Why Is Car Registration So Expensive In California? (7 Reasons Why)

If you are living in or planning to move to California, you are probably aware of how expensive it is to register a car in this western part of the US.

But owning a car in California means that you need to undergo this process. So, find out more about how vehicle registration costs in California have skyrocketed!

Why Is Car Registration So Expensive In California?

Car registration in California is expensive due to various factors such as weight certificates, smog inspections, license plates, and so on. In addition, the insurance company, the vehicle’s value, and the cost of living. Since there’ll be extra charges from all these processes, the total car registration amount has become pretty expensive.

Want to learn more about why car registration in California is so expensive? Here are seven reasons why. Continue reading!

1. California Has High Costs Of Living

The cost of living has dramatically increased due to development and modernization in California; everything from food and rent to bus fares is affected by the high cost of living.

As everyone knows, California is one of the states in the US where the cost of living is high and has the highest income tax among all states, making everything expensive.

Of course, everything is affected, so expect that the car registration is involved too, resulting in an even more expensive registration process than in other states.

2. Car Insurance Provider

The car insurance cost will vary depending on the provider, the type of your car, and its overall value; the higher the value of your vehicle is, the more premium you’ll pay in insurance.

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That said, the registration charge will be affected by the type of insurance provider you have for your vehicle because driving a car in California requires proper insurance.

So, if a respected insurance firm does not cover your vehicle, the authorities will charge you a higher auto registration price.

3. The Value Of The Vehicle

The value of a newer vehicle is usually pretty high when you buy it in California. For example, it can be far over $40,000 for people who have acquired something like a new SUV or truck.

Of course, it will substantially impact how the registration fees are calculated.

That said, if you drive a high-end vehicle, you will pay a premium price over the rest. So, the bigger the vehicle’s value, the higher the registration charge.

4. Smog Inspections

Smog Inspections

Every car in California is subjected to a smog inspection; of course, passing the smog test is a requirement for being approved for registration.

Also, if your car doesn’t pass the inspection, you cannot register or renew your registration; to make sure that your vehicle will pass the test, you’ll need to spend money on it.

As a result, thorough smog inspection influences the total registration costs that every car owner has to shoulder.

5. License Plates

A license plate accounts for around 0.65% of the value of your vehicle.

Since the registration authority requires using the most recent license plates to help the authority identify your vehicle, you must provide and pay for it.

Furthermore, the license plates must contain the latest registration sticker so that no one can get away with using fake ones.

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6. The Overall Registration Process

Regardless of where you bought your car, you must register it in California if you intend to drive it there.

Further, the procedures for buying a car from a dealership differ from a private party.

Of course, dealerships usually make the process easier by providing a temporary registration card, and you can use this card until you get your official registration card from the DMV.

7. People’s Willingness To Pay

You will hardly see a drop in registration fees as long as people continue to pay for it.

Therefore, there is unlikely to be a change or reduction in fees until people quit registering their vehicles because it cost too expensive.

As a result, because so many vehicles are registered daily, you won’t have much luck convincing the state to cut down their rates.

To know more, you can also read our posts on why insurance is so expensive for teenage drivers, why motorcycle insurance is so cheap, and why car insurance is so expensive for seniors.


Car registration in California becomes expensive because of several factors such as the high cost of living, the value of your car, and your chosen car insurance provider.

Along with these factors are the smog test, the need to have a license plate, and of course, the willingness of people to pay no matter how expensive the registration might have become.

Lastly, the overall process of car registration affects how costly it will become.

1 thought on “Why Is Car Registration So Expensive In California? (7 Reasons Why)”

  1. Greedy bastards is what they are. People with more expenisve cars are already paying too much for their car and gas and insurance . Every car should be the same registration price of 50$ like it is in canada.


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