How some dealerships use title washing to scam car buyers

On Behalf of | Apr 15, 2024 | Auto Dealer Fraud

Buying a car is a significant investment. You deserve peace of mind knowing that your new vehicle is safe, reliable and that its value accurately reflects its price tag. Unfortunately, some unscrupulous dealerships resort to a deceptive practice called “title washing” to hide a car’s troubled past and to trick unsuspecting buyers.

Understanding what title washing is and how dealerships use it can help you be aware of the dangers it can pose and how you can protect your interests in the event that you come face to face with this kind of scam.

What is title washing?

A car title is a legal document that identifies the vehicle’s owner and details its history. In Connecticut, titles are “branded” to indicate significant events like:

  • Major accidents
  • Flood damage
  • Prior Lemon Law Buyback
  • Odometer Roll Back.

These brands serve as a red flag for potential vehicle buyers, raising awareness to allow them to make informed purchasing decisions.

Title washing is the illegal act of manipulating a car’s title history to conceal this crucial information. Dealers might achieve this through various methods:

  • Exploiting state loopholes: Some states have lax title branding regulations. A dealer might move a car with a branded title from a stricter state to one without branding requirements, essentially “washing” the title clean.
  • Falsifying paperwork: In extreme cases, a dealer might fabricate documents or provide false information to obtain a new, unbranded title for the vehicle.

The motivation behind title washing is simple: profit. A car with a clean title can fetch a much higher price compared to one with a branded title. By hiding the vehicle’s history, dealers can significantly inflate the asking price and deceive unsuspecting buyers.

Understanding what title washing is can significantly reduce the risk of buying a car with a washed title. Remember, a little due diligence and seeking legal guidance can potentially save you a lot of money and hassle and help to better ensure your safety on the road.