Watch out for these 5 used car scams

January 20, 2015 05:54 PM
Many motorists choose to invest in used cars to satisfy both their driving needs and budget. These pre-owned options can be a great choice for anyone, but that doesn't mean drivers can be lax as they look for the perfect ride. In fact, shoppers need to be extra alert when dealing with car sellers, as some will try to swindle them out of cash or quality. Drivers can never be too careful when it comes to shopping around for vehicles. There are several tricks sellers may employ to put the odds - and the bottom line - in their favor, and you need to watch out to protect yourself. Keep in mind these five common scams so you don't become a victim. 1. Hiding water damage Water damage can be one of the biggest threats to a vehicle. Part of the reason for that is because it's so easily hidden - smart sellers know the best ways to hide this damage so nothing is known until the car breaks down. That's why you need to be aware of potential warning signs. Musty smells are usually a giveaway that there's mold or mildew present, and any suspicious stains or excessive rusting may also be a sign of water damage. If you're unsure of what's normal wear and tear versus what's a serious problem, have an expert check it out. 2. Ignoring the details  You may see a vehicle that intrigues you and still have reservations. Whether you want a different color or interior features, you'll probably go to the dealership and ask about other options. Some sellers will be honest, but others may try to get you to forget about those desires and focus on the model at hand - even if it means lying about what's available. Be sure to do your own research to determine which trim levels, colors and amenities are available. 3. There's no clear vehicle history Every used car has a past, and you should know what it is before you buy. RawStory recommended acquiring a complete vehicle history report detailing any past auto repair. If that's not available - and it should be - don't hesitate to have an independent evaluation done. Professionals at a local auto repair franchise can look over the vehicle and inform you of any aspects to watch out for. They can also start recording all of the servicing work so you have an accurate history to refer to. 4. Mixed financial messages Your budget will likely involve down payments, insurance premiums, loan repayments, vehicle maintenance expenses and much more. When you're trying to balance this, you need accurate data, and that means cutting through the promises and wishy-washy language of some car sellers. Be sure to get a comprehensive breakdown of where your money will be going and what you'll need to set aside each month for scheduled maintenance, insurance and more. 5. Undervaluing trade-ins  Trading in a car is a popular way for drivers to cut down on the cost of a new investment while also getting rid of something they no longer need. Unfortunately, many sellers may finagle the finances in such a way that limits how much you get back. Business Insider noted that salespeople might increase the sticker price of a car to make up for the trade-in. There's also a chance they undervalue the trade-in and offer up less money than it's worth. Drivers should have a clear idea of how much the automobile is worth and what to expect in an offer.
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