing a car. Do not be afraid to ask a dealer what the money factor is on a lease, and to follow that question up with, “Is this the buy rate, or are you marking it up?” If the dealer can’t give you a straight answer, that’s another sign it’s time to find someone new to work with.

Tips for Negotiating Based on Dealer Invoice Price

Set a target price: Determine a target price based on the dealer invoice price and any applicable incentives or rebates. This will give you a starting point for negotiations.

Preparation is key: Bring printouts of your research, including the dealer invoice price and any incentives or rebates, to the dealership as evidence to support your negotiation. Don’t forget this negotiation cheat sheet!

Stay calm and confident: Negotiating can be stressful, but staying calm and confident during the process can help you secure the best deal possible.

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21 Comments

  1. Rod Bessey

    Should I pay dealer “destination ” costs? I always feel like, that’s their cost of doing business not mine. Salesmen have always fought me on it as a hard price of the car. This always forces me to then switch to , o.k. then you’re giving me “blank” amount of free accessories. Maybe I’m wrong here but, again, destination charges are not my problem as I see it.

    Thank you, Rod

    Reply
    • Zach Shefska

      Rod, the dealership is charged the destination fee by the manufacturer. It’s part of the cost of the vehicle. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a dealership that will discount this fee.

      Reply
      • Fred

        Is that destination fee part of the Edmunds suggested price or in addition to?

        Reply
      • Kevin

        Hi Ray & Zach,

        Hope all is well. Were looking to add a new car. Between the 2021 Toyota Corolla SE & 2021 Kia Forte GT. My goal is to get the OUT THE DOOR PRICE Under $19,899. Do you think its possible ? In MD. Please let me know & keep up the great work!

        – Kevin

        Reply
        • Anthony

          Kevin, I am currently looking at the 21 Corolla as well. I am finding the LE trim to have an expected out-the-door price of around $21,000 so I doubt you’d be able to get that low very easily. I have looked at the Edmunds report and the CarEdge market price report for the car I’m looking at, you should check them out if you haven’t yet.

          Reply
  2. Fred

    Are these fees reasonable and are they included in the Edmunds suggested price:
    Document prep: $499
    title prep: $5
    Registration and title: $135

    Reply
    • Mike

      Fred,
      It’s my personal opinion that a $499 fee for document prep is outrageous especially since it takes less than 5 minutes for a secretary to type your name, address, contract price, etc. into a computer and their software automatically adds the info to a ‘form’ sales contract. Same goes for adding information to a computer and then printing a financing agreement. Further, it’s also my opinion that title prep should be part of the “document prep.”
      The registration and title are probably fees that are paid to your state auto licensing dept. But you can call that department and ask because you need to know if that fee includes the cost of your tag – probably not if you’re buying a new car. Also remember you have to pay sales tax.
      I’m getting ready to buy a car and plan to have my financing in place through my bank or credit union which will give me a better interest rate than a dealer or manufacturer. And – I plan to tell the dealer that I will pay $x for the vehicle – period – that the amount does not include any doc prep or fees that are not part of the tag, title & tax. If they won’t waive the doc prep fee, etc. I am prepared to WALK AWAY. Often a dealer will either cave or call the next day and try to resolve the issue.
      You can also attempt to negotiate regarding the dealer’s logo on the car. The dealer is getting free advertising! Tell the dealer you will only charge $5,000 for the advertising or he can take the logo off your car! If the dealer really wants the sale, you might be surprised at what happens.

      I’d like to add some advice — when you sign the sales contract – look for a few paragraphs called a “Dispute Resolution” clause or agreement. DON’T SIGN IT — DON’T INITIAL IT! You are giving up your right to a jury trial and are agreeing to BINDING ARBITRATION which can be very expensive and not always fair ! If you sign or initial that paragraph and then later file a lawsuit, the dealer will get the case kicked out of court and you will have to then pay filing fees to arbitrate! You also have to pay the arbitrator (judge) AND pay your attorney and pay to rent a place for the arbitration, etc. In court, your taxes pay for the judge, the courtroom, court reporter, etc. Also, in most states, arbitrators don’t have to issue a written reason for their findings and it is almost impossible to overturn an arbitrator’s decision. Remember, it is BINDING arbitration, and if a particular arbitrator finds in favor of the buyer and against the dealer, then the dealer won’t use that arbitrator in the future! Who do you think the arbitrator will favor?
      If the dealer says you have to sign the Dispute Resolution Clause or there’s no deal – walk away. If the dealer tells you you have to sign because it’s the law – the dealer is LYING. You do not have to sign. If the dealer offers to reduce the sales price to induce you to sign, and you KNOW for a fact that the dealer is honest and has a good BBB rating & customer reviews, THEN you MIGHT consider signing the Dispute Resolution clause.

      Reply
  3. Tony

    I’ve been emailing different dealerships asking for invoices and actually finally had one come in, but the rest just sent me pricing with the manufacturer rebates and “Dealer Discounts”. Are “Dealer Discounts” just an upfront deal from a dealership? and are HB’s the same for every dealer? I know they are different depending on the car.

    I ask because one dealer sent me pricing that with the “Dealer Discount”, not including rebates, that is under the true price of the car(invoice-HB) based off the invoice from the other dealer. Besides the admin fees I don’t think I can really negotiate anything else off since it is below the true cost.

    Reply
  4. Rick

    Aloha!

    How would you go about negotiations with a dealership that has a monopoly on a popular make in your city? Are these tactics useful at all? What’s stopping these salesmen from just kicking you out because the make of the vehicle is so popular that “someone else” will buy it at it’s listed price?

    Reply
  5. Daniel Smith

    I just asked for the deal invoice for a vehicle and it was exactly the same as the sticker and MSRP. Can the shed any light on this?

    Reply
    • Zach Shefska

      That doesn’t sound like an invoice then … Invoice will show dealer price and MSRP.

      Reply
  6. Edward

    How does your father justify or rationalize finding out how car sales industry works so devious and selfishly, and stayed in it and graduated up positions?

    It’s really funny so many ex-salesman coming out of years of pandering that system suddenly out to help when they were knowingly a part of the hurt before.

    I went through the salesman training so so long ago as a young man, and within minutes knew I would Not engage in the tactics they use.

    FYI: It will be no surprise this comment not being answered, as it’s very unlikely there’s a legitimate answer to knowingly coddling and benefiting from the system nowing being “exposed” or mocked.

    Reply
    • Zach Shefska

      Edward, my dad did what he could to provide a middle-class life for his family. I am proud and humbled by how hard he worked to give that to me, my sister, and my mom. As a kid I resented my father because he was never around. It was only when I got older and realized he worked his life away so that we could go on a family vacation during the summer. I am equally as proud and humbled that my father is willing to join me on our journey to support car buyers through CarEdge. Thanks for reading and commenting.

      Reply
      • Jeff S.

        Great answer about dad as a salesman. Every industry and profession has its “hidden” ways of making its profit or furthering its agenda or ideology. As consumers we know there are these hidden tactics and we can either pretend they don’t exist which makes some people feel better or we can recognize that they’re there and work with them to our advantage as much as possible.

        I want I want to share 16 experience I had it at the dealership today and get your thoughts. After test driving the used truck I was interested and we sat down to talk numbers used don’t show this to the customer but right here it shows that were actually losing $1,200 on the sale price we have it at right now as he pointed to a line item on his computer screen. Then he walked away go talk to the sales manager and I was looking over paperwork left on his desk called the NMVTIS which on it was a line item saying invoice price $29427 and which is 4.5k less than the $33998 asking price . I didn’t bring this up at the moment and just said that I want to sleep on it before making decision and he said that was fine just make sure to call him first thing in the morning because the sales manager and told him that this vehicle was going to be sold off at auction tomorrow. It was such an interesting experience I felt I should write to you guys and see if you can decipher what’s going on here.
        Asking price $33998 plus these additional fees

        Doc fee $85.00
        State&Localtax$2641.44
        Total Lic. & Fees $505.00

        I live in Commifornia btw

        Reply
  7. Jennifer L.

    Great response! Is there a way to pay someone to go negotiate a car price for you? For example, I’m willing to pay X for X car with X options, anything under that is your cash!

    Reply
  8. Joanne Himmeel

    Hello,

    I have a couple of questions:
    Is it better to go outside of your state for a better deal?
    Dealers charge for destinations fees and color, is that something I as the customer should pay for?

    Thanks.

    Reply
    • Mike

      Joanne,
      to the first question, it depends. I live near a major city. I have about 3 dealer for almost all major brands with 10 miles of my house and maybe 10 within 30 miles. Drive to far for me would not matter. I can pit them against each other to get a good or fair price. Use the internet and their online sales team. get a quote on the car you want before joining to the deal to buy. I did that on the last vehicle I bought. Test drive and looked at the options at the closest dealer and left. I contacted the dealers off their webpages and they sent me quotes with a drive out price. I used the lowest price to ask the dealer I preferred to lower their price and they did. You can do the same but will have to drive further.

      On the 2nd question the answer is yes. Those are on the dealer invoice they pay to the manufacturer. They just pass it through to you.

      I don’t get stuck in the weeds. I research and get a price in my head that I am willing to pay and stick as close to it as I can. I already know that price is fair because of the research. I don’t care how they calculate the number to get to my price. If they want a $1000 document prep fee, a $100 hand shake fee, and/or $500 screw you fee, that is fine. They just have to lower the price of the vehicle $1600 to keep the price where I want it. I do not focus on the individual line items, just the big at the bottom. If that matches what I know is a good price then we are done. If not I just say they need to take off how much they are over and not worry about what they line item they cut.

      Reply
  9. Rick

    Is there a dealer invoice associated with a factory-ordered car? It seems there must be a way for the dealer to determine his/her costs before they quote the consumer an OTD price. In other words, if I factory order a car, can I still ask to see a dealer invoice since the car is yet to be manufactured and shipped to the dealership?

    Reply
  10. Mark

    I worked at a dodge dealer along along time ago, they would show a fake invoice to the buyers unless the buyer asked to see the actual invoice the dealer paid to the manufacturer

    Reply
    • Lenaski50

      Good advice!

      Reply

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