What is an Out the Door Price Calculator?


When shopping for a new or used vehicle, consumers might look at the price on the sticker to better understand their final purchase price. While this is a good starting price, the sticker isn’t the full story about the cost of the car.

The buyer will likely allocate a down payment and they might have a trade-in, too. In addition, there are a few costs that the sticker won’t include. What is an out the door price calculator? This tool can help figure the price of the vehicle by taking into consideration costs like:

  • Sales tax
  • Doc fees
  • Destination fees
  • Registration and title fees

States without Sales Tax

Sales tax on the purchase of a vehicle doesn’t apply in all states. In fact, the following states don’t charge sales tax on the purchase of an automobile:

  • Alaska
  • Delaware
  • Montana
  • New Hampshire
  • Oregon

In other states, the sales tax rate could vary and buyers should understand how taxes are calculated in their state. While the sales tax could be rolled into an auto loan, this isn’t always possible. When car shoppers are at the dealership, they can ask about the sales tax.

If the tax can’t be rolled into the loan, the buyer will need to come up with this tax. Depending on the tax rate or how the tax is calculated, the cost could add up. Buyers need to be prepared for the tax implications of their purchase.

Get Jerry explains that allocating the sales tax into a loan also subjects the tax to interest. For this reason, buyers might opt to pay sales tax out of pocket.

Out the Door Price Calculator

Documentation Fees

Documentation fees or ‘doc fees’ are essentially the fees that the dealership charges for putting together the paperwork for the sale. In some states, the price of the doc fee is limited. Other states don’t have any limits on this fee.

The state with the highest doc fees is Florida; the average doc fee hovers just under $1,000 (at $995). California and Minnesota both have fairly reasonable doc fees.

Unfortunately, high doc fee costs add to the overall purchase price of the vehicle. In the case of Florida, doc fees can add hundreds (or nearly $1,000) to the cost.

Destination Fee

There is a price related to shipping the car from the factory to the dealership; it’s called the destination fee. CreditKarma explains that the buyer is charged the destination fee, which is not included in the MSRP but is noted on the sticker.

According to CreditKarma, the destination fee could be anywhere from $1000-$1,400 or it could be more.

Fees for Title and Registration

There also are fees for titling and registering the vehicle. Again, these fees vary based on the state. However, buyers who want to understand how much they will need to pay can research the costs in their state; this information might be available at the state’s Department of Revenue website.

Title and registration fees aren’t typically expensive, but they are another out-of-pocket cost for the buyer.

Out the Door Price Calculator

Calculating the Out-the-Door Cost

Buyers who are reading over all the details related to sales tax, doc fees and fees for the title and registration might wonder how they can add up these costs for one final purchase price total. There are many ‘out-the-door calculators’ online. These calculators help buyers understand how much they will pay for their car related to the purchase price plus other fees.

Your Auto Advocate (YAA) offers a free out-the-door calculator. Car shoppers simply enter the price of their vehicle and then select the state. The calculator shows the average sales tax, title fee, registration fee and doc fee. The consumer then can see the estimated out-the-door cost.

Car shoppers also could look for calculators that include calculations for destination fees, too.

Why Should Buyers Understand Out-the-Door Cost?

Most of the costs that drive up the cost of a vehicle aren’t really something that the buyer can negotiate. For example, sales tax is simply a tax that must be paid and varies by state; in addition, sales tax also might be applicable for a county and/or municipality.

Title and registration fees also vary by state. These fees must be paid to title and register the vehicle.

Doc fees, though, could be a point of discussion between the buyer and the dealership. In states like Florida where doc fees tend to be higher, negotiating could be worth the effort. YAA advocates for buyers to negotiate this fee.

Even if buyers can’t negotiate costs, it’s still an important part of the buying process to understand their impact on the price of the vehicle. Again, buyers will need to pay the sales tax if they live in a state that charges sales tax on the car purchase; sometimes this can be rolled into the loan, but it also could be cheaper to pay it outright.

A car buyer does not want to be surprised by the cost of sales tax at the DMV. When shopping for a new or used vehicle, research the tax implications and be prepared for the cost. This might mean saving up for the sales tax and maybe even waiting to buy a car.

Out the Door Price Calculator

Other Car Shopping Calculators

Before buying a new or used car, shoppers also might not know how much they can feasibly spend on their monthly payment. While buyers can review their budget to see how much they can allocate per month, this number doesn’t always help buyers know how much car they can purchase in total.

A reverse car loan calculator can help turn that monthly payment figure into the purchase price of a vehicle. Nerdwallet lets buyers enter their monthly payment and the loan term (e.g. 36 months, 48 months, etc.). The calculator shows the buyer how much they could spend on the price of their car. Nerdwallet also offers consumers other calculators to help them find the best car for their budget.

The Down Payment Can Lower the Purchase Cost

Car buyers who want to lower their estimated monthly payment or pay off a car loan in a shorter amount of time could opt to allocate a higher down payment. Nerdwallet recommends allocating a 20 percent down payment on a new car and a 10 percent down payment on a used car, but some consumers could opt for a more substantial down payment.

A new car could lose nine to 11 percent of its value just by driving it off the dealership lot; in addition, the average five-year depreciation for most car models is slightly more than 33 percent. Since a new car depreciates quickly, the down payment can help lessen the financial impact of depreciation.

Out-the-Door Calculator and Sticker Shock

Calculating the out-the-door cost of a vehicle can help buyers understand the total price of their new purchase. However, car shoppers who are in the market for a new or used model might need to start doing their research to avoid any sticker shock at the dealership.

This shock doesn’t have anything to do with the aforementioned doc fees, sales tax or even destination or title and registration fees. Unfortunately, some brands are still feeling the impact of the computer chip shortage and this could have impacted inventory.

Buyers might discover that some models are now selling above sticker price. When looking for a new car, buyers should understand their financial limitations. This could help them ensure that they find only the cars that fit comfortably in their budget.

Since some cars are priced higher than the expected MSRP, buyers might realize that their favorite car is out of their budget. To better understand the cost of new vehicles, buyers can check out prices at their local dealerships; visit the dealership websites or go to Kelley Blue Book to begin a search for car prices.

Understanding the true cost of cars can help buyers feel more empowered when they visit the dealership in person. Knowing that a model is selling above the expected price also can prepare buyers who might need to look at other options.

Used car prices also were on the rise, but the prices might be starting to fall. Buyers looking for more options in their budget could search used or pre-owned models to expand their choices.

Some buyers might have a cash budget for their car. Used cars could be the best option for buyers who only want to spend a few thousand dollars on a car and perhaps who also don’t need to secure financing.

Regardless of if a buyer is purchasing a new or used vehicle, an out-the-door calculator could still be beneficial in helping a buyer understand the final cost of their purchase. Of all the ‘extra’ costs associated with a car purchase, the sales tax might be the most impactful to a buyer’s wallet. Those who want to pay this tax outright might begin preparing to save money both for their down payment and their tax responsibilities, too.

While many fees can’t be negotiated, buyers could take a hard look at the doc fees and open up negotiations with the dealership to help decrease the impact of this additional car cost. Even saving $100 could help buyers feel like they scored a deal during a time of higher prices.

EVOX Images leads the industry in automotive imaging and offers the largest library of virtual reality and augmented reality assets available for commercial use. Contact our team or call us at 310-605-1400 to learn more about our innovative imaging solutions.