So you think you found a great used car offer from a humble looking guy living in a quiet neighborhood. He tells you that the car belonged to his mother who recently passed away. Then he feeds you a line like, “You seem nice. Mom would have liked a person like you to have her car. I’m going to cut you a deal.” If you ever hear something like this, steer clear.
Pat Goss of Goss’ Garage tells us that every year thousands of car deals are made where the seller is hiding major problems with the vehicle. Let’s find out how a pre-purchase vehicle inspection can help protect you from these scams.
Flood Car Scam
Would you want to buy a car that has been submerged in water? Of course not, but by some estimates there are over 200,000 flood cars that have been sold without the buyer ever knowing about the car’s history of water damage, according to Goss.
The flood car scammers intentionally seek out water damaged cars which can be purchased very cheap. Then they clean the car, deodorize it and get it running. Next, the car is put up for sale as if it had never been submerged. However, the water damage is irreversible and affects the car’s performance significantly.
Flood Damage Detection
Flood damage can be detected, but it takes a keen and experienced eye. Qualified vehicle inspectors can often pick up signs that might indicate water damage or other important abnormalities.
These unsavory characters are unlicensed car dealers that fix up junk cars found at auto auctions. Goss tells us that curbstoners purchase a legal reassignment of the title, but it is acquired illegitimately. They usually rollback the odometer as well. Finally, the curbstoner lists the car for sale making it look like it comes from a private seller (like in the example at the beginning of this article).
Some scammers will even tell you to meet them at an address that is not theirs, such as in front of a house where the family is on vacation. Later, when you go back to complain about being sold a piece of junk, the homeowner has no idea what you are talking about.
Vehicle Inspection Protects You
Vehicle inspections are one of the best ways to protect yourself from these scams. Although no inspection service can detect 100% of these scams, a qualified inspector checks out the car in a very organized and detailed manner. There’s no emotion involved since the inspector has no interest other than to give you an objective report. Also, the location of the car is included in the report so you can verify this when you go to pick up the vehicle.
Qualified inspectors are more likely to notice if a car has been revived from the junk pile or rescued from a flood. Pat Goss recommends these inspections before you purchase a used car.
Published in CARCHEX Vehicle Inspection Resources by CARCHEX on November 11, 2014