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Has anyone ever heard of this? A "reconditioning fee" tacked onto a used car price.

Started 1288738231.583 in Viewpoints | Last reply 1288825262 by Schnapsideen

I have been helping my daughter search for a used car. There is a dealer in this area who has a entire chain of dealerships for different car manufacturers. We went to look at a used car at one of these dealerships and I was shocked to see that they add $389.00 "reconditioning fee" to the cost of every used car they have on the lot. When I questioned this fee the salesperson said "Well it cost us money to get the car ready to sell" I said "That is your problem not mine and should be reflected in the cost of the car and not as a additional fee. Also, how can you charge one flat fee when the amount of "reconditioning" that is needed differs from car to car? I told him I would never pay such a fee and he said "Well we can negotiate that". I was so disgusted by what I saw as a blatant attempt to rip off unwary buyers that I told him I would never buy a car from a dealership that operated in that manner. It put such a bad taste in my mouth and my "ripoff antenna" went all the way up. Has anyone ever heard of such a fee in their area?


Deep inside me is a skinny woman crying to get out. I can usually shut her up with cookies!!

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Cindy Shop­per1288738343.3310677 PostsRegistered 11/14/2007

Sounds like a stick to ya fee to me. {#emotions_dlg.thumbdown}

Mama Deb1288738376.072181 PostsRegistered 9/26/2006Central Mississippi

That is absurd, how can it cost the same price to recondition one car and it would another in a totally different shape?

I'd take my business elsewhere.

Good for you for speaking up against this.

~Debi~

colson1288738413.7337436 PostsRegistered 10/23/2007East Coast

Well, a used car salesman living up to his name as a used car salesman.

I would negotiate the price of the car substantially under his asking prices and ultimately you aren't going to be paying that fee!! No way to win a customer over. Of course they have to recondition most cars to sell them, but that is what they do for a living.

clemintine1288738541.23318188 PostsRegistered 11/5/2007C.C.

No, but I haven't bought a used car. That's a lot of $ to vac and wash a car, and I'm willing to bet they don't do much more than that! A set of brakes here and there, maybe. For that fee they'd better include (for free) some kind of a warranty on the exhaust system/brakes and other usual repairs often necessary with used cars.

I HOPE you have a reliable mechanic you can take the car to before you purchase it. It's worth the $, because they don't have a vested interest in you buying the car and will be able to scan it, pull things and see what's it's going to need sooner than later! We do this for our regular customers for free.

KathyPet1288738619.7837860 PostsRegistered 1/25/2006Beautiful Shenandoah Valley of Virginia

Well I just flat out told the salesperson that I would not buy from a dealership that operated in such a manner. Of course I would never pay such a fee but my sense of fairness was really violated. I feel sorry for used car buyers who may not be as savvy about the process who would not know that the fee was a outrageous ripoff and actually pay it.


Deep inside me is a skinny woman crying to get out. I can usually shut her up with cookies!!

purrmom1288738658.7133399 PostsRegistered 5/27/2010Mid-MO

I bet if you refused to pay it, they'd take off BUT it may reappear in another form where they hope you won't notice it. It's as bad as these catalogs that advertise free shipping, but when you check the order form, there is a processing fee, which is described as getting the item ready for shipment, shipping, etc. Excuse me. Isn't that the cost of doing business?

LaterGator1288738708.32710056 PostsRegistered 1/9/2007

That's really strange because the last time we traded in a car, they took off money for our trade-in for reconditioning. So I guess they're getting the fees from the seller and the buyer. I wouldn't pay it. I'm glad you told him no way.

stilltamn8r1288738759.49713482 PostsRegistered 6/14/2006So Cal

They charge it to you anyway, regardless of what they call it- here in CA it is the cost of getting it smogged and certified to sell in this state-

esmerelda1288739249.54313947 PostsRegistered 10/6/2004

I think you did the right thing. If you don't like the deal offered, you should walk away.

Nothing fuels bravery more than the lack of the will to live. ~Lovers at the Chameleon Club, Paris 1932: A Novel (Francine Prose)

BurbankKate1288739329.616188 PostsRegistered 11/18/2007Home of: Disney Studios,W. Bros, Nickelodeon, Cartoon network, media capital of the world

Sounds like you got taken.

- A government big enough to give you everything you want, is then strong enough to take everything you have.
- Thomas Jefferson

kivah1288739505.0833409 PostsRegistered 7/21/2008oxnard, CA

I've been driving my Honda Accord for almost 24 yrs. Have you gone to your local Honda dealer to check out new & used cars? You can also go to Craigslist and the local newspaper to see if you can find a used car from a private party --- but you need to take it to a good mechanic before purchasing. Many older people sell cars with low mileage - which is a good buy.

ennui1288739874.14719957 PostsRegistered 4/17/2007

Reconditioning fees are common. I guess you need to do more homework? A quick Google tells me that reconditioning fees are usually $500 to $1,000 ...

"Calculate trade-ins by deducting the dealer's maintenance costs. Regardless of the condition of your car, many dealers will charge a reconditioning fee of $500 or more."

"The reconditioning fee will cover the cost of a safety check, car detail, smog check certification and other maintenance fees."

The dealership was not trying to rip you off.

"Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things." ~ Robert Brault

BouvierLady1288739948.26810 PostsRegistered 9/3/2006

I worked in dealership business offices for 30 years. In the places I worked, there were reconditioning fees associated with all used cars that varied from car to car depending what needed to be done to them. This was added to the dealer's (and salesman's) cost of the car. It was not something that was presented to the customer as a "fee". Either the price of the car was increased or the profit decreased.

The fee that WAS presented to the customer at times was a certification fee, which was charged by the manufacturer to make the car what they call certified pre-owned. It extends the original warranty period and mileage expiration. It's usually way more than $389 though.

Now, if it's a NEW car and they try to charge you a "prep" fee, that's a rip-off since dealers get reimbursed by the manufacturer for this.

You were quite right to call out the salesman on this and ask for an explanation. If you don't feel comfortable with his explanation, you shouldn't buy from him or his dealership.

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Last edited on 11/2/2010

stilltamn8r1288740168.78713482 PostsRegistered 6/14/2006So Cal
On 11/2/2010 ennui said:

Reconditioning fees are common. I guess you need to do more homework? A quick Google tells me that reconditioning fees are usually $500 to $1,000 ...

"Calculate trade-ins by deducting the dealer's maintenance costs. Regardless of the condition of your car, many dealers will charge a reconditioning fee of $500 or more."

"The reconditioning fee will cover the cost of a safety check, car detail, smog check certification and other maintenance fees."

The dealership was not trying to rip you off.

And here it also includes the cost of running a CAR FAX and title search on the vehicle..Usually it is just all wrapped up into the selling price, but perhaps you are in a state that requires disclosure of all costs...

KathyPet1288740731.6137860 PostsRegistered 1/25/2006Beautiful Shenandoah Valley of Virginia
On 11/2/2010 ennui said:

Reconditioning fees are common. I guess you need to do more homework? A quick Google tells me that reconditioning fees are usually $500 to $1,000 ...

"Calculate trade-ins by deducting the dealer's maintenance costs. Regardless of the condition of your car, many dealers will charge a reconditioning fee of $500 or more."

"The reconditioning fee will cover the cost of a safety check, car detail, smog check certification and other maintenance fees."

The dealership was not trying to rip you off.

If you will carefully read what you wrote you will see that a reconditioning fee is sometimes deducted from the trade in value of the car thus it is a fee that affects the SELLER of the car. It is not a fee that the buyer of the car pays.


Deep inside me is a skinny woman crying to get out. I can usually shut her up with cookies!!

ennui1288740927.5619957 PostsRegistered 4/17/2007
On 11/2/2010 KathyPet said:
On 11/2/2010 ennui said:

Reconditioning fees are common. I guess you need to do more homework? A quick Google tells me that reconditioning fees are usually $500 to $1,000 ...

"Calculate trade-ins by deducting the dealer's maintenance costs. Regardless of the condition of your car, many dealers will charge a reconditioning fee of $500 or more."

"The reconditioning fee will cover the cost of a safety check, car detail, smog check certification and other maintenance fees."

The dealership was not trying to rip you off.

If you will carefully read what you wrote you will see that a reconditioning fee is sometimes deducted from the trade in value of the car thus it is a fee that affects the SELLER of the car. It is not a fee that the buyer of the car pays.

Why shouldn't that cost be passed on? It sounds like many of you seem to think the dealer should lose money on every car. At least they break it out for you.

Think of it this way -- have you noticed that QVC offers free shipping & handling on all food items now? Do you really think they're absorbing those costs?

"Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things." ~ Robert Brault

stilltamn8r1288741222.46313482 PostsRegistered 6/14/2006So Cal
On 11/2/2010 KathyPet said:
On 11/2/2010 ennui said:

Reconditioning fees are common. I guess you need to do more homework? A quick Google tells me that reconditioning fees are usually $500 to $1,000 ...

"Calculate trade-ins by deducting the dealer's maintenance costs. Regardless of the condition of your car, many dealers will charge a reconditioning fee of $500 or more."

"The reconditioning fee will cover the cost of a safety check, car detail, smog check certification and other maintenance fees."

The dealership was not trying to rip you off.

If you will carefully read what you wrote you will see that a reconditioning fee is sometimes deducted from the trade in value of the car thus it is a fee that affects the SELLER of the car. It is not a fee that the buyer of the car pays.

OK, Kathy, but don't forget that car dealers are in the business to make a proft, they are not just middle men, trying to break even to unload vehicles- That is what the auctions are for- If you want a better deal, buy from a private parrty, who have no overhead, employees, no advertising, no service dept to help you when you have a problem, and no DMV clerks to save you the trip to get it registered- THAT is always a better deal-

KathyPet1288741645.767860 PostsRegistered 1/25/2006Beautiful Shenandoah Valley of Virginia

The reconditioning fee should not be passed on to the BUYER if the SELLER of the car had this fee deducted from the trade in value of the car. Are you saying it is OK to charge both the buyer and the seller a fee so that both pay for the same thing????

Also why is is OK to charge a flat fee to recondition a car when some cars might need $100.00 worth of work to get it ready to sell and another car might cost $500.00 worth of work to get it ready to sell. Why should I pay a flat fee for work that the car I am interested in might not even have had done to it.

If they want to get paid for preparing a car for sale then add it into the price of the car. Don't try to stick it to me as a "fee".


Deep inside me is a skinny woman crying to get out. I can usually shut her up with cookies!!

lulu21288741658.21720766 PostsRegistered 8/1/2007

A family member owns a car dealership. The used car prep fee is included in the selling price. We've traded in a lot of cars and have never been charged a fee for the dealer to "clean-up" our car for resale.

2000surviv­or1288742128.251762 PostsRegistered 1/20/2008Arkansas
If they deduct it from what they pay for the car, then charge for it when they sell the car, isn't that double dipping? I see it that way because when it is deducted from what the dealer pays to the seller the dealer has not invested the cost of reconditioning the vehicle; yet they expect the person they sell it to, to pay them for reconditioning. If the buyer pays the dealer, does the dealer then pass that money back to the person they bought the vehicle from? Who by the way paid the reconditioning fee when the dealer deducted it from his purchase price? I bet not!

KathyPet1288748183.3377860 PostsRegistered 1/25/2006Beautiful Shenandoah Valley of Virginia

We have looked at cars at 4 other dealerships that are not part of this particular chain and not a single one of them charged a separate "reconditioning fee"

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Last edited on 11/2/2010

Last edited on 11/2/2010


Deep inside me is a skinny woman crying to get out. I can usually shut her up with cookies!!

Nightowlz1288748721.6539206 PostsRegistered 10/6/2004

Sounds like a Rip-Off Fee. I would not pay it either. What will they come up with next? I'm sure any reconditioning that was done would be reflected in the price of the car.

“If there are no dogs in Heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went.” Will Rogers

KathyPet1288789156.6177860 PostsRegistered 1/25/2006Beautiful Shenandoah Valley of Virginia

When I saw that fee my "rip off antenna" went to full mast. Now even though the salesperson assured me we could "negotiate" the fee my gut is telling me if they are trying to rip me off with this fee then I can't trust them to deal with me in a honest manner. That immediately put a negative vibe in my mind and colored my view point of that dealer thinking that they could not be trusted. So they lost a sale from me. I wonder how many other potential buyers have the same reaction and walk away from the dealership without buying because of that "fee". If they need to spend a lot of $ to get a car ready to sell then the asking price for the car needs to reflect that not a separate fee tacked onto all cars automatically.


Deep inside me is a skinny woman crying to get out. I can usually shut her up with cookies!!

imaclothes­hog1288789628.05721190 PostsRegistered 2/12/2006

Well even if they don't call it that, all dealerships add that into the price of the vehicle. It costs them a certain dollar amount, to refurbish the car, clean it out, fix any dents, change the oil, etc.etc. before they put it on the lot to sell it. So the reconditioning fee might be called something else by a dealership or not be on there at all, and that cost is just added into the price you see on the sticker, but it is still there.

The car dealerships can not make any money on used cars if they do not do this, it costs them money to pay their employees to work on the car and get it in the best condition to sell it. Dealers do not make much money on used cars anyway, and the price that you see on the sticker is elevated a certain percentage to figure in the "haggle" amount, the price that they are willing to come down on to make you think you are getting a great deal. They always end up with what they want for the car, in the end anyway and there is no way they are going to lose money on the cars on their lots.

When a dealer accepts a used car as a trade-in they evaluate the car and what kind of shape it's in. If it is in good shape they will give you more for the car, bad shape, less for the car. This trade-in value is based on how much work they think they will have to do on the car, to get it ready for re-sell.

"If you can't make it better, you can laugh at it". ~Erma Bombeck

millieshops1288790225.4714488 PostsRegistered 3/15/2007

If you can find a used car of similar mileage, condition, etc. elsewhere you should definitely walk. If you can't, sorry to say, I'd swallow my pride and buy the car. What does it matter what they call the fees - in the end, it's the total price that counts.

My last two cars have been used. I negotiated the total price, not the various fees and made it clear to the salesman that I would walk if anything except state required taxes and fees were added once we reached an agreement. For me, that was the only way I could decide which car made the best price sense.

I absolutely detest add-ons like the fee OP saw. They're gimmicks to make the naive think the car is less expensive than it really is! Then again, I also dislike the gimmicks retailers use to brag about having the lowest price on an item when the difference is less than a dollar on something costing hundreds.

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