Consumer Title Resource | Since 2009!

How To Fight Back If A Dealer Does Not Give You A Title

Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you’ve handed over your hard-earned money to a car dealer, driven off with your new vehicle, only to realize that the essential legal title is missing from the transaction? If this has happened to you, you’re not alone. Join the conversation by sharing your experiences and thoughts in the comments below, and let’s explore the steps to navigate this frustrating scenario.

The Missing Piece: Title Troubles with Car Dealers

When you purchase a vehicle from a licensed automotive dealership, you expect to receive more than just the keys and a sales receipt. A crucial component of the transaction is the legal title certificate. Every state mandates that being a car dealer is a licensed activity, requiring dealerships to obtain a license from the relevant government authority, such as the state DMV or the Department of Licensing. The license signifies their eligibility to conduct business.

However, a significant number of individuals encounter a glaring issue—failure to receive the title. Out of the hundreds of calls we receive daily, a notable percentage involves consumers who bought a car from a dealer but never received the accompanying title. Let’s delve into the reasons behind this predicament and explore potential solutions.

Common Causes of Title Troubles: A Dealer’s Perspective

Several factors contribute to the dilemma of missing titles from car dealers:

  1. Lost or Misplaced Titles: Dealers may lose or misplace titles, necessitating the need for a replacement. However, obtaining a new title is not always a straightforward process.
  2. Title Never Obtained: In some cases, dealers may never have possessed the title. This could occur when they acquire vehicles from auctions without securing the necessary title documentation.
  3. Mail Mishaps: If a dealer mailed the title, there’s a chance it could get lost in transit. Additionally, buyers might misplace titles after receiving them in the mail.
  4. Lien-related Issues: If the vehicle was financed and the lien holder is no longer in business, or the dealer is defunct, obtaining the title can become a complex endeavor.

Navigating the Solution Maze

Thankfully, there are solutions to address these title-related challenges:

  1. Identify Designated Agents: In cases where the dealer or lien holder is out of business, there is typically a designated registered agent or assignee who can sign over title paperwork. Research is key in identifying the relevant party.
  2. File a Complaint: If the dealer is uncooperative or refuses to provide the title, filing a complaint with the dealer licensing board becomes essential. This government division oversees dealer licenses and has the authority to enforce compliance, including imposing sanctions and fines.
  3. Leverage Restitution Funds: Some regulatory agencies have restitution funds that consumers can tap into for compensation if they’ve been defrauded by a dealer or lien holder.

Carvana’s Title Troubles: A Cautionary Tale

Even nationally recognized automotive dealership chains can face title-related issues. Carvana, a publicly traded company, recently grappled with title problems, resulting in license shutdowns in certain states. This underscores the severity of the issue and serves as a reminder that it can happen to dealers of any scale.

Seeking Resolution: Your Right to a Title

As a consumer who has rightfully purchased a vehicle, you are entitled to receive a title from the licensed dealer. Understanding the regulatory framework and your rights is crucial in addressing title-related challenges. Agencies regulating dealerships often have resources and processes in place to ensure consumers receive the titles they deserve.

Explore more about the obligations of dealers to provide titles and the recourse available to defrauded consumers on our website at car titles dot com. Share your thoughts, experiences, and questions in the comments below, and stay tuned for future discussions on navigating the intricacies of the automotive world.

Have Title Questions? Talk to a Car Title Expert.

Book a consultation with a Car Title Expert from to get personalized guidance on your title recovery journey.

Don’t let uncertainty hold you back. If it’s your car, you deserve a title.

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