Can a dealership keep my tags and registration?

UPDATED: Oct 24, 2011

Advertiser Disclosure

It’s all about you. We want to help you make the right legal decisions.

We strive to help you make confident insurance and legal decisions. Finding trusted and reliable insurance quotes and legal advice should be easy. This doesn’t influence our content. Our opinions are our own.

UPDATED: Oct 24, 2011Fact Checked

Get Legal Help Today

Compare Quotes From Top Companies and Save

secured lock Secured with SHA-256 Encryption

Can a dealership keep my tags and registration?

I purchased a used car and paid the dealer $2500 for a down payment. The dealer put down $3000 as a down payment on the contract he submitted to the bank because he said that this bank required a $3000 down payment. He told me that I could pay the $500 over time, however the car notes started to roll in and my budget wont allow me to come up with $500. Now the dealership is holding my license plate and registration. What can I do? I’m already on my third temporary tag from the dealer and its about to expire .

Asked on October 24, 2011 under General Practice, Tennessee


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

The first issue here is what does the contract of sale *you* signed say? If you and the dealership agreed to a $2,500 down payment, that is all you needed to provide, no matter the dealer may have told the bank; you would be entitled to the car in theory (see below) because  you have complied with the agreement between you and the dealership. On the other hand, if the contract of sale required $3,000 down, that's what you would need to provide.

Complicating matters is that if you signed off on the contract or paperwork the dealer submitted to the bank, then even if the original contract between you and the dealer specified $2,500, the second contract may have superceded it; and/or you have committed fraud, by submitting false documentation to the bank. This could be a very complicated situation, if there are two contracts or sets of paper with different dollar amounts on them; or if there is only one contract with $3,000 on it, that would be the terms you agreed to--though in that case, it is possible you have a fraud case against the dealer, if the dealer represented to you that you'd only have to pay $2,500 down while preparing paperwork for $3,000.

In short, this again could be very complicated, since your rights depend on what was said, when; on what is one the contract; on how many contracts or forms there are, and whether they contradict each other; and on which forms you have signed. You should speak with an attorney, bringing copies of all documentation, to try and sort this out.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

Get Legal Help Today

Find the right lawyer for your legal issue.

secured lock Secured with SHA-256 Encryption