Scams to Avoid When Buying a Used Car

used car scams

For many people, being a driver is an identity. However, for many others, like myself, it’s a necessity. I need to drive to shuttle family members and for work. Some people buy and trade in vehicles every few years because their vocation demands the need for a dependable vehicle. That is why so many drivers depend on the used car market to change vehicles.

Beware of Used Car Scams

The average national price for a used car is about $20,000, just about half of the price for a brand-new car. Unfortunately, because most people are not adept when it comes to car dealer negotiations, it’s easy to get scammed. Being scammed for a $20,000 car can end costing thousands in the long-run with repair costs. Or, starting over and getting a new car. Here are some tips to avoid the most blatant scams.

Trade-In Price Lowballing

You have absolutely no business walking into a car dealership with a trade-in without knowing the value of your car. No car dealer on planet Earth is going to look out for your financial interests over their own. You can refer to Kelly Blue Book, Cars.com, Edmunds, and other car value pricing websites to get a ballpark estimate on new and used cars.

A car dealer is always going to lowball you. They want to see if you will fall for it. Or to see if you will lose confidence in the value of your own trade-in and accept an offer slightly higher than the original lowball figure. Such an estimate could still be significantly less than the actual value of your trade-in.
Shop around. Visit multiple dealerships and see who gives you the best offer.

Don’t Give Away Negotiating Leverage

As hard as it is to admit, a lot of us get scammed because we are naïve, too polite, or too eager to get a deal done. Business deals hinge on levels of compromise, demands, and leverage. Ask questions. Get information. You don’t have to buy a vehicle on the first visit to a car dealership. Make a car dealership make a deal with you on your terms as much as possible.

A car dealer is not your friend. They are a business merchant who wants to get you to pay as much as possible for a car while paying you as little as possible for a trade-in. If you walk into a car dealership and hand over the keys to your trade-in, you forfeit all leverage. The car dealer can now make a deal entirely on their terms. Leave out the trade-in until the car dealer tells you everything you want to hear to make a deal.

Curbstoning Scam

Car dealerships don’t usually sell every car on the lot. They are usually desperate to move inventory and to especially sell cars with defective issues, or, “lemons.” There are over 4 million more cars in American car dealerships inventories as of January 2019. That is a 3% increase from the previous year. While not a new scam, this issue fuels the so-called, “curbstoning,” scam.

This is a scam where car dealers masquerade as private citizens selling a car. This scam has been made easier to get away with in the age of the internet and online car seller ads. Curbstoning is done to offload vehicles with hidden mechanical issues to unsuspecting consumers and/or to bypass Federal Trade Commission rules for the transacting of used cars.

In a curbstoning scam, you might be buying a vehicle that was totaled and haphazardly rebuilt for scam sales. Or, vehicles with major mechanical problems that have title registrations in other states to hide such issues. Always ask for a vehicle history report. Make sure the name of the seller’s driver license and the vehicle title’s match. If you get an extended song-and-dance about why you can’t get such information, look elsewhere.

Don’t Let Anyone Rip You Off

If you have to provide for a family or need a car for work, you can’t afford to get ripped off. Also, research before you walk into a dealership. Know the value of your trade-in vehicle. Don’t ever let a car dealer talk you into a deal you don’t want or are unsure about.

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