The Big Truck ClusterTr**k

Don’t buy a vehicle out of state, but if you do, handle the registration yourself.

Back in July I bought a new 5th wheel RV and a 2012 Ford F350 diesel truck to tow it. I was in Bend Oregon and my legal residence at the time was Arizona, though I don’t really live anywhere in particular. Over the years I’ve bought, well I don’t even know how many vehicles, but I do know registration was never a thing I needed to worry about, until now.

Both the RV dealer and the Ford dealer told me they’d process the registration for me. Four weeks later I got a letter from each with a refund of my sales tax and registration fee and a note that said they decided not to do the registration. WTF!? I’m driving around with no registration.

At least the RV dealer sent me the title so I could register the 5th wheel. When I got to South Dakota I changed my residence and registered the 5th wheel.

Not so with the Ford. The dealer said they sent the title to the DMV. Looking back, that should have been a clue, since Arizona has a MVD not a DMV, but of course I didn’t pick up on that. I tried to register the truck in Arizona by mail (can’t do new registration online) and after 7 weeks, MVD sent me a letter saying they don’t have my title. It took the Ford dealer another 2 weeks to figure out that they’d sent the title to an auto title agency in Phoenix and I’d have to go there in person to get it. At this point I’ve driven through Oregon, Washington, Montana, Wyoming, South Dakota, Utah and Nevada with no plates on the truck. 14 weeks stressing out over driving, thinking I’m going to wind up with the truck impounded.

Off to Phoenix. The title agency is only a block from the UPS store that handles my mail. They would have given me the title and I could have sent it in to South Dakota saving some money on sales tax and registration, but I couldn’t take it any more so I registered the truck in Arizona and walked out with a license plate. Now I get to tell the story of the vehicle registration clustertr**k to everyone who wanders up wondering why my plates are from different states :).

It’s the Little Things

Cake.  Just drive 2,100 miles, spending $800 on diesel, get two emissions tests and whoomp there it is!


Rattling Drive from Tucson

The short drive from Tucson to the Valley was a little tense. I’d just had Roamward Bound washed and waxed so naturally there was light rain and blowing dust all the way. I’d just bought new wipers and they were in the storage bay, safe from the rain. Add to that, there seemed to be a saturation patrol going on with county and DPS cruisers every two miles, and I have a suspended registration. Of course they weren’t really looking for me, they had plenty of speeding cars and trucks to pull over.

When I went to the emission testing station in Phoenix on Saturday, the techs had a hard time – the computer showed I’d already gotten a passing test. I explained that I couldn’t register the vehicle because the test was done in Tucson (manager’s comment – “…that’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard…”). After some fiddling and a manager override, they were able to retest and got the exact same result. I avoided the MVD wait this time by going to one of the contractor offices and got my precious sticker.

I’m heading to Flagstaff later in the week to see Kylee at NAU.

More MVD Fun

Roamward Bound in bay 35) getting roof seal maintenance.
Roamward Bound in bay 35) getting roof seal maintenance.

I’m spending a little time in Tucson again to finish sucking every last cent I have the maintenance they didn’t get to in Tampa. Since I’m here for a couple of weeks I thought I could take care of the emissions test and registration.

Not So Fast

I took Roamward Bound to an emissions test facility and it passed, so I took my certificate to the MVD office and …

No you cannot register a vehicle with a Phoenix address and a Tucson emission test. Why? You can’t. Why can’t you? Because you can’t. (Since I’d already waited more than two hours to get to the window, I felt it was OK to keep this up for a good twenty minutes, but I’ll spare you the text).

Seriously, window agent, supervisor, manager, the totality of their explanation is “you can’t.” ¬†They couldn’t show me any documentation of that, publicly accessible or internal. Just “you can’t.”

Getting its shine on.  What's the right tip for a 7 hour, 4 man, car wash?
Getting its shine on. What’s the right tip for a 7 hour, 4 man, car wash?


After 10 weeks of trying, I’ve been unable to get the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality to grant me an out of state exemption from emissions testing so that I can renew the registration on Roamward Bound. Now my registration isn’t just late, it’s suspended. No problem, it’s only 2000 miles, $800 or so in diesel and Arizona will be able to test that I’m not generating pollution in metro Phoenix.

In any case I’m heading west. At a stop outside Pensacola there was a bit of rain …

There was six inches of standing water during the downpour in Pensacola.  Yes, the Tailgater satellite dish still works.
There was six inches of standing water during the downpour in Pensacola. Yes, the Tailgater satellite dish still works.

Hmmm, Tactical Flaw

Sunrise at Western Lake
Sunrise at Western Lake

Glad this was the one pic of twenty that came out good today. Not a day to have soup.

I seem to have made an 1800+ mile tactical error. The registration for Roamward Bound is up in January and an emissions test is required. The closest station seems to be about a nine day drive and $700 in fuel away.

Meanwhile, when I returned from the beach I found a park ranger warning on the door for dog noise (dogs are not allowed on the beach). I could say the neighbors were cranky, but actually I could here her a 100 yards away.