Roadshow: Registration tag grace period — and why do we have tags, anyway?

Q I just got my annual vehicle registration renewal and sticker to put on my license plate. It is always a pain to put these on each year. With the automated scanning and registration checking of license plates from cameras everywhere, what purpose do stickers actually serve?

Has the state given any thought to eliminating the registration sticker on license plates? Frankly, given that police can easily look up a vehicle registration, and a facsimile copy on an iPhone is acceptable for presentation when asked, I wonder if the whole idea of mailing out a vehicle registration is needed anymore. Why not save the money, eliminate the paper registration and keep it all electronic?

If they want volunteers for a pilot, count me in.

Greg Thornbury

Concord

A This could happen. A new law that went into effect this year authorizes the DMV to establish a pilot program to evaluate the use of alternatives to stickers, tabs, license plates and registration cards. The plate would likely be a screen that could electronically display that information.

Several states have experimented with or are considering eliminating yearly registration stickers, such as Connecticut, South Carolina and New Jersey.

Guidelines for the pilot project will be announced in a few weeks.

Q How long can someone drive around with expired registration tags? I see so many with tags several months out of date.

T. Diaz

San Jose

A Drivers can get a ticket anytime, but the DMV says police can tow and impound vehicles if left unregistered for six months or more.

Q There is an exit on Interstate 280 south at 7th street in San Jose that is a complete nightmare. Can they do something to fix it — make it a longer exit to require 87 traffic to get over earlier?

Jess Hutchins

A Not going to happen. The weaving of traffic entering and exiting the freeway is due to the close spacing of the ramps and the amount of traffic on the ramps here. Turning on the metering lights on the ramp from 87 was tried, but there was too much traffic from 87 onto I-280, so the meter was turned off.

Q A few weeks ago we went up skiing and had an installer put chains on our Toyota Sienna. Within five minutes the speedometer stopped working and most of the lights on the dash board came on. The car drove fine. It was just instrumentation. We continued on our trip with no speedometer, ABS light flashing, etc.

On our return to the Peninsula, the Toyota dealer charged us $1,100, saying improperly installed chains had torn the housings of the wheel speed sensors. If we had a receipt, would we have been able to recover fees for the damage to our vehicle?

Dave Clark

San Mateo

A Maybe. If you use the services of a chain installer, get a receipt and jot the installer’s badge number on it. Installers are independent business people and not Caltrans employees. Having the badge number may help with any misunderstandings later. Also, installers are not allowed to sell or rent chains.

Look for Gary Richards at Facebook.com/mr.roadshow, follow him at Twitter.com/mrroadshow or contact him at mrroadshow@mercurynews.com or 408-920-5335.