Bought a car cash from a dealer and traded in my car with a lien left over of $1100 dollars. We agreed after negotiations on buying used car for $23K and they would accept my trade for $5500 leaving $1100 remaining from my payoff. I kept reminding the sales agent, sales manager and financing manager that there was a lien left over and we would be paying it off here on site to completely rid of my old car. They accepted the deal and upon reminding them of the lien Left over, where told don't worry about it we'll take care of it by the sales agent, sales manager and finance manager. Basically begging them to charge us to rid of that old loan. We ended the deal paying all cash for the new used car. Signed all paper work . Got copies of paper work and slapped my old tag on the new one. Drove off. 10 days later they want us to return the car and said if not we owe them $5500. Said the lien on the car won't allow them to get the title. Duh! That's what I was telling them before we finalized the deal. They want to negotiate a finance for the $5500 , I said no. They want me to return the car and give mine back, I said no. Isn't our deal finalized by us paying straight cash for the new car and all papers signed? Isn't the lien their problem now? I'd be happy to pay off what's left on the lien . Not an issue. Plus they charged us private tag fees of $600 and title registration fees of $90, when I already have a tag. I don't think I need to return the vehicle and tell them tough cookies. Just need another vantage point before I lawyer up.

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – JohnFx
    Commented Jul 26, 2022 at 21:41
  • 2
    First and foremost, the existing lien is still YOUR problem, not the dealer's. You signed the note and you agreed to pay per the terms. While the dealer may be acting as your agent in paying off the loan, the lender still considers YOU the debtor. They can continue to hold the lien until they are paid.
    – jwh20
    Commented Jul 27, 2022 at 12:51
  • Is there a section in the deal which says the lien is their problem? You quoted a part where they talk about paying off the lien, but is there any other part that talks about liens? Commented Jul 27, 2022 at 20:51
  • 4
    Honestly you got scammed by the salesperson and the fact that you didn’t fully read this contract. That amount should of been filled in. Even if you get a lawyer you will lose this battle.
    – JonH
    Commented Jul 28, 2022 at 2:05
  • OP, You should incorporate all the additional information you provided in the comments (and that was moved into the chat) back into the question, since it alters the understanding of the situation quite significantly
    – littleadv
    Commented Jul 28, 2022 at 20:48

2 Answers 2


It seems that you expected to pay the $1100 to the dealer, together with the tradein, so they could pay off the loan and have clear title.

If they took your $1100 and didn't pay off the loan, you'd have a valid complaint. But they didn't take your $1100, so you still have it.

What you need to do is use that $1100 which is still in your possession, for the purpose you already earmarked it for: paying off the loan. If you do that in person, you'll get a payoff letter on the spot (insist that the lender gives you this). If you do it electronically, the letter will be delayed in coming. Either way, as soon as the loan is paid off you then call the dealer and tell them, so they can apply for title again.


I don't see the problem. The dealer will get the title to the trade-in once they pay off the loan. This is the deal both parties originally agreed to. There is no action you need to take on your part other than asking them to send the signed agreement where you previously agreed to finance $5500. If this signed agreement does not exist then all they can do is call and harass you hoping you give in.

  • 2
    If you go through the conversation in the comments that's been moved to chat you'll see that the actual agreement that the OP signed says nothing about dealer's assuming the debt. It's just the OP's misunderstanding.
    – littleadv
    Commented Jul 27, 2022 at 20:35
  • @littleadv: The question explicitly says "I'd be happy to pay off what's left on the lien". They're simply confused about who they make that payment to.
    – Ben Voigt
    Commented Jul 28, 2022 at 18:38
  • 1
    @BenVoigt the OP thinks that only $1100 was left on the lien, which is the source of the confusion. Do go through the messages in chat, they clarify the situation significantly
    – littleadv
    Commented Jul 28, 2022 at 20:47

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