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Car dealership hasn't released the title after 4 weeks. Unable to register the vehicle.

Bronx, NY |
Filed under: Lemon law

I am a NYC resident. I purchased a car in NJ 4 weeks ago. The temporary plates expired and I am now unable to drive the car because it is not registered The car is financed and now I am scheduled to make my first payment next week. I can't get a copy of the title because I am not the orginal owner. Are there any legal actions I can take against the dealership? They do not return calls and when I do get in contact with them they say it will be handled. I am worried because I'm binded with the bank to make payments on a car that I can't drive. Thanks for your help!

Attorney Answers 1


In most states, the only way a person can have a legal interest in a motor vehicle is if their name is on the vehicle title. Nothing else counts. That means you have to have a title to be the owner. It also means that you can’t own a car and you can’t legally sell a car without having the title in your name either. If you buy a car and never get title to it, then in most states you have the right to cancel the sale and get your money back. If you bought a vehicle from a car dealer and have not gotten the title yet, then the first thing to do is contact them and ask where it is and when you will get it. If you don’t want to wait any longer then you may already have the right to cancel the sale since failing to deliver the title to the buyer would be a breach of the sale contract. If that is what you want, then you should also notify the bank right away, both with a phone call and in writing (and keep a copy of it). Car dealers who don’t deliver title to their buyer often do that for several reasons. One is that they haven’t paid off the finance company that loaned them the money to buy it in the first place. Another may be that the person or dealer they bought it from has not gotten title yet either. Whatever the reason, it does not matter. The obligation to put the title into their buyer’s name is their’s to live up to. If the don’t do it within the time allowed by the law in your state (most say between 30 and 45 days), then they lose. It can be that simple. In fact, to find out what all of this means in your situation and in your state you really need to talk to a local Consumer Law attorney near you. Call your local attorney's Bar Association and ask for a referral to a Consumer Law attorney near you or you can go to this web site page for a Free Online 50 State National List of Consumer Law Lawyers ( and find one near you (lawyers don’t pay to get listed here and most of them are members of the only national association for Consumer Law lawyers, But act quickly because for every legal right you have, there is only a limited amount of time to actually file a lawsuit in court or your rights expire (it's called the statute of limitations), so don't waste your time getting to a Consumer Law attorney and finding out what your rights are. If this answer was helpful, please give it a thumbs up review below. Thanks. Ron Burdge,

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