Anyone here ever register a free car at the DMV?


Still plays with cars
Lehi, UT
I am in the process of receiving a free car which currently does not run, though I don't think that is relevant to my question. The title will be signed over to me this week. I plan to go into the DMV and have it re-titled in my name; as soon as I can get it running, I will then get it registered and plated.

We've all heard the old wives tales about how you get slapped with excessive taxes/fees when you try to title or register a free car. Everybody says it is better/easier/cheaper to report it as having been sold for a very small price (say $100) rather than telling them it was given to you for free. But I'm wondering if that really is the case.

Has anyone here walked into the DMV, title in hand, and told them you got the car for free? If so, what was your experience?


Less-Known Member
My aunt used to work at the DMV and the best thing she ever told me was that people give the DMV employee too much info. She said go in and tell them only what they need to know (this is mine, here is the bill of sale and this is how much I paid). She did say that trades are a different story and are more work. So, I would go with the low dollar sale ($50 or $100) to avoid any extra attention. She said once a gentlemen came in with a bill of sale for a 1 year old Hummer (this is right after the H2’s just came out) for like $200. She said he came in, showed the bill of sale and that’s all he said. She said she had no reason to argue it or push back and that’s what she took payment on for taxes. She knew it wasn’t true but it wasn’t her job to argue whether he was telling the truth or not.


Active Member
Twin Falls, ID
Must be nice. Back in WA I had to prove the beat to death oil burning rotted out 99 Durango my sister in law gave me wasn't worth the $3k their system said it was. I wound up going to the library and printing out the KBB value on it. High retail wasn't even $2500, trade in was $50.
Oregon just charges the same for everything since there isn't a sales tax. They just eat you alive with income taxes.


Still plays with cars
Lehi, UT
As a follow up to my original question and this thread in general:

My vehicle donor could not find the title, so last Friday he went to the DMV and applied for a duplicate. Once he gets it, he'll bring it to me as planned. I decided a little recon was in order, so today I stopped by the DMV to ask them about this process. The helpful woman behind the counter was indeed quite helpful. Our conversation went like this.

Me: "A friend is about to gift me a non-running old car. He intends to sign the title over to me. When he does, I want to bring that in and have the car re-titled in my name, but I won't register it until later when I eventually get it running. I've never done this before. What do I need to do?"

Her: "When he signs over the title, have him write 'gift' in the purchase price box. You should also have him write out a letter stating he is gifting you this car (with the VIN, odometer, etc) and have him sign that as well. Bring both of those to us and we will re-title it in your name. You won't even need to pay any sales tax--just the standard $6 title fee."

Me: "Usually when I buy or sell a car privately, I print out one of the Bill of Sale forms from your web site and fill that out. Can we use that for your letter, and have him write in that the car was gifted at no charge?"

Her: "Yes, that will work perfectly."

So I guess that really is all there is to it.


Currently without Jeep
So Jo, Ut
''I have a friend'' that has made up all kinds of stories at the DMV. He once put on the title that he traded for a case of beer. The DMV got a good laugh at that one. Of the 100+ vehicles he has registered, I bet 95 of them were mis-informed on the price. The only ones that he put actual numbers on were the ones that were somehow shady in a difference aspect, and may need better verification or follow up.
The most ironic part of all is that his best friends father in law actually did give him a truck once. The title was properly filled out, the statements were all true. The lady at the DMV did not believe it, and threatened up and down that it was going to be verified through phone calls to the seller and asked if he needed to change his story or purchase price. 'Nope, call away' said my friend.