Car buying in the DC area

I am thinking of getting a new car, specifically a plug-in hybrid (likely Volt), in the DC region. I live in MD but have heard that cars are just cheaper in VA. I looked up the Virginia tax and it’s 4.05% (according to this page The VA DMV page indicates the tax “s collected at the time of titling whenever a vehicle is sold and/or ownership of the motor vehicle changes”. This is a little unclear if the tax will be collected at the purchase or not. Maryland has a 6% tax, but that is collected at the DMV when you get your title.

Anyone have experience buying a car in VA while titling it and living in MD? Are there other state (or District) specific costs I should be worried about?


You don’t pay sales tax on where you purchase a vehicle. You pay sales tax on where you register the vehicle.

If the difference in sales tax is a deal breaker then you should not be looking at a new car.

Thanks, Mike. That’s what I thought but wanted to double check.

@Volvo - The ~2% difference isn’t a deal breaker, but if VA took their tax at the sale in VA and MD took another tax at registration in MD then the effective rate would have been 10.05%. So the negotiated price difference would have to make up for it in order for a VA car to be a better purchase for me.

I’m sure that a VA dealer is used to selling to MD buyers. Make sure that they will collect MD taxes and fees, and take care of getting your temporary registration. You can find out on line what the asking price at any dealer is for the cars in stock. Go to Chevrolet and any other manufacturer you want to check out then click on the fine a dealer button. You will enter your ZIP code and mileage from home you want to search. Then look at new dealer stock for the Volt, Prius, or any other car you want the asking price of. We found when my daughter bought her Cruze that the Internet price and asking price at the dealer were the same, or at least the salesman was wiling to meet the Internet price. There are two thoughts about dealer pricing. One is that a rural location reduces real estate and possibly other costs that the dealer can pass on to you. The other is that large city dealerships have better discounts because they make up the difference in operating costs with volume. I have found that dealerships with high volume tend to cost less. Note also that a dealer that operates in NOVA might have another dealership in MD, say in Annapolis, Frederic, or Baltimore. Koons does that and Autonation might too.

@jtsanders Thanks. The prices on the makers website were similar for the same options. I’ll just have to visit a couple and see which is easier to negotiate with.

And test drive a car at each dealership. They don’t want you to drive long at all. If the car goes over 400 miles, it is a used car as far as the manufacturer is concerned. If a car has more than 50 miles, a lot of people won’t buy it. You can make up for that with several short drives in different driving conditions.