Local auto dealer suddenly closes, leaving frustrated customers unsure where to turn for help

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- An used car lot called Auto Start had a presence in the metro for more than a decade, but that changed in May when all local locations shut their doors.

That's also when complaints started rolling in to FOX4 Problem Solvers from unhappy customers who had no idea where to turn for help.

"We paid every day and never missed a payment," said Gus Stiles, pointing to the Impala sedan he and his wife bought from Auto Start three years ago.

Stiles thought the car was paid for in full last January. In fact, an Auto Start receipt states "paid in full," but Stiles said Auto Start kept wanting more money, promising his final payment would be in June.

"Now they are still saying we owe some more," said a clearly frustrated Stiles, a retired auto worker.

Stiles was upset because Auto Start doesn't exist anymore in Kansas City, so there's no one here to solve his problem.

But he knows if he misses a payment, Auto Start still has the capability to turn off his car remotely.

"Once your car is cut off you can't restart it," Stiles said.

Stiles is one of several customers who reached out to FOX4 Problem Solvers. Several said they were having trouble getting titles to their cars, and all said they had no warning the business was closing.

Problem Solvers paid a visit to Auto Start's former location on Bannister Road.

A sign on the door provided the phone number of a company in Texas you can call for help. We called and were given another phone number to a different company that is now handling the Stiles' auto loan.

A representative from that company told us the Stiles -- per their contract -- have paid off the lease agreement.

However, in order to actually take legal possession of the car and obtain the title they need to pay off something called the residual agreement. That's the money they owe Auto Start for paying the licensing and registration of their car for the three years it was under lease.

Auto Start promised us that the residual agreement would be paid off in full next month. Just one more payment. After that final payment, they'll get the title.

But what about the automatic shut off device? The Stiles want that removed.

To solve that problem, we paid a visit to a former Auto Start location on State Avenue in Kansas City, Kansas, now called Adonis. Adonis said that with Auto Start's permission, it will remove the shut off device for the Stiles.

Stiles said he was relieved to know this problem is almost solved. We'll be checking back next month to make sure.

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