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marcapra

Is it legal to tow a non-running unregistered car?

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I live in California and was wondering if it's legal to transport a non-running car on a car transport where the wheels are not touching the street if it is not currently registered?  or do I need to get a one day permit to transport it?  Thanks, Marc.

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May depend on the state but in Florida, if it is in/on a trailer or even on a tow dolly, it does not need to be registered or have a plate.

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I live also in California and am an attorney since the 1980s. If the car is not being driven then do not worry. "Don't worry about the horse being blind. Just load the wagon". If an expensive vehicle you might want to  have some insurance in case the car is destroyed in transit. 

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Posted (edited)

I always heard that as long as the car's wheels are not touching the roadway the car does not need to be licensed or even insured.

Friend in high school's Dad had a used car lot so we transported non-running, non-registered cars pretty regular and that was the rule we always went by.

But if it was a runner we had the option of just slapping a Dealer plate on it and driving it.

Edited by zepher (see edit history)

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1 hour ago, marcapra said:

I live in California and was wondering if it's legal to transport a non-running car on a car transport where the wheels are not touching the street if it is not currently registered?  or do I need to get a one day permit to transport it?  Thanks, Marc.

 

Marc,

 

Your thread title says “ tow “.

 

If you actually tow a vehicle - by definition at least one axle with wheels

is making contact with the road.

 

You would need to get a permit unless you were a licensed tow operator 

engaged in business and you would be ill advised to not have insurance 

on the towed vehicle.

 

If a wheel comes off - or a body part flies off - you are liable.

 

 

Jim

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No problem if no wheel (other than the trailer) is on the ground--except for the flying debris issue, of course.  I transported a 1925 parts chassis on an open trailer from central Oregon to the Bay Area, but made sure to tarp-and-tie any areas where stuff might come loose.

 

Trulyvintage, he indeed said "tow" in the title but the text of his question clarified that he intends to "transport" on (presumably) another vehicle such as car trailer or rollback.

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I live also in California and am an attorney since the 1980s. If the car is not being driven then do not worry. "Don't worry about the horse being blind. Just load the wagon"

  Well, it looks like we have some opposing views here.  I got out my Non-operated Vehicle Notice, and it says "Before operating, parking, or towing this vehicle on the streets or highways ... renew the registration."  But if the definition of tow is one or more axles' wheels are contacting the road, I think I'm OK if the car is up on a U-Haul Auto Transport.  After all, I've seen flatbed trucks carrying crushed cars, and I doubt they are currently registered!  Marc.

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Posted (edited)

Not really opposing views--it's all about the definition of "towing."  To me (and I think the Pipples' Republik) "towing" means one or more wheels of the unregistered is/are of the public street, road, or highway.  This is not the case if the unregistered vehicle is on a car trailer, rollback, flatbed, etc.  In such a case, the unregistered vehicle is merely cargo.

Edited by Grimy
clarification (see edit history)
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I think you're right on, Grimy!  Thanks, Marc.  I also saw that in California there is such a thing as a one day permit to move an unregistered car, which might include towing. 

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It's been 30 years, but I had to get a one-day moving permit to flat-tow (within town, only 10 miles) a long-wheelbase 1939 Cadillac which wouldn't fit on my open car trailer of the time (I've since upgraded...)

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Posted (edited)

I have hauled non-running junk cars without registration using a tow dolly, such that the rear wheels would be riding on the road. That includes the Alfa Romeo in my "avatar." I have been told it is not legal here in California but did it anyway. I was not stopped, but if I were would have plead ignorance.

 

Completely off the ground on a trailer; no problem.

 

It is a good question you pose though. It is not beyond the realm of possibilities that they would even want a car on a trailer registered.

 

Edited by mike6024 (see edit history)

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Califunny is SO wonderful! (Excuse me now while I go puke!) Because they are so efficient and reliable (retch), I have several times had to fight with the state,  a few fights that lasted for years, over state errors claiming my legally "non-oped" vehicle had been seen on a public street. No matter that my legally non-oped vehicle had never been within a hundred miles of the location, or that my vehicle was a Chevrolet while the offending vehicle was clearly noted as being a Dodge (one time was a Toyota!). The state offered NO recourse other than to pay nearly a thousand dollars in fees and penalties for what was CLEARLY a bookkeeping error on their part!

The one bright (?????) spot is they have made me almost an expert on one thing. ABSOLUTELY NO (nada, none!) part of an unregistered vehicle is allowed to touch the ground on any part of a public roadway! But you can haul almost anything on a legally licensed car hauler/trailer, provided it is loaded on private property.

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Boy, I'm just glad I don't live in CA!

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 FYI, A tow dolly (for placing one axle of a car on the dolly) does not have to be registered if there is no car on it.

 If there is a car on it, the car must be registered.

 

 This in not to say that you will not be stopped by a policeman that does not know the law, thinking that it is a trailer.

 

By law, it is not a trailer.

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If it is on (not touching the ground) a trailer or truck you are fine.  More states are putting in place a net/cover clause if parts could come off, might be Federal rule?  You will need a bill of sale if you cross state lines (Federal Offence if you can not prove ownership).

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8 hours ago, wayne sheldon said:

Califunny is SO wonderful! (Excuse me now while I go puke!) Because they are so efficient and reliable (retch), I have several times had to fight with the state,  a few fights that lasted for years, over state errors claiming my legally "non-oped" vehicle had been seen on a public street. No matter that my legally non-oped vehicle had never been within a hundred miles of the location, or that my vehicle was a Chevrolet while the offending vehicle was clearly noted as being a Dodge (one time was a Toyota!). The state offered NO recourse other than to pay nearly a thousand dollars in fees and penalties for what was CLEARLY a bookkeeping error on their part!

The one bright (?????) spot is they have made me almost an expert on one thing. ABSOLUTELY NO (nada, none!) part of an unregistered vehicle is allowed to touch the ground on any part of a public roadway! But you can haul almost anything on a legally licensed car hauler/trailer, provided it is loaded on private property.

that brings back memories of when my 1953 pontiac chieftain custom catalina having the calif. personalized plate "PONTIAC" had my registration renewal put on hold for three unpaid parking tickets and those tickets weren't mine, the ticket issuer mistakenly wrote pontiac where you write down the license plate, thinking they were writing in the make of vehicle, lol. even DMV was too lazy to see that, really, a ticket is issued to a 1965 blue pontiac four door sedan and the "PONTIAC" plate belongs to a 1953 ivory and green pontiac two door hardtop, lol.

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10 hours ago, Trulyvintage said:

 

Marc,

 

Your thread title says “ tow “.

 

If you actually tow a vehicle - by definition at least one axle with wheels

is making contact with the road.

 

You would need to get a permit unless you were a licensed tow operator 

engaged in business and you would be ill advised to not have insurance 

on the towed vehicle.

 

If a wheel comes off - or a body part flies off - you are liable.

 

 

Jim

 

You do NOT need a permit to use a tow dolly in most states. I've done it many times with no issues whatsoever.... 

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Just make sure you stay out of Tennessee. I've read several stories of guys pulling empty trailers on their way to buy a car and they get pulled over. The cop asked if they were paying cash for the car and when they replied yes he confiscated the money because he said it may be used to buy drugs. Google it if you don't believe me....

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I built an open race trailer once.

I was a dealer at the time (turns out a boat trailer that totals over 1800 pounds loaded is a motor vehicle in Oregon) so I wired my dealer plate to the back of the race car.

Fortunately the cop understood my intent.

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I must have done what you are wanting to know about at least 80 times in the San Diego area and never had a problem with the law over a non-current registration while doing so. Towing with the vehicle's tires ON the street is a totally different problem.

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Before I get too immersed in this thread, I have to ask whether we're just talking about semantics. When I first read the original post, I thought I knew what marcapra was asking. Was it OK to flat tow a car, with at least two of it's wheels on the ground? Now I'm wondering if we are using towing and trailering interchangeably?

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5 hours ago, Graham Man said:

  You will need a bill of sale if you cross state lines (Federal Offence if you can not prove ownership).

 I have never heard that you had to prove ownership of cargo on a truck when crossing state lines.

 

 

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47 minutes ago, Buffalowed Bill said:

Before I get too immersed in this thread, I have to ask whether we're just talking about semantics. When I first read the original post, I thought I knew what marcapra was asking. Was it OK to flat tow a car, with at least two of it's wheels on the ground? Now I'm wondering if we are using towing and trailering interchangeably?

This is not the same as what you stated....

" I live in California and was wondering if it's legal to transport a non-running car on a car transport where the wheels are not touching the street if it is not currently registered?  or do I need to get a one day permit to transport it?  Thanks, Marc."

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If you get caught and they know you asked you could be in more trouble than I would be in.

Bernie

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