Just As I Thought

The Wacky World of California

Here’s another example of the culture shock I’m still exposed to here in California.

I bought my Audi in November. I paid the full registration fee, and this morning, three months later, I received my license plates.

And they expire in 2 months.

As far as I can figure out, in California when one registers a car for the first time — when it is new — that becomes the registration renewal date on that car forever. The original owner of my car registered it for the first time in April, so even though I bought it and registered it in my name in November, the renewal date is in April.

So, why didn’t the registration fee get pro-rated to reflect this shortened registration period? I paid more than $200 to register the car, and will have to pay that again in 2 months.

Why, oh why, is California so complicated and bureaucratic? What is so difficult about resetting the registration on the car so that it expires in November, when I bought it?

As much as I detest the red state attitude of Virginia, I really miss its simplicities… all you folks back in Virginia who complain about the DMV should try living in California for a while.


  • $200 bucks to register??? WTF!

    damn! it cost me $45 to title my mustang, and if i had tagged it as well, it would have cost about 75 total… wow…

  • Well, the cost of registering a car would certainly be less if we had more toll roads like one finds back east.

  • Yes, it may have cost you $45 but how much was your property tax tag? In Cali, we don’t have property tax fees on the car per se – they kinda make up for it in registration fees. Back in VA, my tags were low too, but my property tax fees were 4.5% of the blue book value of the car. It seems that cops will stop you first if your property tax tag was expired vs your DMV tag being expired. But I do still miss living back East….

  • The point here is that they charged me for a full year’s registration fee, but only gave me 6 months of registration. The cost irrelevant.

    Back in Virginia, the personal property tax is still in place, but significantly reduced from what it used to be. In Arlington, I paid about $35 for my plates, then $200 for property taxes. It’s the same in California, but they lump it into one registration fee.

  • I always thought Alaska was behind the times but on this it seems we had everybody beat. Like Seattle the renewal fee is based on the value of the car so a brand new Lexus was more than my 10 year old Civic. I paid $35 . The new Lexus might have been $200? I wouldn’t know? I could only afford 10 year old civics.

    With a new car.
    You went in to renew and you picked up new plates and new tags while you were there. No waiting

    On a used car
    You only paid a title transfer fee, not the plates. Unless they were due within 6 months. Then you paid the registration fee adding a year on top of the remaining months. Tags due in 2 months? You paid the two months plus a year. That way you didn’t buy the car then show up two months later for new tags.

    If the tags were due in more than 6 months then you just came in when they were due.

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