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If you're in the market for a new car, how do you know you're getting a good price?

"Early Show" Consumer Correspondent Susan Koeppen noted the average price right now for a new car is $30,000.

"That's a lot of money to shell out," Koeppen said. "Most people dread haggling over the price at the dealership."

One expert told Koeppen 40 percent of consumers are paying too much when they buy a new vehicle.

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To see how it can happen, Koeppen followed Danny and Alisha Gardner on their search.

The couple told Koeppen they weren't looking forward to the trip to the dealership.

Danny said, "You walk in there, they are offering you a sticker. You feel like there should be some discount off that price, but you don't know what is a reasonable discount."

The Gardners admit they don't know much about "how" to buy a new car.

So Koeppen's team went with them with hidden cameras to see what kind of deal they could get as they went car shopping in Dallas.

At one dealership, the salesman jumps right in with talk about monthly payments, saying, "As far as like a monthly budget, where would you guys….?"

But the Gardners haven't decided on the exact car they want yet.

The Gardners were left alone over and over again, until finally, a different salesman came back with a price on a new, top-of-the-line Toyota Highlander.

The salesperson says, "We can drop the price down to $35,824 right now."

But the Gardners -- who haven't done their homework -- have no idea if that's a good deal at all.

Scott Painter is the founder of Truecar, one of several websites that crunches the numbers and lets consumers know a good deal from a bad one on any car they want to buy.

Koeppen asked Painter, "So five of us walk into a dealership, are we all going to get the same deal?"

Painter replied, "Absolutely not. And that's part of the frustration of buying a new car. ... We could go into the same dealership, on the same day, buy an identical product from the exact same salesperson and pay a totally different price. And it could be as much as 30 percent."

Painter says the first thing you need to do is pick the exact car you want with all the options before you step foot in the dealership -- something the Gardners didn't do.

Painter said, "They went into the dealership and they had no idea what they wanted. ... Yhey ended up getting pushed right into the top-of-the-line, fully-loaded version of the Highlander."

Before ever talking about monthly payments or financing, Painter says you should always negotiate a cash price first.

"A cash price is really another way of saying find out exactly what the dealers gonna sell you that car for, as if you were paying cash," he said.

And Painter says buyers should understand a good deal. At Truecar, consumers can see how much others in their market have paid for a car over the past 30 days.

"If you don't know a good deal, you don't know when to get up a leave," he said.

Armed with these tips, Koeppen sent the Gardners out again to a dealership, trying to buy the exact same Toyota Highlander.

Within just 30 minutes, they negotiated the price down to $34,317 -- a $1,500 savings.

Gardner said, "You go in, you're informed. And you are much more empowered to make a decision you're going to feel good about when you drive away."

Koeppen added on the broadcast that Truecar says buying a new car should take no more than half-an-hour.

Koeppen said, "You should walk in, say, 'I did my research, here's what I want to pay for this car.' Done deal. (The Gardners) were there for nearly two hours. That's good news for the dealership. They were left alone over and over again. According to our expert, that is done on purpose. The longer the dealership can keep you there, the better the chances you will buy the car."