Car price

Vigilant on car prices: Crowdsourcing efforts push dealer margins

Reading time: 2 minutesNew car prices soared throughout the past year as the auto industry faced a shortage of microchips. Some dealers, able to count on fewer sales but higher prices, have tested the traditional rules of buying cars with record margins.

The practice has become common enough to trigger a backlash from automakers themselves.

Automakers, with the exception of Tesla and a few similar startups, don’t set car prices. They set the prices they charge third-party dealers, but those dealers negotiate final sale prices with buyers. Thus, the company that builds a car has a limited ability to intervene when a dealer overcharges it.

Automakers tussle with dealerships over profit margins

Some try. Ford has threatened to stop sending popular models to dealers who indulge in questionable markups. General Motors did the same.

Subaru, always the love company, tried to kindly ask its dealers to keep prices reasonable. He expressed fatherly disappointment in those who don’t.

But there’s another party with some ability to fend off markups – buyers. This effort has apparently begun.

Crowdsourced site allows shoppers to push back

Markups.org is a crowdsourcing website intended to shame dealers who charge absurd markups for cars.

The builders of the site remain anonymous. In the About Us section of the site, they say they started the effort because of markups some dealerships were taking on high-performance truck models like the Ram TRX and Ford F-150 Raptor.

But the effort has escalated, with users reporting that dealerships have marked up everything from Kia Forte sedans (an alleged $7,000 dealer adjustment at a Nevada dealership) to an Audi RS 6 Avant (a $75 markup). $000 reported in West Palm Beach, Florida).

Users can search by car dealership, state, or brand to find the worst alleged abuses.

Effort is low for now, but this is the first sign we’ve seen of buyers staging resistance to the new round of hikes.

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  • Sean Tucker

    Sean Tucker is an author specializing in covering the automotive and energy industries from a consumer perspective. As a critic and consumer advocate, his work has appeared in US News and World Report, Yahoo Autos, MSN, Dub Magazine, and more. He has been an expert guest discussing car shopping on cable news. He has also served as a reporter and editor for energy and insurance industry publications, covering the electrification of the auto industry and the ins and outs of auto insurance. He reports for KBB from Washington, D.C.