I am an auto salesperson and I can tell you a couple things:
One, the “games and crapola” you have to “deal with” when working with a salesperson are pretty much gone, excepting dealers that still cling to “the old way” (pre-internet) or when dealing with a buy here/pay here lot where if you’re there, you’re pretty much out of options anyway because your credit sucks.
Two, many, MANY times a dealer will beat the TrueCar or Costco pricing. I wouldn’t even bother with it quite honestly.
Your best ammo in negotiation is to be ready to buy a car right now, and have settled on a specific vehicle from a specific dealer that you have previously visited to test drive the car. NEVER buy the car right after a test drive. This is the salesperson’s “ace in the hole”…capitalizing on the emotional aspect of car buying. You’ll likely make a mistake or pay too much. But coming back (and keeping in communication with your salesperson, IF YOU LIKE HIM or HER) and being “ready to buy” is YOUR “ace in the hole”. The sales manager(s) will very likely not want to let you leave until they have sold you a car, so they will slash prices beyond what they might normally do just to get a sale.
For God’s sake, be realistic. Do your homework. Don’t be a lunatic because you’re a cash buyer (cash is no longer “king” in the car business as there’s too much kickback money flowing between dealers and lenders for loans on autos…it’s a parasitic, but very REAL relationship).
For instance, you cannot buy a car for less than what the dealer owns it for (except under VERY rare and special circumstances…like getting rid of the doo-doo brown rear wheel drive single cab pickup truck that’s been collecting dust on the lot forever because nobody else wants it).
Protip: buy a new car on one of the last days of a month, especially in the months following the transition between one model year and another (July, August, September…or the end of December). The downside of that is limited availability on outgoing model years as they’re not being produced anymore so you may have to be “colorblind for the right price”, for instance.
Shit, it’s time for me to get dinner together and finish laundry. Direct your car buying questions to me, I will help you as best as I can.