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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 and temporary tag fee in addition.

At CAR 1, our documentation fee is just $149, including the title fee and temp tag, and unlike some dealers, we DON’T charge it twice if you are trading a vehicle in.

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