New vs Used: Our Car Buying Breakdown

Last month my wife and I bought a replacement car. We started at Carmax, found what we wanted and then shopped around for a better deal.

We walked out of Carmax with the following quote for what we decided we were looking for:

Carmax Quote

2008 Hyundai Santa Fe GLS (13,059 miles)

$ 15,998.00

Title Fee

$ 40.00

Registration Fees

$ 33.00

Sales Tax

$ 479.94

Carmax Processing Fee

$ 149.00

Total Cost

$ 16,699.94

We ended up purchasing a near identical car at another used car dealership. The car we purchased was slightly more attractive to us - had 300 less miles and didn't have a scratch on the interior.

Local Used Car Dealership

2008 Hyundai Santa Fe GLS (12,758 miles)

$ 14,888.00

Sales Tax

$ 446.64

Documentary Fee

$ 444.00

License & Title Fee

$ 74.00

Total Cost

$ 15,852.64

We briefly talked about buying the car new and checked out the local dealer incentives. After taking the cost of the car we bought as a baseline we were willing to purchase an equivalent new car (with an extra 12k miles plus longer warranty) for about an extra ~$2,000-$2,500 over what we ended up buying. Our brief checks at the local Hyundai dealerships showed that new Santa Fes were not "in the ballpark" so we opted to go ahead with the purchase.

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Comments (10)

Did you pay cash or shop for financing rates? My wife and I shopped around at first, when we bought our car in December, and found our credit union was the cheapest by far

Why would you pay over $400 in "document" fees?

You do realize that all of these fees are negotiable, right?

Looks like a good price; nice work. Those fees are high though; was there any way to negotiate them down? I have tried--unsuccessfully--in the past, though I could have been more earnest in my attempt.

Documentary fee of $444.00!!!!! That is a fee that allows them to sell you the car! Why is that a separate fee? Totally outrageous!

We're about a month away from having our first baby, and are looking at a bigger car pretty soon. This is helpful information to be able to estimate the costs. I had figured that most dealerships or used car businesses will come up with a way to add on a few hundred bucks, and this confirms my suspicions. Thanks for posting this!

Interesting to see all the comments on the doc fee. I challenged the fee at first given carmax was lower, but eventually caved in and paid it - but i factored it into the total cost before we made the decision to buy it. Has any one been able to negotiate down these type of fees?

You can negotiate any fee you want. The dealer only cares about the bottom line.

The bottom line with new vs used is never ever ever buy new. You loose too much money the second you drive it off the lot.

My wife wants a Hyundai Genesis (great cars btw). They are fairly new though. Right now we are waiting to buy a used one and for them to start hitting the market. We'll immediately save $10,000 or more waiting just a year or so and get more car for our money.

I agree with you Keith. My personal preference is to let someone else lease the new vehicle for 3 years, and then to buy it when they bring it back to the dealership.

Then I drive it until I get the sense that it's has become more expensive to maintain than to buy a newer car.

We bought a "new" 2008 SanteFe limited in May for $21,000 (includes tax,tag,title,other fees). It had 30miles on it. With all the options on it Edmunds was listing it at a couple thousand more for a used one.

Lesson: If it's new and an old model year, you can get a great deal to get it off the lot.

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