We’ve all seen the cars on the side of the road--especially in high traffic areas--with “for sale” signs taped to the windows, or a price and phone number scrawled in white paint on the windshield. It’s called “curbstoning.” It’s private sellers trying to generate interest in their used car, truck, or SUV so they can sell it with little to no advertising expense or work on their part.
Problems arise when scam artists pose as private sellers and try to unload damaged or inferior vehicles to an unsuspecting public. As an ex-Internet Manager for a major car dealer, I heard horror stories from my customers about how they lost thousands of dollars--and more--to less-than-honest sellers. It was a big reason why they were buying from a major dealership.
Tales from the Dark Side
Scam artists buy used cars from wholesale auctions, or even junk yards--cars with serious problems and defects--put a “for sale” sign in the window and park it on a busy street and wait for the phone to ring. The problem is that when an interested buyer calls they expect the car to meet the level of quality advertised, but instead they find one of the following:
- A salvage title or a car that has been classified as a total loss following a serious accident.
- A regular title but a car that’s been in a serious accident that reduces its fair market value.
- A Katrina car, or a vehicle that was damaged in a hurricane or other natural disaster.
- A lemon buyback. This is a vehicle with serious mechanical issues that were difficult for a dealer’s mechanics to fix.
- Odometer issues. The miles were rolled back to give the impression the vehicle has more value than there actually is.
- Serious mechanical issues. An unsuspecting buyer will end up with tons of unnecessary worry, stress, and expense.
It’s a Jungle Out There
Buyers need to be on guard when entering the used car market. This is true no matter who you buy from. How do you stay on guard with such a large downside risk? You can either download my free report: “The 8 Biggest Mistakes Used Car Buyers Make and How to Avoid Them” at www.BayAreaCarGuy.com, or stay tuned for tomorrow’s column when I outline some of the major steps used car buyers need to take to protect themselves.