Check Out This Quote From A Shady Dealer Who Doesn’t Understand What An Out-The-Door Price Means

Check Out This Quote From A Shady Dealer Who Doesn’t Understand What An Out-The-Door Price Means

Depending on what model you are shopping for, some buyers are finding pretty solid deals. This is especially true on new and used electric vehicles, but there are also some strong discounts on gas-powered cars. An improving market often means more dealer shenanigans like a VW salesperson who doesn’t understand how “out the door” pricing works.

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If you have read my car-buying advice posts over the years, you know that the two key points that I make over and over again are 1. Have a clear understanding of your budget and 2. Always request an itemized out-the-door price of whatever car you are buying.

The second tip is easier said than done because it requires someone else to actually do their job properly, and less scrupulous dealers will come up with all kinds of excuses not to give you a quote in writing. Some of my all-time favorite reasons are when they cite “privacy concerns” and even claim that sending a quote is “illegal.” And even if you manage to pry this itemized quote out of them, buyers may encounter all kinds of additional fees and add-ons that make the total price way higher than it should be.

To recap an itemized out-the-door price should detail the negotiated sale price of the vehicle, plus a detailed list of all taxes, fees, accessories etc.. this gives the complete cost before any trade offers or down payments.

One of my customers was conducting some test drives with a dealer that didn’t get that memo. She messaged me and said that a local dealer offered her a well-equipped Atlas for an “out-the-door price” of $52,617 and that even included some extra warranties. At first, that sounded like a pretty awesome deal, so I requested that she send me an image of the deal sheet.

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After looking at the quote I confirmed that the dealer really used the term “out the door” for that $52,617, but as you can see that “out the door” quote assumes the customer is putting $10,000 down. That’s now how this works, that’s not how any of this works!

With a big enough downpayment, anything of any cost can be whatever “out the door” price you want it to be. Using this logic, you could buy a one-million-dollar McLaren and have an “out-the-door” price of $10,000 as long as your downpayment is $990,000. When I informed my client that the real out-the-door number was actually $62,617 she was rightfully angry at the salesperson.

Tactics like this are why so many dealers are opposed to the new FTC regulations that mandate a more honest disclosure of vehicle prices. So the next time you are shopping for a car and request the total cost, make sure the dealer is presenting that out-the-door price correctly.

Tom McParland is a contributing writer for Jalopnik and runs He takes the hassle out of buying or leasing a car. Got a car buying question? Send it to