Dealer Closed Vehicle Title Problems

The Deceptive Safety of Licensed Dealerships

Buying a car from a licensed dealership often brings a sense of security regarding the title. However, the recent closure of Off Lease Only—a sizable chain, originally a Florida-based venture dealing in lease buybacks—reveals that even seemingly reputable dealerships can face unforeseen challenges, leaving consumers in the lurch.

The Off Lease Only Debacle

Off Lease Only, once known for purchasing lease buybacks, expanded its offerings before ultimately filing for bankruptcy. The abrupt closure included firing all employees and shutting down locations, raising questions about the fate of recently sold vehicles and their titles.

The Title Handover Process

Understanding the title acquisition process when buying from a dealership is crucial. Typically, the dealership takes the existing title, signs it over to the buyer, and submits the title application to the local titling authority—often the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). This initiates the issuance of a new title in the buyer’s name.

Unraveling the Fallout

When a dealership goes out of business, several issues may arise:

  1. Pending Titles: If the dealership hasn’t received titles for recently purchased vehicles, the titling process may be delayed, impacting buyers awaiting their titles.
  2. Financial Crunch: Bankruptcies freeze a company’s funds, potentially delaying the processing of fees collected during vehicle transactions. This delay could lead to registration issues for buyers.
  3. Unpaid Vehicle Purchase: In some cases, dealerships purchase vehicles using a floor plan line of credit. If the dealership hasn’t paid for the vehicle, the title remains with the lender, creating complications for the new owner.

Risks for Financed Vehicles

For those who financed their vehicles through the dealership, additional risks emerge:

  1. Title Delivery Delay: Lenders typically hold titles until the vehicle is paid off. If the dealership fails to pay the lender due to bankruptcy, buyers may face delays in receiving titles.
  2. Loan Conversion: Lenders may convert the auto loan to a personal loan if the title isn’t provided promptly, leading to increased interest rates or even a demand for the full loan amount.

The Nightmare Scenario

The worst-case scenario involves the dealership never paying for the purchased vehicles. In such instances, the lender, holding the title, may face difficulties recovering their funds, creating a complex situation for buyers.

Proactive Measures for Consumers

If you find yourself in this unfortunate situation, consider the following proactive steps:

  1. Victims Restitution Fund: Many states have a victims restitution fund. If you believe you’ve fallen victim to a dealership’s closure, filing against this fund may provide a remedy.
  2. Court Ordered Title: Initiate the process of obtaining a court ordered title. This legal recourse declares you as the vehicle owner by court order, ensuring justice and securing your title.

Start Early, Stay Informed

Acting promptly is crucial when dealing with the aftermath of a dealership closure. Filing complaints with licensing boards, seeking court ordered titles, and understanding victims restitution funds are essential steps towards reclaiming your rightful ownership.

Court Ordered Title Process

For those unfamiliar with the court ordered title process, our website car offers comprehensive instructions and informative videos. Taking control of this process ensures you are not left waiting in line for your title.

Verify Titles Before Purchase

To avoid such scenarios in the future, a simple precaution is to ask the dealership to show you the title before finalizing the purchase. While the title won’t be handed over until the transaction is complete, seeing it can alleviate concerns about potential delays.

Seek Assistance

Should you have questions or need assistance navigating the title process, feel free to reach out to us on car, or email our help desk at We are here to provide guidance and support during these challenging situations.

Protecting Your Ownership Rights

The closure of a dealership shouldn’t jeopardize your ownership rights. By taking informed and proactive measures, you can ensure a smoother resolution to title-related challenges. Stay vigilant, stay informed, and assert your rights as a vehicle owner.

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