I’m looking to buy a used automobile, but I’m concerned I’ll be taken advantage of by a forecourt scam. Unfortunately, many rogue traders might find it difficult to identify trustworthy people. So how can you avoid getting caught in a used car scam? In this blog post, we’ll explore some of the most commonly used car scams and how to protect yourself from them.

Types of Used Car Scams

There are many types of used car scams, but some are more common than others. Here are a few of the most frequent:

The Lemon Scam

This is perhaps the most common type of used car scam. It’s also known as the “clocking” or “odometer fraud.” Essentially, this is when a dealer sells a used car with an altered odometer. This means that the car has done more mileage than shown on the clock, and it will be worth less money. If you’re not careful, you could pay too much for a car that’s already run its course.

How to Avoid It: You can avoid this scam by doing your research before you buy a used car. First, check the car’s history using its Vehicle Identification Number (VIN). This will give you an accurate idea of how many miles the car has taken. You can also get a professional inspection from a qualified mechanic before handing over any money.

The Flooded Car Scam

This is another commonly used car scam that can be difficult to spot. A “flooded car” is a vehicle submerged in water, usually because of a natural disaster such as a hurricane. These cars are often damaged beyond repair and are not safe to drive. However, some unscrupulous dealers may try to sell them as if they’re perfectly fine.

How to Avoid It: The best way to avoid this scam is to look for any signs of water damage. These can include musty smells, rusty bolts, or uneven panel gaps. 

The Stolen Car Scam

This is a less common type of scam, but it’s still important to be aware of it. Essentially, this is when a dealer sells a stolen car without telling the buyer. This can be a difficult scam to spot because the car will usually have all the right documents. However, the VIN will not match the car’s registration.

How to Avoid It: The best way to avoid this scam is to do your homework. Always check the VIN against the car’s registration before you buy it. If they don’t match, walk away from the deal.

The Inflated Prices Scam

This is a common scam in which a dealer sells a car for more than it’s worth. They might do this by adding hidden fees or exaggerating the car’s features. This can be a difficult scam, but it’s important to be aware of it.

How to Avoid This Scam: The best way to avoid it is to do your research. Before negotiating with a dealer, make sure you know what the car is worth. You can use online resources such as Kelly Blue Book or Edmunds to get an accurate idea of the car’s value.

Online Selling Platforms and Marketplaces

When buying a used car, it’s important to be aware of the different scams. However, you can protect yourself by researching and being careful when negotiating with dealers. 

Some popular red alerts that should make you immediately walk away are: 

  • It would help if you were never asked to pay for the vehicle after leaving your car on the platform. Never go down this road unless you want to lose legal protection in case a dispute needs to be resolved later.
  • Is the asking price too good to be true? It’s most likely to be! Please do your homework; you don’t want to spend more money on a secondhand automobile than it’s worth. Other factors to consider besides the cash value include condition, mileage, and age.
  • The “seller” has no idea what is going on! You show up to do the transfer, only to discover that the seller does not know you. Someone fraudulently used photos of another owner’s car to impersonate them!

Quick Sale

The car is in great condition, but the seller wants it gone asap because they are relocating for work. This is a very common scam where the “seller” will push you to buy without letting you inspect the vehicle first. If this scenario plays out, please ask for more pictures or even a video call so that you can confirm the car’s condition for yourself. If the person is adamant about not wanting to do this, it’s a scam!

How to Avoid It: The best way to avoid this scam is to be careful when negotiating with dealers. Always inspect the car before you buy it. If the dealer refuses to let you do this, walk away from the deal.

These are just a few of the most common used car scams. However, there are many other less common scams out there. It’s important to be aware of these to avoid them.

Additional Tips for Used Car Buyers

Here are some additional tips to help you avoid used car scams:  

  • Please do your research: It’s important to know what you’re looking for before you start shopping. This will help you avoid scams and ensure you get a good deal.
  • Get a pre-purchase inspection: This is an important step before buying a used car. A pre-purchase inspection will check the car for any major problems.
  • Run a car history check: This will give you information about the car, such as its make, model, and age. 
  • Check the VIN: The VIN (vehicle identification number) can tell you a lot about a car. Check it against the car’s history report to make sure it matches.

We hope this guide has been helpful. Remember, it’s best to walk away if you’re ever unsure about a deal. There are plenty of other deals, so don’t waste your time on a scam!