Stuck and steaming

Seven On Your Side
November 11, 2010 3:39:39 PM PST
The first-time car buyer made a rookie mistake that cost her big time. She bought a car with cash. Then couldn't get a registration or title in the mail. She had the police run a background check and found out her car is in the middle of a lawsuit she had no idea about.Out of her garage and down to the sidewalk, that's as far as Audrey Williams dares to drive her Nissan Murano. Any farther and she'll be breaking the law.

"I am stuck," unhappy car buyer Audrey Williams is stating the obvious. In June of last year she paid $10,800 in cash for her used Nissan. But nearly a year later, she found a lein of more than $22,000.

Audrey says the dealership, Queens Boulevard Ford-Lincoln Mercury never told her about it. A vehicle history Audrey ordered after the sale revealed the truth.

"I wish I would've run a car fax," said the East Flatbush resident.

That whopping $22,000 lien was just the beginning. 7 On Your Side found out that Nissan Corporation's finance arm NMAC is actually suing the dealership in Supreme Court. Alleging in the lawsuit that it failed to pay off on the trade-in of that Nissan Murano. And despite it's obligation to pay, turned around and sold it to Audrey, without paying off the lien.

"The dealers done something that's really illegal and unethical and she shouldn't have to pay for their mistake," says Anthony Giorgianni, Finance Editor for Consumer Reports Money Matters. His biggest tip? Don't rely soley on a Car Fax.

"When you go to the dealer, ask them to see a copy of the title," says the Consumer Reports expert. "If they don't have it you want to see a copy of a lien release. You should say, 'I want you to prove to me there's no loan on it.' If they don't have the title ask them why."

Good luck getting answers at Audrey's dealership. We found it in disarray, signs - torn down, desks - empty. We went looking for the owner at the service center that was open. A man there said the showroom was still operating.

But the dealership declared bankruptcy last year. Leaving Audrey to purse them in court. while her car is behind bars.

The dealer told us by phone he'd buy back Audrey's car for the original purchase price minus 20 cents for every mile she drove. That would wind up costing Audrey more than $2,000. But she was adamant, she wants a full refund.