Help with out of state car registration


I’m kind of in a pickle right now and not sure what to do. Here is the story.

I was living in California and I am planning on moving to Washington. Before leaving to head to Washington my car had finally hit the bucket and it was cheaper to buy a new one then to fix it. So I bought another car from a private seller and I currently have the pink slip that he signed. I was planning on registering it in Washington as soon as I found a place (was staying in a hotel for awhile). Anyways things didn’t work out as planned, I still hadn’t found a place and decided to go stay with family in East cost for a month or two and then head back once I found a place.

So I’m not sure how to register the car, should I wait until I find a place. Any ideas?

I do have full insurance on the car.

I thought about registering it in Californian but there is a couple issues. 1) I’m all the way on the east cost at the moment and 2) on the way here my cat converter started making nose so I don’t think it would pass the California smog anymore without paying 1k for a new cat.

Any thoughts?

Thank you in advance and sorry for my English

You’re asking the wrong people. You should be asking the motor vehicle departments of the states that you wish to perform these transactions in.

Cat converter making noise? What kind of noise? How did you determine that the noise is being created by the cat converter?

If you don’t have a place in California now, it seems to me that your legal residence is your relative’s house (especially if your mail is being forwarded there). As such, there’s probably a rule for how long you can drive there before you have to register your car in that state. You’re probably best to register (and insure) your car in that state now. When (or if) you move back to California, then worry about that at that point. The drawback is that you’ll probably lose some of your registration money, assuming you can’t get a pro-rated refund in your state.

On another note, catalytic converters don’t normally make noise. Can you give more details on what you’re hearing?

If you keep driving without plates you’re going to get ticketed so waiting could be expensive in fines. How do you even insure a car not titled or registered in your name? Anyway you first need to transfer title to your name. Many states tax this transaction. What state are you living in now? Makes a big difference on Right coast. Then, to get plates you have to register it. Again most states require same thing as CA to register; safety and emission inspection. Not likely to get an reprieve on the cat issue…

That’s the problem, he has no home right now. Kind of a nomad. Left Cali for Washington then to the east coast and maybe back to Washington sometime. We aren’t set up for people not to have a relatively longer term home. But like said, I think you probably should take the east coast address and change your plates and driver’s license for the time being. It’ll cost more but simplify things when you finally settle.

Since you purchased the car in Calif, from a Calif seller, my expectation is that you will have to register this car in Calif first. Then you’ll transfer the title and registration to Washington. The DMV’s of both states will either confirm this, or offer up what your options are. You can probably do this by proxy, if you know someone in Calif who will run the paperwork around for you. There will probably be some overnight FedEx-ing involved.

Find out if in fact you are required to register the car in Calif first. If so, then post back and the folks here will likely have some ideas for how to address the emissions issue.

You are talking about Washington AC and not Washington DC, right?

A friend of mine took his 20 year old Cessna to Seattle Washington when he moved there about 25 years ago. He’d bought it here in a private sale six years earlier, and had not had to pay sales tax on the purchase. The wonderful state of Washington assessed him their FULL amount of sales tax because Washington required STATE registration of aircraft. His home state (mine) only requires federal registration of planes, and no state sales tax on a private sale.

Do you think he got a refund on the sales tax when he moved back? Of course not.

My warning is this: Check with Washington state DMV to see if you will be required to pay sales tax, possibly there and wherever else you may temporarily reside and/or register the car. I don’t know if their laws are different on planes and cars, or even if they remain the same today, but it’s worth checking on.

If you register a car in NY, you need an insurance card with a NY policy and you will have to pay 2 years registration plus a seperate plate fee because you don’t already have NY plates. You will then be given a 10 day permit to give you time to get a NY safety and emissions inspection. If you stay less than a year you can get the second year refunded after you turn in the plates ( you can mail them in)

What state are you living in NOW? What kind of plates are on the car NOW? Do you have a TITLE for the car?

Do not assume that a noise means the converter is bad. Maybe it’s nothing more than a cracked or loose heat shield which is a fairly common problem on any car.

That can often be remedied with a tack weld, a few sheet metal screws, or in some cases a few strategically placed dings with a ball peen hammer.