How to avoid getting scammed when buying a used car

So, you have decided to change your car but you have no money for a new one, with all the options you want. The alternative is the second-hand market. In the chapter of used cars there are several sources from which the potential buyers are informed, respectively, on classifieds sites,  specialized sites for used cars and, last but not least, on the dealers of new cars that, most of the time, they have a fleet of vehicles taken over in advance for new cars.

Of course, the safest ones to purchase are cars from these types of dealers. Most often it offers a real warranty for several months, a year or more, depending on what remaining warranty the car still had. Of course, they are more expensive than used cars sold by owners, but, yet again, they are also the safest to purchase.

True car owners and middlemen

Most people who want to sell their cars will post them on the internet with better or worse photos, depending on what phones they have and how good they are. Here you will see the first difference: most of those who have great photos, from all angles, with the impeccable clean car interior should raise your suspicions. True car owners usually use their car often and, automatically, the interiors will not even be super clean and devoid of any kind of personal objects forgotten in the frame.

These are unprofessional sellers, or how I like to call them, true car owners, who do not make a business by selling their car. Of course, there are also many sellers with bad intentions that display pictures of this kind from indulgence, disdain or even intent. If the key is in contact, see if it has a key ring in the picture with the interior. Keys without a keychain are more practical when you have more cars for sale.

In this context, buyers have to be very careful about possible scams, in which cases the car for sale is not what it seems at first glance.

The worst cases are those in which the sellers market a car that has been completely damaged. An equally serious problem is the sale of cars without airbags, which in many cases also come from former total damage. Thus, there are cars that at first sight look flawless, and in the diagnostic test, there is no error regarding airbags because the scammers put an electronic part in their place.

The trap “I accept any demanded car test”

At the same time, the message “I accept any car test” in a sale ad is a trap, meant to attract buyers and stop checking the car. It is false transparency, in the idea that if the seller accepts a test in car service means that the car is as described in the ad and has nothing to hide. The car must be checked before paying for it. You are about to spend a lot of money and it would be good to know that the car is as described and in good condition before paying for it.

Particulate filter manipulation on diesel cars

Another problem is the cancellation of the particulate filter in diesel cars manufactured after 2005. The particulate filter, after approximately 155,000 miles, should be changed or cleaned if possible. Usually, many miles diesel cars are at the end of the life of the particulate filter, the mileage is manipulated showing less and the buyer wakes up with a very big problem a few months after he bought the car.

In many situations, the sellers will even cancel the particulate filter so that the car does not enter in limp mode, I’m referring to that engine limitation to 3,000 RPM. After the particle filter is canceled, the car will run smoothly but will emit high pollutants and smoke, from time to time, at faster accelerations. The buyer will only find out at his next visit to a workshop that his car has noxious limits and has the particulate filter canceled. If the seller claims that the car has a new, changed particulate filter, but it has less than 155000 miles,  something is not right.

The particulate filter situations described below are not that common because, in some countries, diesel particulate filter cancellation is illegal. 

So, how do we realize that the used car may have problems?

If the car has suspicious marks on the front or you see any signs of intervention, or it has painted parts, the date of manufacture of the headlamps is newer than the car or the joining of the body element is not symmetrical, go to a service to carefully check the body of the car’s major faults and show you that there is an airbag in the steering wheel and the passenger or the windscreen mountings – the operation takes about an hour and with the help of an endoscopic camera you can find out everything.

Phone conversation with car sellers

Pay attention to details when talking on the phone. The story of “the car was owned by an old man and did not travel much with it” is as old as it is used. Ask questions! It is mandatory to ask questions and listen carefully to the answers. You’ll have to ask him why he sells it. If he says he bought something else, ask him to describe what he bought.

If the question “why do you sell it” is expected and they will give a response that gives a sense of confidence in you, the next one may not expect: “What oil do you use? When was the last time you changed it”. This is a question that any car owner, who has it for several years, must know how to answer. Note the answer and when you get to see the car look in the trunk. Most of the time the remaining oil was left there. Also, look for the label that certifies the oil exchange. But before you go to see the car, search to see if what the man said fits the car he has. If he tells you a diesel oil and the car is petrol … run away.

Also from the phone, you can easily find out if he has other cars for sale. If he still gives you two or three cars, you’re most likely dealing with someone who lives by selling cars. Because that’s what some sellers do, trick you!

For example, some people sell cars for 100,000 miles and notice that the timing belt or chain has been changed, which normally, in some cases, changes to 130,000 miles. When the timing belt or timing chain breaks, several components in the engine will be damaged. There have been cases where after these incidents the car needed another engine. You can check if the timing has been changed at a car service by simply observing the timing belt by a specialist.

To make a good profit out of this, the sellers have to buy something cheap to repair, as cheap as possible and sell it like a flawless car.

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