If you're in the market for a new car   there are some things you need to know before you hit the lot.

These come from Philip Reed, the consumer advice editor for Edmunds .com   the online auto buying guide. Philip actually went to work for a dealership to learn what exactly goes on and here's what he found.

  • To prevent being overcharged, do your homework. If you spend only an hour online, you'll get everything you need to know. But the two things that are most important are the car's invoice price   that's the price the dealer paid for the car. And the sticker price that's what the manufacturer thinks you should pay. So what should you pay? A few hundred over the invoice price is fair.
  • What else did Philip learn? The best kept secret at the car dealership is the fleet manager. He oversees group sales to businesses   but he can also sell to you at the same non-negotiable rate. The fleet manager's price will be at least a thousand dollars lower than a salesman's.
  • Another tip: Negotiate with your feet. If things aren't going the way you'd like, get up and walk around. Car sales are all about control. By standing up, you send the signal that you're unpredictable and uncontrollable.
  • And finally avoid the driver's seat. Do not test drive the cars you're considering on the day you plan on buying them! Because the minute you're in that driver's seat, you make an emotional connection with the car and you're just like a kid who wants a candy bar   you want it now! So plan a day to test drive and a different day to buy. Your head will be clear and you can negotiate unemotionally.

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