Good Sam Club Open Roads Forum: Truck Campers: Registering a Truck in California
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adamis

Northern California

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Posted: 02/25/19 10:39am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

After many years as a happy Nevada resident, I was finally forced to change over to California for my vehicle registrations. I had two vehicles to register, my 2001 VW Jetta TDI with 330k miles (and just finished a nearly full rebuild of the engine) which the state of California demanded $160 to register it. This was nearly twice what I paid in Nevada. Then my 1999 F350 Truck to which I was initially told would cost $180 but then they demanded another $160 because it was a "commercial vehicle". It appears that California congress critters have taken it upon themselves to deliver some of the highest registration fees (and fuel taxes) while providing us some of the worst roads in the country. Considering that California has some of the nicest weather in the country, there is no excuse for our roads to be falling apart! I should consider myself fortunate that my truck is 20 years old because looking around the inter-webs, it appears that new truck buyers are paying close to $900 to register their truck each year in California???

End of my rant and back to my topic... So it appears there is an exception to the commercial vehicle status in that if you have a camper permanently mounted on the vehicle, you can qualify for an exemption for the added fee. I fit this bill as my camper stays on my truck year round.

The question I'm wondering to those of you who have gone before me is, when they do the vin verification, what are they looking for that fulfills the permanent mounting requirement for the camper? Is it enough just to have a camper in the truck when they do the inspection or are they expecting me to remove the jacks and such?


1999 F350 Dually with 7.3 Diesel
2000 Bigfoot 10.6 Camper


Kayteg1

California > Nevada

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Posted: 02/25/19 10:51am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

What county in Nevada you had registration in?
Clark Co for my 3 yo F350 charges me $778.
California base the registration cost on vehicle value, so sure your 1999 truck shine in this respect.
You can avoid $160 weight fee by registering it as RV (they have different name for the class that I can never remember).





toedtoes

California

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Posted: 02/25/19 11:04am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

From what I have read, there is no specific requirement other than the permanently mounted camper should be set up for living/sleeping in (a basic shell can and has been denied, but not always).

The "permanently mounted" refers to your use not the attachment type. You should not have to remove jacks, etc., because they are required if you need to remove and repair the camper or truck.

Once you change the registration to a passenger car, you cannot haul anything in the bed of your truck that could possibly be identified as "commercial" (e.g., you can haul a suitcase, but not a couple 2x4s) at any time. From what I read, the fine if you get caught is somewhere around $500.

PS. Can we drop the rant and just focus on the question? It's a good question and it will be a shame to turn this into another California bashing thread instead.


1975 American Clipper RV with Dodge 360 (photo in profile)
1998 American Clipper Fold n Roll Folding Trailer
Both born in Morgan Hill, CA to Irv Perch (Daddy of the Aristocrat trailers)

toedtoes

California

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Posted: 02/25/19 11:07am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Also, with a regular truck camper (not a shell), you have what you need to pass a visual inspection - they are looking for a bed, cabinets, etc. Things that identify the camper as used for living quarters and not hauling.

Kayteg1

California > Nevada

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Posted: 02/25/19 11:12am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I heard that 5th wheels hitch is good to avoid commercial registration in CA.
Obviously CA DMV is not advertising how to avoid the fees and it is quiet subject.
I call DMV hotline and was informed that with my RV registration on the truck, I can still legally pull 30,000 lb trailer with bulldozers on it. ... as long as the camper is on.
Never tested how CHP would look at it.

adamis

Northern California

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Posted: 02/25/19 11:15am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Okay, so it sounds like I won't have a problem qualifying for the exemption since my camper is always on the truck anyway. Good to know I shouldn't have to worry about taking the jacks off or anything.

My truck was registered in Clark County, Nevada previously. I don't know offhand what I paid last year, just that I didn't have sticker shock last time.

2edgesword

New York

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Posted: 02/25/19 11:41am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

My brother, who lives in CA, always rants about the high cost of vehicle registration in CA. You've got a exodus going on in high tax states like CA and NY but the folks running these states don't seem to get the message, although the Gov. of NY shockingly mentioned in a recent statement that people in the upper income brackets are moving out of NYS to avoid the high taxes. Of course I don't seem him pushing an effort to lower the state income tax.

camperdave

northern, California

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Posted: 02/25/19 12:47pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

The Ca registration fee is based on the value of the vehicle, that combined with ever increasing insurance costs is one reason I drive old cars!

The 'all pickup trucks are commercial' thing is ridiculous. I don't understand why it's like that, or why manufactures have not stepped up to lobby that rule away. With the number of trucks sold for personal use, it does not make any sense.

I think it's only ~$30/year extra for my little Nissan, but the fees go up quickly with weight class.


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the bear II

Torrance CA.

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Posted: 02/25/19 12:48pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I bought a 1986 C3500 from a couple in 1991. It was registered as a non-commercial truck because they had a campershell on it. I took the shell off and installed a 5th wheel hitch. To this day I have never had a problem, it's still registered as non-commercial.

My 2007 C4500 is registered as a commercial truck the fees this year were $588. Because it is 15000lb gross and even though I only use it for towing my 5th wheel the DMV indicated it had to be commercial. Below 8600lbs seems to be the point where you can get away with non-commercial.

toedtoes

California

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Posted: 02/25/19 12:48pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Kayteg1 wrote:

I heard that 5th wheels hitch is good to avoid commercial registration in CA.
Obviously CA DMV is not advertising how to avoid the fees and it is quiet subject.
I call DMV hotline and was informed that with my RV registration on the truck, I can still legally pull 30,000 lb trailer with bulldozers on it. ... as long as the camper is on.
Never tested how CHP would look at it.


Yes, you can tow anything as long as you have the camper on the truck. The main rule is simply that the camper must be on the truck and must be set up for living/sleeping. The exception is if the camper is being repaired, etc. In that case, you can drive without the camper, but you cannot tow that trailer with dozer or haul construction equipment, etc. Even if it's just a "one time thing".

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