Dealer markups are a blight that most American car buyers have little control over. In fact, data suggests that some dealers have grown so drunk with the power over markups that they’ve significantly contributed to inflation in the United States. Don’t fall over in your chair, but markups appear to damage brand loyalty too.
Buying a car is hard enough between finding the right one and finding the cash to pay for it with interest and insurance rates rising all over the place without the added salt in the wound of a big markup. As the pricing bubble appears to be popping, there’s one website that can help buyers avoid dealers who still stubbornly price their cars far above MSRP.
That phrase is important too, because here in the States, the Manufacturer Suggested Retail Price is just that, a suggestion, and nothing more. Of course, for the average everyday consumer who doesn’t spend their free time perusing automotive news sites, the difference between MSRP and what they see at a dealer might be a big surprise. Hell, it’s a surprise to many enthusiasts when we see cars marked up by tens of thousands of dollars.
That’s where the site Markups.org comes into play. For decades, dealers have sought to keep wild, price-gouging markups out of the public eye. They’ve resorted to all sorts of tactics including only revealing a price once a buyer has shown very serious interest. They’ve added junk fees in hopes that buyers simply accept their fate and sign on the dotted line.
This website puts those markups and fees on blast for the whole world to see. Anyone can post to the website and can include details and photos of the car, dealer, and experience in question. Some of the recorded markups are downright wild.
A dealership in California openly posted about its black Chevrolet Corvette Z06 with a $294,575 price tag. Another put a $100,000 markup on a Cadillac Escalade V and one GMC dealer asked $339,999 for a Hummer EV. While some of those are older examples, they bear out the benefit of a site like this.
One user tagged a Porsche 911 Dakar as priced at $419,900 on January 21st, 2024. That’s a whopping $164,615 over the already pricey $255,285 MSRP. In other words, it’s worth 1,936 World War II Jeeps so long as you’re like David and can get them for $85 each. Speaking of actually affordable cars, the site is good for those too.
The Toyota GR86 Trueno is the ultimate everyday sports car to many but one dealer in California says that it generously won’t “go over 10k markup.” A Jeep Dealer in Hawaii openly advertised that it’s selling a Wrangler with a $995 Protection package and a $5,995 “Market Value” adjustment.
Those willing to search a little no longer have to guess what they’ll get when they get to the dealer. To make this whole deal sweeter, some users post when a dealer prices a car at or even below MSRP. Simply knowing about a markup isn’t the only weapon buyers have though.
KBB recently highlighted several ways that buyers can avoid markups including by contacting a number of dealerships, being prepared to compromise on features to get the car at MSRP, and also simply being willing to wait for the right price.
It also predicted what it expects buyers to deal with during 2024 saying in part:
“If you’re shopping for an electric car, you’ll likely find a great deal with plenty of incentives, including potential instant government rebates on some vehicles that meet defined criteria. But you could be out of luck if you’re searching for a Toyota, Honda, Lexus, or Kia. Last year, Honda and Kia buyers paid between 6% and 8% over sticker price at the end of the year, while Buick sold 2% or more below MSRP. Fast-forward a year, and incentives averaged $2,700 on new cars.”
It’s also worth noting that like any site, Markups.org isn’t perfect. Being crowdsourced, many listings have little more than a personal accounting of a price without any evidence to back up said price. In some cases, those personal anecdotal accounts are surmised based on other estimates from third-party sites.
Keep in mind those grains of salt while using a tool like Markups.org. They’re far better to deal with than the ones you might feel if you get burned with a huge unexpected markup on a car that the manufacturer says should be much cheaper.