The price of new cars has climbed steadily over the past few years
making used cars more attractive than ever. Buying a used car is a
great way to stretch your dollar, but you will want to learn the facts
about the car before you shop. With the recent surge in the used car
market, the Better Business Bureau warns consumers that there are scam
artists out there who willing take advantage of unsuspecting buyers.
The BBB offers the following advice to avoid becoming a victim of used car fraud:
- Be aware of odometer tampering.
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that
consumers lose billions of dollars a year to odometer fraud. Odometer
readings may be rolled back or documents can be forged. Making miles
disappear helps increase the car's value to the seller, but can mean
increased maintenance and repair costs to the buyer.
Before deciding on a used car, do the math. Industry
standards claim the average vehicle accumulates about 12,000 miles per
year. If the mileage seems excessively high or low in comparison, find
out why. Ask the seller if you can see the maintenance records and
compare them with the mileage on the odometer itself. Examine the car
for telltale signs. Is wear on the car's pedals, tires and seats
consistent with the miles displayed on the odometer? Obtain a detailed
vehicle history report. If the seller cannot provide this information,
you can use the vehicle's 17-digit vehicle identification number (VIN)
to secure a history from either the state or a private vehicle history
company. You can search the web to find companies providing this
service by looking under the topic of "vehicle history."
- Watch out for damage disclosure, salvage and rebuilt titles.
titles are issued by states when the car has sustained damage as a
result of one or more incidents. Salvage titles are issued by the state
when an insurance company takes possession of a vehicle as a result of
a claim. This usually occurs when a vehicle has been declared a total
loss. A rebuilt title may be issued if a vehicle sustained damage and
was rebuilt or reconstructed, then placed back on the road. Junk titles
are issued when a vehicle is not road worthy and cannot be titled again
in that state.
- Be careful of individuals selling used cars from a vacant lot or from the side of the curb.
vehicles may be sold by con men posing as private individual sellers.
The car can come with hidden problems. Before buying any used car you
should thoroughly research the car and the seller. Contact the Better