Online Used Car Retailer Vroom Catches An $87,000 Fine For Massive Used Car Title Transfer Delays

Morning Dump Vroom

Vroom catches a fine over delayed title transfers, NHTSA firms up its position on quiet vehicle warning devices, this might be the new Honda Accord. All this and more on today’s issue of The Morning Dump.

Welcome to The Morning Dump, bite-sized stories corralled into a single article for your morning perusal. If your morning coffee’s working a little too well, pull up a throne and have a gander at the best of the rest of yesterday.

Vroom Is In Some Shit

Car Dealership
Photo credit: “Row of Cars at a Car Dealership” by everycar_listed_photos is marked with CC BY-SA 2.0.

Online used car sales startups, am I right? Regardless of brand, they all sit there gnashing their teeth, chanting cries of “Disrupt! Disrupt! Disrupt!” What the hell are you disrupting? The only true disruption going on is leaving owners in the lurch with ridiculous title transfer delays, something Vroom has been fined $87,000 for in Florida to settle a complaint. I’ll let Automotive News explain.

The complaint, filed in early June by the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, alleged that Vroom failed to transfer vehicle titles to consumers within 30 days of the date of sale. The state agency cited 87 instances in which Vroom missed the 30-day deadline — sometimes by several months.

I’m sorry, months? Imagine not getting the title to your car for months, that’s just unacceptable. A fine of $1,000 per instance seems trivial compared to the massive nuisance this has been for consumers. Even worse? This isn’t even the first time that Vroom has done this. In January, the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles cited 47 cases of unacceptable title delays back in January. All this time for Vroom to clean up its act, yet nothing’s changed. While Vroom cites business expansion as the cause of delays, that’s still not an acceptable excuse. No matter what shiny new coat of paint someone puts on the dealer system, it’s going to take a lot of work to reform car sales in America.

Saved From Automotive Ringtone Hell

2023 Bolt Ev Side Profile While Driving On An Urban City Street
Photo credit: Chevrolet

By law, every new hybrid or electric vehicle sold in America must come equipped with an external speaker that plays a pedestrian warning sound when vehicle speed is at or below 18.6 mph (30 km/h). It’s usually a tiny little UFO-like noise, partly because that’s palatable and partly because that’s on-brand. While NHTSA considered opening up low-speed warning noises back in 2019, Reuters reports that consideration was recently quashed.

The agency said Tuesday the proposal “is not being adopted because of a lack of supporting data. … Removing this restriction would allow manufacturers to make more obscure sounds that only appeal to a small minority of (hybrid electric) owners.”

I’ve got mixed feelings here. Speaking for experience, I’m not sure if all OEM pedestrian warning noises are loud enough for certain urban centers, so this ringtone noisemaker concept doesn’t sound entirely stupid. You know what’s hard to miss? This is Why I’m Hot by MIMS blasting out of a Kia EV6. Pick the most annoying circa-2008 ringtone you can think of and bam, pedestrian warning device! Fortunately or unfortunately depending on your perspective, we never would’ve received ringtone rap for electric cars. We’d have likely received noises ranging from “low growl” to “medium hum.” In that context, non-switchable pedestrian warning sounds don’t seem like such a bad idea.

[Editor’s Note: A standardized sound would also allow for quick recognition of what the sound is announcing, something that an infinite variety of sounds wouldn’t be able to do. – JT]

This Might Be The New Honda Accord

2024 Honda Accord Patent Drawing

News from Brazil! You know, it’s a shame we don’t hear that more often. Brazil gave us the Puma GTE, the Santa Matilde, and the Chevrolet Opala, some all-time greats if ever I’ve seen them. Anyway, news from Brazil, where patent drawings reveal a future midsize sedan with a lot of Honda design language. Look, I’m not saying that this is the next Honda Accord, but take a good look at these pictures and tell me what you think.

2024 Honda Accord Patent Drawing 2

Okay, so there’s a ton of overhang going on here, but other than that, this design looks pretty handsome. The hexagonal upper grille works, while the full-width heckblende tail light treatment is a pretty choice move. Sure, there’s a lot of metal between the sill and the greenhouse, but that’s par for the course on new cars. While it would’ve been nice to see a liftback, a traditional trunk isn’t unexpected. After all, this still might be an Accord. While we still have no idea what the interior of the vehicle in these patent drawings will look like, we can tell you some details about the next Accord. First up, Honda’s planning on offering a hybrid version of the next Accord. Secondly, it’s not entirely unreasonable to expect the next Accord to debut next year based on typical model cycles. Honestly, that’s about all we know for now. We don’t know if the excellent two-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine is sticking around, nor can we say for sure that it will look a lot like this. Still, all will be revealed at a future date.

Dartz Comes Out With A Tiny Roadster

Dartz Freze Froggy Ev
Photo credit: Dartz

Hey, remember Dartz? The Latvian motor company that gained infamy for peddling uber-luxe armored vehicles with optional whale penis leather interiors? Well, Dartz has shifted sights massively, dropping a new tiny electric vehicle called the Freze Froggy EV Beachstar. Hey, if the new wave of opulence is electric Chinese microcars, Jason’s practically set for the Met Gala.

Based on the Wuling Hong Guang Mini EV, the Dartz Freze Froggy EV Beachstar is an actual roadster. Cut-down windscreen, open top, lovely stuff. It’s also very yellow and green, in tribute to the custom Volkswagen Froggy and the Millennium Adventure. That second car is an SLK body on a G-Class platform, gloriously weird but I dig it. Anyway, there’s this cool sort of retro-futuristic vibe to the Freze Froggy EV Beachstar that I’m totally here for, from the color-keyed hubcaps to the chunky rear spoiler. It just seems to have such a sense of fun about it, a necessary moment of brevity in today’s rather serious automotive landscape.

[Editor’s Note: I spoke with the madman behind DARTZ, Leonard Yankelovitch, and should clarify a few things about this picture: that Beetle is known as Froggy, and was an early proto-DARTZ project, same with the lifted Benz there. Also, the Freze may be render in this pic, but I’ve been assured it’s going to be real. We’ll have more (and exclusive!) DARTZ stuff at some point soon, because they’re just fun and Leonard is great. – JT]

The Flush

Whelp, time to drop the lid on today’s edition of The Morning Dump. It’s Wednesday, which means we’ve officially made it halfway through the week. To celebrate, let’s play a game. A brand new Toyota Corolla L stickers for $21,450 including freight. What two-car fleet would you build for that money? The ground rules are simple — one vehicle needs to be great in the snow, and both vehicles need to be get-in-and-drive propositions. No fiddling with carburetors in a ski resort parking lot, no crazy engine-out services. So, with some limits on sensibility in mind, what are you buying?

Lead photo credit: Vroom

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51 Responses

  1. That Honda looks vaguely new-Volkswagonish to me at first glance.
    I kinda already have the 2-car fleet out front now: stock ( mostly ) ‘02 WRX and a ‘10 E350 SuperDuty work van with the Quigley 4wd conversion. I plan to bid on the van when my company sells it. Thinking I can reconfigure the drop-down ladder rack on one side to hold a screened tent: mobile setting’ porch to fend off the mosquitoes.

  2. I don’t understand why Vroom and Carvana have so much trouble handling titles. Seems that would be easy to manage for an online firm.
    Our local Carvana car-vending-machine in my county in NC is banned from selling cars for a period of time because they were so bad at processing the titles.

    1. Maybe like most of the computer world they all want to be in on the fun and noone wants to do the grunt work. Seems to me a great remote business idea where you process the titles for them and bend them over the hood on price.

    2. They don’t even submit the title themselves. They used 3rd party title companies to do it for them. I figured this out when the title finally showed up with a 3rd parties address on it. I’m guessing they send it out to different agencies in each state.

      What is even crazier is when they overnight you paperwork to sign they ask you to sign and return without a date on it. They know they cant get it done on time. Vroom is garbage and I cant recommend you don’t use them enough. It seems like they do a good job grabbing up the difficult to find cars that would be popular with “enthusiasts”. Limited production highly desired trims and manuals etc. They know people want them and there is little chance of getting one locally. They do a good job taking money and delivering the car. Then they are out and you better pray you don’t have any complaints/issues because you stand a better chance of getting a return phone call from Jesus himself.

    3. There was an article on this somewhere (maybe on auto site that lost all of its good writers in the last couple of months??) – one of the biggest issues, aside from being “disrupting” douchebags, is that they’re trying to do something nationally that is best handled locally. A local dealership is an expert at local/state laws and processes and personalities – they handle (in my case) dozens of PA titles every day. The big online companies are trying to figure out how to manage 50 states, almost certainly – as was pointed out – with a skeleton crew and, I’m sure, some algorithm that will change the world if they can ever get it working…

      1. What work? These days everything from filling out the title to stuffing it in the envelope is 100% automated. It’s been automated for years.

        “I don’t belie-” yes you do. You all do. When you pay off the car you financed through Chrysler Financial or My Local Credit Union (est.1972) or Criminals of America, do you think it passes through a dozen sets of human hands on it’s way to you?
        Nope. It does not. Most of the time it passes through two – the person loading the stacks into the mailing machine, and the person inspecting the output. It’s all already automated. Whether it’s 1 state or 30+, the whole thing is completely automated.

        Not “sometimes.” Not “it’s hard.” The credit union I used to finance one of my cars doesn’t operate at all where the car is registered. Fully automated title delivered in less than 7 calendar days. Former employer underwrites loans in over 30 states and issues titles in all 50; the entire system is 100% automated.
        I have literally seen the whole operation first-hand, because they were mailed out two floors below my office. They do a quick check for obvious damage or defects on the computer printed titles, load them into a machine. The machine packs them with the other required paperwork, folds them, stuffs them into envelopes, and then they make sure none of the sealed envelopes got destroyed.

        Seriously. That’s it. It’s called an ‘inserter system.’ Pitney Bowes has off the shelf ones that can handle 500,000 mailings per month. Per machine. Vroom sold about 22,000 cars nationwide in 4Q21.

        So it’s far, far worse than not wanting to pay the people to do the work. Far worse.

        1. It’s even easier in Florida, where this story went down. We’re an e-title state; no envelopes to mail. The titles are held in the “run by the government, so I’m sure it’s secure” cloud. Dealership sells a car? Notify FLHSMV, they update the digital title. It’s a little more archaic in person-to-person transfers, but that wasn’t the case here.

  3. “I’m not sure if all OEM pedestrian warning noises are loud enough for certain urban centers”
    I don’t think offering a wider variety of options fixes this. The better solution is to ensure the standardized sound(s) are at a frequency and volume that is usable for urban centers and are immediately recognizable.

  4. That’s the nicest Ford Fusion Honda has ever built.

    There are a couple of high-miles-but-clean-looking late first gen XC90s near me for ~8-10k. We’ve been talking semi-seriously about looking into one to tide us over until is available, given the cost of family movers at present.

    As luck would have it, the first cargurus result for VW, $12k and under is a ’12 Golf TDI in blue with only 70k on the clock. We had a manual ’10 from new until, as luck would have it, about a month before dieselgate, and it is still my favorite car of any I’ve owned. This one’s an auto, but cant win ’em all in this market

  5. Standardized sound would be the best choice, and it needs to be dual, if not tri-tonal to make sure people with hearing losses are more likely to hear it. Too often, warnings are in the upper frequencies and the people that need to hear them most, don’t.

    1. They are. My Clarity has the older quieter version, but it sort of sounds like an earth harp/star trek transporter. The newer years is apparently much louder, but still the same multi-tonal sound.

    2. And something that when multiplied isn’t deeply intrusive and unpleasant.
      I notice reversing vehicles here (UK) have moved from beeping to a quieter white noise.
      Be interesting to know what the difference in perception is.

  6. My neighbors have a Toyota hybrid something or other (Rav 4? Highlander? Not sure) and the electric motor on it is literally the loudest one I’ve ever heard.
    Not sure if there is something wrong with it, or if Toyota designed it to be heard at low speeds, but I can literally hear it start driving up to 5 houses away

    1. That is NOT the electric motor you hear. It is the low-speed deliberate sound that hybrids make. Awful ugly sound, much more like a bearings going bad. The Jetsons sound should be the default sound. Everyone is familiar with it, and if they aren’t, they need to be educated.

  7. “What two-car fleet would you build for that money?”
    I feel like I already have it in my naughties “Fleet”
    2003 Honda Civic LX
    2004 Jeep Wrangler X

    Both were fully operational when purchased, yeah I’ve sunk several grand into the Civic but I’m still under budget! The Wrangler is going to need tires and suspension soon, which would put me close to budget, but that wasn’t really the question was it?

  8. “[Editor’s Note: A standardized sound would also allow for quick recognition of what the sound is announcing, something that an infinite variety of sounds wouldn’t be able to do. – JT]”
    Exactly. People talking about this as though it is simply a question of volume and not identification are missing the point of the alert.

    1. I believer that a big influence on this decision was the input from special interest groups for the blind. Having a few standardized sounds will help the visually challenged identify vehicles easier. A multitude of sounds will just cause confusion.

  9. If a dealer won’t give you the title to the car you just bought, it’s because they didn’t pay off the loan when it was traded in. They’re using your down payment for that. This happens when business is bad and money is tight. And it’s a slippery slope that leads to the dealer going out of business, you having a car with no title, and the previous owner getting hounded by the bank for payments on a loan for a car they don’t have anymore.

    I have a relative who went to prison for doing this.

    Tip: Never leave a dealership without a title in your hand. Or if you’re going to let them do the DMV paperwork, at least see with your own eyes that the old title is clear.

  10. ” Imagine not getting the title to your car for months, that’s just unacceptable.”

    The only reason I see where you want to get your title that soon is to flip the car? I mean you don’t need the title for registration and such.

    1. Correct, the title technically isn’t the issue. But, the problem is that Vroom ALSO doesn’t send the registration in time. My car came with a temp 30-day registration, then an illegal second 30-day temporary registration. The day the second one expired was when they finally sent title and registration paperwork to Florida. And this was for a car that was previously titled and registered here in Florida.

  11. Last October I bought a Stelvio from Vroom. Knowing all of the issues they were having with titles and registrations, I told them I would take care of the taxes and registration myself at the DMV, just send me the title. Per Carfax, there was no current loan or lien still on the car when it was sold to Vroom.

    It took them 8 MONTHS to get me the title, and that was with a BBB complaint filed. The kicker? They had the title in their possession from the PO ever since the car was sold to them last September, according to the dates and signatures on it. They could have shoved it in the glovebox before the car got loaded on the car carrier and everything would have been just fine.

    The car is awesome though. No regrets there. I’ll never buy from Vroom again though.

    I see Ford sold the rights for the last-gen Fusion to Honda. In fact, I see a lot of Ford styling in Honda’s new offerings like the new CR-V. That’s not a bad thing; just my first impressions.

  12. I have 2 different 2 car fleets. One way under budget, the other over budget. I actually own both sets. First set: 01 e46 BMW 330ci convertible and a 05 e83 BMW X3 3.0. Second set 14 Dodge Ram Hemi 1500 4×4 and a 13 Ford C-Max Hybrid. I guess technically I have a 3rd set for the vintage car lover – 69 Ford Mustang Coupe 302 and a 76 Jeep CJ7 304; but this set is a work in progress.

  13. Twenty-one grand for only two cars? What am I, a Rockefeller? All four of our cars, and the camper, were bought for about $14k total. Sure, there have been some repairs, but I don’t think it’s added up to $21k yet.

    Fine, if you insist I go throwing my theoretical money around… Gimme a nice GMT400/800 Chevy Tahoe, and the best Fiat X1/9 I can find.

  14. The Flush: I honestly think I would just try to haggle down the Corolla enough to buy a couple of sets of snow tires. Not having enough time in my day to mess with whatever issues two used cars throw up makes an automotive appliance a (sadly) pretty tempting thing.

  15. As an alternative to a standard low speed sound that everyone could recognize as an EV, get a load of this idea.

    Have a customizable sound/message like, “2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV coming at you! Wooop! Wooop!” Everyone will know what vehicle is approaching and the owner get the satisfaction of letting people know what he/she/it drives. It’s the convergence of styling and safety!

    Yeah, I know. I’m maxing on the ideas today.

    1. Maxing on the bad ideas. Those of us who are older remember when car alarms were a thing? Now everyone ignores them. Let’s remember that blind pedestrians kind of need this to you know stay alive. So fart noises, stupid whoop whoop, or congrats on turning 85 custom messages are lethal. I would hate the ice cream truck song but something specific and at all ranges and possibly lights as well would actually keep the handicapped from being hood ornaments.

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