Used car lot shuts down, leaving buyers with no titles
No statewide system exists to help car buyers who are stuck with cars they cannot drive.
ATLANTA, Ga. (Atlanta News First) - Rosalind Wise took her husband’s advice when he found a gently used 2013 Jeep Grand Cherokee at The Car Spot.
Wise loves her new/used vehicle, but has yet to receive her tag. That’s because The Car Spot has seemingly closed.
Used car dealers have 30 days in Georgia to process paperwork and transfer the title to its new owner. If the car is financed, the lender holds the title until the debt is paid.
Temporary tags are good for 30 days. If a dealer falls behind, the buyer can request a 30-day extension, but in DeKalb - where Wise lives - one temporary tag extension is the limit.
The Georgia Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division (CPD) confirmed Wise needs her title. The office provides steps to replace missing or lost titles online, but the process is time-consuming and may require a lawyer.
Wise doesn’t have time. Like other buyers, time is running out, and she can’t afford to wait months for a new title. But if she drives with an expired tag, even with her paperwork and insurance coverage, she and other drivers could be stopped by police.
The DeKalb County Vehicle Registration Office offered one possible alternative for an extension. The county requires proof the dealership is closed, but Wise would need to send a certified letter to The Car Spot and wait for it to be returned to sender. Tag office employees told Wise to come back with the unopened letter, and she may be able to get a second extension.
“It’s exhausting,” Wise said, “because you don’t know if they’re going to give it to you, and if they don’t, you are out of luck. You can either drive illegally or your car is locked down at home until you can get a proper title.”
A CPD spokesperson said when multiple cases are involved, the office may be able to assist customers with getting the titles.
The Georgia Independent Automobile Dealers Association said there is no statewide system to help car buyers who are stuck with cars they cannot drive.
“We would say that consumers in this situation should certainly file a complaint with the Georgia Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division and the Used Motor Vehicle Dealers Board,” said a spokesperson for Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr. “Consumers should also speak with an attorney to learn of any private rights they may use. Dealers are obligated to apply for title within 30 days but temporary operating permits, or TOPs, extend for 45 days from the date of issuance. Consumers can generally get a one-time extension of 30 days prior to the expiration of their initial temp tag.”
Here are some frequently asked questions from the Used Motor Vehicle Dealers Board.
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