Taking Action: It’s a buyer’s responsibility to get the title when purchasing a used car!

HAMPTON COVE, Ala. - Jenifer Gulley says it was several months after she and her husband bought the truck before they found out there was a problem. Their bank called to tell them there was no title for the vehicle. She tried for almost a year to get the issue resolved before she called us. She says the whole affair was just one long headache.

“We purchased a truck from Cove Auto in Hampton Cove and about 3 months after purchasing the vehicle, Redstone contacted us and told us that they hadn't received a title for it,” Jenifer explained.

Meanwhile, the dealership had gone out of business, and Jenifer came face to face with a little known fact about buying a car in this state.

“In the State of Alabama, the consumer, the purchaser, is responsible to insure that they have a clean title for that car, not the financial institution,” according to Fred Trusty, Executive Vice President of Redstone Federal Credit Union. Even though Redstone would help all they could, ultimately it was the Gulley's responsibility to fix the problem. And so Jenifer started making calls. She found the car dealer had simply moved next door and opened a repair shop.

As for the title…

“Basically, he lost it,” Jenifer says.

“I did it. It's my fault. Lost,” explained Greg Talley, the dealer. He says he had sold the truck on consignment for someone else.

“I handed him the money, he handed me the title. Clean. No problem,” Talley told us.

The problem cropped up a short time later when the car lot closed, and the paperwork vanished.

We took action and contacted the previous owner of the truck. He agreed to come in to the credit union and sign a lost title application. He had had not responded to requests from Talley or the Gulleys. That turned out to be the results everyone had been waiting for. With that lost title application signed, Redstone was able to obtain a title voucher from the previous owner’s lending institution. That, along with a new title application was sent to Montgomery and resulted in a new title being issued.

“Well, I think it's great y'all helped. Y’all helped the people that bought the car, you helped me, you helped Redstone, and it was just one phone call that did it,” Talley remarked.

“We're so happy that, thanks to you guys, Channel 19, we were able to resolve this situation for our member,” Trusty explained.

And the Gulleys were thrilled. Jenifer says she learned a valuable lesson when buying a used car. “I would ask to see a title. I would ask, when you purchase a vehicle, that you want to see a title,” she says. And that’s good advice!

Trusty points out while dealerships will often agree to file the title application for their customer, it’s still the customer’s responsibility to make certain the title is delivered to the financial institution. Without the title in hand, banks often “call the note,” meaning they can demand the note be paid in full immediately. This is due to the face without the title, no one can claim legal ownership of the vehicle, so the loan is technically unsecured.

Trusty says credit unions, like Redstone, are less likely to go to such extremes, but still find themselves having to work with customers and dealers to obtain vehicle titles. It’s a common problem in Alabama. It’s the second time WHNT News 19 has been asked to step in and help resolve a missing title issue.

For this and other reasons, Trusty strongly suggests doing as much research on the dealership you’re buying from as you would do on the vehicle you’re buying. Redstone, and many other lending institutions, offer a list of preferred dealerships on their respective websites. These are reputable new and used car dealerships the lending institution has established a history of trouble-free sales with.

As for the Gulleys, they traded their truck in for another vehicle the same day they learned Redstone had received the title.