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What Are Car Dealership Documentation Fees?

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A recent post on an automotive website began like this:

“Pen in hand, you review the sales contract before signing for your new car. It all looks good except for one mysterious figure: the documentation fee or “doc fee.” In some states, this will be less than $100. But in others it can be higher than $700. What, exactly, are you getting for your money? And do you really have to pay this fee?”

This is a question too few buyers ask.

The dealer charges a documentation fee in exchange for filling out and filing paperwork for the car you are purchasing, as well as the vehicle you are trading (if applicable). This is a complicated process involving many different state and federally-mandated forms, and culminates with a trip to the Clerk of Courts office.

Dealers in Ohio are allowed to charge a maximum $250 documentation fee, or 10% of the purchase price, whichever is less, and they often tack on the state’s title fee, temporary tag fee, notary fee and more in addition.

At CAR 1, our documentation fee is just $199, including the title fee, temp tag, notary, and unlike some dealers, we DON’T charge it twice if you are trading a vehicle in.

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