The Top 5 Used Car Scams and How a Dealer Would Avoid Them

The used car market is filled with scam artists attempting to shift unsafe and potentially illegal vehicles and steal your money. Here are the five main scams that are currently being used and how you can avoid them to ensure that you buy a safe and secure car:

Escrow Fraud

The rise of websites like Craigslist has led to many new scams. One of the worst is the escrow scam – this involves a fraudulent seller stating that the car advertised is currently overseas and that it will be shipped once you have transferred either the funds or a deposit to an escrow service. This will be a fake third-party that they have set up and vanish with your money. You can avoid this by insisting on selecting your own escrow or by only doing conducting business once you have viewed the vehicle in person.


Clocking is one of the older scams that is still prevalent today – this involves winding back the odometer so that a higher price can be negotiated. In addition to looking for signs of tampering around the odometer and whether or not the condition of the car matches the mileage, you can also look at the mileage at the last MOT to see if it adds up.


It is impossible to spot a stolen car and the seller can go to great lengths to hide its history. You should always get a vehicle history check carried out and be wary of very low prices. A dealer would figure out what the vehicle should cost with a check from a company like Cap HPI.

Cut n Shut

Some sellers will assemble an automobile out of two or more damaged cars and attempt to sell this on. Not only is this an illegal practice, but the car will be very dangerous to drive. Avoid buying a cut n shut by carefully examining the car in good light and look for mismatched panels, signs of a recent paint job and check the upholstery. If you are unsure, find the VIN number and check that it corresponds to the paperwork.


It is not illegal to sell a vehicle that was written-off and the seller is not obliged to tell you, yet most drivers would refuse to buy a car that an insurance company deemed unsalvageable as they can be faulty. Look out for mentions of CAT C (another name for a write-off) and for very low prices.

~ by velofinds on September 1, 2009.

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