Directly buying used car from its owner may save you from potentially huge dealer mark-ups and other fees. But as the industry becomes more independent, dispersed and unregulated, unknowingly buying a lemon has become a more likely reality. And as what was common in the days past, the seller could just be the neighbor next to you, your friend or a relative. But with the Internet, everyone now has access to any buyer or seller from across the country — with just a click of the mouse button.
Now comes the reality with online transactions: we’ve never become closer to possible scams than ever before. According to a Veda Auto report, a little more than one tenth of used car buyers fall prey into buying vehicles with previously hidden issues, only to discover them a little too late. And the most common issues involves were poor vehicle maintenance resulting in compromised safety, mismatched or non-existent vehicle identification numbers and accident records that were left undisclosed.
But how do we guard ourselves in the process?
The answer is as obvious as immediately checking the vehicle yourself. Check for any misaligned doors that might be a subtle sign of previous warping resulting from an accident, the dominant smell of mildew inside the car for possible history of flooding, and most importantly the engine’s condition. Of course, drive-testing the car is also a must.
After running through a physical check, go ahead with obtaining the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN), and run it with the Personal Property Securities Register (PPSR). The latter provides a comprehensive background record of the automobile in question — records that may tell you whether the car was previously stolen, written-off or any recorded accidents.
The bottom line? It’s never wrong to take extra care when buying used cars. You have every right to get the details from the seller, even if that means having the car double-checked with a licensed mechanic and the appropriate government agency. After all, when it comes to investing your money, you’re in full control.