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How to Avoid Scammers When Buying a Used Car

Beware Of Used Car Scammers

How to Avoid Scammers When Buying a Used Car in Australia?

Unfortunately, we have seen many people being scammed when buying a used car and most of them have been people who decided to purchase the vehicle remotely. We have put together some general tips for you which is the result of our years of hands-on experience and seeing people losing their hard-earned savings.


1. Do not purchase the vehicle remotely without seeing it. Even if you are interstate and it is not convenient for you to come and see the vehicle, be aware that it is still risky to purchase the vehicle based on just a few phone calls, a few pictures & an inspection report. Professional scammers are smarter than what you think, they pre plan everything!

2. Even registered dealers can scam you; it is happening frequently. We have seen dealers exchanging vehicle parts even after the inspection, changing the vehicle colour without legally declaring it and much more. The legal battle can make you regret it big time!

3. Get your car inspected by a professional, DO NOT waste your money on a lemon that will become your nightmare shortly after. Once you go through that experience and have a faulty car that no one wants to buy ever for peanuts you will see the importance of car inspection. It is a win-win situation. Either you get a discount on the small faults or you walk away without any regret if the car is a lemon.

4. If you have mechanical knowledge, save money and inspect the car yourself. Ensure you have a jack and an OBD2 scanner to ensure the car does not leak fluid and there are no hidden faults. If you want to inspect the car yourself, you can use our instructions to make things easier. For more info, please go to Free Used Car Inspection Checklist.

5. Do a PPSR vehicle history report to ensure the vehicle is legitimate. You will know if the car has ever been stolen or written off as well in the past or if the car is still under finance. If there are any red flags, just stay away as you have not lost anything.

6. Never buy a car that is under finance. Finance stays on the vehicle, not on the owner which means if you purchase a car that is still under finance, you are not the owner even if the car is transferred into your name. The finance provider can seize the car at any moment.

7. Do not buy written off cars as much as possible. Lots of people avoid buying written off cars as their resale value is much less than normal cars and many insurers do not insure written off cars. A written off car can become very hard to sell later so be very careful.

8. Do not think once you have a clear PPSR report, your vehicle is legit. We have seen sellers changing the entire engine block without declaring the new engine number to the authorities or reprinting a new number on the engine. We have also witnessed VIN altercations that are sometimes near impossible to authenticate. There are new laser technologies that can reprint the VIN on the metal just like the original one. These are not too common but if you ever suspect such a thing, take the vehicle to a legal expert to find and validate the VIN and engine number for you.

Scammers Are Everywhere In Australia

9. Do not buy the vehicle from someone selling it on behalf of someone else. We have seen people selling hire cars, stolen vehicles or even selling their partners’ or parents’ vehicles without their knowledge so ensure you are dealing only with the owner.

10. Ensure you have a witness to your transaction if buying from a private seller. It will be very helpful should a dispute happen later.

11. Beware of fake mobile deposits. There are several mobile apps already doing this to fool people. Ensure the funds are in your account especially if you are selling a used car.

12. Be careful with prices below the average. It must be your first red flag if this applies. No legitimate person wants to sell their vehicle way below the average even if they are in need of money. They can sell their car to any dealer to get more than what they advertise online anyway so keep your eyes open.

13. Try to have at least a 20-minute drive before purchase. Keep your eyes on the temperature gauge to ensure it does not fluctuate. If it does, it is a red flag and indicates a severe cooling system or engine faults. Also, listen to the extra sounds and carefully monitor the engine performance to see if anything seems abnormal.

14. Check the service logbook or service receipts. Ensure the vehicle has not been mistreated in the past and the owners have taken care of it. cars with no service record can easily be your long-term headache and cost you money as you go.

15. Do not accept bank cheques or promises. Always deal with cash money or online money transfer provided that you have the money sitting in your account. Checks and promises have almost no liability and can easily become a civil matter that is very hard to pursue in Australia.

16. If the car is modified, ensure you have the right engineering certificates and they have been registered with roads and maritime service. Not all modifications need an engineering certificate, but it is something that needs to be asked from the authorities in which modifications are exempted.

17. Avoid buying modified cars when they are still under warranty. Most modifications will void the warranty which means you have no coverage if anything goes wrong although your car is still supposedly under warranty. At least check with the manufacturer to ensure the modifications have not affected the warranty and get the response in writing not verbally.

18. If the seller’s number is disconnected or is out of reach, it can be a fraud. Genuine sellers want to be reached by customers so no genuine seller will provide a disconnected phone.

19. If you get an address, ensure the address really exists. Check the map to ensure you have not been given a fake location


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