Feb 27, 2014 1:02 PM
NUECES COUNTY - The Tax-Assessor Collector in Nueces County says in the past week alone his office has seen several car title troubles.
Many people are spending their income tax return to buy cars, only to find out, the title is not clear.
This could be a big headache if it happens to you.
Some have even had their cars repossessed because they unknowingly bought a car with a lien still on it.
Now, the State Comptrollers Office and the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles are investigating here in Nueces County.
Stephanie Salinas is just one new car owner facing title troubles lately. "I haven't really been driving it because the plates are expired," she told us.
She bought a Nissan Pathfinder in September, made her payments religiously, but never got plates to replace the temporary ones. Now, they're expired. "They told me I was going to get it in the mail, they were going to send it to me in the mail," Salinas explained.
Unfortunately, Salinas' problem is one Tax Assessor-Collector Kevin Kieschnick is seeing all too often lately.
"Some people are taking out loans on vehicles, not disclosing that to the people who are buying them and then they turn around and sell the vehicle without a title," Kieschnick explained.
It is illegal, but getting the title transferred can cost you the lien, your car, if its repossessed, or a whole lot of tickets for expired plates until you get it straightened out.
Take it from Salinas, it's a hassle. "I don't know if I have to go register it myself, pay more money."
"Its an expense to the person who's already stuck in the middle for an improperly transferred title," Kieschnick said.
Kieschnick tells us the problem is not only with individual sellers, so before you buy a car, beware. "There's a few unscrupulous dealerships in town that are not transferring the titles properly," he explained.
Kieschnick is hoping to create legislation that further protects buyers and creates stiffer penalties.
In the meantime, if you are in the market for a car, make sure you always get the title if it's a cash deal.
If the owner still owes money on that car, pay the bank directly and coordinate with them to get the title to you directly.
Research your dealer with the Better Business Bureau and always get a receipt if you pay cash.
If you purchase a used vehicle at a dealership and your plates don't arrive in 30-45 days, contact the dealership and the Motor Vehicle Department.