Prom season is upon us, and many high school students will be trying to make their special night even more fun by hiring a limo. The Department of Licensing reminds parents and students to check to see if the limo they hire is licensed by the state.
- Before buying any used car, always get a pre-purchase inspection by a trusted mechanic. The extra cost may save money in the long run if major problems are discovered.
- Ask to see the title of a used car. Check the date and place of transfer to see if the car came from a flood-damaged state and if the title is stamped “salvage.”
- Use an online vehicle history tracking service like Carfax.com to get more information about a vehicle’s past.
- Check all gauges on the dashboard to make sure they are accurate, and to look for signs of water.
- Test the lights, windshield wipers, turn signals, cigarette lighter, radio, heater and air conditioner several times to make sure they work. Also, flex some wires under the dash to see if they bend or crack, since wet wires become brittle upon drying and can crack or fail at any time.
- Check the trunk, glove compartment, and beneath the seats and dash for signs of mud, rust or water damage.
- Look for discolored, faded or stained upholstery and carpeting. Carpeting that has been replaced may fit too loosely or may not match the interior color.
- Check for a well-defined line, or watermark, and for musty odors resulting from mildew.
- If the car’s history seems suspicious, ask the seller if the car has been damaged by floodwater. Get the answer in writing on the bill of sale.
Rest assured, the Department of Licensing keeps no record of the amount you pay for insurance.
In fact, whenever a company tries to sell you something by claiming to have DOL data, it should raise red flag. That’s because we don’t release data for marketing purposes.
However, we do have a sincere interest in protecting you from bogus claims and possible scams.
For example, earlier this year, several websites emerged offering to help provide driver licenses for a fee. While those websites might appear to be official, they are NOT affiliated with the Washington State Department of Licensing. And unlike those websites, DOL never charges a fee for customer service or for the use of any of our forms.
Here’s the video we produced earlier this year regarding those questionable websites; showing yet another example of how suspect companies are trying to take advantage of consumers.
Don’t let an expired registration spoil your day; remember to renew before you get out on the water.
Boat registrations can be renewed online at the DOL website or in person at a neighborhood vehicle licensing office. Those who choose to renew at an office should make sure to note the registration number on the bow of the boat or watercraft and take that information to the office.
Due to budget cuts, DOL discontinued paper renewal notices for boats in 2010 and instead offered boat owners the opportunity to sign up to receive email renewal reminders. It’s too late to sign up for an email renewal reminder for this year, but boat owners can sign up online at dol.wa.gov to receive renewal reminders by email in the future.
Several websites targeting drivers across the country are promising easy online driver license renewals, but appear to be delivering little except credit card charges.
These companies, which appear to be located in foreign countries, are using paid advertising results on the major Internet search providers like Google and Yahoo to lure customers away from the official Department of Licensing (DOL) website. This is leading to extra fees paid to unknown companies who appear to be offering little more than services already available for free using the official DOL website.
Customers have reported these sites are charging as much as $35 dollars for “customer service” assistance in renewing a driver license. In addition many of these customers suspect these sites have sold their personal information to others for marketing purposes.
DOL posted a video on YouTube this week explaining that these websites are not associated in any way with DOL.
Doing business online with DOL and other government agencies is fast, easy and secure, but know these simple tips to make sure you are doing business with us and not an imitator:
- Access to DOL information and forms is free on the DOL website.
- Whenever you look at search results, keep in mind that the first several results may be paid advertising. Don’t just click on the first link; take a moment to examine your search results and pick carefully. If you need to do business with DOL, choose one that includes our “wa.gov” domain in the website address.
- Take time to read the fine print. These sites are taking advantage of the fact that people seldom read disclaimers on websites.