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ConsumerWatch: New Tools, Techniques Help Car Buyers Get the Best Price

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS) -- Americans are buying new cars again. New-car sales in July were at their highest levels since 2006, according to And a lot of new car buyers are noticing a lot has changed since they last walked into a car showroom.

For one thing, prices are much higher. According to, the average selling price of a new vehicle is now at $30,748, an all-time record. For another, there are new tools out there to help car-buyers get a good price without having to haggle.

Car Buying Services aren't exactly new, but they're growing in popularity. Triple A, Costco, American Express and Sam's Club are among the many organizations that now offer car-buying services to members. The programs promise substantial savings on the cost of a new vehicle. "These large organizations will leverage their power to give their members sort-of an 'inside track,' explained Phil Reed of

Reed says the services typically point buyers to a representative at designated dealership. In turn, the dealership pays the service a fee for steering business their way. "Sometimes these services are very successful," Reed said.

Another way to save? Get dealers to compete for your business. Kevin Brassler of Consumers' Checkbook recommends calling dealerships directly. "Tell the dealer, 'look, you only get one shot to give me your best price,'" Brassler advises.

And do your research. Many sites, including now provide the Invoice Price for new cars. That's roughly what the dealer paid for the vehicle.

(Copyright 2013 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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