Local private seller sold son a out of state registered vehicle. Plz help

My son without my advice bought a vehicle from a supposed “friend” locally in our home town but claimed he still owed 900 dollars on the car and he will use part of my son’s payment to pay the car off and give him the title and registration ECT when it comes in the mail. My son agreed and actually drove off with the vehicle after giving the “friend” the money asked for the vehicle. Now the friend of my son won’t answer his calls ir anythi g and I called the DMV and they said there isn’t anything they can do since the car has not been registered in our state of California ever before. What is the correct thing to do from here if anyone knows? Thank you.

The only thing you can do is hire a lawyer. Is your son a minor? If so, do not allow him to drive it. If he is not a minor, advise him not to drive it.

I second the Do not drive advice by Purebred. Even if he can get insurance on this ( doubtful ) all the current owner has to say is that he did not give permission to drive it . That will cause all kind of legal problems .

I will pile on as well… hire a lawyer, stop driving the car.

Yeah agree but the kid sold a car he had no authority to sell out from under the lien holder. That would be fraud so file a complaint. The Sheriff usually is able to get people to answer their phone or door. Do you know who the lien holder is? It would be worth a talk with them. They might be able to release the title with a $900 payment and do a forced title transfer. I’ve had to do that several times but being in another state and particularly California is an issue.

What sort of paperwork is there? If there is a bill of sale, is any of this information on it?

I just hope your son learns a lesson,

Never buy a car from a private party that doesn’t have a clear title in the sellers name.

Retain a lawyer. It is highly likely your son has been swindled.

Take the car back and ask for a refund, Talk to the seller in person, you might know where he lives, it might work out.

If you son is a minor he can disavow the sale and get his money back.

Depending on the price of the car, it might not be sensible to hire a lawyer. If that is the case go to small claims court. I don’t know of any stare where it is legal to sell a car without being able to convey clear title.


What about hiring an off duty cop or deputy and having them pay this friend a visit and explain how things are gonna be? I realize there’s a bit of BS involved in this but it can work. A car dealer I worked for did this on a guy who stopped payment on a transmission repair I did. It was amazing how quickly that guy came down with cash and apologized for his “mistake”.

One thing you have not mentioned is whether or not this title is even in the “friend’s” name. If not, that’s going to open up another can of worms and as far as I know that’s illegal in every state.

I can be kind of volatile when someone screws me over so I’ve been known to go banging on a few doors in person to straighten out any monetary problems. I realize that’s not everyone’s cup of tea.

I also think that a discussion with the local Gendarmes would be appropriate.

I’m guessing it’s not, the “friend” needed to use $900 of the sale price to pay off the place/person the “friend” bought it from.

Here in OK the lien follows the car on the title and stays on the title even during a title change unless a lien release accompanies the title. The lien holder is actually listed on the title itself and the car owner holds the title in hand lien or no lien which to me is the best method.The OP did not state exactly which state this car and title came from.

At this point I would not bet on that “friend” actually paying the lien holder off (assuming there is a lien holder) or ever producing the title and registration. And there’s always the possibility of a stolen car or a repo guy on the hunt for it right now.

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What kind of car are we talking about, and how much was paid for it compared to its reasonable value? If we are talking about something which is old and worth less than $2000, I’d do a lien search, and if no lien, I’d go through the bonded title process. You may end up losing more money doing this (up to the Blue Book value of the car if someone/some entity files a timely claim against this car) but at least you will be able to register and drive the car, and will ultimately own it.

If we are talking about a car which is reasonably worth much more than your son paid for it, I’d assume it’s either stolen or has an unpaid loan against it. You can have your local police check to see if the car was reported stolen. You should be able to do a lien search as well, but if there is an unpaid lien, the lienholder is unlikely to be willing to negotiate with you, and ultimately it does not make sense to sink more money into a car which you will still have tremendous difficulty obtaining a title and registration for–even if you paid off the lien.

I think son bought car from not legal owner
Legal owner on title has loan. I bet lienholder does not know
Your son is naive

Yeah, we all were once.

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Heh heh. Yeah I accompanied my son to look at a car after he had done an exhaustive research for. He was headed to med school so no dummy and the car was nice and the price was right. When the guy brought the title out though it had the red stamp “salvage” title on it. I signaled to the kid “no go” but he disagreed and pulled out hundred dollar bill to complete the sale. Worked out fine though. He got a good dependable car at a good price and there was nothing wrong with it except a little alignment issue on one wheel.

Now when I told him to rent and not buy a house just before the housing collapse, turns out I was right on that one. I sensed something was haywire a year or so before. So yeah kids learn and so did we.

Did he buy or rent a house? If he bought a house and held onto it, the home should have grown in value and exceeded what he paid for it. It’s not a loss until you sell.

Nope, he bought. Then had to move 800 miles away and couldn’t unload it without a huge loss. Just now it’s where it was way back ten years ago or so but water under the bridge. I just did what I could with renters and never said anything about it. Water under the bridge. Bad timing and a lot of people got caught. Pocket change now. The positive though was we did a lot work together on it with repairs and remodeling so it was quality time.

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