Documentation Fees at Dealerships

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When buying a used car from the dealership, Do you guys pay the doc fees / negotiate it etc? what is a reasonable doc fee. 

What else can I extract from the dealer to make the deal sweeter.  This is for a used car.

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Phenomix said:   When buying a used car from the dealership, Do you guys pay the doc fees / negotiate it etc? what is a reasonable doc fee. 

What else can I extract from the dealer to make the deal sweeter.  This is for a used car.

  Focus on the total cost instead of the doc. fee or other nonsense fees they may tack on.

I agree with fwuser12.

On the one hand, DOC fees are a cost of doing business, a nonsense as a separate fee, and should be included in the price. I think it's become custom to list because DOC fees, as I understand it, vary from locale to locale due to state regs (please correct me if I'm wrong!), so when you're in Houston, comparing your price to what you can pay in Minneapolis is different.

We just bought a new car. We contacted several dealers with an "out the door" price (here, that includes state registration fees). Nobody would deal at my original price, so email negotiations raised it a couple thou. We were okay with that.

We showed up, and my wife reminded me we wanted a third "key" fob. They asked "in that price?" and we both responded back "no, no" -- after all it was not part of original negotiations.

I had been planning to pay cash. As it turns out, part of the out-the-door price included financing incentive (which I knew but was hoping wouldn't be there after all the time). So we ended up taking extra time to finalize the deal to get the minimum financing paperwork done (about 1/3 of the purchase price). Before accepting, I double-checked that I could pay off the entire balance early without penalty. Did so, and actually got the title within a week of paying off the car.

I did have to pay a little interest (day-to-day for the first month). On the other hand, the out-the-door price included an over-estimate of the cost for state Title Tax. how they don't know the exact figure I don't know. But anyway, the dealership actually sent me a check to refund for the extra title tax (even though we negotiated an "out-the-door" price), and that refund check just about payed for the interest (within 10% of covering it.)

fwuser12 said:   
Phenomix said:   When buying a used car from the dealership, Do you guys pay the doc fees / negotiate it etc? what is a reasonable doc fee. 

What else can I extract from the dealer to make the deal sweeter.  This is for a used car.

  Focus on the total cost instead of the doc. fee or other nonsense fees they may tack on.

  yup, just ask for out the door price.
that includes taxes, tags, and bs fees.

compare with other dealerships.
shop via internet/email dept to save the hassle of dealing with them in person, and in the comfort of your computer chair.

I negotiate based on the price of the car "including all dealer fees". The reason why I don't do "out the door" is because it gets confusing if you're talking with dealers in multiple counties or states each with different tax rates and fees that may or may not apply to you; those aren't part of the purchase price and once you register the car, the taxes and government fees will be the same no matter where you bought it from.

At the end of the day if the Doc fee is under $200 I don't bother fighting it if its a stellar deal in my view. Doing Price+TTL they tell me the Doc fee is one of the T's.... whatever.

micha8s said:   On the other hand, the out-the-door price included an over-estimate of the cost for state Title Tax. how they don't know the exact figure I don't know. But anyway, the dealership actually sent me a check to refund for the extra title tax (even though we negotiated an "out-the-door" price), and that refund check just about payed for the interest (within 10% of covering it.)
 

 Although you negotiate the OTD price, the actual sales contract will list a sale price (plus some nonsense like doc fees) and then add tax, title fees etc. on top of it to get to the OTD price. My understanding is, anything collected as a tax must be remitted to the government. They cannot simply collect an arbitrary amount of money as tax. That is the reason they had to refund what they extra amount collected.

If they had caught the tax error earlier, they could have increased the (pre-tax) sale price accordingly to get to the negotiated OTD price. Since they didnt, they had no choice later.

It's dealer profit, nothing else. I don't care if I pay $19750 and a $250 doc fee or $20000 and no doc fee. The doc fees can be significant (I've seen $795) so it's an important number to be wary of.

From what I've seen, the doc fee can be whatever they want. Last time I negotiated a car for N price when I walked in, they pulled my "quote" up on their screen and the guy just started typing a bunch of numbers on the screen until he could get it to what he quoted me. I saw him going line by line quickly adjusting numbers by a couple bucks here and there until he got to N price. I noticed he brought other lines down but kept the "base car" price the same, presumably so their manufacturer knew they weren't selling it under cost.

Regional differences aside, if you negotiate a car deal, negotiate it as an OTD price and you should be fine.

Each state sets its own rules. In Illinois, for example, dealers cannot charge more than a certain amount (max set by law). However, they aren't required to charge anything. 

http://www.cata.info/2016_illinois_doc_fee_maximum_is_16927

Documentation fees are just a trick to get people to pay extra at the end if they aren't good at negotiating, or if they try to buy with some lowball advertisement.   The dealer may say that they "have" to charge the fee, and that could actually be true if the state requires everyone to get the same fee. So that is why you just work with the end result, and don't stress about how the costs are structured. Focus on the bottom line price only.

Doc fees are a gottcha only if you don't ask about them in advance. I've gotten the line that they have to charge everyone the fee otherwise they could be accused of discrimination. But as others said as long as you know about the fee in advance, then you can negotiate away. I was recently at one dealership that wanted $500 for the doc fee. I ended up walking and found a better deal on craigslist. I enjoyed telling them to take me off their mailing list because I found a car.

Thanks for the information, I am going to test my negotiating skills tomorrow.

Many times it's for advertising placement in searches to make the car look cheaper. If the price is $5000 they will advertise it at $4500 and put the $500 doc fee in the fine print so anyone sorting by price on Autotrader or Cars.com will see it posted at the lower end of the list.

I wouldn't be surprised if there is some benefit to the dealer to squirreling away part of the selling price in fees... either in how they look to the buyer or some tax benefit.

lol...buy 1 year used from guy who put on less than 10K miles and you get a new car and saved 30% of purchase price....go golf instead of worrying about 300 of doc fees

mavmariaman said:   lol...buy 1 year used from guy who put on less than 10K miles and you get a new car and saved 30% of purchase price....go golf instead of worrying about 300 of doc fees
  I have very hard time finding 30% under MSRP deal on a one year car. Could you share your experience how you got such a nice deal?

My dealer in NC was pretty straight about the doc fee for him-- it was optional. If I paid it then he dealt with all the paperwork and any fees (like notaries) as well as walking the paperwork through the paperwork through DMV. I could not pay it and he would hand over a notarized sales order and the keys.

He earned EVERY penny, took three tries to get them to take it. (there were some unusual factors in the sale since I was non-resident)

Most of the time its just the "bottom line" - mine was the advertised price plus sales tax, the price was already low so I didn't feel the need to haggle. Then either the doc fee or not, plus a directly billed property tax to the local municipality.

Matr0skin said:   
mavmariaman said:   lol...buy 1 year used from guy who put on less than 10K miles and you get a new car and saved 30% of purchase price....go golf instead of worrying about 300 of doc fees
  I have very hard time finding 30% under MSRP deal on a one year car. Could you share your experience how you got such a nice deal?

  
Craigslist in neigborhoods with upper middle class and older demographics.  They have enough $ not to want to deal with the hassle and haggle and squeeze every dime out of a car in negotiation.  Got a 1.5 year old clean sedan fully loaded with 22k miles on it for 35% less than first owner paid for it. 

This requires lots of patience and diligent searching.  Took me about 3 weeks searching about 6x per day.


To OP & on topic, if I ever dealt with dealer slimeballs I would just know invoice & incentives and tell them the number I would pay OTD and have them email me if they wanted to deal.  Once you give one of these assholes your # they will leave you incessant voicemails.

Like the others have said, I deal with total price. Make the "fees" half the price of the car for all I care. My business goes to the best deal to drive out of there with the car I want.



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