How to Calculate Automobile Price With Tax & License in California

by Diane Hansen
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hundreds of new cars waiting for their owners image by Stephen Gibson from

It can be hard to figure out just how much a new car is going to cost. Sure, the sticker price says $12,130, but by the time you sign the loan disclosure, the bottom line has jumped to more than $14,000. Doing some research can help to lessen the surprise. Knowing the tax and licensing fees can help you find a car that meets your budget.

Step 1

Identify the vehicle you want to buy. Search the Internet for the invoice cost and MSRP of that vehicle if it is new. If the vehicle is used, look at the NADA guide or the Kelley Blue Book. This will give you an idea of the high and low range of price for your vehicle.

Step 2

Visit the California Department of Motor Vehicles' website. Find the Vehicle Registration Fee Calculator and select the type of vehicle you want fees and tax information for. The choices are "new," "used" and "nonresident."

Step 3

Fill out the online form with the relevant information and select "Calculate Fees." You will be presented with the fees based on location of vehicle and type of vehicle. In Los Angeles County, the total fees and taxes are typically about 10 percent to 11 percent of the purchase price for a gas-powered car.

Step 4

Add the fees and tax from Step 4 to the agreed purchase price of the vehicle, and you will have your total.

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