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DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Buying a used car from a dealer comes with an expectation of a clean title. But it turns, it is ultimately the consumers responsibility to double check the title — because errors can happen.

The CBS 11 News I-Team received a call from Cedar Hill resident Adrian Stephens, who bought a used car from a dealer in North Texas. It was her dream car. “It is a limited edition,” she said, pointing to her VW GTI. “They made 1200 of these so it’s not something you see every day.”

Stephens bought the car from the dealership back in May. A month later, she had to bring it back to have a faulty light fixed. But fate had other plans. “We had to leave it over the weekend and over that weekend the dealership was broken into,” she told CBS 11 News.

Burglars smashed her car window, stole the stereo and destroyed the center console. Police ran the VIN number through their system and to her surprise, her dream car came back as reported stolen in El Paso.
Fortunately for Stephens, it all turned out to be a big mistake. The car was simply misclassified in a police tracking system but no one caught the error.

That’s when Stephens called the I-Team concerned about how such a thing could happen. She assumed that when she bought it at the dealer, things would be checked out thoroughly.
Her fear was being pulled over by a cop while driving her car. “I was afraid once I found that out. I would have been arrested for driving my own car, ” she said.

The I-Team reached out to the Department of Motor Vehicles who told us:

“While there’s no statute or rule that states a dealer has a responsibility to check the status of a title prior to offering a vehicle for sale…licensed dealers should perform due diligence.”

It also said that consumers need to do their own homework especially when dealing with used vehicles. The DMV has a title check on their webpage that will tell you if the vehicle is stolen, or has a flood mark or non-repairable. Some of those searches can cost you up to $40. Experts says it’s money worth spent.

You can also look up information about stolen or flood vehicles on NICB.org’s Vincheck system. That search is free.

The DMV says if you’re buying a used car you must get it checked by a mechanic. Make sure the VIN number on the dash or the door is not tampered with or scratched. And, make sure the name on the title matches the name of the person selling you the car.

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