Home / Auto / Used car SCAMS EXPOSED – How to make sure you’re never caught out and lose thousands

Used car SCAMS EXPOSED – How to make sure you’re never caught out and lose thousands

Used cars

There are a number of used car scams that could be putting drivers at risk (Image: GETTY)

Used cars can be a cheaper alternative to leasing and often work out as significantly less than purchasing a new vehicle. There are, however, some negatives to buying a used car which could leave you out of pocket.

Firstly, the car will be older and could be more at risk of a breakdown due to wear and tear over the years it has been on the road.

Similarly, it could have hidden problems that you may not be able to find during an inspection and short test drive.

Worst of all is that you could be at risk of falling for a scam from criminals and dodgy dealers that could rip you off. These scams range in problems from small things such as bending the truth about the conditions of the car to lying about the vehicle existing anyway.

Here is a list of scams that motorists need to be aware of that could potentially cost you thousands.


Clocking refers to when the car’s mileage is artificially modified. This can increase the value of a car when selling if it has been reduced, which is an obvious incentive to the crook. However, it can also skew or obscure your perception of when it needs to be repaired and the rate of wear.

Criminals often clock a mileage when the mileage head been exceeded.


Car cloning is where a stolen vehicle has adopted the identity of a similar car that has been written off but not registered with the DVLA.


This dangerous practice is where the remains of two or more cars, which have been damaged in an accident or written off by a car inter are welded together. The car is then illegally given the identity of one of the cars that have been used in the Frankenstein repair. It can often be difficult to spot a ‘cut and shut’ car from the exterior.

Cars sold with outstanding finance

Sometimes cars are sold with outstanding finance payments that need to be made. The leasing company can end up claiming the vehicle.

eBay and Gumtree scams

There are numerous scams that you can be a victim of when buying from these sites. One such scam is finding the vehicle on eBay but being asked to complete the payment outside of the website.

What can happen is that when you go to pick up the vehicle the seller may have no idea who you are and say that the car wasn’t even listed on eBay. Therefore, the fraudster has taken the pictures, posted it online, sold it and then disappeared before you could’ve realised.

Here are a number of top tips you can use to reduce the risk of you being targeted by scammers and losing out on cash:

car MOT test

Motorists should check the MOT test certificate of the car before purchasing it (Image: GETTY)

Car odometer mileage

Drivers could be at risk their car having a false mileage (Image: GETTY)

Insist on seeing the V5C registration document

The V5C registration document contains the registered keeper of the vehicle which should leave you at no doubt of whether or not the person selling it is in fact the owner.

Check the car’s history

Using the Vehicle Information Check section of the Gov.uk website you can see lots of information about the vehicle including the MOT status vehicle excise duty band, and year of manufacture.

Do an HPI check

A HPI check can be run to see if there is any outstanding finance on a car poor whether or not to have ever been stolen or written off.

They do cost around £20 to conduct but could save you money in the long run if it has hidden car finance payments you may have to fork out down the line.

Ask for the service booklet

This reveals when the car was also serviced and can give you details about recent repairs. If the car is a number of years old there will be a number of receipts or a pile of garage bills from its multiple services. This information could give you an indication about how the vehicle was treated or how prone to a repair it may be.

Check the MOT

MOT checks can be useful for a number of reasons. It can give you an accurate depiction of what the mileage was at the last service. If it has been clocked in between then it could be shown here.

It could also detail the frequency and severity of repairs that have been undertaken on the car over time. It also allows you to see whether or not the car has had its most recent MOT test and when it’s due its next one.

Never send money or make a bank transfer to someone you don’t know

Alternatively, you could use protected payment services. Similarly, a credit card is likely to be safer than a debit.

used car write off

Cars that are written off can occasionally be bolted together to form a Frankenstein used car (Image: GETTY)

Go and view a car before bidding on eBay or Gumtree

Requesting to look a the car before you buy it does a number of things. It, first of all, validates that the advert is real and it also gives you the opportunity to inspect it a little bit to see if its description corresponds to the physical object.

Short term adverts should be avoided

This is a bit of a red flag and coped indicate that the person selling is looking to make a quick sale and flog it quickly. This could indicate that the vehicle may have been stolen.

If it doesn’t feel right, walk away

If a deal looks too good to be true then it probably is.

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