Arizona consumers should watch out for documentation fees when buying a vehicle

PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) – Buying a car can be both exciting and frustrating. Once you think you’ve arrived at the price you can afford, you’re hit with what’s called a “documentation fee.”

“It’s something a dealership charges for handling the paperwork,” Ron Montoya, consumer advice editor at, said From your side. “You really can’t negotiate it. You just have to pay it.

Montoya said consumers are shocked when they think they’ve made a deal on a car only to find hundreds of dollars added to the bottom of the deal. In other words, you’re essentially paying the dealership to buy the car. If the application fee is impacting your purchase, he suggests trying to renegotiate the price of the car to offset the fee. However, this can be difficult since the automotive industry is in a “seller’s market”.

Median documentation fees here in Arizona total nearly $500, Montoya said. “The median, which is the average amount people pay, is about $499 for Arizona based on our data,” Montoya said. “It’s something most people don’t know about, so it’s something you’ll probably want to ask early on so you’re not caught off guard.”

Arizona car buyers don’t have the same luxuries as other residents of the state. Some states have limits on these fees. For example, in California, dealerships cannot charge more than $80. “There’s no limit in Arizona,” Montoya said. He says that in theory, dealers can charge whatever they want. When it comes to documentation fees, think of it as the cost of doing business with a dealership. Remember that there is no documentation fee when buying from a private seller, and there is no sales tax either.

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