Man buys car but is not allowed to drive it
Title issues can be a major road block
NORTH FORT MYERS, Fla. - When you buy a car or truck you expect to be able to take it for a spin.....right? Well, imagine if you purchased a vehicle and then found out you're not allowed to drive it. It happens to people every day. Four in your Corner's Mike Mason is here to tell you how to keep this from happening to you.
This Chevy Blazer is 12 years old but is super clean and runs great.$1,000 dollars seemed like a great deal.
Dale Moore: "Oh, it's a great vehicle, I mean everything was good on it you know."
Stephen Lanham bought the Blazer from one of his neighbors....he didn't mind pumping some money into it so it would run like new.
Dale Moore: "I had to redo the whole top end, tear it completely apart pull the heads off of it put new head gaskets."
Now that it's revving to go....there's just one problem: he can't drive it.
Steven Lanham: "I can't get it legal. I can't get it registered, insured, nothing."
Receipts prove Lanham paid for the Blazer.....but when he got the title, he got a big surprise.
Stephen Lanham: "Since 3 people have signed the title, the title is no longer valid. So it's void, it's garbage."
The title shows the Blazer was originally purchased by a company called Stevens Industries....then it was sold to two other people before Lanham bought it. Unfortunately, those people never registered the title....so legally the Blazer still belongs to the original owner.
We found Stevens Industries is now called Fusion Industries in Fort Myers. Lanham says when he called the company they told him there's nothing they can do.
Stephen Lanham: "A thousand dollars, that's a lot of money to just eat, you know what I'm saying?"
So Lanham turned to Fox 4. We gave him the complaint form to fill out so the state could look into it. But officials there tell us there's little they can do.
Kirsten Olsen-Doolan – FL Dept. Motor Vehicles: "Oh, this fella has a tough situation."
The state only handles title issues involving car dealers. Since Lanham bought the Blazer from an individual he now has 3 options.
Kirsten Olsen-Doolan – FL Dept. Motor Vehicles: "He can either go back through the chain and try to find all the people who have owned the car and get them to title it properly. He can apply to a court to see if a judge will let him title it or, you know if you can, try to give the car back and get your money back from the person you bought it from."
But that person has since moved. So for now, it looks like Lanham will have to find another way to get around.
Stephen Lanham: "I want to see this title in my name and get it registered and insured so I can drive it, go get a real job."
Officials say when you buy a new vehicle make sure the name typed on the top of the title matches the person you're buying it from. If you have questions about a title contact Florida's Department of Motor Vehicles at 850-617-2000.