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Depending on where you buy your car, you may receive a ... Depending on where you buy your car, you may receive a large discount off of MSRP (Getty Images).

It's just plain human nature: Every day, buyers across the country drive their shiny new vehicles off dealership lots, and immediately get the sinking feeling that they could have gotten a better deal somewhere else.

But where would that somewhere be? How about Tampa, Atlanta or Washington, D.C.? Those are the best markets in the country for car shopping. A few other cities, such as San Francisco, Dallas and Los Angeles might have done the trick, too, if a trip to the Eastern seaboard were out of the question. These and a few other metropolitan areas boast the greatest discounts off a vehicle’s manufacturer’s suggested retail price, according to data analyzed from the AOL Autos Best Deal Program.

New vehicle prices in the Tampa-Orlando area, the top discount market, averaged 10 percent below their manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP). Prices averaged 9.9 percent below MSRP in the Baltimore-Washington area, and 9.4 percent under MSRP in Atlanta.

The study also found that best states for car shopping were Maryland (with an 8.1 percent discount off MSRP), Virginia (with 7.6 percent) and Florida (with 7.5 percent).

There is a practical use for these figures. Once armed with the data, consumers may decide it’s worth their while to drive 100 miles or so for a particular deal. But with the deals topping out mostly on the coasts, it might even make financial sense from time to time to jump on a plane and take delivery of a car 1,000 miles or more from home. Indeed, some people are doing just that.

Hop A Flight, Book A Dinner Reservation

Top 10 Best Deals Markets

MarketAverage %
Tampa/Orlando, FL10.0%
Baltimore/DC Area9.9%
Atlanta, GA9.4%
Newark, NJ9.3%
Los Angeles, CA9.1%
Dallas, TX8.8%
Philadelphia, PA8.8%
Miami, FL8.4%
Boston, MA8.2%
San Francisco, CA8.1%

It’s possible for consumers to adopt a medium- or long-distance strategy for a simple reason: Dealers in the program commit to a price before buyers show up. In the past, consumers could not count on that, said J.R. Lang, pricing manager at Zag, AOL Autos’ partner for its Best Deal program. And without real-time data, they probably wouldn’t have known about a good deal in a timely fashion in the first place, he said.

For instance, an eight to 10 percent discount on a 2010 Cadillac CTS sedan could certainly justify the plane fare, and perhaps a dinner and a nice hotel room to boot. It could translate into savings of as much as $3,500 off MSRP in the country’s most competitive car markets. If you bought a CTS in your hometown for roughly the invoice price of $33,231 to $47,786 -- potentially a good deal in some locales – you would miss out on the extra savings of $1,500 to $2,000 in a more competitive car market.

And if you prefer to stay close to home, the mere knowledge that ?consumers are getting an average discount of 8.8 percent off MSRP in Dallas or Philadelphia could be a bargaining chip in your negotiations with a local dealer.

“If consumers see pricing in other metro markets, they can leverage that information,” Lang said.

Discounts On Many Models

For its study, Zag zeroed in on a range of popular cars, price levels and body styles. To be part of the Best Deals program, more than 3,400 participating dealers across the country are required to provide real-time pricing information to the company.

Zag sifted through the data to find pricing for 10 sample vehicles, including the 2011 BMW 328i, 2010 Cadillac CTS, 2010 Chevrolet Traverse, 2010 Ford F-150 SuperCrew, 2010 Honda Accord sedan, 2010 Honda Civic sedan, 2010 Hyundai Elantra, 2010 Mazda3, 2010 Nissan Altima, and 2011 Toyota Camry. Given the broad range of models, Zag analysts believe its figures reflect general pricing trends.

The analysts averaged the maximum discounts being offered on the models for its metro-area ranking. For its ranking of states, it?made a calculation based on average vehicle discounts. Either way, the savings end up substantial.

The best metro markets were all areas with lots of dealerships, suggesting that competition between them is a key factor in increasing discounts and lowering prices. “These are areas where dealerships are really competing for business and customers are winning,” Karim O’Driscoll, Zag’s director of pricing strategy, said.

The study also revealed a surprise. In some cases, the best prices are found on the outer edges of metro areas.  The analysts concluded that dealerships there are forced compete aggressively with urban stores that are a relatively short drive away. But in the end, they can offer the best prices because their cost structures are also leaner.

It’s no secret that discounts tend to be least available in rural areas, simply because the competition is less intense. “There may not be many BMW dealers out in the most picturesque parts of a state,” O’Driscoll said.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 1 Month Ago
      back when nixon slapped on wage and price controls to stem inflation, the auto manufactoers didn't like it.....as soon a the controls were removed they jacked up their prices by thousands just in case it happened again and started giving rebates to cover the difference......the govt threatened to slap regulations on them so they agreed to regulated themselves and came up with MSRP...basically a very high list price....if you pay MSRP, you've ben had......never pay MSRP......
      • 1 Month Ago
      Hello I am looking for advice. My Father passed away and left me a in prime shape a Mercedes 190E 2.6 but it is older it is 1987. He died in his house and I was called to ID him. I looked all over for the pink slip but I could not find it and I had other things to handle. Come to find out the car was registered and up to date but he died before he put the car in his name. I went to the DMV and a place called the La Brea Auto Gallery still owned it but they closed shop. There is no lien on the car. I don't know what to do? I don't want to just scrap it. I did find paper work that he put about 1000.00 dollars in it. Brakes, tires, roters and some other things. Most likely was going to register it when the tags got closer to needing to be renewed. The car is on Craigslist with pictures, its not stolen! If you have any advice for me I would kindly use it. Thanks
      James Shaffer
      • 1 Month Ago
      I don't understand why the car companies can't just sell directly to the public at set prices. If you can - do everything online. It will save you money in the long run and you won't be pressured into buying any weird warranties you don't need. Buy your car from carmax. (I got my 2009 toyota camry from there for $9k) Buy your insurance from 4autoinsurancequote (I pay $35/month for full coverage from them). Register online with your state's DMV. If you go to a dealer, you're gonna get screwed one way or another, it's just up to you how badly.. Moral of the story - do everything online.
      • 1 Month Ago
      I am shocked DC was not at the top of the list with all the tax payer money spent on OBlamer and his group of msiguided soles. Hell they all probably have 19 new cars on our buck. When he says the buck stops here he ain't just a kidding.
      • 1 Month Ago
      To the ILLINOIS people. If you do choose to buy new at least go to Lake county where you save on the Taxes. Savings of a percent or more add up real fast on a $30k car. saveit
      • 1 Month Ago
      Gary Hoffman is one of the dumbest correspondents on the planet. Ever heard of research before you write? Over half of the New Cars sold do not have even a 6% Markup over dealer cost. Keep on reading trash put out by washed up People that pull their research out of the 1980's trash bin. Did you get your research degree on the back of a Wheaties Box? Lets see your certified data. That would be worth seeing.
      CAD Atlanta
      • 1 Month Ago
      I negotiated a deal that I am happy with at my local Ford dealer. I would pay dealer cost (I provided the Edmunds dealer cost sheet showing cost, hold back and MSRP) and would buy his Ford sponsored ESP extended service warranty (5 oil changes over 30K miles) for $100.00, if I could buy any and all parts at cost+10% for as long as I owned the car. Of course he had to take the deal to the sales manager and the sales manager came in and had to do his dog & pony show of how he wasn't making money. I said, well then, I can go elsewhere. I got home, FAXed all of the Ford dealers in my area and told them that I had selected a car, color, options and was ready to make a deal, had my money lined up at my local bank. I also stated on my FAX that I wanted to buy any and all parts at the 10% over cost. The next day I got faxes back from 5 of the 12 dealers in my area....including the dealership I went to to make my first offer. ALL but one was lower than what I had offered the dealer I went to visit. I walked back into the dealer that I first visited, showed him the return fax that I got and insisted that he honor it. I actually saved myself another $650.00, walked to the parts department ordered my additional parts and am very happy with my 2011 Mustang 6 cyl. and pony package dressed out with my discounted accessories - louvers! Good luck with your shopping.
      • 1 Month Ago
      what's so big about 10% discount. I have been buying cars for over 50 years now and never bought a car at 10% below MSRP. I buy last years off the dealer's lot and never got less than 15%. I think AOL is in cahut with auto dealers to make you believe that 7 or 8% is a good deal. Baloney!!!!
      • 1 Month Ago
      Any one who begins their purchase negotiations at the MSRP is sorely misled. If one goes to Consumer Reports and pays a small fee they can save thousands of dollars off of the bat. A good rule of thumb is to take 20 to 25% off of the MSRP and begin negotiations with firm resolve. This should get you to meet two added staff members beyond your initial salesman. When that happens you've got their attention and your offer is going to be accepted most of the time. They'll try to get you to kck in $100 to $500 more, but don't budge too much). You'll be surprised how easy it is to get a lot better deal than starting at MSRP or even 10% off of MSRP. You can do better than that.
      Fritz Katz
      • 1 Month Ago
      I have bought five cars in past ten years living in florida... best used cars on earth as one owner geezermobiles with low miles kept in garages are constantly up for cheap estate sale. NEW CAR buying is also without problems if you shop around. AllanJay in my hometown of Sebring has ok (no free lunch) warranty service but high doc fees, minimal discount and cr"ppy tradein value so I drove an hour to toyota of Stuart with NO doc fees, great trade, decent discount, and free breakfast or lunch when in for service! And what the hll is a "mouse lover"?
      • 1 Month Ago
      e bay by someone's mistake they will sell it cheep and you win
      • 1 Month Ago
      MSRP? Work your way down from invoice and then deduct any rebates or hold backs. Finance will try to add at least 2-3% to your interest charge. So if they say "will you buy this if I can keep the payments the same?" you know they are holding some points. Do your homework, look at Edmunds, and don't be afraid to walk. Don't worry, they will call.
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