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Use an out-the-door price calculator to estimate the total cost of a new car including taxes, fees, and add-ons. This allows you to negotiate better and avoid surprise charges at the dealership.
Buying a new car is an exciting experience. But it can also be stressful trying to figure out the total cost with taxes, fees, and add-ons. This is where an out-the-door price calculator comes in handy.
An out-the-door price calculator allows you to estimate the total drive-away cost of a new car. It factors in the car’s sale price, taxes, documentation fees, title, and registration costs. This gives you a realistic idea of how much you’ll pay overall.
Knowing the out-of-the-door cost ahead of time helps remove surprise charges at the dealership. You can budget properly and shop smarter during the negotiation process.
Below we will explore how an out-the-door price calculator works plus tips on using it to your advantage.
How an Out-the-Door Price Calculator Works
An out-the-door price calculator takes a car’s sale price and adds estimated fees and taxes. This provides the total drive-away cost.
Here are the main factors it includes:
- Vehicle Price – The negotiated purchase price of the car before any extras.
- Sales Tax – Based on state/local tax rates applied to the sale price.
- Title and Registration Fees – Varies by state, often around $30-$150.
- Documentation Fees – Charged by the dealer to handle sale paperwork, around $200-$500.
- Destination Charges – Shipping fee added by the manufacturer, usually $500-$1,500.
- Any applicable trade-in amount, rebates, or down payment would be subtracted to determine the total owed.
Adding these key items together gives you an accurate estimate of the out-the-door cost. Now let’s look at how to use this calculator to your advantage.
Tips for Using an Out-the-Door Price Calculator
Knowing your out-the-door price before purchasing can save you money. Here are some tips:
- Compare out-the-door prices across different vehicles and dealerships. This allows you to identify the best overall deal.
- Use the estimated price to negotiate the vehicle price. Aim to get the out-the-door cost lowered.
- Avoid extras you don’t really need. Stick to your ideal price as closely as possible.
- Use the calculated price to ensure you can afford the total cost. Don’t get stuck with payments that are too high.
- Factor in your down payment amount and monthly payments over the loan term. Make sure they fit your budget.
- Have your financing lined up beforehand. This prevents the dealer from talking you into a higher interest rate.
- Print out the calculator estimate and bring it with you when shopping. This gives you a reference during negotiations.
- Have your trade-in valued beforehand and all figures on any special financing ready. Don’t negotiate blind.
- Ask the dealer to provide a full breakdown of all fees and taxes in writing. Compare this to your estimate.
Watch for Add-Ons
- Beware of extras like extended warranties, VIN etching, or maintenance plans tagged on during talks. These can quickly raise the price.
- Hold your ground if the dealer tries raising fees last minute above your researched estimate. Be ready to walk away if needed.
Using an out-the-door price calculator as part of your new car buying preparation can save you thousands. You’ll know what a fair price is before stepping foot in the dealership.
Out-the-Door Price Calculator Example
Let’s walk through an example of using an out-the-door price calculator to estimate the total cost of a new car purchase.
We’ll say you’re looking at a new 2022 Honda Civic LX with an MSRP of $22,550. You’ve negotiated the sale price down to $21,000 even.
Here is what the out-the-door estimate looks like:
- Vehicle Price: $21,000
- Taxes (7%): $1,470
- Title Fee: $125
- Documentation Fee: $399
- Registration: $86
- Destination Charge: $1,015
Total Out the Door Price: $24,095
As you can see, the total drive-away cost is $2,545 higher than just the sale price. This covers all the extra fees and taxes added by the dealer and DMV.
Having this estimated price allows you to budget accordingly and know if the dealer is charging excess fees. You can also adjust key inputs like vehicle price and down payment to see how it impact the overall cost. Great post to read about freight market update 2023.
This example illustrates the importance of using an out-the-door price calculator when researching a big purchase like a new car. You’ll be better prepared during the negotiation process.
Out the Door Price Calculator FAQ
Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about out-the-door price calculators:
How accurate are these calculators?
They provide close estimates, but final pricing depends on exact taxes, fees, rebates, and incentives. Use the figures as a guide and compare them to the dealer’s breakdown.
Should fees like documentation be negotiable?
Sometimes. It varies by state and dealer. Research typical rates in your area to know what’s fair game to try and lower.
Can I use an out-the-door calculator for used cars too?
Yes. The taxes and fee structures are similar. Just input the negotiated used car price instead of MSRP to get an estimate.
What if my trade-in value changes from the estimate?
Adjust the trade-in amount in the calculator to see how it impacts the bottom line. Get an up-to-date appraisal before purchasing.
What about adding accessories like an extended warranty?
The calculator estimates the base car price. Add in extras line-by-line to see how they raise the total amount owed.
Out-the-Door Price Resources
To learn more about out-the-door pricing and get access to calculators, check out these helpful resources:
- Edmunds Out the Door Price Estimator – Allows you to tweak key inputs and get median fees for your area.
- CarMax Out the Door Price Tool – Gives price breakdown and monthly payment estimate.
- NADAGuides New Car Pricing – Enter MSRP and ZIP code to see the average selling price.
- TrueCar Out the Door Price Report – See what others in your area paid for the same car.
- Autoblog New Car Calculator – Detailed cost breakdown and ability to compare options.
Having the right information goes a long way in getting a fair out-the-door price. Be sure to use these helpful resources to your advantage.
Calculating the out-the-door cost of a new car is key to staying within budget and avoiding surprise add-ons. An out-the-door price calculator provides an estimate of the total drive-away price including all taxes and fees.
Use this calculator early when researching cars to enable smarter negotiations. Know the total cost you can afford and stick firmly to that price. Avoid getting pressured into extras you don’t need.
Entering a car deal knowing the approximate out-the-door cost means no last-minute shocks. You can feel confident you received a fair price for the new car of your dreams.