A new State of California bill is now in effect that raises vehicle documentation fees charged by dealers on every new and used car purchase or lease. For new and used vehicle purchases, that mandatory fee now goes up to $80 (from $55), while leased vehicles will also bring $80 in documentation fees, up from $45.
While no one likes an increase in fees, California Bill AB 1215 (full text here) also includes a couple of key new consumer protections. First, dealers are now required to submit new or used vehicle registrations electronically at the time of purchase. This means you’ll be protected from fraud, and get your license plates and tags sooner.
More importantly, the bill introduces a new system for easy consumer identification of cars carrying salvage or other types of “branded titles,” given to cars that have been heavily damaged by collision or natural disaster, junked or returned under lemon laws. All used car dealers are now required to check each vehicle in the National Motor Vehicle Title Information System.
Any car offered for sale in California state with a salvage or branded title will now display a red window sticker (above), warning consumers of its title status. Seeing wide support from law enforcement agencies and consumer groups, the new bill goes a long way toward consumer peace of mind, despite the fee increase.