Generally speaking, you are quite safe when buying a brand new car from a dealership or private seller. But if you're scouring the used car market, you need to be wary. If you're not careful, you could end up with a four-wheeled money pit, and that will mean your hard-earned cash has been wasted. You might also end up with a car that has been procured illegally, or that isn't safe to drive.
Choosing the right car seller is a must then, as if they are trustworthy, you can almost guarantee that their cars will be too. A less than reputable seller, on the other hand… well, we have already told you the consequences. Here are the warning signs you need to look out for.
#1: No online presence
Especially when buying from a car dealer, you should be able to find their website online. If they don't have a website, then you have to ask yourself why. It might simply be because they aren't particularly tech-savvy, but then again, it could be because they aren't running a reputable operation.
#2: A negative online presence
By this, we are talking about bad reviews from previous customers or stories in the media that are less than flattering. You should especially be on high alert if their name pops up on Interpol's most wanted! Do as much research as you can, and steer clear if their reputation is poorer than the cars they are probably selling.
#3: Inconsistencies with the VIN number
The VIN (Vehicle Identification Number) should be the same on the car as it is on the registration document. If it's different, then this is evidence of criminal activity, be that on the seller's part or from the people they bought the car from. Our advice? Steer clear!
Hint: You can carry out a VIN check online. This will alert you to any further irregularities as well as give you a full history report. Autoverleden.nl launched a VIN check, so head over to their website the next time you're searching for a car and double-check the viability of the motors you are looking at.
#4: A refusal to allow you a test drive
When buying any car, be it used or new, a test drive is a must. By doing so, not only will you know if the car is right for you, but you will also be alerted to any problems with the car. So, if the seller refuses you the option, then you have to ask yourself why. It might simply be that they don't trust you to bring the car back (especially if they are a private seller), or it could be because they clearly have something to hide! Walk away!
#5: The car is too good to be true
If you think you have found a real bargain, then think again! If a car is being sold for much less than it's supposed to be worth, you have to consider the reason why. It might be that the seller is overly generous. On the other hand, the car could have hidden faults, or there could be criminal implications to consider. Again, do a VIN check, and check off the other items on this list before making a purchase.
Thanks for reading!