Buying a car is a huge investment. In fact, the average price of a new car comes to more than $36,700.
With such a high price tag, it’s vital that you take your time and find cars that are both affordable and functional. Unfortunately, many dealerships and even some private sellers actively take advantage of buyers, tricking them out of their hard-earned money.
How do they do this? By implementing several common car scams designed to help them get the most money from every sale.
Here are some of the most common scams and what you need to do to avoid them.
- Posting Misleading Ads
When you start shopping for a car, you’ll quickly notice that the language used in most advertisements is specifically designed to make the car seem like a better deal than it really is.
Unfortunately for car buyers, many sellers use their ads to hide mechanical issues with the car. It’s all in the language they use.
For example, if an ad for a car says something like, “runs great, but needs AC recharge,” keep looking. Often, this means there are underlying issues that put your wallet and your safety at risk.
If you have your heart set on that particular car, hire a mechanic and let them give it a thorough inspection before you sign on the dotted line. This will give you insight into any underlying issues and may help you negotiate a lower price.
- Dealers Steering You to a Specific Car
Dealers know which cars sell quickly and which ones they’ve gotten stuck with for months at a time. It’s always in their best interest to try to convince buyers to choose those cars as it frees up space on the lot and lets them take on new inventory.
When you start shopping, make sure the dealer is working with your best interest in mind. If they’re trying to talk you into a car that doesn’t fit your needs, don’t hesitate to tell them you’re not interested.
Be firm and stick to the cars you’re truly interested in. Remember, if they’re pushing you to make a decision too quickly or to buy a car you don’t really want, it’s okay to walk away.
- Asking for Your Keys Before You Look at Cars
Some more desperate dealers will do almost anything to get you to buy a car including taking your car keys. They might ask for them under the guise of getting a mechanic to appraise your car’s trade-in value, but that’s not what their goal is.
They want to keep hold of your keys so you can’t leave the dealership easily. You become a captive audience and can be more easily browbeaten into buying a car that you don’t really want.
If a sales representative at the dealership asks for your keys or wants to discuss your car’s trade-in value, steer the conversation in a different direction. Start talking about the types of cars you’re interested in and what your budget is like.
Don’t fall for this common auto scam. If the salesperson keeps pressing you for your keys, either tell them firmly that you’d like to look at cars first or walk away.
- Using Too-Good-to-Be-True Pricing
When you’re shopping for a new car, sticking to your budget is an absolute must. Car dealerships know this and they’re not afraid to use that knowledge to their advantage.
They often post deals or special pricing incentives on cars that have underlying damage or have been sitting stationary on the lot for way too long.
If you’re interested in the car, do your research. See what similar cars sell for at other local dealerships before you make an offer.
Get as much information about the car as you can from the dealership. Ask for a vehicle history report and look it over to make sure the car has a valid maintenance record. If it doesn’t or there’s an underlying mechanical issue that you’ll need to pay to repair, don’t buy the car.
If the deal seems too good to be true, it probably is. You’ll end up paying more in the long-run.
- Actively Hiding Storm Damage
Believe it or not, some storm damage isn’t easily visible to shoppers. This makes it tempting for dealerships to hide or not mention that damage to people looking at their cars.
If you’re shopping for a car in an area with frequent floods or know that a flood occurred in the last few years, take your time to inspect the car in detail. Pull back the floor mats and look for stains or signs of mold and mildew growth.
If you notice anything out of the ordinary, don’t buy the car. Flood damage is very difficult to fix entirely and the rest of the car could have worse structural issues down the line.
- Ignoring Lemon Law Claims
Reputable dealerships handle cars under the lemon law appropriately. They won’t try to resell them and will make sure other drivers never have to deal with the frustration of having a car that just won’t work.
However, some dealerships drag their feet throughout the process.
This is because they don’t want to invest in the time and labor it requires to validate that the car is a lemon and can’t be adequately repaired.
According to this lemon law attorney, it’s best to do your research. Make sure you understand how the law works in your state and reach out for legal help if needed. Often, dealerships will be more willing to process your request if you have an attorney to represent your interests.
Avoid These Car Scams
Unfortunately, car scams are a major problem for buyers across the country. Scammers want to take advantage of unwary buyers and will do everything they can to save themselves money and time.
Familiarize yourself with these common car buying scams before you start shopping for your new car. You’ll be able to avoid even the most determined auto scammer.
Looking for more tips to make your next car-buying experience better? Check out our latest posts.