Buying a 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee, and saving $7000 off of MSRP.
If you're paying at/below dealer cost, don't expect the dealership to go the extra mile for you... our delivery was VERY short, they didn't program any of the features (bluetooth, etc). Also didn't get a delivery clean - they ran it through the auto carwash but it was covered in water spots and dust and no tire shine etc. Seemed like we didn't get the full experience of buying a new car because of the lower price we paid... not saying that's unreasonable, guess it's just what you get when you pay less than MSRP. If you buy from Sherwood Dodge, I would highly recommend dealing with Maricio. He was great!
Buying a 2012 Dodge Grand Caravan, and saving $9000 off of MSRP.
The biggest benefit from CarCost was to be able to see the invoice cost of ALL the options at any time. Buying a new car you can get an invoice from a dealer (sometimes just the option sheet), but you would only see just what THAT vehicle had. Having this from the beginning of the search was worth the $35 for sure.
You can see what the cost would be for any config of a vehicle without having to compile that data as you go, huge time saver. It was not difficult to talk dealer cost with any dealer once you bring up the topic I found, I did not need to "show a report from CarCost" as a negotiation tactic, my conversations were always "Dealer cost +" with anyone I dealt with, not "MSRP -". Dealers didn't really care, they just want to sell a car.
Getting the codes for the options helped as well, then when dealing with dealers I could say I wanted X trim with options AHJ, RHB, etc which helped make searching for a model on a lot much easier. Otherwise I was just getting random quotes for any van out there. Asking a dealer for a "Dodge Caravan Crew Plus with AHJ and not RHB" made searching for a model way more streamlined, since it was in their terms (how the system looks for a model).
One suggestion for people who are not 100% sure what options you want, build a config (it''s free) from whatever model you are looking at that has EVERY option. That way you can see what all the costs are on one sheet, then subtract what it doesn''t have. Our minivan had 10 options and just making a fully loaded config of that model (even though we did not want certain options) made life much easier to know what the costs where when the dealer quotes came in.
In the end it was a $700 over dealer cost deal, but having the actual numbers and ability to deal with the proper terms from the build was great.