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Old 02-09-2023, 04:05 AM   #1
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Feb 2023
Posts: 10
California gvwr>14000 diesels older than 2010. Can they be registered as an RV?

Is it possible to register a diesel commercial vehicle older than 2010 as an RV in California?

California has essentially outlawed all commercial diesels older than 2010. People buy them for out of state use.

Looking for insight and experience.

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Old 02-09-2023, 05:16 PM   #2
Bus Nut
 
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Join Date: Dec 2013
Location: SoCal
Posts: 393
Year: 1989
Coachwork: Crown Coach
Chassis: 40ft 3-axle 10spd O/D, Factory A/C
Engine: 300hp Cummins 855
Rated Cap: 91
Yes, you can. You will need to have it inspected to prove it has the 5 or 6 of 12 required items like bed, stove, water, oven, house stuff like that. Prove it's on it's way to being an RV with no seats left in it. You can have seats for 4-6 people and still be legal I'm sure.

If you get creative and ask around real good you can find a DMV office that isn't a stickler for the inspections. You should also be able to find a friendly commercial registration business that is willing to inspect and validate that it's no longer able to be used in passenger service (no seats), and it's a proper RV conversion, even if it's not finished. I know many who have followed this route and successfully turned it into an RV. This will be safe from the CARB dweebs for a while...... we think. Still don't trust them at all.

There's a Catch though........ Kalifornia is threatening to come after the RV's and ban them too. At this time the only viable safe haven appears to be Historical Vehicle plates. As long as it's more than 25 years, or older, that will work. They promise to leave HV alone going forward. If you can trust them.

Otherwise the only other recourse is an out of State registration solution, of which there are endless discussions.
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Old 02-09-2023, 09:33 PM   #3
Bus Crazy
 
Join Date: Apr 2020
Location: Northern California (Sacramento)
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Year: 1999
Coachwork: El Dorado Fiberglass
Chassis: Ford E450
Engine: V10 Gas
I live in California and have some experience with this, though I can't speak to issues with the threatened diesel ban.

Below is what I experienced and learned; having said that, the DMV is a bit like Oz, so your mileage may vary from these observations.

First, as soon as you can, start your DMV paperwork to convert the bus to a passenger vehicle. This is essential because you'll be hit with pretty exorbitant fees (based on weight) if the vehicle is not converted. As you probably know California requires continuous registration unless you explicitly register the vehicle an non-operable, and those fees keep ticking upwards with penalties. If you're thinking you'll avoid the whole registration thing while to take a few years to convert it in the back yard, think again.

Sidebar: my first trip to the DMV, they 'converted' the bus and charged normal automobile fees; my renewal was hung up because they screwed up the paperwork-namely, failed to require a vehicle inspection, which I was then required to do. I learned they screwed up because the guy who did my renewal spent a good twenty minutes talking with a superviser, who did not come to his help originally, just told him something that resulted in a fee of $4,200.00 showing up for me to pay. I just laughed, and sent him back to his supervisor. She was ultimately very helpful, and I appreciated her finally leaning in to sort things out.]

To pass the vehicle inspection that converts the commercial vehicle to an automobile you MUST remove most/all the seats so it is no longer useable as a bus (be used 'for hire'). Then you need to fill out a Verification of Vehicle form:
https://www.dmv.ca.gov/portal/file/v...le-reg-31-pdf/
and have the vehicle verified at the local DMV.

In addition, you may need to complete one or more Statements of Facts depending on your circumstances. In my case, we filled out a couple of them to capture details like I never drove the bus as a commercial vehicle during the year, or (filled out by the DMV superviser) that the guy who did the registration last year did it wrong:
https://www.dmv.ca.gov/portal/file/s...s-reg-256-pdf/
They'll have the form available at the counter if you need to state some facts.

Then you'll definitely need a Miscellaneous Certification:
https://www.dmv.ca.gov/portal/file/m...-reg-256a-pdf/
This form is the one stating you've converted the vehicle into a motorhome and you're certifying it will be used for human habitation (Section E). You can also use the form to indicate if you're tax exempt because you're from the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office (Section B) or if you're Native American and will only be driving the bus on the Res (Section C). They will ask your purchase price and cost of changes including labor. It is unclear to me whether those costs are used as a basis for calculating fees. I'll point out that they are asking for the costs associated with converting it to be livable as an RV, so ONLY those costs associated with 'closets, cabinets, kitchen units or fixtures, and bath or toilet rooms' apply. I would say that fancy Victron system do not figure in to the conversion cost from their definition.

Regarding motorhome certification I will add that there was a lot of confusion in this space, and apparently the inspector who did the vehicle verification seemed not to have given any indication in the form that it had the things they ask for to call it a recreational vehicle (listed quite vaguely in the REG 256A form and mentioned above). Trust me when I say some DMV inspection folks, they need to smoke more weed because the one who did my inspection wanted me to stand six feet from her, speak only when spoken to, and follow her instructions exactly; and still she never stepped foot in the bus to check the conversion. Whoa. Chill, friend.

Like others have stated, DMV offices appear to vary widely in their experience with conversion paperwork and ability to interact with the public in a civil fashion towards the end of a long day, so be polite but don't get angry or loud, state your needs, and if necessary ask for a manager if the person assisting you has never done one of these before.

I'll add one last bit of detail about my experience. When I was called up to the counter, the fellow behind the plexiglass was clearly new at the job, spoke very poor English, and was given the crappiest station right under the freakin' loudspeaker continuously screaming NOW SERVING A24 preventing us from hearing each other and literally triggering a rare migraine. Still, somehow we got through it and even bonded a little...
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Old 02-10-2023, 02:15 AM   #4
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The Auto Club (AAA) is a lot more reasonable to deal with, at least in my experience.. The people are much more friendly and helpful. I'm not sure what a basic membership costs but the DMV services are well worth it. Oh...and all kinds of maps
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Old 02-10-2023, 06:15 AM   #5
Mini-Skoolie
 
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AAA is awesome but there are some transactions they don't do. Do they handle this type of thing?
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Old 02-10-2023, 06:21 AM   #6
Mini-Skoolie
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Crown_Guy View Post
Yes, you can. You will need to have it inspected to prove it has the 5 or 6 of 12 required items like bed, stove, water, oven, house stuff like that. Prove it's on it's way to being an RV with no seats left in it. You can have seats for 4-6 people and still be legal I'm sure.

If you get creative and ask around real good you can find a DMV office that isn't a stickler for the inspections. You should also be able to find a friendly commercial registration business that is willing to inspect and validate that it's no longer able to be used in passenger service (no seats), and it's a proper RV conversion, even if it's not finished. I know many who have followed this route and successfully turned it into an RV. This will be safe from the CARB dweebs for a while...... we think. Still don't trust them at all.

There's a Catch though........ Kalifornia is threatening to come after the RV's and ban them too. At this time the only viable safe haven appears to be Historical Vehicle plates. As long as it's more than 25 years, or older, that will work. They promise to leave HV alone going forward. If you can trust them.

Otherwise the only other recourse is an out of State registration solution, of which there are endless discussions.
Thank you so much. This is very helpful. I am considering buying a non compliant California chassis and converting it to rv in another state, probably South Dakota. Then I would probably use it in the Golden State from time to time, also Mexico.

I agree with your fear about changing regs. One thing I thought I could always count on was that once CARB set a rule, it would stay. I.e., once 1975 vehicles became smog exempt in 2004 they would never roll it back to an earlier year. Exceptions would be when they started smogging 1998 and newer diesels and hybrids. I think these rules are actually easier to comply with than Wells County Nevada, which has no blanket cutoff year as I've heard.

Again, thanks very much for the help!
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Old 02-10-2023, 09:16 AM   #7
Bus Crazy
 
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Location: Northern California (Sacramento)
Posts: 1,477
Year: 1999
Coachwork: El Dorado Fiberglass
Chassis: Ford E450
Engine: V10 Gas
Quote:
Originally Posted by turbodog View Post
AAA is awesome but there are some transactions they don't do. Do they handle this type of thing?
nope. Tried.
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Old 02-10-2023, 12:15 PM   #8
Bus Crazy
 
Join Date: Jun 2016
Location: Orange County, CA
Posts: 1,386
Year: 1990
Coachwork: Crown, integral. (With 2kW of tiltable solar)
Chassis: Crown Supercoach II (rear engine)
Engine: Detroit 6V92TAC, DDEC 2, Jake brake, Allison HT740
Rated Cap: 37,400 lbs GVWR
I used a private vehicle registration service to re-register my bus from Auto to MH. It was easy, but I had already made enough permanent changes to it that it was clearly a MH in progress: I just paid the person some money, and a few weeks later I had a new title and registration. There's no way I would ever want to deal with the DMV for something like this. Had the re-registration not worked out, I would have considered registering it in a different state, or maybe even in Mexico...

John
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