HOUSTON – Inventory shortages and increasing interest rates are making it difficult to buy used vehicles, but you know the saying “It could always be worse.”
More than a year after Wasim Akram purchased a car from Carvana, he discovered the mileage on the 2015 Toyota Corolla had been reported as much higher than when he purchased it years later. The Harris County Tax Office would not renew his registration because there was a hold on the car’s title.
“I was driving the car like it was illegal,” Akram explained. “That’s what it was. I mean, with no registration.”
He had no registration and a hold on the title to his Corolla. Akram wanted to know why Carvana hadn’t notified him when the state rejected the title.
“When you reached out to Carvana, they should have had some idea of what was going on already?” investigative reporter Amy Davis asked.
“They said they don’t know,” Akram answered. “They won’t be able to fix it. And they said they missed... like when they did the title, they wrote wrong. That’s what they told me.”
“That it was a typo?” Davis asked.
“Yeah, typo,” Akram confirmed.
Carvana ad lists vehicle with 13,331 miles
The listing on Carvana featured a 2015 Toyota Corolla with 13,331 miles. The price was just under $19,000.
Akram took out a loan from a bank with a 4.3% percent interest rate. He made a down payment to Carvana, and the car was his... in theory.
Even though Akram drove the car for an entire year, for all of 2022, he didn’t realize there was a hold on the car’s title until he tried to renew the registration.
The registration denial letter from the Harris County Tax Office reads “Your title was rejected due to the fact that the odometer reading went down from 22756 to 13343.”
Carvana did take the car back. They refunded Akram’s down payment and paid his loan in full. But that left him with no vehicle.
“Well, it was frustrating because right now the interest rate is high. Besides the buying a vehicle, it’s not as easy as it used to be,” Akram said.
When he did find a new used car, the best interest rate he could get was almost 6% higher than the one he had secured originally.
When we reached out to Carvana, a spokesperson told us they determined the mileage on the odometer was correct when they sold it to Akram. They said the old mileage listed on the title was a clerical error, but one that went unnoticed until Akram couldn’t register the car. tampered with or rolled back. Carvana has offered Akram $1,000 to help cover his extra expenses with the new car loan.
Carvana Communications Director Kristin Thwaites sent us the following statement:
“Back in 2021, we listed this vehicle with the correct mileage and the customer paid the appropriate amount as it was accurately advertised. Unfortunately, the paper title showed a discrepancy due to a clerical error and we’re compensating Mr. Akram to make it right considering the hassle he’s experienced in this rare instance.”
Protect yourself when buying a used vehicle
State law does not require a dealer to verify a vehicle’s history, but the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles says you should do that before you buy any used vehicle.
A title check will cost you between $8-$12.. and Akram can confirm--it’s a lot less than what you could lose if you don’t do your homework.
Buyers who have a complaint about a dealer’s sales practices may file a complaint here. The Texas DMV also offers “Smart Buyer” tips with information on how consumers can protect themselves when purchasing a used vehicle:
• Tips for Buying a Previously Owned Car