In 2021, Texas resident Wasim Akram made a sensible car purchase: a 2015 Toyota Corolla from Carvana. The car had exactly 13,331 miles on the odometer and cost him just a hair under $19,000—like I said, sensible. Everything seemed like just a normal car purchase, and Akram presumably went about life as normal for the next year—that is, until he tried to renew his vehicle registration.
Shortly after attempting to renew, the Harris County Tax Office (which handles most vehicle-related title and registration services for residents of its county) denied the registration renewal request. According to local NBC affiliate KPRC-2, a letter sent back to Akram from the tax office stated that the vehicle odometer’s reading didn’t match county records, meaning that the vehicle would be unregisterable with the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles.
“Your title was rejected due to the fact that the odometer reading went down from 22,756 to 13,343.” read the letter from the Harris County Tax Office.
This not only meant that Akram couldn’t register his vehicle but was also driving his car unregistered since he purchased it more than a year prior. It would appear that neither Akram nor Carvana caught wind of an initial registration rejection.
Akram circled back with Carvana to address the issue, but the automotive retail outfit couldn’t fix the mistake. Carvana reportedly told the owner that someone along the line made a typo with the vehicle’s mileage and that the company couldn’t fix the mistake. A Carvana spokesperson later clarified that the company didn’t make the typo, leaving the only potential responsible party as either the previous owner or a worker of Harris County.
“Back in 2021, we listed this vehicle with the correct mileage, and the customer paid the appropriate amount as it was accurately advertised,” a Carvana spokesperson told KPRC-2. “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.”
More specifically, Carvana took back the vehicle from Akram, paying off his loan and returning his down payment. The auto dealer also provided him with an extra $1,000 to cover expenses if and when he purchases another vehicle. However, Akram says that any interest rate that he has been quoted for a new vehicle has gone up nearly 6% from the original 4.3% loan he took out for the Corolla in 2019, meaning a loan for the same amount would effectively be more than double the amount of interest paid from $2,149.52 to $5,390.25.
The Drive reached out to Harris County Tax Office for clarification on where the clerical issue may have occurred and how the office might have fixed it but has not heard back at the time of writing.
This isn’t the first time we’ve heard of title issues in Texas. More specifically, it’s not the first time we’ve heard of it happening in Harris County—the most heavily populated county in the state. Last year, a Tesla owner in Texas spoke with us after a paperwork mistake by Tesla wasn’t caught by Harris County workers, resulting in the state DMV issuing a title for their Model Y Long Range to someone else.
As for the fate of the vehicle, that’s an unknown. It’s unclear what might happen next with Akram’s old Corolla in Texas, especially since Carvana purchased it back. We asked the Harris County Tax Office how it might register something like this in the future but have not yet heard back. Likely, the answer would be some sort of branded title, but the problem is now Carvana’s to figure out. For potential vehicle buyers, the Texas DMV recommends that residents perform a title check before they buy a vehicle to avoid issues like this in the future.
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