Common Used Car Scams and How to Avoid Them

The used car market can be somewhat of a minefield and particularly when you factor in the scam artists at work. There are many common used car scams to look out for that could see you parting with your hard earned cash for an automobile that is not as advertised, illegal and/or unsafe to drive. If you are considering a second-hand automobile, here are a few of the more common scams to look out for and how to avoid them.


Would you buy an automobile if you knew that it had previously been written off? The majority would not, which is why some people will try to conceal this fact when selling a car that they have restored so that it is drivable. This is not illegal and dealers do not have to disclose the information unless you ask, so always query and look out for mentions of CAT C, as well as suspiciously low prices.


Clocking is a scam that involves winding back the odometer to make the vehicle paper newer and not as travelled. Avoid this by obtaining an MOT history report from companies like HPI, as this will reveal the mileage when it had an MOT and various other information (these checks can help you avoid many scams). You should also see that the condition of the interior matches the mileage, as well as look for cracks and scratches around the odometer.

Cut n Shut

These automobiles are ones that have been assembled from parts of different cars – these can be dangerous to drive and the practice is illegal. Look out for mismatched panels, check the upholstery and always look at the car in good light. To be sure, check the VIN number against the paperwork.

False Plates

Cloning a car involves giving it papers and number plates that are linked to another automobile. Often, the cloned car will be stolen. This is designed to conceal the identity and history of the automobile, which is why you should always check the VIN number, obtain a vehicle history report and check the information against the logbook.

Deposit Scam

Another common scam is a deposit or escrow scam. This involves the seller claiming that the automobile advertised (usually online) is overseas and will be shipped once you pay or put a deposit down (either directly to them or to a fictional third-party). They will then disappear once the money has been transferred. Steer clear of this by always viewing an automobile in person before transferring funds.

With this knowledge of the most common scams and how to avoid them, it should help you to navigate the used car market and find a high-quality vehicle.

~ by velofinds on September 1, 2009.

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