Buying a Used Car: Funny Business With The Title? Carfax?



I’m looking to purchase a “one owner” 05 Jeep Wrangler from a local dealer who took it in as a trade.

It comes with a free Carfax, which basically checks out except for something odd:

The original seller was a Ford dealer in central Mass.

Why would a small Ford dealer sell a brand new Jeep? I researched this Ford dealer and they are a small independent dealer and NOT part of an “autogroup” that sells multiple brands.

This Ford dealer is also listed on the Carfax as having done all the maint.

Frankly I’m worried about title washing, which has been around forever but was brought into the spotlight after hurricane Katrina ruined thousands of brand new cars that were sitting on dealers lots when the storm hit. Basically the cars should be totaled but its possible to push the cars and paperwork through several states and ultimately come out with a clean title in a state far away.

*Disclaimer - I’m not accusing the Ford dealer or the current selling dealer of doing anything unethical or illegal.

But I am curious as to why this would happen. Here’s a cut of the Carfax report:

Date: Mileage: Source: Comments:

01/01/2005 0 Marcotte Ford

Holyoke, MA Vehicle sold

06/27/2005 8 Massachusetts

Motor Vehicle Dept.

Chicopee, MA Vehicle purchase reported.

Odometer reading reported for title

or registration. Registered as

personal vehicle


I have no clue. If you have questions, it may be best to walk away.


We can take all sorts of guesses such as the dealer using his connections to get a large discount on this car for his nephew. In practice we will probably never know.

So far there is no reason to assume anything fishy. If the car has been properly maintained over its lifespan, consider it a normal transaction.


Yeah the seems like its in good shape and looks and drives like a car with 33k miles on it.

I asked to see a physical copy of the title just to see what it says on it.


There is no way an authorized Ford dealer can sell a brand new, as from the factory, previously untitled Jeep vehicle.
Someone owned that car originally before trading it in at the Ford dealer, OR as you mention; it could have been a Katrina vehicle.
Other parts of the country have also suffered flooding (New England), etc. and many of those cars are not going to the crusher or salvage yard; they’re being purchased, cleaned, and resold even thousands of miles away.

Tough call, but I would want to know who the original owner was, and most importantly, where they lived.
Bottom line - that car was not sold new by that Ford dealer.


As OK mentioned, a new Jeep can not be sold by a Ford dealer. If you are worried, you can always call Jeep and find out what dealership took initial delivery of the Jeep, and where it was ultimately sold at. My guess is a data entry error at carfax, or that at one time the Ford dealer was affiliated with a Jeep store that has since closed.


The car dealer could have accepted this NEW Jeep on a dealer trade with another dealer. Say the Ford dealership that sold the Jeep new took it in trade from a Ford/Jeep dealer. If carfax is reporting that scheduled maint. was performed at the Ford dealer that would be difficult to fake. Probably the easiest way to discover what you want to know is to contact Jeep with the VIN# and ask them who the original purchasing dealer was and where they are located.
Hope it helps.


Having worked for a Ford/Lincoln/Mercury dealership for an extended period of time it is possible for a new Ford dealer to sell a new never titled Jeep, Toyota, Buick, etc… Although it is not common practice it does happen. In fact a friend of mine purchased a New never titled Kia Optima with 48 miles on it from the local Toyota dealer. The Toyota dealer traded a Avalon to Dick Hanah Toyota/Kia/Chrysler/Jeep/ Hummer/ Etc. for the KIa.


This is a shot in the dark, but you might want to call the FOrd dealer and ask if they sell Jeeps, if not how could they have sold this one as a new vehicle. Calling Jeep with the VIN number is another option. There is another car history reporting site that is not carfax, you can find it with google or through ebay and see what that one has on file for this car.


My plan was to do all of the following:

  1. Get a physical copy of the title and see if that shows anything.
  2. See if the seller can find the salesperson who took the Jeep in on a trade and see if they can shed any light on this situation.
  3. Call Jeep to see when the car was originally delivered. Any ideas on whom to call specifically?
  4. Call the Ford deal and see what they say.


You should be able to find a contact number on the Jeep website. This is not a Katrina car, Katrina hit August 29, 2005, which is after the sale date on the Carfax.


I found a customer service number on the website.

I called this morning and she couldn’t tell me much, but she said it was originally delivered to a dealer in West Roxbury, Mass. So I feel better about that at least.

I’m taking it to a mechanic on Wed to have him take a look at it.


Who’s telling you this? Are you seriously saying that a brand new, never titled Jeep was delivered from the Jeep assembly line to a Ford dealer?
No way, unless the Ford dealer is a recent ex-Jeep dealer.


No, Jeep (corporate) didn’t know anything about the Ford dealer; they said it was delivered to a Jeep dealer not far away.


Jeep corporate should know who the first registered owner is and so should the Jeep dealer.

Wonder if there’s any chance that someone employed at the Ford dealer bought the Jeep new and serviced it at their place of employment?

No idea what’s going on, but I don’t see the vehicle as a 1 owner one.


They said they couldn’t tell me who the actual owner was, just the dealer where the car was first delivered.

I can understand that. I wouldn’t want someone getting my name from my car manufacturer.


Also, Carfax shows it as a “Certified One-owner Vehicle” for what that’s worth.


You’re over-analyzing. It does not matter who first sold the car, or where it was titled. What matters is that you carefully inspect the vehicle and decide whether or not you want it. If you want it, buy it. If you don’t want it, or think there is something wrong with it, don’t buy it.

Vehicles move from state to state and dealer to dealer, and many of them are auctioned before they are sold to a private customer. It would be very simple for a Ford dealer to acquire a “brand new” Jeep, either through an auction or a dealer swap. Happens all the time.


A Jeep dealer is not going to run a brand new vehicle through an auction though. If it was run through an auction that means it had a previous owner and was traded in to the Jeep dealer.
After working for dealers a long time, I’ve never seen nor heard of a dealer car swap, at least not from one franchise brand to another. I have seen cars sent to other dealers who carry the same franchise tag.

There is one possibility. If the new Jeep was a demo and was wrecked by some salesman or manager and then repaired, it’s possible the dealer could have collected some insurance and run it through the auction to avoid any potential future headaches.

It still boils down to the fact there is no way on earth a brand new Jeep was ever delivered to a Ford dealer and no way it is really a one-owner vehicle.


Well, the ONLY place it said anything about the original seller being the Ford dealer was on the Carfax, and there’s no guarantee its perfect.

Anyway, tomorrow I’m taking the car to a shop to have them take a look at it and let me know if they see anything funny with it.

If he says its ok I’ll probably just buy it. Stay tunes.