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Dealer Out of Business?

The Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles is Here to Help

Today’s challenging economic times are affecting many of us, including automobile dealers. Some dealerships are closing their doors, often leaving customers with questions and a need for assistance. The Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles can help in situations such as:

  • You paid for the vehicle at the point of sale, but the dealer did not provide you the title or tag.

  • You finished making payments to the dealer, but they did not give you the title with the lien release.

  • You were making payments to the dealer, but you cannot locate them to finish payment.

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If you find yourself in one of these situations, we suggest you contact the Department. If necessary, the Department will assist consumers with filing a complaint and working through most of the issues you may encounter. Your complaint may be filed with the DMV regional office in the county where the dealership was located. A list of regional offices can be found on our Web site (click here) and are listed on the complaint form.

You will be asked to provide proof of purchase of the motor vehicle or mobile home, generally in the form of a sales contract signed by you and the dealer. This and any other documentation regarding the purchase of your vehicle should be submitted to the Department when you file your complaint.

In many circumstances, the Department can issue the customer an Out-of-Business Affidavit which may be used to obtain a title. Our offices will also provide customers with a letter describing options on how a title can be obtained and providing the name of the dealership’s surety bond company. In some rare cases, the consumer may be required to obtain a court order directing the Department to issue a title to your vehicle.

If you have any other questions or need assistance, you can reach the Department’s Bureau of Field Operations office at (850) 617-3171.

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