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What to know about the out-the-door price

Man and woman browsing white car's sticker price in dealership
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When it comes to buying a car — new or used — you are likely to be bombarded with a variety of different acronyms and terms. One you will run into is the out-the-door price, which differs from the sticker price. It is the entire cost you will pay, fees and vehicle included.   

By knowing this and other terms you are likely to drive away with successful negotiations and the best deal possible. 

What is the out-the-door price? 

The out-the-door price is the term that describes the total cost of the vehicle, including any additional fees you will pay. It truly is what it says — it is made up of the price that you will pay when walking out the dealership door with your new set of keys.  

Knowing this number is vital to ensure you are getting the best deal while negotiating — especially because you may be able to get some of the costs removed. It is also important to request this number before signing off on your new vehicle because the out-the-door price is typically higher than the initial number you saw.  

What does this price cover? 

This price covers a range of costs that go into your new set of wheels, including:  

  • Documentation fee 
  • Vehicle title and registration 
  • Sales tax  
  • Registration fees  
  • Dealer extras  
  • Dealership fees  
  • Price of the vehicle 

Out-the-door price vs. MSRP 

The main price you will see when car shopping is the MSRP, this is usually the number on the vehicle window when walking a dealership lot. The MSRP or manufacturer’s suggested retail price is also exactly how it sounds, the price that the vehicle manufacturer recommends. Although dealers do not always follow this price exactly it serves as the starting point for negotiation.  

But this number is much lower than the out-the-door price. This means it is important to not get distracted by the number advertised, and rather ask the dealer for the entire price you will be expected to pay — the out-the-door price. It is also important to be sure to negotiate based on that number, not the MSRP. The difference in price will greatly impact your monthly cost so be sure to calculate this ahead of time with an auto loan calculator. 

The bottom line 

Saving money at the dealership comes down to preparedness. Remember that the number you walk out paying — the out-the-door price — tends to be higher than the MSRP, so don’t get distracted by the first price advertised. It is also always smart to apply for loan preapproval, and to shop around for different financing options before signing off. 

Written by
Rebecca Betterton
Auto Loans Reporter
Rebecca Betterton is the auto loans reporter for Bankrate. She specializes in assisting readers in navigating the ins and outs of securely borrowing money to purchase a car.
Edited by
Auto loans editor