Car Buying Tips to Help You Avoid Scams


How To Avoid Car Buying Scams

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-The most common stresses in car buyers
-Tips to avoid car buying scams
-Ready to buy a car from a credible and certified dealer?

For most people, buying a car will be the second biggest purchase they ever make after buying a house, so it should be of no surprise that many people feel anxious during the process. There are a lot of stigmas associated with car salespeople and the automotive industry in general so this further perpetuates many customer’s anxieties. While most car dealerships are honest and ethical, there are a few bad apples out there that you need to look out for. In this article, we’re going to talk about tips on how to avoid car buying scams and what to look out for. 

man at desk with female car salesperson at dealership

The Most Common Stresses in Car Buyers

While different people worry about different things regarding the car buying process, there are four main things that cause potential buyers stress. 

1. They fear making the wrong decision whether that be financing options, car choice and over budgeting.

2. They’re stressed out by the information overload, everyone telling them their own 2 cents about car buying. 

3. They’re  worried about going to an unethical dealership or buying from a shady private seller.

4. They fear getting nailed with hidden fees and paying more for a car than they should. 

While these are all common and valid stresses/fears, they can all be mitigated by research and preparation. All four of these stresses have a common core; the fear of being scammed due to a lack of information/knowledge about the process.

man doing paperwork outside on top of his car

Tip #1: Trust Your Gut

Many of the points we’re going to be making today don’t just apply to car buying scams, but all types of scams. If you follow these tips, they translate well into just about everything. After all, there is a great deal to be said about the saying “trust your gut instinct”. If you feel that something is wrong, whether your buying from a dealership or a private seller, there’s a decent chance that something is wrong. Studies show that most communication is non-verbal and that people are often processing information with their subconscious, so trusting your gut could really be important. 

Tip #2: Find A Reputable Dealership

If you’re buying from a dealership, you should do some research on the dealerships in your area to find out who has a great reputation. Check Google reviews, read online forums, ask friends or family about their experiences at these dealerships. Once you’ve ruled out some dealerships, make some calls to other dealerships and tell them about your situation and see if any stand out to you as being accommodating. Also, check out our article on how to spot a good car dealership!

Tip #3: Buying Privately Inherently Increases Stress

While buying privately can be a great way to get an amazing deal on a used car, you need to accept the fact that it’s a bigger risk than buying from a dealership. This is due to the fact that when you buy from a dealership, you have the confidence that the dealership will stand behind the sale if anything goes wrong. Whereas with a private seller, if the car were to have a major issue a week after buying it, the private seller may just tell you to kick rocks. This is particularly scary if the car you’re buying privately is past its original warranty. While is more a reality you need to face as a car buyer than a tip on how to avoid a scam, it’s equally important to know there is a stark difference between buying private and from a dealership.

man standing in front of a car for sale

Tip #4. Ask A LOT of Questions

If you’re being smart about buying a car, you should have a lot of questions to ask. Any good car dealership should have no issue answering your questions in a way that’s easy to understand without cutting corners. Asking questions is a great way to ensure your needs are being met and you’re not being tricked into buying something you don’t want. Here are a few questions that you may want to ask your dealership or private seller:

  • How did you obtain the car?
  • Is it possible to return the car if I’m not satisfied with it?
  • What kind of maintenance has the car had?
  • Can I see a service report of the car?

If you feel like they are hiding details in their answers, ask for clarification, if you still feel like they’ve avoided the question, leave the dealership/private seller and look elsewhere. 

Tip #5. Get a Carfax Report

The last tip we recommend is to get a Carfax report done. A Carfax report gives provides you with the car’s history and whether or not the car has been involved in any accidents or major repairs. It stands as a great way to ensure you’re not being scammed by the seller if they lie about the car’s history. If the seller is reluctant to share the full history of the car or hide any history reports, that’s a huge red flag and you should walk away immediately. 

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