Top 9 Used Car Salesmen Tricks, and How to Avoid Them

Avoid a Lemon with these Tips

As we are coming into spring, many people are looking at upgrading their equipment.  I prefer to buy used. . You save yourself that steep initial drop-off in value. More importantly, you get a rig that runs just as well, is just as dependable, and looks and feels as good as that new truck– if you play your cards right.
used -car-salesman-devitoIf there is one pitfall of buying a used truck, it’s the risk of buying a lemon, a junker–call it what you want, you get the point: the wrong rig. Used car dealers, after all, have nearly as bad a reputation( if not worse) than lawyers . This holds true for individual people selling their cars through newspapers, Web auctions and classified sites, even with the old-fashioned signs in their car windows.  Nowhere does the saying  “Buyer Beware”  have more meaning than with cars.
The opposite is also true.  There are some real steals out there in used trucks. We’re talking about quality vehicles that will perform beyond your expectations at a low price.

Here’s how to find these perfect used vehicles, and avoid the top 10 scams that used car dealers everywhere try to pull on you.


1. Research for recalls. A used car dealer may sell you a truck that’s actually under a recall in his mad rush to get the truck off his lot. So be sure to call the car manufacturer, or visit their Web site, to see if the vehicle has any active recalls.

2. Do a background check. One of the most unethical, but legal, things someone can do to you is sell you a used vehicle that’s been in a flood (and sort of repaired), or one that’s had 10 previous owners (none of whom repaired it). To be sure you don’t fall victim to this, track down a history report, including a clearance check on the vehicle title. You can even get some of this information from the seller, simply by asking why they are selling it. You’d be surprised what beans people may spill.

3. Get a second opinion for the hype. Used car dealers will bombard you with every adjective under the sun to sell you on a car–fuel efficient, powerful, fast, and etc. Don’t take their word for it. Instead, find someone you know, whether it’s a neighbor, a colleague,  family, or a friend who owns the same make and model of the vehicle- and ask them for their opinion.

people-looking-used-car4. Take the test drive. Once you’ve done all your research, homework, extra credit, and everything else called for in the first seven steps, then comes the fun–the test drive. Drive the car for as long as its owner or dealer will allow you. Then you’ll get a better feel for how the vehicle handles, accelerates, brakes, and otherwise suits your tastes (or doesn’t).
5. Be wary of the pushy seller. At any stage of the game–from the moment you first talk to the seller to the test drive–be careful if the seller gets pushy. Any dealer or seller who is in a rush to move a vehicle should set off bells and whistles. Why the rush? Are they hiding something? In some cases the seller may just be excited to sell you the car–and actually happy for you–but in many other cases, they may be up to something. Better be safe than sorry.

6. Examine for past damage. Used car dealers may also try to peddle a vehicle that was wrecked in a major accident. It’s amazing what autobody experts can do to repair a car’s exterior. So don’t go by the outer appearances of a vehicle. Before you buy it, make sure that it does not have serious damage to its frame, which it Could have if it was involved in a crash.
7. Call up your trusted mechanic. Used car dealers, especially the big lots, will say they put their used cars through a “100 point inspection,- or something like that. Once again, a second opinion is in order. Get this one from your own mechanic. He’ll be able to tell how good a shape the car actually is in. Also be sure to ask him or her how often the car had been serviced. A good mechanic can even gauge that. I call my mechanic and let him know I am shopping, then I can swing by on my test drive and have him give it a quick once over.

8. Avoid the leftover lemon. Along with recalled vehicles, dealers may even perpetrate something much worse on you–sell you a lemon. (By definition, a lemon is a car that’s still under warranty, which has such major problems that, warranty or not, it still cannot be fixed in a reasonable way.) The best way to avoid this is to research in Consumer Reports or the various automobile magazines, which all have yearly reviews of every make and model on the market. They’ll tell you whether a kind of car is known for being a lemon and prone to breakdowns.
9. See through the old paint and bait. Along with performing their “100 point inspection,- car dealers may shine and wax a used car–even repaint it–to hide dents, dings, and rust spots. A keen eye, though, can see right through this.

Follow these 9 simple steps to avoid the scams and pitfalls of used car deals, and you could get the truck of your dreams–for far less than you’d pay if it was brand-new. Plus-you get that same high when you drive your new used car home, without losing thousands of dollars!

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One Comment

  1. Hello Enid!

    Thank you for your tips. I am looking to purchase a new car. I am so glad that I stumbled across your article and I find your tips to be really relevant. I purchased many things from customers on craiglist and other similar e-commerce website and in almost 70% of cases they were rushing me to acquire the product. I hope that many people will see your article before they will make any rush decisions.

    • I am glad you found some tips to use. It is important to take time and do the homework. If they are pushing…most of the time there is a reason. We’ve been bit more than once by hurrying.

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