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I went with my father to look at cars for him. we decided on a car and when they were filling out the papers they ran into a problem, his credit score was not high enough so I had to co-sign for the car. That was fine because I would do anything for him.

We got the car, made the first payment, and noticed that his name was not on the letter from the finance company, and I was made primary buyer.

First of all, they did this without my knowledge. Secondly I did not give consent for them to do that, and I don't even have a drivers licence. He purchased the car in December and he hasn't even received a registration card. How can they take his vehicle as trade in, take payments in his name from his bank account, and have insurance on the car in his name and we have all the paper work that shows him as buyer.

Now my father says if they can’t get it fixed, to where is name is listed as buyer, then they can give him his trade in back and give him back what he put in, and they can have the car back.

Even though he loves the car and really doesn't want to lose it, he is the one paying for the car and he should be the one listed as buyer on the papers, and it should be registered to him.

My question would be first, why did they change and list me as buyer, and how can I get my father listed as buyer instead of me?

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    Is the loan with his bank, or with the finance company related to the dealership? Is there a temporary registration you received from the dealership? – mhoran_psprep Jan 28 at 11:28
  • What did the papers you signed and have a copy of say? – Mark Jan 28 at 13:28
  • Who is on the title, who holds the loan and what does the statement say about the primary on the loan? What may have happened is dad's credit was bad, they deferred to you as the primary, and he couldn't co-sign for lack of credit, so you were made sole borrower according to the financing agreement. Hard to tell without more information. – CKM Jan 28 at 20:06
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My question would be first, why did they change and list me as buyer, and how can I get my father listed as buyer instead of me?

For the "why", it is because car dealers will do whatever they can to close a deal. Shady paperwork tricks and tactics are among them. There are at least 20 questions in the database of this site where people encountered similar "bait and switch" tactics.

On the "how", that really depends on your father's credit. Often times the best thing to do is to seek financing from the place he does his banking. Provided they have a good relationship they may be able to help him. This is especially true if you happen to bank at a smaller regional bank. Now, if he bounces a couple of checks each month, this will not work.

Cosigning is bad in most situations, but I can understand your desire to be a loving daughter. A cosigner really needs to consider themselves equally responsible for the loan and primary or secondary has no bearing.

Your mistake in all this was to go to the dealership for financing. It is always best to pay cash for a car, but if you need to do financing, then bring private financing to the dealership. Obtain a loan commitment from a bank or credit union, that you trust, and then shop for a car. The dealership's financing tends to be higher and they tend to pull shady tactics to increase their revenue.

If your father is unable to get the car financed in his name, then perhaps you can go to your credit union or bank and redo the financing, with you as cosigner, but him on the loan as well.

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I'm a little confused as to what your paperwork actually says, because on the one hand you state

we have all the paper work that shows him as buyer

but then you go on to ask

how can I get my father listed as buyer instead of me?

It sounds like perhaps you have been listed as the primary on the financing agreement and you father is listed as secondary or maybe not listed at all. However, this is only one piece of the puzzle. The names on the financing agreement only specify who is responsible for repaying the debt, and as you are aware, each person named is equally responsible for 100% of that debt.

The other thing to check is the title or memorandum certificate. This will have at least one of you named as the owner of the vehicle, and then the financing company will be listed as a lienholder. With a lienholder present, you cannot usually sell or transfer the title of ownership until the debt to the lienholder has been settled. If you're both listed on the title, then you both own the vehicle. If only one of your named is on the title, then that is the person who owns the vehicle. This declaration of ownership trumps whatever is written on the loan paperwork.

Now, in terms of what to do next, you may not have to do anything. After all, you have already said

I would do anything for him

So even if your name is on the title and his isn't, you can still just let him use "your" car and make all the payments on the loan (this is a fairly common scenario with the roles reversed - parents buying cars for their children to use). Once the loan is paid off, you're free to transfer the title to your father by gifting him the vehicle (or selling it for $1 if that's more beneficial from a tax perspective).

You should double check that the insurance policy does not forbid a non-owner being the full-time user of the insured vehicle. In the two states I've owned cars in, this has never been a problem, but I can't speak for all 50.

Lastly I wanted to address the comment:

my father says if they can’t get it fixed, to where is name is listed as buyer, then they can give him his trade in back and give him back what he put in, and they can have the car back.

Unless you are in a very consumer-protective state or there was a clear case of deception, it's unlikely that this will really be an option. There is most probably a thick stack of papers with your signature(s) all over them that state something along the lines of "I understand what I'm getting myself into here and I agree to it", and when you ask the dealer to unwind the sale they'll just shake their heads and point at that stack. But honestly, your situation isn't that bad - if you have a good relationship with your father, just chalk it up as a clerical error and fix it in a few years when the loan is paid off.

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Now my father says if they can’t get it fixed, to where is name is listed as buyer, then they can give him his trade in back and give him back what he put in, and they can have the car back.

This lack of knowledge of how sales works helps explain why your father's credit score is poor.

You don't mention what State you are in, but in California, it is not even possible for the Registered Owner of a vehicle to lack a driver's license. You need to see the registration for the vehicle, to see what it says. The finance company should be listed as the lienholder, and your father is the Registered Owner. You shouldn't be on DMV records at all. If you don't yet have registration documents, you may be able to get an answer at the DMV web site or by calling.

You are, however, on the loan documents. As a co-signer, you are completely responsible, and whether your father's name appears first, second, or not at all does not diminish that. Perhaps his credit is so bad that there couldn't be a loan with his name on it. I don't think there is any use trying to adjust the names on the loan.

I suggest you set up a system where you know your father is making timely payments.

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