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With auto sales at their lowest levels in 26 years, getting a good deal should be a breeze.

But even with deep discounts and generous incentives, what one dealer will charge - compared to another - would still surprise you.

Since July, the typical price variation on the same make and model of car between dealerships has increased substantially, according to research by the automotive Web site Edmunds.com. Back in July, prices varied from dealer to dealer by about 17.4% on average. In December, average variability had increased to about 28%.

The recent average price paid for a BMW 3-series at one dealership was $40,924, according to Edmunds.com. At another, it was $47,459. That's a 16% price difference. For the Honda Accord, prices averaged between $22,036 and $28,966, a 31% difference. And on an Audi A6, average prices ranged from $39,472 to $53,638, for a difference of 35%.

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