Car-Buying Scams by
Dealers and Other Vendors

One of the pains in buying old and used cars is the risk of getting a lousy car. If you fall for car-buying scams, you increase your risk of overpaying for a car that underdelivers. It's as bad as being robbed.


Whoever sells you one of those vehicles will be smiling (inside) like a Cheshire cat as you sign the purchase documents he prepared.

Sales people are sales people. They are trained to talk people into buying whatever they are peddling. That involves a certain level of mastery on the psychological aspects of convincing.

People selling lemon cars often are no different. Here are a few of the tricks they use.

Car Salesman Ruses To Get Your Guard Down

1. Sell cars that were in floods, such as those caught by Hurricane Katrina, and cars that have accidentally fallen (or were dropped) into lakes and oceans.

Thanks to the many natural calamities that occurred in the country over the past few years, insurance companies have declared thousands of flood-damaged cars, trucks and SUVs as write-offs.

Half of these damaged vehicles will be sold as scrap vehicles at various insurance auctions. The other half will be repaired and placed back in service. Those that are beyond salvage will be crushed in the junkyard.

To bring top dollar on the for-sale/auction damaged vehicles, they will be "detailed" to officially remove the signs or traces of the floor or storm defect. With that, each of these cars would appear to be just like any other used car that is put up for sale.

Is That New Automobile Really New?

2. Make old cars look newer. Transformations that make an old battered car look almost like new is a classic work of con artists. They make use of auto detailing techniques to make older cars seem like new in the hope of making top dollar out of a battered car.

To avoid falling into this kind of scam, thoroughly check the details of the car's body. Pay careful attention to the engine. Most of the time, the true value of a vehicle lies in its engine. Also, look tell-tale signs of rusting, particularly on the vehicle's chassis. No one wants to buy a car that is seconds away from falling apart.

What To Train Your Eyes To Discover

3. Hide the rust by giving a rusty vehicle a paintjob. A trained eye can easily identify the defects caused by corrosion. Concealing the rusty frame of a used for-sale vehicle is a very old trick.

Be wary of old model vehicles that are freshly painted. Pay attention to the actual state of the body panels. Not all panels are painted on both sides. Find a spot where only one side of the panel is painted and determine the extent of rusting.

Odometer and Speedometer Fraud

4. A rewound speedometer or odometer is a desperate attempt to make an old car seem like new. There is an odometer law that makes it a federal offense to tamper with the odometer or speedometer of vehicles, particularly those that are meant to be sold.

How Do I Avoid These Dirty Techniques?

To prevent falling prey to these sneaky car-buying scams and sale schemes, all you really need to do is ask focused questions. As a customer, you are entitled to some answers.

Br sure to ask about the vehicle's age, its repair history, the parts that have been replaced, and any recent work done on the vehicle.

Also, ask the seller if the car has been involved in an accident. Ultimately, ask detailed questions on why the car is being sold. If the seller is reluctant to answer your questions, also be reluctant—reluctant to buy the car..

We highly recommend that you never buy a used car without first checking it out on CARFAX. It can eliminate many of the car-buying scams you're likely to encounter.

NOTE:The information here is not legal advice and is only presented to you so you can know your options if you purchased a lemon. As with any legal issue, you should seek the advice of a qualified attorney.


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