Peeling License Plate? Get a Free Replacement (With a Catch)
They just don't make things the way they used to, and that includes license plates.
I remember my very first car. I was just 17 years old and I paid just $400 for a beat-up old Buick Skylark that wound up breaking down at least once a week. While the car is long gone, I still have the license plates. After being transferred to another car they lasted through winter snow, rain and all of the elements for years until finally retiring.
The plates are still in my basement, and aside from being a little dinged up are still in fine condition. Sadly, the same can't be said for the New York license plates that just went on our family car a few years ago.
It turns out that license plates made over the past decade or so are falling apart. You've most likely either noticed these peeling plates on the road or, possibly even attached to your own car. Now that EZ pass is abandoning those sensors and just reading your plate, everyone must have a legible number on their car causing headaches for those of us who got stuck with shoddy plates. New plates cost $25, and an additional $20 if you want to keep your same number. $45 seems like highway robbery for replacing something that shouldn't need to be falling apart in the first place.
Well, it turns out that New York will actually replace your peeling plate for free, but just like everything else in the Empire State, it's not easy and there's a catch.
Recently we had to renew our registration so we thought it would be the perfect time to get new plates to replace the ones that have started peeling. The DMV offers residents with shoddy plates the chance to get free ones, but you do have to jump through some hoops. You'll have to visit their website and send a photo of the plate and all of your information to a special email address. The new plate and registration sticker will be sent to you sometime after the email has been reviewed.
While New York will give you those new plates for free, they won't have the same number on them. If you want those you're going to have to pay extra.
With all of the hassle that comes with changing your license plate info, it's obvious that most people will choose to keep the same number. Unfortunately, that process isn't as easy, and it's not free. You'll need to download and fill out a form, print out a photo of your plate and mail it to the state along with a $20 check.
The process is kind of annoying. So much so, that we just opted to check a box on our registration for replacement plates. Without going through all of the annoyance of setting up a photo shoot of the plates, mailing in pictures, filling out extra forms and writing a separate check I'm spending the $45 to just get it done and over with.
I was paying $20 anyway, so what's another $25 to not have to go through all of the hassles. I know this is probably New York's plan; make the process just annoying enough that you'd rather pay the extra $25 than jump through all of those hoops. But honestly, I'd rather just pay the extra money and forget about it.
Enjoy the extra $25 New York. I hope you spend it on something good.