Papillion family frustrated with car title delays after online purchase

An inability to insure an unregistered car isn’t the only concern.
A Nebraska family says they are frustrated with car title delays after purchasing their vehicle online. (Source: WOWT)
Published: Sep. 7, 2022 at 10:35 PM CDT
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PAPILLION, Neb. (WOWT) - Imagine making payments on a $41,000 vehicle that you can’t drive. That’s the frustration a military family is feeling after buying an SUV online.

Active duty Navy with an active family of three young kids Colt Wettstein and his wife bought a used Tahoe that’s anchored at home.

“So we’re actually having to borrow a car from my mother-in-law which actually doesn’t have enough seats to carry the family,” said Wettstein.

In mid-April, the Wettstein’s bought the 2015 Tahoe with 60,000 miles from Carvana. But the online dealer has yet to deliver a title so the SUV has been unlicensed for 144 days.

“Finally I’m told I’m escalated to the executive level for the non-drivable task force but all they do is repeat ‘hey we recommend getting an Uber, park your vehicle and wait until they locate the title,’” said Wettstein.

Colt has peeled away more than one in transit and after an Arizona in-transit expired Colt received another one from Georgia but that too has run out so the family is afraid to drive their $41,000 Tahoe.

An inability to insure an unregistered car isn’t the only concern.

“We get pulled over the car gets towed and we’re not able to get it from the tow company until we can prove registration,” said Wettstein.

Sarpy County Treasurer Trace Jones says a key to driving the unregistered Tahoe may be a letter of explanation on his letterhead.

“There’s no guarantee if they’re pulled over by law enforcement, they wouldn’t be cited but at least it can help tell the situation and hopefully help them catch a break,” said Jones.

The treasurer has traced the title to New York where a duplicate has been issued for the Tahoe.

“It should never take this long. It’s absolutely unacceptable. They issue temporary tags or dealer tags for 30 days it should never take longer than that. But things happen and it’s happened a lot with the online car sales,” said Jones.

On his days off Colt says he’ll be watching for Carvana’s mail which so far has brought only frustrating surprises.

“We received registration paperwork for a Subaru Wrx for a guy that lives in Knoxville, Tennessee. I’ve been getting documents for other people and they’ve been sending my documents to other people,” said Wettstein.

When Colt bought the low-mileage Tahoe he didn’t expect it to stay that way because of a title delay that’s five months and counting.

After contacting Carvana, the buyer received a phone call from the online dealer to apologize. He says if the title isn’t sent soon the company offered to take back the SUV and provide a full refund including loan payments already made.

“We are working closely with the customer to resolve the issue and ensure their needs are met.”

Carvana spokesperson