At some dealerships, the out-the-door costs are abbreviated as "TT&L" or tax, title and license. This means that, in addition to the price of the car, you typically have to pay the following costs:
- State and local sales tax
- Department of Motor Vehicles fees
- A "documentation fee"
The so-called documentation fee is set by law in some states, and in others, it's not. We've heard reports of customers being charged up to $900 for doc fees. In such a scenario, the dealership could quote an attractive price for the car, knowing it would make a profit once it applies the $900 doc fee.
In most cases, when you ask for the out-the-door cost, the salesman knows exactly what you mean. The good salesman immediately replies with something to the effect of "besides the cost of the car, you will pay sales tax, DMV fees and a doc fee which is" and then he'll name a figure that is, we hope, less than $100. If you get a vague answer about the out-the-door cost or a salesman tells you it is impossible to calculate this figure, you should be on guard.