LANSING—Secretary of State Ruth Johnson today encouraged customers of two out-of-business west Michigan auto dealers to call her office so they can obtain proper title and registration for their vehicles.
Some customers of Wayland Motor Sales in Wayland and the Patriot Auto Group, Inc. in Hastings may have been issued improper temporary registrations or license plates as part of their vehicle transactions. Affected consumers risk having their vehicles impounded if stopped by law enforcement.
“Consumers who may have been victimized need to call to ensure they receive the correct ownership documents for their vehicle,” Johnson said. “Without proper title and registration, they will have difficulty proving they own their vehicle or getting a plate for the vehicle in the future.”
Buyers who received a vehicle from either dealership and have not received a title and registration are asked to call the department’s Office of Investigative Services at 517-335-1410 for assistance.
Secretary of State staff investigated both dealers and found a number of significant violations:
Wayland Motor Sales, 159 N. Main St. in Wayland. Secretary of State investigators found that the dealer poorly maintained records and repeatedly failed to apply for title and registration within the required 15 days of vehicle delivery. The licensee allegedly claimed that only four title transactions had not yet been processed but investigators discovered an additional 15 unprocessed tax, title and registration transactions from vehicle sales. The dealer had a former employee pretend to be a representative of Patriot Auto Sales Group, Inc. and purchase temporary registrations for customers. After customers drove off the lot, the dealership never submitted paperwork for them to receive their permanent title documents from the state. Johnson issued a summary suspension of the dealership.
Patriot Auto Sales Group, Inc., 490 S. M-37 Highway in Hastings. During the investigation of Wayland Motor Sales, the licensee for Patriot Auto Sales Group, Inc. allegedly denied knowing anything about the temporary registration purchases for Wayland Motor customers and submitted a close-out statement for the business. Investigators discovered that the dealership had seven unprocessed sales transactions, leaving customers without proper documentation for their vehicles. The dealer could not provide funds to pay for the tax, title and registration.
As part of her focus on strengthening her office’s consumer protection efforts, Johnson created a new office, which investigates and inspects automotive-related businesses. Already Investigative Services staff, acting on consumer complaints in many cases, have taken strong action against dozens of problem auto dealers and repair shops.