State loophole could cost you big money after you sell a car

Posted: 7:58 PM, Oct 14, 2016
Updated: 2016-10-14 19:58:56-04

A loophole in Florida law could cost you big money after you sell or trade-in an old vehicle.

A West Palm Beach viewer named Rebecca Post called WPTV with her story.

She traded in her old Pontiac Grand Am at Mike Auto Sales in West Palm Beach last November. Eventually, the dealership re-sold the car. But, Rebecca learned nearly a year later that the dealer never transferred the title to the new owner.

She found out when she received a letter in the mail from a towing company.

"Out of nowhere, a $700 and something odd lean on your license," Post said as she read the letter to a WPTV crew.

Post made some calls and found that someone else had totaled her old car a few months ago. Joy's Towing picked it up. It was then placed in the company's warehouse, where it began racking up a daily storage fee.

"Not in my wildest dreams, never turning a vehicle to a dealership, would I ever think that something like this could turn around and come back at me," Post said.

She had to make a trip to the DMV and pay $80 for a copy of the car's title, still in her name.

The owner of Mike Auto Sales showed us his paperwork. He re-sold Post's old car a few months after she traded it in.

Under Florida statute, car dealers aren't required to change the title out of the old owner's name, as long as it's still on the lot. Once it's sold, however, they're given 30 days to work with the new owner and put the title in that person's name.

The owner of Mike Auto Sales says in this case, it never happened because the new buyer disappeared and stopped making payments. He says he never got the information needed from the customer to change the title within 30 days, so he never did.

"I lost quite a bit of money taking time off of work and trying to deal with a problem that shouldn't have been my problem," Post said.

According to the state's Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, the dealership should have turned in a form 82050. It proves a car was sold and no longer belongs to the old owner. The dealer is supposed to turn in the form, but the owner of Mike Auto Sales says in Rebecca's case, he didn't.

Joy's towing is working with Post. The owner promises to forgive the fees and scrap the car as long as Post can prove she traded it in.