KPIX 5 ConsumerWatch with Julie WattsBy Julie Watts

NAPA (KPIX 5) — About 100 customers of a  now-closed car dealership in Napa say they’ve been unable to register their new cars, or are still listed as the owners of cars they traded-in, because the dealership failed to file appropriate notices and fees with the DMV.

Napa Chrysler Jeep Dodge Ram shut its doors back in February. The business at 333 Soscal Avenue filed for bankruptcy a short time later.

At least one Napa Chrysler customer is having troubles with both her old and her new car. Samantha Moore traded-in her 2005 Chrysler 300 to the dealership back in January, 2016, while purchasing a 2008 Nissan Armada from the company. At the time, she said there was a $3,500 outstanding debt on the Chrysler.

Seven months later, it’s still outstanding, and no one seems to know where the car is. “The car is now in repossession and they’re looking to recover the vehicle,” said Moore.

Moore also said she is being hounded by loan-holder Chrysler Capital on a daily basis. “I probably get three or four calls a day from creditors,” Moore told KPIX 5 ConsumerWatch.

Additionally, Moore said the 2008 Nissan Armada she purchased from the dealership at the time of her trade-in cannot be registered because the dealership never filed the appropriate paperwork with the DMV. “I can’t get this car registered at all,” she said.

Moore says when she calls Chrysler corporate to ask for help with the matter, she has been told repeatedly “this is between you and the dealership.”

Customer Shandra Knego is also having trouble registering her car, a new Jeep Cherokee. Knego first grew concerned when she failed to receive her license plates two months after her purchase.

“I was calling them on a pretty regular basis, asking about my plates,” Knego told ConsumerWatch. “I never got one call back,  I was never able to get past the receptionist.”

When the dealership closed up for good, Knego learned it had not filed the necessary paperwork with the state’s DMV and that Napa Chrysler was still listed as the official owner of her vehicle. Nine months after she purchased the Jeep, she is still driving around with no license plates.

“I am aware if I am pulled over the car can be impounded,”  she said. “I’m hesitant to leave it in a parking lot, because if I got towed how could I prove ownership?”

Calls to the lawyer representing the dealership’s owner,  Patrick Smorra, were not returned.

Both the Napa County district attorney and the California Department of Motor Vehicles are investigating the dealership closure and are asking victims to file a complaint with the DMV investigations unit.

Officials say customers can apply to the Consumer Motor Vehicle Recovery Corporation (CMVRC) for compensation for fees the dealership failed to pay and for money to pay off outstanding loans on trade-ins.

The CMVRC was created in 2008 by the California legislature to help victims of car dealerships that go out of business.

Hanlees Auto Group said it is currently in the process of buying the dealership.  It says it expects to open the site for business next month.

 

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