Help - can't get title to car I purchased

Recently purchased a certified pre-owned 2004 saab from a dealer. Almost a month later, according to the dealer, it is unable to secure title from Saab to transfer to me. Dealer says they have been trying to get the title since they purchased the car from saab in july, after expiry of original lease. I can’t tell if I am getting jerked along. Dealer speculates maybe saab lost/can’t fine original title, and can’t get replacement because it doesn’t know which state it was registered in originally.??!?

Any advice on what to do to get title to my car (which I purchased outright - no financing) would be much appreciated.


Have you tried contacting Saab directly? Something sounds awfully fishy here. A simple CarFax report would reveal where the car was originally titled.

Maybe you need to drive to the dealership, make noise about breach of contract, and demand your money back.

The carfax report is exactly what I thought – it tells you the state the car was originally registered in! the problem with driving to the dealership is that it is now 500 miles away. I will call saab directly, though I was worried about getting lost in the maze of voicemail. I was able to successfully confirm my eligibility for roadside assistance, and also went to the local dealer here for some small repairs which were comped no problem under the extended warranty. Should I also contact the dealer here to see if they can help?

Contact your State Attorney General’s office Consumer Affairs Div or the agency who regulates and licenses car dealers (may vary by state who actually does this). They should intervene on your behalf. In many case, you may have to take the dealer to civil court to gain resolution, but see what the state agencies can do for you. Technically speaking, failure to produce a valid title, is reason to cancel the sale and require a refund if the title cannot be reasonably obtained. If it has been since July, I think any court would judge that the seller is in default of his contractural obligation to produce a clear title to you. Tell the dealer and provide him with a demand letter outlining the chronology of events that directly affect you and give him 30 days to produce the title.

I also assume you live in a state where the registration can be completed without a valid title in hand. In Kansas/Missouri, this sale cannot be legally completed this way. You may also need to have the bill of sale amended to the actual date the title is received or issued, to avoid possible penalties due to not providing the title to the state of registration within a set timeframe, usually 20 or 30 days.

Sure, call in the local dealership. You could contact the State Attorney General (or, equivalent in your local). The amount of money involved probably qualifies the offense as a felony.

Added: I just read jayhawkroy’s post. Either civil or criminal, your case is actionable with the law, under the law.
Baloney is for sandwiches, not business.

Now that you clarified a bit, more advice. First, contact the State Attorney General in the state of purchase for help. Put every contact with the dealer in writing, for use in court later. Secondly, confirm that you are not in violation of driving an improperly/unregistered car in the state you live in. Make sure the title shows the date it was mailed to you, not the original date of sale, again, for penalty avoidance. It can be amended as needed by the dealer with a proper affadavit. If you have to go to court, it will be in the county that the dealer does business.

No need to go back to the dealer. He can provide everything you need by mail or registered mail. Send all correspondence to him by certified mail, return receipt, and info SAAB district or SAAB USA offices. Do not accept verbal promises and document everything in writing. Verbal promises do not hold up in court. The AG should help you resolve this, hopefully, and get them involved ASAP, to help provide pressure onto the dealer.

In 30 days, the original title holder could have gotten a duplicate title and resolved this, so the dealer is not putting his resources to bear to solve the problem, because you happened to pay cash. Capture everything in writing and deal with promises only in writing. Be firm and non-confronatational. After all the origin of the problem is not yours, and consistently remind the dealer of this. Talk to the dealership’s general manager or owner when possible, so nothing gets lost in translation.

Frankly, in the future, if the title cannot be delivered at purchase, I would have withheld half the agreed upon amount, contingent to delivery of a clean title, or walked away.

Point of clarification: the dealer says it purchased the the car from Saab in July/07. I purchased on Dec. 5/07. At the time of purchase, sales guy said title would be passed to me after my check cleared…then all of these stories about saab started.

Its illegal to sell a vehicle by a dealership without clear title. If you cannot get it registered ask the Saab dealer for a loaner in the interim until they figure out what is up or down or a full refund.

There may be a bureau in your state that covers vehicle sales and you may want to contact them on the matter.

If the Saab dealership doesn’t have the title…then they CAN’T sell it. I’d contact the Attorney General of your state. This is NOT right.

Is this just another Saab story?

sorry. couldn’t resist.

Call an attorney in your county who deals with consumer affairs. You can get your money back or put it toward the purchase of another legitimate vehicle. The dealer that sold you the car is liable and most likely realizes that but is taking advantage of your good nature.

Obviously the dealer lied on the date of purchase, because he had no title, or his office misplaced it. In any case he is responsible for delivering the title in an expeditious manner. Because of the 500 mile (and I assume two state difference–your home vs dealer’s state), you need to enlist the state’s AG or a lawyer in the same town as the dealer, to bear pressure on the dealer. If not, the sale is void. In the meantime, I would not drive this car until its legal status is resolved. Right now it is improperly registered to the wrong owner and your insurance company has plenty of reason to deny liability in the case of an accident or claimable damage.

If you are really irritated, drive back to the dealer and demand a full refund. Don’t leave without it and be loud about how you got screwed on the sales floor. If you must engage a lawyer, make sure you make the dealer pay the expenses in the court award.

Start documenting soonest. It sounds like you may be in court over this, if you can’t get a refund out of the dealer. In your letter to the AG note that the thirty days to deliver the title has lapsed and you need help. Don’t worry about the alleged promises, point to the facts: no delivery of title and you paid in full for the car, and it is unregisterable without the title.

Was this a SAAB franchised dealer? I don’t understand why the distributor (SAAB) would be involved in the title business anyway. That should go no higher than the dealership level even assuming it’s a franchised SAAB operation.

July? Going on 6 months with no title is a no-no and Mike is exactly right. They can’t sell that car without a title and considering the length of time here the dealer is treading on dangerous ground.
Call the regulatory agency in your state (Attorney General, Tax Commission, etc.) and get this resolved.

Some years ago a good friend of mine (recently deceased) bought an old car from a guy who promised him the title the next week. Well, someone saw the car parked at his shop, wanted it badly, and bought it from my friend with the promise my friend would give him title immediately when he received it. Well, my buddy hounded this guy over a month for the title and never got it.

In the meantime the guy who bought the car from my friend was not as patient and turned him into the law. My friend was actually arrested at his shop (not once, but TWICE) over this matter. The charges were selling a car without a title.
He got out of any jail time but had to pay a large fine, which more than ate up anything he made on selling the car. The original seller (law did not mess with him) produced the title some months later but it was a moot point by then.

Was this a SAAB franchised dealer? I don’t understand why the distributor (SAAB) would be involved in the title business anyway. That should go no higher than the dealership level even assuming it’s a franchised SAAB operation.

This might have been one of GM’s executive cars.

It’s an authorized saab dealer – and like I said, the warranty is being honored and I registered successfully for saab roadside assistance. My understanding for why Saab has the title is because the car was originally under a lease. The dealer apparently purchased the car at end of lease from saab (in june/july), and I bought it at the beginning of the month. according to the dealer (post sale to me) they had been trying to get the title since the time they bought it (unsuccessfully). I called saab in the meantime, and they assured me they have located the title, it is being fedexed to one of their title clerks for next week, and it will resolve from there. If i do get more run around next week, I will immediately follow up on the helpful suggestions outlined here.

Mike has a good point about the car being an executive vehicle.
Let me ask a question here.
Are they going to keep you squared up on any registration problems that may occur?
Here in Oklahoma you have 30 days after the purchase to pay the reg. fees, excise tax, and tag. If you don’t they nail you very hard on penalties.

Pretty shoddy of them to allow this to go on for so long. Must have some ex-government employees working there now. :slight_smile:

My original 30 day tags are expiring next week. Dealer said he is fedexing another set of 30 day tags that should arrive by monday.

It’s some times hard to get stuff sorted out around Christmas. I’ll bet at least part of the problem is due to half the office staff at the GMAC leasing office taking time off and office parties, etc.

I’m not saying that’s right, just one possible reason for the delay to the OP. Who knows what the deal is/was between the dealer and the leasing office, though I’m betting the OP is not hearing the whole story from the dealer.

I don’t know zilch about the business side of dealerships, but this is one of the weirdest things I ever heard. Whatever happens please post back and let us know. Nuts.

It sounds like they are trying to make the best of a difficult situation. Keep good records and see if they come through with the tag extension. Don’t call the State’s
Attorney just yet, but make sure you know how to contact her. And don’t threaten the Saab dealer with any of your options yet. They seem to be working for you.

By law Billy the dealer must provide a title to you in 30 days from the date of purchase. the dealer may not be able to recieve the title from saab but that is not your fault, I would consult your attorney as they have to give you a title, depending on which state you reside in laws may vary but that would be what i would do they must provide you with a title as if you traded a car in you would have to provide them with a title. also i would be sure to make it known to them that you are seeking legal council and do not give them 30 days notify them by certified mail and give them 10 days also send a copy of the letter you send them to your attorney also