Consumer Complaints & Resources
Purchasing a vehicle is a major investment for many Floridians. Most auto dealerships are reputable, stable businesses that will be around to provide service during the years that you own your vehicle. Unfortunately, there are times when a dealership goes out of business. Where does that leave you, the consumer, and your newly purchased vehicle? The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles addresses Frequently Asked Questions to assist consumers with concerns about car dealership closings.
How can I submit a complaint to the department?
Complete form 84901. Please see the bottom of the form for instructions on submitting it and related documents.
Is my warranty still in effect?
The closures should not affect your warranty. Check with your dealer and ask them what services they will continue to provide. Some dealers may continue to perform repairs and/or warranty work.
Regardless of my warranty status, can I visit another dealer for service or repair?
Most service departments can perform routine vehicle maintenance, such as tire rotations and oil changes. If your vehicle is still under warranty, you should proceed with caution to make sure the repair does not void your factory warranty. Most warranties have clauses that are very specific as to whom can perform repair work on your vehicle.
What if I find that my dealer is affected by the closures and is no longer in business, and I need assistance?
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.
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.
If I purchase a used vehicle from a dealer affected by the closures, where do I obtain maintenance?
It is anticipated that some affected dealers that sell both new and used cars may continue to sell used cars. If so, these dealers also may continue to provide service for the vehicle purchased.
What is the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles doing to assist the dealers affected?
The Department will assist franchise (new car) dealers who wish to obtain an independent (used car) license. The Department also will assist dealers with license cancellations when required.
If a dealer is affected and no longer carries a particular make of vehicle; will they close or continue in business?
A dealer that deals in several makes of vehicles will most likely stay in business but with reduced makes to sell. If a dealer sells only the affected make of vehicle but also sells used vehicles, the dealer may stay in business, by applying for an independent (used car) license.
Where will I go to get parts that are “dealer only” if my current dealer is affected?
These items will need to be purchased from an authorized Original Equipment Manufacturer dealer.
If a franchise (new car) dealer continues as an independent (used car) dealer, can they sell their current inventory as new?
No, the dealer would have to be licensed as a used car dealer and as such could only sell used vehicles.
- Consumers who have questions about their Gap insurance or warranties should contact the Florida Department of Financial Services’ Division of Consumer Services or call 1-877-MY-FL-CFO. Consumers who have concerns about their automobile financing contract or to file a complaint, please contact the Florida Office of Financial Regulation or by calling 1-800-848-3792.
- If you believe you are a victim of unfair or deceptive trade practices or would like information about Florida’s Lemon Law, please contact the Attorney General’s Office. The Lemon Law Hotline is 1-800-321-5366 (1-850-488-2221 for consumers outside Florida.) The Attorney General’s fraud hotline is 1-866-966-7226 (1-850-414-3990 for consumers outside Florida.)
- For questions regarding repair work that was performed on your vehicle or to determine your eligibility to file a Lemon Law claim, please contact the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. The Consumer Services Division Hotline is 1-800-HELPFLA (1-800-435-7352).
- All other complaints against license Florida dealers should be filed with the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles at the regional office responsible for the dealership. Please use form 84901 to file a complaint and access the address of the regional office nearest you.