Dodgy Car Dealers and Auto Fraud

In my home city there are literally dozens of cars up for sale on the side of the road. I’ve began to notice car selling ‘hotspots’, where car sellers are making lots of money shifting motors from certain places that have a lot of passing traffic.

These individuals are making a ton of tax free money week on week, and avoiding any legal responsibilities if/when something goes wrong with a car they’ve sold.

Here’s 9 reasons why you should never buy a used car from the side of the road

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#1 It’s probably a dodgy car dealer – Of the 17 cars I checked out for sale on the side of the road, 16 were owned by dealers. I know this because I asked the right questions, checked the V5 information against the information the seller gave me, and I looked to see if the yellow slip was missing (selling to a motor dealer section.) A missing V5C yellow slip indicates that the car was recently sold to the motor trade.

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#2 If they’re a dealer it’s probably illegal car sales – It’s against the law for a motor dealer to sell a car whilst posing as a private seller. If a car isn’t registered in the sellers name, it’s almost certainly going to be a dealer part exchange and one of the latest car dealer scams.

Ask the seller how long they’ve owned the car, when it was last serviced, if it’s been reliable. These open-ended questions will quickly tell you if the seller is trade or not.

#3 There’s something wrong with the car –  Dealers sell cars from the side of the road to cash in and avoid any responsibility for the car, should something go wrong. So, when a car dealer has a car with some major fault or mechanical error they may opt to sell the car from the side of the road. They can only escape responsibility for the car if they are able to convince you that they are a private seller. That means no official invoice or proof of address.

#4 Not insured for a test drive? – If you test drive a car that’s being sold from the roadside you are unlikely to have insurance to do so, (unless you have cover to drive any vehicle from an existing insurance policy.) It still surprises me to find out that most roadside car buyers are willing to drive a car without insurance!

#5 They never run a car history (HPI) check – Buying from the side of the road usually results in buying a used car without running your own vehicle history check. From the side of the road a buyer may be willing to take a chance that the car will be OK. Even if the car is only worth £1,000, you should still run your own HPI check, and make sure you’re not wasting your money.

Let’s say you buy a Ford Fiesta for £1,000 from the side of the road. You will probably neglect to run a vehicle check on the car. Later you find out the car is an insurance right off, or it’s a stolen car. Suddenly your £1,000 investment is worth £200-£300!

#6 Cash only payments – I always encourage car buyers and sellers to only make or accept payment via bank transfer, and never just cash. But buying from the side of the road will almost always result in a cash only payment. This is very difficult to trace or prove should you encounter problems with the vehicle.

#7 Dealers responsibility – A car dealer has a legal responsibility when they sell a car to the public. Under the Sale of Good Act 1979, goods must be as described, of satisfactory quality and fit for purpose.

So, when  a dealer wants to shrink away from this legal responsibility they may choose to sell from the side of the road, and pretend they are a private seller.

Even if a car is registered in the sellers name, it’s still worth checking to see the change of ownership date. If the car has very recently had a change of ownership then it’s quite likely to be a dealer posing as a private seller. It’s one of the more sophisticated tactics used by some car dealers to avoid legal responsibility.

buying private cars for sale logbook image

#8 Would you do it? – Ask yourself if you’d put your car up for sale on the side of the road, and sell it there too. Most people would not do this, but instead advertise their car on Autotrader and sell it in the traditional way.

#9 No come back – Once you’ve bought a car in cash from the side of the road it’s very difficult to exercise any kind of warranty and/or legal action. Just know that you’re taking a huge risk with your money if you choose to buy from the road side.

My best advice is to buy a car in the traditional ways…

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