Common Scams to Look Out for When Buying or Selling a Used Car

car scams

Not everyone has full-fledged experience in buying or selling a car, but it’s a possibility everyone can face. And when it comes to used cars, buyers and sellers love to sugarcoat the problems so they can get a better deal on their part.

If you are not vastly experienced, there is a chance that you can become a victim of car scams or fraud while buying or selling a used car. And you can only avoid them when you are aware of them.

That is where we will be helping you! Below is an ultimate list of the most common scams that you can look out for when you are buying or selling a used vehicle.

Let’s ponder!

Possible scams when buying a used car

1. Fake window stickers

This is one of the most common car buying scams. Some dealers display window stickers right next to the manufacturer’s stickers to make it look official. These stickers can indicate additional features, like fabric protection or a special value package.

They are only there to jack up the prices. It is possible that the indicated features aren’t even installed in the car.

Stickers of additional charges, like Additional Dealer Profit and Additional Dealer Profit can also be there. They don’t really mean anything, just a cash grab.

2.  Add-ons

Dealers install add-ons in used cars to jack up their prices and sell them with additional profit. These add-ons are basically useless and don’t worth the expensive money dealers are charging you. These can include paint protection, undercoating, fabric protection, rust-proofing, and more.

Just say no to them, they would not really help you.

3.  Deposit for “holding” the car

Suppose you find a good and compatible used car at a dealership, but you want to continue looking around. Dealers will ask you for a deposit to hold the car for you and not sell it to anyone else.

This deposit isn’t official, nor is the dealer likely to really hold it for you if a higher-paying buyer comes along. The sensible thing to do is to not pay a deposit and just walk away.

4.  Switching to a new car

Salespeople often talk customers to switch to a new car if they are looking for a used one or vice versa. If they are switching to a particular model, this could mean two things. One, there is something wrong with that model and they are trying to get rid of it. Two, that model is really old and the salesperson is likely to get a bonus if he manages to sell it off.

5.  “Just needs Freon” and other problems

A lot of private sellers write “just needs Freon” or “A/C needs a recharge” when getting rid of their old vehicles on online platforms. However, this is most likely to translate into “AC is completely broken.”

Similar problems can be sugarcoated by private sellers. The right thing to do is get the car inspected completely by a reputable mechanic, so you can get the truth about all problems. This can help you negotiate the price of the car if you do decide to buy it after all.

Scams when selling a used car

1.  Online PayPal scams

When you list your car on any platform, a “buyer” will immediately contact you to buy the car off your hands, which is a huge hint that it’s going to be one of those car-selling scams.

A person can also ask a couple of questions to make it look like an immediate sale.

This person is not likely to negotiate the price or even look at your physically. They will make up something that will look like a legitimate excuse, like “I am working in a foreign country and I am buying a car for my father in another province” or something like that.

They are willing to pay the full price, plus the shipping charges. They will ask for your PayPal information. Once you give it to them, you will get an email that will notify you about the pending payment on your account, supposedly $12,000, that will be released once you ship the product, the shipping amount being $1,000.

You might trust this email and pay the $1,000 to a shipping company to ship off your car. After that, there will be no response from a buyer because that $1,000 went directly to them; they were never interested in your car.

You lost $1,000, but you still have your car at least.

To avoid such scams, it is important to talk physically or over the phone with the buyer and insist that they check the car on site. It is preferable to deal in cash, and if that’s not possible, get a bank draft. In any way, don’t let the car out of your sight without making sure that you have the money.

2.  “Certified” cheque or bank draft

Usually, a certified cheque means that the cheque is not likely to bounce because the bank verifies it with a stamp – indicating the fact that the account holder holds sufficient money in the account. However, thieves are pretty good at duplicating such cheques.

They can even offer more money to get the car “quickly.” The seller deposits this cheque at the bank and signs the car ownership to the buyer. The bank discovers it too late that the cheque was fake, and you are no longer in possession of your car.

What’s worse, if the car has an outstanding loan, you will be forced to make payments for something that isn’t even in your possession.

3.  Asking for personal information

Ads for cars are a goldmine for identity thieves. They will ask for your personal information to make sure “you” are not running a scam, including your social security number, credit card number, and bank account info.

To make your sale, you would be fooled into giving such info.

This information would be later used at attempts at identity thefts.

4.  ACH transfers

An ACH transfer occurs when the money is transferred from one bank to the other electronically. The scammer might ask you for your bank account credentials to send you the money.

If you give your car away without receiving the money, that will be a mistake on your part. That is because a scammer is likely to say that the transfer was unauthorized and will attempt to keep your money and your car.


Due to lack of experience, a lot of people get scammed during car sales and purchases. That it is important to know about them. If you know them, you can avoid them.

Be careful when you are selling or buying a car. Don’t hesitate to ask every relevant question you want. And if you doubt the sale for a second, demand some kind of surety to go ahead.


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