When you buy a car at the dealer, you don’t just pay the sticker price for the car. There are numerous fees wrapped up into the car purchase. Some of these fees can be reduced or eliminated through discussions with the dealership and some are essentially non-negotiable. To help you figure out which fees you can try to cut and which ones you’re going to be stuck with, we took a closer look at each fee below.

Destination Fee

Destination fee for cars
Unfortunately, the cost of getting the car to the dealership is non-negotiable. 

The destination fee isn’t something you can negotiate. It’s a standard shipping and handling charge that all new car buyers have to pay. With that in mind, some dealers will charge an additional secondary delivery fee. Keep an eye out for secondary fees like that when looking over the paperwork. They can often be negotiated down. If you see something like that, ask the salesperson about it to see if it’s justified.

Dealer Preparation Fee

dealer prep
Don't let the dealer make you pay for prepping the vehicle. 

You should never pay a dealer preparation fee. In fact, many automakers actually pay dealers to prep the cars for sale. If you paid a dealer preparation fee, the dealer would essentially be getting paid twice for the service—once from the automaker and once by you. If you see this fee on the paperwork, ask for it to be removed and don’t take no for an answer.

Documentation Fee

documentation fee on paperwork
Dealers will almost always charge you a documentation fee no matter what. 

The documentation fee is usually a non-negotiable fee. It covers the dealer’s cost of processing everything for the sale. Prices for this fee can vary. Some states monitor this fee and put a cap on the amount a dealer can charge but most do not. If you see a documentation fee for over $500, though, make sure the dealer explains why it’s so high. If their reasoning seems dubious, see if they will drove the price of the car down to offset this fee.

Advertising Fee

advertising fee
Make sure you're looking for an advertising fee because it may be negotiable. 

Not every dealer charges an advertising fee, but many do. This common practice passes along the costs of manufacturer advertising to the customer. Manufactures charge dealers a fee for the brand’s national advertising, and the dealer may tack on an advertising fee to the sale of your car. This fee is negotiable. If the dealer will charge you the fee, it needs to be disclosed before you see it on the paperwork. If there’s no discussion of the fee, then you need to bring it up to the salesperson and see if he or she will remove it. If they can’t remove it, try negotiating the cost of the car down the amount you’ll be charged for the advertising fee.

Paint Protection and Rustproofing Fee

paint protection and rustproofing
Paint protection and rustproofing aren't needed. If you pay for it, you're paying for an expensive wax job.

Paint protection and rustproofing used to be important, especially if you lived in the Midwest or some other area of the country with high levels of humidity. As automotive technology has improved, the materials used to build cars and the paint used have significantly improved. They’re now rust resistant. While you can pay for paint protection and rustproofing if you want, in most cases, it’s redundant, and you’re not going to get your money’s worth out of the service. Also, most automakers offer excellent rust and corrosion warranties, so if there were any defects you could simply bring your car back to the dealership and have it fixed.

Interior Stain Protection

interior of a car
Don't pay extra for a special interior protection service. It isn't worth it. 

Modern interior car materials have been designed to withstand the rigors of everyday driving. That means they’re usually fairly stain-resistant already. However, your dealer may offer you a professional interior stain protection treatment for a fee when you purchase the car. While it might sound like a good idea, it’s usually worth it to decline. In most cases, you can get the same level of protection from a simple stain protector purchase at your local supermarket for much cheaper.

Title and Registration Fee

Car license plate
There's nothing you can do about title and registration fees. 

Unfortunately, title and registration fees are non-negotiable. Most dealers have an arrangement with the local Department of Motor Vehicles and can take you through the process of titling and registering your car as well as issuing you a temporary license plate. The fee associated with this is set by the state you live in. However, if you want to be sure you’re not being overcharged, you can call your local DMV to see what how much it should actually cost. Most dealers will not charge you any additional money, but it’s worth checking.