Car scams: Buying new and used cars

Aug 14, 2013

Protect yourself when you buy your new car: We reveal the tricks of the trade

In the UK, buying a new car means you’re highly unlikely to be hit by a scam but, before it was closed in Apil 2014, the Office of Fair Trading said dodgy deals were still costing car buyers around £3million a year. There are still some pitfalls to watch out for, even more so if you’re buying a used vehicle.

Buying online

While online retailers are becoming more and more reputable, there are still plenty of fraudsters who are willing to con you out of your money by pretending to sell cars that don’t actually exist. If a company is selling a car significantly below its market value, then beware; it could be too good to be true. Companies that have clear contact details like landline phone numbers and professional email addresses are more likely to be trustworthy.

History checks

If you’re buying from a franchised dealer, it's unlikely you’ll find yourself affected by stolen cars. However, wherever you’re buying a car from – new or used – it's worth checking that the retailer has the right to sell you that car. Companies like HPI will tell you who the vehicle really belongs to, whether or not it's stolen, or if the car has any outstanding finance against it.

Vehicle history checks also reveal if a car has previously been recorded as written off or damaged in an accident. This is particularly important if you’re the second registered owner on the vehicle's V5 document as the seller may not be entirely honest if they want to get the highest possible price. If it has suffered any damage previously, its resale value could be significantly reduced and it could even mean the car is unsafe to drive.

Know the total cost of the car

Don’t be fooled into paying a lower interest rate for a longer period of time, as you’ll end up paying more in the end. Know how much you want to pay overall for a car and, without discussing how much you want to pay per month, make this known to the dealer.

Try to negotiate a discount

Also, be aware that new car prices are often inflated, so do your best to haggle on price. If you can’t get any money knocked off, ask for a few extras to be thrown in instead, like some extra equipment or a servicing package.

But always remember - if a deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Want to know more about getting a decent discount on your new or used car? Check out our car price negotiation tricks.

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