posted: Dec. 10, 2003 @ 12:34p
I tried searching and didn't find anything close to this, so please don't flame me if someone had a similar situation come up. Here goes.
I bought a used car from a reputable dealer about a month ago. At that time, I paid cash, got temporary tags and everything - all the paperwork that says its mine, etc. Currently, I am awaiting my permanent tags (and the temporary ones I got expire in a few days). The dealer currently has the car because I also just took it in to get serviced yesterday as the engine warning light went on and the car was under warranty. I called today to find out the status and the salesman told me that their "finance people" were having trouble getting title to the car (from the previous owner's bank - I think he said), and they "may" have to work something out with me, which he made seem like me purchasing a different car. Now, I don't really want to get a different car as I already purchased 6 months insurance on this one, and have already been driving the car for a while plus I think I got a good deal on that one. Additionally, I really don't want to have to go car shopping again as it is a pain in the neck trying to find a good deal.
Basically, I am just trying to figure out what my options are (or suggestions I should ask for) if the "finance people" can't get good title to the car. What I have a feeling happened is that they want to reneg on the deal (because I got a good deal on the car and it now has a problem which they have to pay to fix). I don't know much about this kind of thing (how car title works) and certainly want to come out even or ahead from their foul up. Are there any legal ramifications for what they did? Criminal perhaps?
Thanks for your help!
Edit - Slight update: Okay, this is what apparently happened. The person who traded in the car (that I later bought) was approved for financing for a new car that she bought from them (and they rolled the old car's loan into the new one). Now, they are saying that the financing did not go through for her, and they need my car back to "refund" to her because her financing did not go through.
Do I have them over a barrel?
Edit#2 -- Okay, guys, here is what happened. I would have updated this earlier, but I was out of town for a while and it didn't really resolve itself until now (at least it is supposed to--they have assured me everything is now okay and I can pick up the car "fixed" tomorrow morning). I think the dealer ultimately settled with the woman (original owner).
At first (earlier today), the the finance manager at the dealer was literally going to take my car and give it back to the woman, saying I didn't own it, it wasn't mine and refund my money. He told me that even if I didn't, Ford (who apparantly financed the car) would come and repossess the car from me. I suggested he talk to his attorney before doing something like that (as I probably would have reported the car stolen to the police) especially since I told him I made some improvements on the car and specifically told him that he was not authorized to give the car to anybody besides me. I called a few friends of mine: attorneys and other car dealers. They said this does happen sometimes. Sometimes when someone trades in a car, that person isn't forthcoming with how much is still owed on the car in order to get lien paid off. It is the dealer's obligation to get a pay off quote in writing from the bank who gave the loan to the original owner. When you buy a car from a dealer, the dealer has usually 30 days to produce the title for you. Fraud on the part of the seller goes free and clear to the new purchaser if the dealer was negligent.
If you suspect something fishy is going on, you should call the Department of Agriculure, Division of Consumer Affairs, or sometimes the State Motor Vehicle Dealer Board (which is what we have here in Virginia). I did call them and they wanted to investigate. Once they called over to the dealership, the problem seemed to fix itself, and the general manager (notice how it went up the food chain to the general manager instead of the finance guy who was going to give my car away) said he would give me back my car back cleaned up and gased up for me. He also apologized for the problems. Not as nice as a brand new nicer car, but not really worth the headache either.
I guess the lesson to learn is that there usually is a consumer protection agency looking out for the consumer's interest and make sure you bring them in when you have a problem. It might scare the dealer/seller to do the right thing.
Thanks for your help guys. I'll keep you posted.