Due to current inventory shortages, this has become a seller’s market for cars, with dealers getting away with even more nonsense than before. Now, a proposed piece of legislation in Florida would allow dealers to opt-out of obtaining your title after the transaction has taken place.
GENERAL BILL by Wright
Motor Vehicles; Providing that motor vehicle dealers or mobile home dealers should apply for, rather than are required to obtain, certificates of title in the name of purchasers; providing that certain applications relating to transfers of motor vehicles or mobile homes should, rather than must, be filed within a certain timeframe; revising grounds on which the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles may deny, suspend, or revoke a motor vehicle dealer license, etc.
Effective Date: 7/1/2022
Last Action: 1/18/2022 Senate - Introduced -SJ 120
The keywords here are - “dealers should apply for, rather than are required to obtain, certificates of title in the name of purchasers.” This essentially means that if you buy a car from a dealer, they “should” apply for a title but are by no means legally obligated to do so. This could put buyers in a position where they buy a car and would not have the one legal document to prove that they actually own said vehicle.
There has been some recent controversy with online retailers like Carvana and Vroom, both claiming to make your car buying experience “hassle-free.” However, there is currently a class-action lawsuit filed in the state of Pennsylvania against Carvana and the company’s inability to procure vehicle titles in a reasonable amount of time. We have reported previously that these online retailers may not be as “convenient” as they advertise. Carvana was recently banned in the state of North Carolina due to issues the company had with processing titles.
We all know that dealerships can be a powerful political lobby and have constantly pressured politicians to maintain franchise laws and ban factory-to-consumer direct sales. This proposed bill goes a step further and removes a requirement to specifically protect consumers. The implications of this bill go beyond just the online retailers, as regional franchised dealerships and corner used car lots could sell cars and also never provide titles.
As a professional car shopper, I always dread doing deals in Florida as it seems like the slimiest of slimy dealers end up in the Sunshine State. There are some exceptions of course, but I often joke with my clients that “consumer protection laws are more of a suggestion”... that is exactly what Senator Wright is trying to do.
(Tom McParland is a contributing writer for Jalopnik and runs AutomatchConsulting.com. He takes the hassle out of buying or leasing a car. Got a car buying question? Send it to Tom@AutomatchConsulting.com)