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Old 02-18-2019, 05:53 PM   #1
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Buying a Car That Has No Plates

I'm looking at a car now, may go to see it tomorrow. Only problem is, it has no plates. The guy knew he was going to be selling it last Fall, he took the plates off before the winter and cancelled the insurance and stored it in his garage.

Two obvious issues: (i) my test drive might have to be very limited, and (ii) getting a PPI and having the shop do a test drive is going to be a problem.

As to the 2nd one, I spoke to the shop and they'll flatbed the car to & from the shop for a small, very reasonable charge. But how are they going to test drive it, particularly a high speed test drive on a major highway/interstate? I asked if they could put dealer plates on (it's a Porsche dealer) for the test drive, but was told they can only put dealer plates on dealer-owned cars, which was the answer I thought I was going to get.

You can't just stick any plate on the car. If you ever get stopped, you'll wind up with several tickets (unregistered, uninsured, improper plates, etc, etc) and they'll probably impound the car. And I think Uninsured is a misdemeanor, not a traffic infraction.

Any suggestions? Anyone ever deal with this in the past?

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Last edited by BoxMann; 02-18-2019 at 05:57 PM.
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Old 02-18-2019, 07:44 PM   #2
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Check with your department of motor vehicles. They may have a suggestion. In Virginia a car buyer can purchase a permit to drive a recently purchased vehicle for a few days without plates. I understand that is not exactly what you need and that NY laws are likely to be different. They may have a process that would work for your situation.
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Old 02-18-2019, 07:56 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by BoxMann View Post
I'm looking at a car now, may go to see it tomorrow. Only problem is, it has no plates. The guy knew he was going to be selling it last Fall, he took the plates off before the winter and cancelled the insurance and stored it in his garage.

Two obvious issues: (i) my test drive might have to be very limited, and (ii) getting a PPI and having the shop do a test drive is going to be a problem.

As to the 2nd one, I spoke to the shop and they'll flatbed the car to & from the shop for a small, very reasonable charge. But how are they going to test drive it, particularly a high speed test drive on a major highway/interstate? I asked if they could put dealer plates on (it's a Porsche dealer) for the test drive, but was told they can only put dealer plates on dealer-owned cars, which was the answer I thought I was going to get.

You can't just stick any plate on the car. If you ever get stopped, you'll wind up with several tickets (unregistered, uninsured, improper plates, etc, etc) and they'll probably impound the car. And I think Uninsured is a misdemeanor, not a traffic infraction.

Any suggestions? Anyone ever deal with this in the past?
Insure the car, then worry about plates
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Old 02-18-2019, 08:26 PM   #4
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I drove mine from Florida to Michigan without a plate. I just took the most direct route to my local license branch. I thought about putting aplate on the car but my insurance guy said that was illegal test driving a car and going to the license branch is not. I never gave it another thought
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Old 02-18-2019, 08:46 PM   #5
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I had a similar situation, so I called the California DMV. They said that I would have to come into the DMV to pick up the plates for my 996, then drive home and put the plates on the car, then drive back so I could have the car inspected and finalize the transfer of ownership.

Yeah, right.

I drove the plate-less car to the DMV, installed the plates in the parking lot, and then had the inspection performed.
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Old 02-18-2019, 09:20 PM   #6
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In utah you can purchase a 72-hr "in transit" permit. It's assigned to YOU, not to a vehicle.
Check your dmv.

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Old 02-18-2019, 09:22 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Ciao View Post
Insure the car, then worry about plates
But you're still not allowed to drive an unregistered vehicle, even if it's insured.
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Old 02-18-2019, 09:29 PM   #8
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Check with your department of motor vehicles. They may have a suggestion. In Virginia a car buyer can purchase a permit to drive a recently purchased vehicle for a few days without plates. I understand that is not exactly what you need and that NY laws are likely to be different. They may have a process that would work for your situation.
NY DMV does issue an In-Transit tag so you can drive the car home either within or outside the state. But that's after you've already bought the car !! That's not the problem here. If/when I decide to buy it, it's not a problem, I don't need temp or in-transit tags, I can go to the local NY DMV office and get permanent plates. (The Seller is also in NY)

The issue I raised in the OP is, prior to making a buying decision, how do I test drive the car, and how does the PPI shop test drive the car if the car has no plates on it, it's not registered, and it's not insured?
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Old 02-18-2019, 09:32 PM   #9
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Nobody addressed how to test drive - only what to do after you bought it.
Have seller get temporary insurance - (make a down payment on insurance) so it can be test driven.
If he doesn't agree, he may have something to hide and you should walk away, unless you can get it cheaply enough. You could still have Porsche dealer check it mechanically with it untagged.
I did buy a car where seller told me insurance had lapsed - but I test drove it anyway - I wasn't liable, it wasn't my car 'till I bought it. If I remember correctly, I got it insured and drove it with his plates to DMV (carefully) and returned the plates later.
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Old 02-18-2019, 09:38 PM   #10
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Nobody addressed how to test drive - only what to do after you bought it.
Thank you. My last post tried to clarify that.

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Have seller get temporary insurance - (make a down payment on insurance) so it can be test driven. If he doesn't agree, he may have something to hide and you should walk away, unless you can get it cheaply enough.
He's willing to let me test drive it, but I'm at risk for doing that in case I get stopped: no plates, unregistered, uninsured.

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You could still have Porsche dealer check it mechanically with it untagged.
Yes, but the shop's test drive is an important part of their PPI and I wouldn't want to forego it.
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Old 02-18-2019, 10:02 PM   #11
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The seller created the situation where you can't easily drive it, so he should figure it out. A seller should make it as easy to sell the car as possible, shouldn't they?

If it were me, I'd let the seller know that he needs to get a temporary permit or whatever mechanism NY state has for addressing that situation, then you want to test drive it and have a PPI done.
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Old 02-18-2019, 10:19 PM   #12
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The seller created the situation where you can't easily drive it, so he should figure it out. A seller should make it as easy to sell the car as possible, shouldn't they?

If it were me, I'd let the seller know that he needs to get a temporary permit or whatever mechanism NY state has for addressing that situation, then you want to test drive it and have a PPI done.
I couldn't agree with you more and I think that's excellent advice. I'll be doing exactly that in the morning.
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Old 02-19-2019, 05:38 AM   #13
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Why is it your issue if you or the inspector gets pulled over? All the penalties will go to the seller and his record, not yours. I would assume the seller will be with you when you're driving, so all the attn would be on him. As long as you don't get injured, what do you care? (I was going to include dying, but at that point you really don't care.)
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Old 02-19-2019, 07:29 AM   #14
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Why is it your issue if you or the inspector gets pulled over? All the penalties will go to the seller and his record, not yours. I would assume the seller will be with you when you're driving, so all the attn would be on him.
HB,

I love your posts, but I beg to differ with you on this one.

It is NOT illegal to own a car that is unregistered, uninsured and without plates. People store unregistered, uninsured cars in their garage all the time. What IS illegal is operating a vehicle on the public roads that is unregistered, uninsured and without plates. And "operating" means driving, and also means, permitted to be driven. So BOTH the driver and owner have legal liability here. And sometimes the owner is not going to be in the car, so the violations will be issued to the driver. Can't speak for 50 states, but I suspect that all or most others work the same way.

I could cite you sections of the NY Vehicle & Traffic Law, but I think you get the idea.
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Old 02-19-2019, 08:11 AM   #15
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Slap on a couple of the plastic, thin, wobbly Porsche logo plates. That'll make it appear a car that sits on a dealer lot.

For how long is the shop going to test the car on the roadway, major or otherwise? 5 minutes?

For how long are you going to take the car on a test drive? 5? 10 minutes? The shop already will have done the "legwork".

I once had a challenge with my driving priviliges and asked my attorney, "How do I navigate this"? He said, "Don't tailgate. Don't weave. Use your signals. Make certain all your lights work. Don't be at the front of the pack. Don't speed".

Now... the "speed" part might be tough during the test run. So... don't do anything crazy or extraordinary. Share that with the shop... if they'll take the car on the road.

If, by chance, law enforcement does stop you... tell them. No plates available. Had the PPI performed and, because you're interested in the car, just wanted to "take it around the block". Tell them you'll have it insured, registered, and licensed within 24 hours... maybe that same day. Likely you will.

I finally "overcame" that driving priviliges challenge. 10 years later. Stopped not once. You may be safe for the test drives.

Just be cool and careful. Laws were made to be broken. YMMV.

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Old 02-19-2019, 09:00 AM   #16
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I think I found a solution.

I called NY DMV. They can't issue in-transit or temp plates, but if the guy registers the car, puts the plates on the car but doesn't affix the regis sticker to the window, he can return the plates and regis sticker to DMV within 30 days and get a full refund. All he'll have to do is pay for a few days or a few weeks of insurance, which is only a few dollars.

I spoke to the Seller about all this. Looks like he'll do it.

Thank you everyone for your help and advice.
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Old 02-19-2019, 01:26 PM   #17
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If it has been sitting for months with no or dead battery, be sure to get the radio code if the Becker unit is still there. With no usage the car may go into transit mode (mine did), and you'll need to have a dealer or indie wake it up for your interior and trunk/frunk lights to work.
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Old 02-19-2019, 07:47 PM   #18
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I didn't realize the plates had been turned in.
Glad you found a no-risk, affordable way out.
Now, I hope the car checks out!
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Old 02-19-2019, 07:50 PM   #19
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I didn't realize the plates had been turned in.
Glad you found a no-risk, affordable way out.
Now, I hope the car checks out!
I hope so too. It's a 2004 S. But just a few hours ago, I found a 2006 Base just 1 hours away that I may prefer. Only a little bit more money.
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Old 02-19-2019, 07:57 PM   #20
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I didn't realize the plates had been turned in.
In NY, you can't cancel your insurance on your car unless and until you turn your plates into DMV and get a receipt to prove it, which you send to your insurance co.

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