Is Costco The Place To Shop For A New Car?

by Don Elliott on October 19, 2011

Costco is the “big box” store that helps you buy gallon-sized jugs of soy sauce and giant cuts of meat for incredibly low prices. Costco members pay $50 or $100 to qualify for discounts on a wide variety of products, including new and certified pre-owned cars and trucks.

To clarify, you cannot buy a car from Costco. Costco is not a car dealer and is quick to point out they do not sell cars. What Costco does do is use their incredible purchasing power to negotiate discounts on vehicles for their members. They claim to have 2,400 dealerships that have agreed to pre-arranged pricing for Costco members.

Members can log onto or talk to a representative at 1-800-800-5778 to locate a participating dealership in the area. Dealers will have a Costco Authorized Contact who is familiar with the Costco Auto Program, pricing, and procedures. That person will have a Costco Members-Only Price Sheet. The sales representative will include any manufacturer rebates or special financing before giving you the bottom line price. They are directed to provide copies of the MSRP pricing and the dealer invoice to confirm the pricing deal.

Do your homework before shopping for a new or used car. You don’t have to be a Costco member to use their website for some research. From the home page, type “autosave” in the search box. Follow the obvious prompts to identify a year, make, and model of a car or truck that interests you. Your vehicle search will identify available models with base MSRP pricing. A click on the model will yield invoice pricing, options, specifications, photos, safety and warranty info, rebates, and incentives.

The next step is to find a car dealer who has the car of your dreams. At this point, it is necessary to enter your name, phone number, email address, and Costco membership number. Costco will identify a car dealer that sells the kind of car that you have specified. Costco will also specify the Authorized Dealer Contact at that dealership who will provide the Costco pre-arranged pricing information.

The Costco website has additional features to help plan your car purchase. There is payment calculator, insurance information, and discounts on parts and service available as a Costco member at the car dealership.

If you are not into negotiating for your next car, the Costco Auto Program may be a good choice for you. Costco has negotiated real discounts and receives a payment from the dealership for directing leads their way. It may be possible to get a better discount on your own, but not necessarily on some more popular models. Aside the new car price, don’t forget to negotiate for the value of your trade-in, shop for the best financing, consider cash down, and contemplate the value of an extended warranty. With a little luck, you will have some money left over for Costco’s five-gallon bucket of dill pickles!

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