Car Buying

Common Scams To Avoid When Buying A Car

Buying a car, either new or used, is an important investment. Before purchasing a car, it is important to beware of the scams to avoid landing in financial trouble. Fraudsters and scammers can make you fall in the trap in numerous ways. It’s unfortunate how many people fall for scams when they buy cars, especially used car buyers.

The reason behind people falling for these scams is the lack of experience in understanding how to evaluate a car’s value. Thus, scammers use this opportunity to present the vehicle as brand new, making the buyer paying more than what the car is worth.

Therefore, today we are going to talk about the scams a car buyer can face and how you can avoid them. Continue reading as this will surely benefit you and save you a lot of money next time you buy a car.

The Odometer

One of the factors that affect the price of a car is the mileage of a used car. Therefore, sellers want to make as much profit as they can and won’t hesitate to alter the mileage reading. This scam is probably the most common one, and many buyers fall for it.

Altering the odometer is something anyone can do quite easily, thanks to the advancement in technology. Therefore, all a seller needs to do is change the odometer using simple software. After this, the seller can present the car as relatively new, and increase the overall selling price of the vehicle.

However, since this is a fraud that happens before you see it up front, people find it difficult to catch the scam. But, it’s not something a buyer needs to worry about as there is a simple way you can identify the fraud.

All you have to do is properly evaluate the car’s condition. The wear and tear of the seats, tires, and engine might not give you the odometer’s reality but will surely help you in understanding whether the seller is cheating you or not.

Cut And Shut

This is a scam not many people are familiar with; therefore fall for it every time. What happens is that the seller buys two mechanically identical cars involved in accidents –one with a frontal accident and the other in a rear-ender. The seller cuts the good ends of both cars and welds them together.

What is the result? You get two bad cars welded into one. It’s hard to identify whether a car is cut and shut. However, there is still a way you can identify this fraud. To ensure the car isn’t a cut and shut vehicle, check the door shuts, beneath the seats of the car, the upper area of the vehicle’s windscreen, and also the underside.

Look for the mismatched color on the interior and exterior. You can also inspect the Vehicle Identification Number in the front-half, engine block, or the frame, etc. This method of inspection will surely help you in identifying any sort of welding.

Deposit Scam

Another popular scam is the deposit fraud. This is when the seller manipulates and puts pressure on the buyer to secure the vehicle by paying a hefty deposit. Once done, the seller disappears with the money and the vehicle, therefore, leaving you empty.

One way you can avoid such a fraud is by not paying the initial amount set by the car vendor. Always make sure to pay a little amount and get a receipt as well for proof. In this case, even if the seller still ends up scamming you, you won’t lose that much money. Also, you might have a chance to recover the losses.

Stolen Car Scam

Car theft is a big concern for car sellers and buyers alike. The purpose of stealing a car is to sell it for what it’s worth or even cheaper. In the end, the scammer always makes a profit from it. Therefore, scammers will find it very easy to clone a car, which means creating an identity of the stolen car, similar to another.

A buyer will find all the important registration documents to be legit and valid. Hence, the buyer will fall for the scam. However, there is always a way you can avoid getting scammed like this.

All you have to do is contact the legal authorities and have them check whether the paperwork is valid or authentic. Other than cloning, ringing is also another way for sellers to scam inexperienced buyers. However, always be sure to get the paperwork checked and surely you’ll catch anyone trying to sell you a stolen car.

Fake Account

A professional and safe way of buying and selling a car involves a third party in the picture. This third party handles the money safely until everything is clear. However, scammers have used this as another way to steal from people as buyers tend to feel safe whenever a third party is involved.

What happens is they set up a fake account, and once the transactions are complete, the scammer runs away with the money and car, leaving no trace behind.

However, one way you can avoid this scam is to check the legality and validity of the third party. Many people do this for a share and won’t help the scammer make you face any losses. Therefore, always find the right third party and make sure they set up authentic accounts.

Vehicles History

If you’re planning on buying a used car, make sure to check the car’s history. You can navigate different sites like Carfax to search for the history of the vehicle. Besides, you will find many more sites that can help you with a specific car’s history.

These sites offer detailed information regarding vehicles, hence, helping you avoid all sorts of scams. Things you can find out about a car using these sites involve information, such as the car’s real mileage, previous owners, whether a car has a junk title or any major accidents.


It’s pretty common for scammers to sell a car that doesn’t even belong to them. Therefore, you must make sure the person you’re negotiating with owns the vehicle. In some cases, the seller will inform the buyer that they aren’t the real owner and that they are here to sell the car on their behalf.

This is when the buyer should be skeptical and only make a deal when the real owner shows up. The best way to avoid this situation is to ask the seller for identification and proof of ownership, if they can’t provide it, you should just walk away.

Written Agreement

As there are several ways for a scammer to just sell a car, they don’t own or run off with both the car and money, you need to make sure everything is in black and white.

Whatever agreements or promises the dealer makes to you, make sure to have it documented. This will save you from any losses, and the dealer will have to keep their word. Having anything in written form allows you to make a claim or complaint regarding the dealer if needed.


Scammers have become smart and have discovered various ways to scam first time or inexperienced car buyers. So make sure that the process is legal right from the beginning to the end. Other than this, make sure the seller is the owner and that the required legal documents are valid.

Beware! Don’t fall for any copies and have them checked for authenticity. If you don’t know how to spot a scam, ask someone to help you who has experience with cars. This way, you’ll avoid getting scammed. Visit and

About the author

Budget Motors

Budget Motors has a large selection of certified used cars for sale. We have over 100 quality certified Cars, Trucks, SUVs, and Crossovers. Serving Reno, Sparks, Carson City for over 25 years.

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