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California Dealership Failed to Transfer Title? Learn Your Legal Rights

On Behalf of | Feb 15, 2024 | Auto Law

Imagine purchasing your dream car, cruising down California’s scenic highways, only to discover you don’t actually own it! Auto Law has represented many consumers who never received the DMV registration and/or title transfer after purchasing a vehicle from a California dealership. Often the consumer does not discover the California dealership failed to register and transfer title until 3 or 4 months after the purchase.This scenario, unfortunately, is far from uncommon in California. Most dealerships in California sell vehicles when they don’t actually have the title. Sometimes the dealer never received the title from the previous owner and other times a third-party flooring company is holding the title until the dealer pays off a line of credit.California law mandates dealerships handle DMV registration and title transfer. When you purchase a vehicle, the contract includes a fee for this service, along with a 90-day temporary DMV registration. The dealer is required to submit the DMV paperwork and fees within 15 days of the purchase.The red flags start popping up: maybe the temporary DMV registration expires, the California dealership gives you the runaround, or, a police officer pulls you over for not having a physical license plate or current registration tags. One former client was pulled over a gun point because the police thought he had stolen the vehicle. Fortunately for him, the three-year-old in a car seat convinced the police that our client hadn’t stolen the vehicle and instead was the victim of dealer fraud. That client ended up getting his money refunded, loan paid off, and the unregistered vehicle was turned over to the finance company and became their problem to deal with.

The Impact is Real

The consequences of a dealership’s failure to register and transfer title are severe. You can’t:

  • Drive the car legally: Unregistered vehicles cannot be legal driven on public roads. Police can pull you over and ticket the driver for not having valid DMV registration. In rare cases, police can even treat the situation as a grand theft auto (you aren’t the registered owner after all).
  • Sell the car: You don’t own it, so selling the vehicle is impossible.
  • Even park it on a public road: Unregistered vehicles face towing and parking violations if they are on a public road


From Frustration to Resolution: How Auto Law Empowers You

At Auto Law, we specialize in holding California dealerships accountable for such negligence. Auto Law holds the dealer, as well as the finance company, and dealer’s surety bond responsible for the lack of DMV registration and title transfer. Going after the bank and bond companies helps ensure the consumer can still recover even if the dealership goes out of business.We’ve helped countless Californians in no registration/title transfer cases. We’ve secured:

  • Title transfers: Getting you the legal ownership you deserve.
  • Buyback: Getting the vehicle repurchased (i.e. refund of what you paid and cancelation/payoff of the loan) by the dealer/finance company.
  • Incidental damages: Other expenses you incurred as a result of the lack of DMV registration and title.
  • Penalties: Separate from a buyback, penalties accrue if the dealer failed to register and transfer title within 15 days of payment.
  • Peace of mind: Knowing you have a dedicated attorney fighting for your rights.



Don’t Let This Happen to You

If you suspect your California dealership failed to transfer your title, don’t wait! You can contact the DMV directly to find out the status of your DMV registration and title OR you can have Auto Law do it for us as a part of a free consultation. We’ll assess your situation, explain your options, and guide you through the process of reclaiming your rights.If you think a California dealership failed to register and title a vehicle you purchased, Auto Law can help. Contact Auto Law today at (619) 738-5818, [email protected]; or https://www.autolawfirm.com/no-title-registration-smog.html. The sooner we start working on your case, the sooner the problem gets resolved.