Negotiating with a dealer

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Hi all--
I will probably buy a BMW 3 series later this year. I have been doing my homework on the Internet and visited a dealer a couple of times.
Exchanged some e-mails with the dealer in the next town over.
I think I'm going to want an all-wheel-drive model. My question is, is it ever possible to order a car (not buy off the lot) and retain any ability to negotiate a good price? I'm pretty patient, but I doubt whether I will have many chances to find close to what I want on a lot.
This is a pretty basic question, but I haven't seen it addressed on the car buying sites. I have just sort of assumed that you can only bargain well if you can convince them that you will walk away if you don't get a reasonable deal. (Do you have to pay something down when ordering a car, by the way?)
You might be interested to know that when I requested one of those competitive quotes over the Internet (I think this one was from Kelly), the BMW dealer in a large city in TX quoted me exactly MSRP. Do they think people are dumb, or is an 06 Bimmer hot enough that it's non-negotiable right now?
Thanks for any comments,
Amanda
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Well, there are two or three things you need to know. 1) AFAIK, the new 3-series (E90) is currently not available with AWD, although you may be able to get the previous model (E46) still. 2) You're probably not going to get much price movement on the new model - from BMW or any other manufacturer for that matter. If you do, look for a price about 1/2 way between MSRP and invoice; usually $1000-$2000. Note that BMW dealers usually make their cut on options; there is less room in the markup than other makes. 3) You can get deals on ordered cars - I did. I have one of the very few 330xi's without a sunroof in the US; probably fewer than 100. 4) BMW does allow you to order options that aren't available in the US brochure; like cloth seats, no sunroof (the E90 in the US comes with it standard), etc. However, you have to find a dealer who is willing to do the extra work...
Floyd
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wrote

Why did you special order a car without a sunroof?
This feature has value, even if you don't use it. Frankly, I can't imagine not using it, even if all one does is tilt the rear up for ventilation.

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"J Strickland" wrote

I deliberatly bought an A4 without it. I was going to order one like that, but then the dealer was able to locate a car with the exact options I needed (pretty much every other option minus sunroof) at another dealer lot.
I had an Accord before, with a sunroof, and never used it, so that's why I didn't want it. There are also issues sometimes with the sunroof acting up on its own and/or leaking water - didn't need any of that either. Finally, you get more headroom space without a sunroof.
Maybe the issues I mentioned do not pertain to BMW, but those were my reasons.
Pete
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I concur with you about a sunroof. I think they are a monumental waste of money, invite eventual leaks, and steal headroom.
Only reason to have one is so the passenger can tilt their seat back and look at the clouds go by.
They are absolutely no substitute for a convertible. Not even remotely close.

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Opinions vary. I use mine frequently and year round. Never had a leak or mechanical failure with 3 different cars over 11 years.
Admittedly not a substitute for a convertible nor meant to be.
R / John
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Biggest reason for me would be the lack of headroom in cars so equiped. I am fairly tall, but EXTREMELY long in the torso - I flat don't fit comfortably in most European cars with sunroofs. Getting rid of the sunroof gives an extra 1-2" of headroom. Which is too bad as I would rather have one!
Kevin Rhodes Westbrook, Maine 91 318is - no sunroof - with headroom 00 Saab 9-5 - with sunroof, without headroom 74 Triumph Spitfire - infinite headroom :-)
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Exactly. Almost 2" headroom for us long-torso'd people is important. Also, I live in Seattle; the car spends much time in the mts. in snow, and I have to use a/c year-round to clear the fog from the windows anyway. It's also about 10 lbs lighter.
Floyd
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Yo Kevin, the head room in an E46 or E90 is exactly the same with and without sunroof.
snipped-for-privacy@canada.com

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Wrong. I think you should measure yours, then come to Seattle and measure mine.
FloydR '01 330xi
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My Bentley manual does not indicate any difference in headroom for a sunroof, or not.

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According to the E46 new car brochure, headroom with moonroof = 37.0" and w/o moonroof = 38.4".

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Hmph, an inch and a half. Who woulda thunk it?
I'm 6'1", and my '94 is the first car with a moon roof that I can comfortably fit in. I have to remove my hat, except baseball caps, but that is a small price to pay.

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I agree. I'm 6'0" and long in the torso to boot. My ability to sit up comfortably in the E46 was one of the justifications I was able to sell on my better half for affording the car.
I'd have preferred it without a sunroof, as the sunroof in the 3 Series is worthless to have open: depending on the open position, I find there's either too much wind noise, or air annoyingly blows straight down on one's head. My car came off the lot, so I took what I got.
The only other manual transmission coupe (another two of my criteria) in which I could sit comfortably at the time was a Toyota Solara, but I just couldn't get behind its appearance.
Kevin
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Don't know why you'd want AWD, but the E90 AWD sedans will be available in October (according to the latest dealer bulletin).
Around here (New England) the E90 is selling slowly - dealers have lots of stock, and are pressuring customers to buy. I'm sure deals are easy to get - in the range of $1k to $2k off MSRP. I didn't push hard myself, since I like the E46 so much more than the E90.
At least half of BMWs are custom ordered. Ordering is easy - pick what you want, they build it, you can track it's progress on the Internet, and your car arrives at the dealer 6 weeks or so later. There is no extra charge - you pay the same thing. (In fact, if you pick up your custom ordered car in Germany, you pay LESS). Unless you absolutely need a car right now today, there is no downside to a custom order at all. In fact there's are big advantages - you get exactly what you want, and the dealer doesn't have a chance to add extra crap like "paint protectant".
You might be able to custom order a E90 AWD starting in September - that's when cars start being produced.
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What's wrong with the American Car buyers, MB is trying to sell you a Chrysler and Audi a fancy VW , both handle like crap as well. BMW is making the best car in it's class and they aren't selling?
In Canada, most are getting grabbed before they hit the lot. BMW store were selling September production vehicles weeks ago and if you want an xi you better get your order in now or you will miss the first batches and have to wait alot longer.
snipped-for-privacy@canada.com

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Have you actually looked at the thing?
If it ain't selling here in the U.S., it only means Americans still have a modicum of taste and Canadians have lost all theirs.

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Yeah, for too long actually.
I loved the design of my '91 Honda Prelude, but eventually it got to look dated.
I love my '04 E46 coupe, I think it's one of the most beautiful cars ever built. But when I look at the E90, I can see that it has elements that are subtly more current IMHO (or maybe are setting the trend), and the E46 begins to look a little less current.
When the E46 was introduced, it was deemed ahead of its time, yet eventually most people accepted it. I wouldn't be surprised to see general tastes switching from the E46 to the E90 in the same way.
Kevin
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Do they

1.) No, they don't think people are dumb. 2.) No, the BMW is not non-negotiable. 3.) They are never in a million years give you the Best Price on the first contact. They'll give you a price that they will let the car out the door at without any fuss whatsoever, but if you want to engage in a negotiation, they are going to start from a high point, not a low one. 4.) If you won't buy for MSRP, the next guy will, good luck. Your ability to negotiate a price on an '05 is better than on an '06.
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A few observations. The price will depend on the local market. If dealer stock is gathering water spots on the lot, negotiation is possible. If turnover is rapid, probably not. If a particular model is desirable, many dealers will tack on a "market adjustment."
BMW has no holdback (typically 2 - 2 1/2 percent of MSRP or Base price), so the sticker has no hidden profit behind it. (There are occasional dealer incentives on selected models, check the internet.) Some dealers have to pay so much per car into an advertising program (some pass it on to the customer, some eat it, but either way it affects the price).
Yes, you can negotiate a special order car. Expect to make a deposit.
I'd approach it this way. Tell the dealer what the invoice on the car you want is and explain your idea of a reasonable profit for him and the indicated final price. Be realistic, he's got to make at least $1500-2000 on the car even if he's high volume ... There's overhead to meet. See if he buys into your logic.
R / John

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