Action 9

‘You just feel helpless’: How some vehicle trade-ins can hurt consumers

ORLANDO, Fla. — A local woman said she was taken for a ride after buying a car from a dealer. She claims she was left on the hook for $50,000 for the car she traded in and no longer had.

“We love it,” said Ashley Zeger describing the SUV she recently purchased.

Zeger is happy with her 2022 Hyundai Palisade, but she didn’t expect buying the car would be such a bumpy ride.

“We were on the euphoric high of, you know, getting what we wanted and getting the new vehicle,” Zeger said.

Zeger and her husband bought the SUV at Motor Trend Orlando. They traded in their Kia Telluride, which had a $50,000 loan balance that the auto dealer would have to pay.

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Days after making the deal, Zeger noticed the loan on the trade-in had not been paid. Zeger claims managers at the used auto dealer assured her the money was sent on several occasions, but that’s not what she heard from the credit union holding the loan.

“It’s really unfortunate, but you’re still on the hook for the loan balance,” Zeger said she was told.

That left her owing $50,000 for a car she no longer had.

When Action 9 spoke to Zeger, she had been trying for three months to get the trade-in paid off.

“It’s bewildering because you just feel helpless,” Zeger said.

“Unfortunately (it) happens far too often,” said consumer attorney Jared Lee.

Lee said Florida law is clear. Auto dealers must pay off trade-in balances within 10 business days, and if they don’t, they could face legal troubles.

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He said it’s important to research a company’s history before trusting them with your trade-in, because there can be real consequences for consumers.

“They are still responsible and liable for that loan that is owed to the original finance company. So as the loan continues to be unpaid, they may get negative credit reporting,” Lee said.

After Action 9 initially contacted Motor Trend Orlando, Zeger’s trade-in balance was finally paid.

Consumer reporter Jeff Deal recently tried to reach managers at the auto dealer, but the company’s phone number led him to a voice mail box that was full, and the company has not responded to messages he sent online.

Zeger said more needs to be done to hold businesses accountable.

“I know that when I sign to pay something, I’m supposed to pay it,” Zeger said.

When trading in a vehicle with an outstanding loan, make sure the dealer does their part, and that the loan is properly paid. If there are any issues, you can file a complaint with the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, that’s the agency that regulates auto dealers.

Jeff Deal

Jeff Deal,

I joined the Eyewitness News team as a reporter in 2006.