Negotiating price on 09 Forester, and what comes next?



I’m in the process of negotiating a deal on an '09 Subaru Forester, but had a couple of questions and hope someone will be able to help.

1. The dealer is trying to charge me tax on the doc and destination fees? Is that normal (I’m in CA)? I didn’t think these were taxable, only the cost of the car itself.

2. Once I’ve said yes to a deal, what happens then? How long is it normally before taking delivery on the car? What’s the process normally like?

I’ve been driving my 99 Civic since I was 18 so this is the first car I’ve actually negotiated without parental input. That first car was a lease, so I drove it off the lot the same day, but I was under the impression that that’s not how it works when you pay cash.

Thanks in advance for your help.


The anxiety caused by being forced to pay cash for a new car is something that I have yet to experience. Its the loan process that causes me to sweat. This is like graduating from bussiness school and not being able to write a resume.


Contact the Cali DMV and ask them what taxes are due on.


Couple of things: If you have not closed the deal yet, hold off. First thing you should do is research the vehicle you want to buy with the options that you want on it. Do your homework on the internet or at the library to determine what a fair price is. And fair means to you and to the dealer. Next, go to your lender, (bank or credit union) and determine the terms of the loan, e.g., interest rate, number of months, monthly payment, whether a down payment is needed.

Next, decide if you’re going to trade in your old car. If you do, be prepared to get a lot less for it than you think it’s worth. Again, do you’re homework and determine what the trade-in value for your car is. A lot will depend on its condition and the number of miles on it. Decide what you will have to get for your car and, again, the idea is to be fair to yourself and to the dealer.

If you’re not sure what portion of the sale price is taxable, you need to check with your state’s department of revenue; they will tell you. In my state, documentation and other related services are NOT taxable. Now that you have done your homework, you are ready to negotiate with the dealer.

Find a dealer with the car you want on his lot. That means you’ll have it the day the deal is closed and you will have some additional leverage to negotiate; the dealer will want to move it rather that order a car from the factory. Test drive the car to your satisfaction; try it out under all scenarios you will be using it, (highway, hills, twisty-windy roads. When you’re sure you want it, you’re ready to negotiate the price.

Some tips to follow during the negotiations: (1) - NEVER give them your driver’s license, credit card, a check or the keys to your trade-in to show your “good faith”. That is a tactic used by dealers to keep you talking and the longer you are there, the more you will pay. Your good-faith negotiations should be enough. If the dealer doesn’t like that, then simply leave; (2) - Stick to your deal! Be prepared to walk out if you can’t close the deal for your fair price. You will be absolutely surprised how many salesmen will run after you rather than let a sale walk out the door; (3)- buy toward the end of the month or a quarter when sales quotas are calculated; you might find the dealer more willing to close a deal on your terms.

Buying a new car can be fun if you do your homework and are ready to pass on a car that you cannot get for your terms.

Good luck.


I understand why leasing would be stressful. You have to negotiate both the car price and terms of lease or loan. Wasn’t thrilled with the lease set up on my Honda when I was younger, hence saving up the cash to pay for the car outright. At least now I only have one thing to worry about. =P


I had been checking the DMV website before asking and couldn’t find the info buried anywhere within the thousands of pages of vehicle code, etc. Finally found out that document fees are considered a service and so are taxable (at least CA limits the amount that can be charged to $55). Destination is also taxable b/c it’s considered part of the overall cost of the vehicle. Thanks for helping point me in the right direction.


I started researching about 6 months ago and had finally decided last month to go for the CRV b/c the Forester didn’t have side curtain airbags. Then the 2009s started hitting the lots with the SCAs, and I went for a test drive and decided I liked the Subaru better.

My problem is that I want the base 2.5x with just the premium package, but ALL the dealerships within 100 miles of me have added $500-$1000 MSRP in dealer installed accessories to ALL the 2.5x prems. So short of ordering a car and waiting weeks for delivery, I’m having to negotiate for one of the cars available on lot. I could just order, but I have a 2nd child due at the end of Aug and would prefer to have the new car before then.

I saved up enough cash to pay for the car outright so I didn’t have to negotiate a lease or loan or a trade-in. The dealers aren’t going to give me what I want for my 99 Civic anyway, even though it’s in good condition and has 83400 miles on it. I live in an area where more than 50% of people commute 20 miles or more one way to work. I can get twice as much (or more) for my car as a private sale rather than as a trade-in.

I’ve only been to the dealership twice, once to look at the Outback, once to look at the Forester, but think I’m getting a good deal (though I’m waiting for some additional quotes from other dealerships to see if I can get a better one…so far, I haven’t). I’ve been doing almost all of my negotiating through email so far.

Basically, this is what they are offering me (including destination):

MSRP (w/o options): $24160
MSRP (w/ options): $25042
Invoice (w/o options): $22744
Invoice (w/ options): $23186

OFFER: $22599

I figured before the offer the best I could do is $22655 w/o options ($22744 invoice - $751 holdback + $662 3% profit). The guy had mentioned $3000 off MSRP, which would make the car $22042, but I haven’t found any mention of that anywhere.

I think the terms are already good, I just would prefer to get the car under $22000 so that my total out of pocket cost is under $24000.