AUSTIN (KXAN) — Hundreds of customers who purchased a vehicle from Discount Auto Sales in East Austin over the past few years might not actually own their vehicle at all.
In April, the Austin Police Department busted the used car dealership at the corner of Airport Boulevard and Springdale Road for operating without a valid license after they received a tip about an unauthorized dealership. More than five dozen vehicles were tagged and towed that day because the owner did not have proof of ownership paperwork.
If you bought your vehicle and paid for it in cash from Discount Auto Sales between January 2014 and April 2016 and never received a title, you are asked to contact the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles (TxDMV). The Austin Police Department say they also want to speak to customers who paid the vehicle taxes in cash at the time of the purchase or paid for the vehicle in cash.
Authorities believe there may be more than 200 titles that were not properly transferred by this dealer.
Texas law requires auto dealers to file a buyer’s title paperwork with the county within 20 business days of the date of sale of a used vehicle.
When KXAN was at the dealership when it was originally shut down, one customer was worried she was going to lose her car. Vanessa Zavala said she was told the vehicle came with tax, title and license, but later the dealership asked for $500 more to get the title. “It’s been hectic with this car,” said Zavala in April. “I just feel like if I can just give it away or get my money back for it, I would honestly do that.”
Affected consumers should complete a Motor Vehicle Dealer Complaint form, available online at www.txdmv.gov/dealercomplaint or by calling TxDMV at 1-888-368-4689.
TxDMV reminds consumers of two important steps they can take to protect themselves before purchasing a used vehicle:
- Make Sure the Dealer is Properly Licensed: Texas auto dealers are required to be licensed by the state. Before purchasing, you can search TxDMV’s license database to see if the dealer has a license: www.txdmv.gov/dealerlist.
- Do a Title Check: With the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) and for a small fee, you can obtain a vehicle’s title history to find out if it is salvaged, rebuilt or was damaged in a flood. Title Check is available at www.txdmv.gov/titlecheck.
“If the deal just looks too good, make sure you stop think, do your research, make sure you use the DMV to help you make a smart car purchase,” Bill Harbeson, the director of the Enforcement Division says.
In addition to the above, the DMV representatives suggest documenting everything to be sure you have proof in case something goes wrong.
“Anytime you give them any sort of compensation, whether it be cash, credit card or check, always get a receipt for what you’ve given the dealer,” Harbeson says.