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what do i do with this car with no title?
February 9, 2006 9:50 AM   Subscribe

what do i do with this car with no title?

several years ago my mother went to a car dealership and was "pre-approved" for a loan and left the same day with the car and a dealer tag. subsequently the loan was denied and the dealer basically gave her the runaround and washed thier hands of the car. the dealership does not want the car back and does not have or is not willing to give up a title for the car. at the end of the 30 day dealer tag we slapped tags from another car that we had registered but was not in fully working order on it and that is the way it has stayed for 2-3 years. fast forward we now are getting rid of the non working car which means we cannot keep the registration for it, what do we do with this practically free possibly illegal non titled car? she has considered abandoning it, i think there is a way to keep it, or at least sell it. not interested in the moral issues right now.
posted by BSummers to Travel & Transportation (30 answers total)
 
Does the dealership still exist? If I understand the situation correctly, the dealership still owns the car.

If they still exist, drive the car to their lot and leave it.
posted by odinsdream at 9:53 AM on February 9, 2006


So, you have a stolen and illegally licensed car?
posted by b1tr0t at 9:57 AM on February 9, 2006


the dealership does not want the car back, this was tried in the very begining. if someone gives you something of value and then will not accept it back or take payment for it, is that stealing?
posted by BSummers at 9:59 AM on February 9, 2006


Why are they getting rid of the car that's providing the registration? Of course, if your state doesn't do stickers that you have to put on the plate when you renew it, what difference does it mean? It's probably just about as illegal to be driving a car with plates for another car than driving with expired plates for another car.
posted by skynxnex at 10:02 AM on February 9, 2006


our state ( Kansas ) does have registration stickers and not having one is like a sign asking to be pulled over
posted by BSummers at 10:04 AM on February 9, 2006


If the car is registered to the dealer, and you have it, then it is stolen. The dealer probably reported it as lost or stolen and just wrote it off. It could be insurance fraud on their part, but that doesn't mean you are in the clear.
posted by b1tr0t at 10:07 AM on February 9, 2006


I'm not sure what kind of answer you're looking for. You can find another way to (illegaly) obtain registration stickers. You can attempt to get a salvage title for it but I'm guessing you won't be able to. You can try to sell the car to a scrap yard but they may find it suspicious that you don't hold a title for it.
posted by 6550 at 10:11 AM on February 9, 2006


You could run a VIN check (there are numerous online resources, Nadaguides.com claims to offer a free one) to see if it has been reported stolen.

I've purchased several cars without titles and have never had a problem getting a replacement title issued. How old is this car? Some states do not require titles for cars older than X years. When I lived in Georgia, I had no titles for any of my vintage vehicles. When I moved to Kansas, they ran a VIN check, it came back clean, and they issued a new title.

I know your vehicle's history is considerably more complex than what I describe, but I think there is hope. Can you get a straight answer out of the dealer as to whether or not they have the title? If they refuse to take the car back, I think something's up on their end...
posted by daveleck at 10:12 AM on February 9, 2006


I ask about the vehicle's age because I assume it was used when you acquired it. I cannot imagine a dealership washing its hands of a brand new vehicle...
posted by daveleck at 10:15 AM on February 9, 2006


I ask about the vehicle's age because I assume it was used when you acquired it. I cannot imagine a dealership washing its hands of a brand new vehicle...

I was briefly involved in a satellite navigation project for luxury motor homes. It turned out that banks were extremely interested in a "phone home" feature that could track the vehicle between when it left the factory and was delivered to the customer (at which point it could be turned off, or kept on as a kind of lojack). There is a surprising amount of bank fraud involving those monsters, I expect there is just as much fraud in ordinary cars.
posted by b1tr0t at 10:21 AM on February 9, 2006


Drive it back to the dealership some night and just leave parked in their lot, on their grass or somewhere on their property. Make sure that you remove all evidence tying it to you like license plates, personal effects, etc.
posted by JJ86 at 10:34 AM on February 9, 2006


Get a CarFax report to dig up some info on vehicle history (stolen, totaled, etc.).

I'm not sure whether the "is that stealing?" question is terribly relevant. There may be other legal issues involved that you want to have a handle on.

Ideas...

Junk it, part it out (ebay the decent parts maybe)

Get an attorney and involve the police -- could be dicey.

Call the BMV/DMV (from a payphone) and ask a supervisor what your options are.

Drop the car off at the dealer. Abandon it. Why on earth would they not want the car unless there was some value in NOT having it in their possession?
posted by mumeishi at 10:44 AM on February 9, 2006


There's definitely something shady going on here.
If I have the story straight...
- dealership send your mom home with a car, pending credit approval.
- credit approval is denied. mom can't buy car.
- dealership refuses to take car back BUT does not insist on payment either. Dealership keeps title to car.

Is this correct?

I agree with the others who suggest doing a title search. I'm willing to bet that the dealership does not actually have the title to the car either. The fact that they just basically gave the car away really send up a ton of red flags for me.
posted by Thorzdad at 11:01 AM on February 9, 2006


Be careful at this point. You've been driving around a potentially stolen car with bad plates on them. Seems like at best, you've violated local licensing laws, and at worst, you're an accessory to fraud or theft.

Call your local DMV and see what can be done to title the car.

she has considered abandoning it, i think there is a way to keep it, or at least sell it. not interested in the moral issues right now.

It sounds like your mother wants to be done with the car whereas you want to finagle some money out of this, and moral issues aren't a problem.

Find out the value of the car. Divide that number by 2. Sell the car to someone who doesn't know you need a title to a car (dumb teenager or senile old woman) or someone who has no interest in properly registering the car (low-level criminal, possibly). Entice someone into taking the car off your hands by offering to get rid of it dirt cheap.

Leave the car in the crappy part of town and wait for it to be stolen/destroyed. Call the insurance company.

You don't way what kind of car it is, but there's a chance you could sell the parts for more than it's worth.

I, myself, would call the local DMV or police and tell them which dealership unloaded a car on your mother without a title. It helps if you mother can pass for a little touched-in-the-head so it seems like you only just now found out about the problems with the car ...
posted by clearlynuts at 11:04 AM on February 9, 2006



the dealership does not want the car back, this was tried in the very begining. if someone gives you something of value and then will not accept it back or take payment for it, is that stealing?


It doesn't matter if the dealership wants it back. It never left their ownership, because that's what a title is, a title of ownership. They didn't give you the car, because you don't have the title. It might not be stealing, but it certainly isn't your car.

Drive it back to their property and leave without it. Since it belongs to them, and it's on their property, you're done.
posted by odinsdream at 11:06 AM on February 9, 2006


I smell tuna all over this question. I keep coming back to it because something just don't feel right. There's a part of this story that we aren't being told. Unless you can get a new title for the car from the DMV, then junking it will be your best option, with abandoning a distant second.
posted by incessant at 11:09 AM on February 9, 2006


The other puzzling thing with the whole 'dealer reported it stolen' scenario is that the dealer knew full well who 'stole' it (they had her name/address/SSN all over the loan papers). I think there would have been a visit from the authorities had it been reported stolen by the dealership.
posted by daveleck at 11:12 AM on February 9, 2006


Very high odds that the car was either stolen or involved in an accident that totaled it, so either the dealer does not have the title or the title is a "salvage" title, and that's why the loan wasn't approved...

Regardless, your mother has been doing something illegal for several years. You need to either remedy this properly by going to the DMV (and possibly police) and explaining everything, or remedy it improperly by cleaning the car of everything including fingerprints and abandoning it somewhere. If you leave it on a public street, it will eventually get towed and dealt with.
posted by jellicle at 11:16 AM on February 9, 2006


Perhaps it has an e-Title.
Beginning on January 1, 2003, the State of Kansas became an electronic titling (aka paperless titling) state. An electronic title means that there is a lien holder on record for the vehicle and the Kansas Division of Vehicles cannot issue any type of paper title, original, secured, or duplicate, as long as there is a lien on file with the division.

Meaning the dealership filed an e-Title and is still holding the paper title, so you can't get a dupilicate until the lein is satisfied.
I'm with the "drive it to the dealer's lot or bad neighborhood and walk away" crowd.
Wear gloves and a mask. They have cameras.
posted by Floydd at 11:28 AM on February 9, 2006


Eh. This is fishy, but I'll err on the side of helpful instead of giving you more "THEIF THEIF!" bullshit.

The first thing I'd do is go to your local mechanic's. I've got a regular shop that I take my car to, and I know that if something like this came up, they'd give me some cash for parts. That said, if there is more going on (and you know more than I do), I would first get the CarFax info on the vehicle, then proceed from their to either lawyersville or to the DMV. Depending upon your state law, you might be the legal owners of the car now, since its previous owners abandoned it.

But I will say that there's something shady here, and it's either you or the dealership. Being a reporter myself, I might call up the newspaper and see if they have a crime beat reporter that you might talk to, because at the least it's an interesting lead for a story.
posted by klangklangston at 11:57 AM on February 9, 2006


i will go the carfax route and see where we are from there, i also have a lead on a buyer who would be taking the car to mexico and does not care about the title...
posted by BSummers at 12:24 PM on February 9, 2006


Anyone who is advising you to either part out the car, junk it, or somehow try to sell it is giving you bad advice which could get you in trouble. I don't think a post giving that advice should be flagged as a good comment.
posted by JJ86 at 12:49 PM on February 9, 2006


i flagged it as a good summary of options, not specifically for its possibly illegal options
posted by BSummers at 12:58 PM on February 9, 2006


Since you aren't concerned with the moral / legal issues, at least be aware that some of the bigger parts have a very traceable VIN number stamped into them. The carfax route is smart because it is a low risk way to find out where you stand. Once you know the legal status of the car, your options will become a lot more clear.
posted by b1tr0t at 1:09 PM on February 9, 2006


Drop the car off at the dealer. Abandon it. Why on earth would they not want the car unless there was some value in NOT having it in their possession?

There is a lot of value in not having a car, if you're a car dealer stuck with a car you can't sell. It's also possible the dealer pulled some sort of scam to cash for that car at some point.

What did carfax say, btw?
posted by delmoi at 2:38 PM on February 9, 2006



Meaning the dealership filed an e-Title and is still holding the paper title, so you can't get a dupilicate until the lein is satisfied.


The car may not have been registered electonicaly after jan 1st, 2003.
posted by delmoi at 2:42 PM on February 9, 2006



Very high odds that the car was either stolen or involved in an accident that totaled it, so either the dealer does not have the title or the title is a "salvage" title, and that's why the loan wasn't approved...


I think jellicle might be on to something there. Although BSummers, your seeming lack of care about legality or morality in the situation still makes me question the whole affair.

You may not be interested in the moral issues right now, but you should be. Don't sell the car unless you can obtain the title. And if you can't get the title, then contact the DMV and tell them what's gone on. You got something for nothing, you benefited from it, but don't pawn it off on other people and make it their problem. That's irresponsible. There. I've said it.
posted by incessant at 4:01 PM on February 9, 2006


JJ86, yeah yeah. Parting it out isn't the best option if you don't have clear title. I was kind of thinking "if you could secure some sort of clearance from, say, the BMV/DMV, then part it out." However, on reflection, that clearance would likely be a title, in which case you could do whatever the heck you want with it.

I wasn't meaning anything illegal. Just speculatin' bout a hypothesis. :)
posted by mumeishi at 9:31 PM on February 9, 2006


Beware. People who don't do illegal or immoral things for a living are not very good at getting away with stuff. It may possibly come back to bite you in the behind. If your mother has been driving without the proper tags then she
most likely didn't have auto insurance. There are usually massive fines involved when things are not done correctly.
Do you have any friends or relatives that are or work for the police? Ask them to do a background check on the vehicle. You first need to know if there is a lien on the vehicle. If not, get a copy of the title ( in Maryland about $30.00) To sell a car that has no title may implicate you in something a bit more serious than immoral. If you sell it for parts you can also have legal ramifications. A neighbor once made a deal with a lady to take her car and dump it so she could report it stolen and get the insurance company to pay. It was later discovered wrecked and burned out in the woods. Although the VIN was supposedly removed they were able to trace it back. Bad. Very bad. Now you have arson, dumping, fraud, etc. If you have had it this long without doing something about the situation you could wait a little longer, do some research and perhaps save yourself a police record and some serious jail time. Review local laws before you do anything. The dealership was probably involved in some sort of illegal operation, or at least someone who worked for them was. That may be why they were so quick to wash their hands of it.
posted by CatyDidn't at 12:55 PM on February 20, 2006


Worst case scenario: you sell it to this Mexico-bound person. They wreck it, kill someone, and take off on foot. The dead person's kin is up in arms and hires an investigator. The authorities link you to the vehicle, maybe through fingerprints or an envelope with your address.

I am not a lawyer, but I'd worry about big fines for violating registration and insurance laws, trafficking in stolen property, reckless endangerment, etc. Not to mention the hassle of having to maybe go to court in a remote place.
posted by maniabug at 3:34 PM on May 24, 2006


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