Customer Still Owns Car After Trading It In

When customers buy a new car, many trade in the old one.

You may think when you leave your old trade-in on the lot you're no longer responsible, but that's not the case. Almost two weeks after buying her new car and trading in her hold one, a Dallas woman learned she was still responsible for payments on the old car.

Melissa Dexter and her husband Dalton Johnson have two kids and a golden retriever and they needed a vehicle that would comfortably carry them all. He wanted a 2016 Jeep Cherokee, so she went to Love Field Jeep Chrysler Dodge Ram with financing, a plan and cash in hand. She told salesmen she was not interested in incentives or payments.

"The price of the car and the value of the trade, we can make that happen," Melissa told the financing team. "We already have financing. We'll walk away with the car today."

The Dexters traded in a 2011 Jeep Liberty. The dealer offered $185 less than what they owed on the car, which was based on a 10-day payout quote. That means the quote made March 11 was only valid through March 21.

"We think everything's good until I look about five days later...and the car hasn't been paid off," Melissa said. "I start calling the dealership. I called the finance manager. I called the general manager."

Melissa said no one called her back. On Day 11, the lender told her they hadn't received payment for the trade-in.

"And now the lender wants me to make the payment," said Dexter..

Many consumers don't know that in Texas a dealer has 25 days to pay off your trade-in. During that time, you're responsible for the payment and your credit could be dinged..

"At the end of the day, I owe that money," Melissa said. "I have no car, but I'm legally obligated to pay that amount."

NBC5 Responds contacted the dealership. A spokesman told us the dealership sent the check by overnight delivery on Day 11 and the bank received it the next day. The dealership also agreed to pay the extra interest that had accrued because they had not paid the loan in 10 days. Dexter confirmed that the dealership also paid that extra $185 she still owed on the trade-in.

Remember, if the dealer takes the 25 days allowed by law to pay off your trade-in and you miss a payment during that period, it could affect your credit. Late payments can be reported to credit agencies after 30 days. It's important to communicate with your lender. If the lender wants payment, it's best to do so and get reimbursed after the dealer pays off the trade-in.

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