Car Lot Working to Give Valley Man Title Months after Purchase
UPDATE (4/18): A man who drove around with paper plates for months now has the title to his car.
Last month, Eliberto De Leon told us he was driving his 2005 Nissan Pathfinder with paper plates for four months.
J&A Auto Sales says this week, they obtained the title to the car from the previous owner and are working to get the title to De Leon.
In our report, we told you when buying a used vehicle, the car dealer should have the title in hand when selling it.
EDINBURG – A Rio Grande Valley man says he stands to lose his newly purchased car.
We learned his dealer could also lose quite a bit of cash, and it's all due to a title that has disappeared.
Eliberto De Leon says four months after buying his car, he’s still driving around with paper plates.
"I love it, since the first day I saw it," he says.
But De Leon says the car lot he brought his 2005 Nissan Pathfinder from still hasn’t provided him with a title.
"I’m trying to get my license plates for this vehicle so I can be on the safe side on the road, for not getting pulled over all the time," he says.
His paperwork shows he bought the Pathfinder from J&A Auto Sales in late December. So CHANNEL 5 NEWS paid a visit to the Edinburg business.
Javier Gonzalez, owner of the car lot, wouldn't speak to us in camera. However, he explains he got the Pathfinder from an auction that didn’t have the title when it was auctioned.
Fraud investigator Cesar Solis with the Hidalgo County Tax Assessor-Collector's Office says under state law, a seller needs to have a title in hand when selling a car.
He adds the seller needs to get the title to a buyer who's financing within 45 days.
"If they don’t' give us a justifiable reason, they can be fined for not transferring the ownership, the registration to the customer. It's a violation," he says.
It could mean a criminal citation that could cost a dealer up to $500.
He says if the seller can't come up with a title, they must offer a refund.
The owner of J&A Auto Sales says he's doing everything he can to get the title from the auction house. After all the Nissan belongs to him, while De Leon continues paying it off.
J&A says they'll offer De Leon a refund if that's what he needs.
"Whenever you buy a vehicle anywhere, at a car dealership, through Craigslist, Facebook, through flea markets, on the streets because they're selling vehicles almost everywhere," he says. "So you need to see the title right there and then, and make sure that the title is under the name of the person that's selling you the vehicle. And of course, you need to ask him for proof of identification, that that's the person that's on the title."
De Leon says he's going on his next payment. He hopes this gets resolved soon.
"They should have had the title from the get-go when I bought that vehicle, so I can give them the money for the plates," he says.
He says until then, he'll keep driving around wondering if he'll get to keep his car.