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> Getting title/registration for my HF trailer in PA, Oh its a long sad story
post Mar 12 2022, 03:11 AM
Post #1

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From: State College, PA
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So now that I have my license plate from Maine trailer I can tell you the story about it.

When I found this harbor freight trailer for sale, I knew that I was going to need the certificate of origin and any other paperwork that went along with it, like the proof of purchase, and perhaps documentation of any additional parts that I would attach to the trailer. The guy that I bought it from did have all the documentation and the original instructions and everything that I thought that I needed. I drove to his place picked up the trailer and all the documents and happily drove home.

After I got home I realized that I should probably have an official document of sale so at some point during this process. I typed up a simple sale sheet emailed a PDF to him he signed it and took a picture and sent it back to me. It had the Vin number the date the price and the empty weight of the trailer.

I didn't do anything with it for about two months until the time was right for me to start putting it back together, welding the pieces together, and making plans to put a deck on top of it some additional lights and things like that. I spent a couple hundred dollars on these additional parts and several weekends and a lot of nights to do the extra work. When it was together enough and I knew that it would be good enough to take somewhere to have an inspection done, then I started the process and this is where things get ugly.

I went to the local notary and title place, with all my paperwork, showed it to them and they looked it over for a minute and then brought it back to me showed me the back of the certificate of origin and said that this needed to be notarized. It had been signed by the manager at Harbor freight in Pittsburgh where it was originally purchased, but it wasn't notarized. They told me it needed to be notarized so I went essentially around the corner thankfully to the harbor freight that was in town and talk to the manager there. He wouldn't be able to have it notarized but we thought maybe we could get a new title or certificate of origin for the trailer from corporate headquarters. He took my name and information made a photocopy of the original document and the serial number and said that he would get back to me. I thought that he was immediately going to send out for a new certificate of origin, so I thought maybe in two weeks I'd hear from him and we could get it notarized in his name at the harbor freight.

After about a week I thought I would try to get a second opinion on this, so I went to the local AAA office and talk to them. The woman there told me that I not only need to have this document notarized, but it needed to be signed by the person at the Pittsburgh Harbor freight, the one that sold it to the original guy, and the original guy also needed to be there to sign his name onto the back of the certificate of origin. And then it would have to be inspected with the enhanced inspection because it's a "kit trailer", and then that needed to happen in his name. And then once it was titled in his name, he could "sell it" to me and then we would have to go through a similar process of having a title signed over to me in the presence of a notary at the title office. Because of course the state of Pennsylvania thinks that there's $200 put together trailer somehow qualifies as a "vehicle".

Sadly it seemed to make sense to me and I knew from other people discussing titling trailers in the state of Pennsylvania that this is probably the way it had to be, because it was the hardest option that you could imagine. I contacted the guy that I bought this from and he was rather adamant that none of this needed to happen and all I needed to do was take it to a shop and have it inspected and it didn't need to be notarized or anything like that and then somehow I could magically get the title from the state of Pennsylvania. I was rather dubious about this because it seemed like he was the kind of guy who didn't do all the research before he jumped into anything, hence the reason why he was selling this trailer because he couldn't have a trailer hitch on the back of his car for it, because nobody made a hitch for his car. Like, wouldn't that be the first thing to find out before buying any part of a trailer setup? Nothing against the guy I just didn't really trust his research.

After about two weeks had passed, I finally got a phone call from the guy at the local Harbor freight who I thought was going to get a new certificate of origin ordered, and he said that it might take the central office a really long time to get to it, because they were really busy. And he hadn't even asked to have that started which kind of annoyed me because I thought that's what he was going to do right away. So that seems like two weeks or so wasted waiting for that to happen. I called the Pittsburgh Harbor freight and got in touch with the manager there and I thought that maybe it would be easy enough to have her get the title notarized in her name if I drove all the way over there and made arrangements to have that done at her work. I did as much research as I thought I needed to, and found the local nearest notary that could do this kind of work which was just a couple blocks away from the harbor freight there. So I will talk to her I asked if it would be possible for me to come over and her to go to the notary with me so we could get it notarized she could re-sign it and then have it signed over to me I told her I had all the paperwork. She said that she was not able to leave the building at all when she started her workday. That sounded really odd, like people go out to get lunch all the time. Was it really that busy or chaotic there? 20 mins away was just too much? I said I was very flexible and could make any time happen so if it needed to happen before she went into work someday that could be a possibility. Well apparently that wasn't good enough because then I started to get a rather indignant attitude from her and she stated loudly to me that she had a sick mother that she needed to take care of and couldn't take any time off of work or her personal life or leave the building so she was just going to take my information, the information of the guy who originally bought the trailer, and that she would have to "get back to me sometime". Obviously I was super worried because it seemed like my last ditch effort on this was going to fail now.

I took my paperwork over to one of the guys in the county that does the enhanced inspection, just to find out if he knew anything about this because the first title place told me that they got a lot of trailer titles from him. He was about 1 million years old and super old school, his computer on the desk was from 1989, and there was a pet pigeon flying around in his garage. He looked at all my paperwork thought that it was OK but when I asked him if he thought that this needed to be notarized he said he actually didn't know which was both surprising and shocking because if this guy has done so many trailers shouldn't he know this?? I had a very sinking feeling in my stomach that day because it seemed like I was not going to have a trailer, I was not going to be able to resell this trailer, and I have now spent another $200 on parts for the trailer that maybe I was just never simply going to be able to use and I was just going to have to scrap it, and then go and buy some other pre-fabricated trailer like a $1000 one from tractor supply.

Now a while back some friends have told me that I should just just use Maine trailer registration. So I was actually unsure of what I actually needed to do this, and talking with my one friend in person about this for maybe the third time he said that he never had a title for his trailer all he had was a certificate of sale and that's about all he needed to send to Maine trailer registration. I felt quite uplifted because I had been going under the assumption that I would at least need a title from the state in order to do that, but since nobody really cares about the title if you get pulled over in a traffic stop all they want is the registration and your insurance, that made a lot of sense that the title was somewhat secondary.

So I immediately gave Maine trailer registration a call and talked to them, and then went on their website and fill out all the necessary information that they needed to have, and sent them the PDFs of the documents that I had. I hadn't paid Pennsylvania state sales tax for purchasing the trailer from the guy originally, so that needed to be paid to somebody and I got the email the next day asking if I wanted to pay that which I promptly replied to yes of course, so then it was just a waiting game until I hopefully got the paperwork and the license plate.

It took a total of three weeks for the plate to come to me but it is in my hands now with a registration paper and I am ready to move forward with using this trailer and finishing the construction of it. Unsurprisingly I have not gotten a phone call back from the manager at Harbor freight in Pittsburgh in these three weeks.
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post Mar 14 2022, 07:01 PM
Post #2

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Joined: 24-December 03
From: Orlando, FL
Member No.: 34

I'm glad you figured out a work around but it's so sad that it's come to that. Common sense and the ability to think outside of the box has been on the decline for quite some time now but it seems that Covid and the "New Normal" has shifted it into warp drive. Every time that I've had to deal with a government entity in the last couple of years it's been more frustrating than ever. Thanks for sharing.
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