“What will my total monthly car payment be?”

It’s a hard question to answer, and one that comes up a lot at dealerships. Often, it’s asked late in the car buying process. Arriving at an accurate answer isn’t always easy – even for dealers – until the numbers are thoroughly crunched, something that often doesn’t happen until just before the forms are signed. For consumers engaging in online car shopping, a true answer is often completely out of reach, since he or she doesn’t have the benefit of experience.

To help provide answers earlier in the process, Car and Driver (parent company Hearst Media), and DealerScience have together built a payment tool to help consumers researching and shopping for a vehicle online. The tool, according to the companies, provides accurate payments thanks to DealerScience’s proprietary software. The accurate payment means that a full account of the price, including dealer and OEM incentives, state and federal taxes, and any fees, are included in what payment the consumer sees on a dealer’s website.

“This new tool offered by Car and Driver and DealerScience enables consumers to truly complete a critical and necessary step in the online car shopping and buying process. Consumers prefer to use their time at a dealership learning about and test driving the car they intend to buy, rather than spending unwanted hours filling out paperwork and haggling over price and payment,” said Nick Matarazzo, president of Hearst Autos, in a statement. “This tool significantly accelerates the process for consumers and instantly improves dealer and OEM trust with consumers because they can now deliver on something that their potential customers have long wanted.”

DealerScience’s “Penny-Perfect Payments” online car shopping tool was built from years of experience of running a Honda dealership, according to Andrew Gordon, president of DealerScience.

“We recognized that automotive digital retailing experiences broke down when the consumer was offered different payments at different points in the sales process,” he said. “At my family’s Honda store, we realized that the best way to build trust throughout the car buying process was to ensure consistency for the consumer from the website to the showroom. So, we built the DealerScience engine to calculate penny-perfect payments, optimizing deals for the lender, term, interest, and taxes.”