Most common used car scams

used car, used cars

Whilst second hand car dealers have made a comeback from the previous ill repute perpetuated by TV shows, buying a second hand car can still be a shady business. Particularly with the wonders of the internet, and sites like Gumtree, which allow free advertising to sell good, there are unfortunately still a few scammers out there, who will try any trick they can to get a quick sale and make off with the cash.

We have a look at some of the most common scams used when buying second hand, so you know what to look out for. Combatting this by buying an HPI Check should give you peace of mind.

Cut and Shut

Essentially comprised of two write offs, which have been welded back together, a cut and shut is a classic scam that is potentially very dangerous. Whilst it may look straight, the weld work is weak and could give way at any opportunity. This can be detected by close inspection of the paintwork. Is it mismatched? Is any of the interior?


Mr Wormwood, Matilda’s father in the Roald Dahl classic, was guilty of this trick which relies on the fact that buyers prefer a low mileage car. Various methods are used to wind back the mileage counter on the odometer to make the car appear to have done less miles. To change the old-style odometers, they must be removed so you can try spotting signs on the dashboard. The modern digital versions, however, are easier to tamper with and the only way to be sure that they have not been altered is by getting the whole car checked.

Cloning and Ringing

This scam group pertains to the legality of the vehicle and is used by scammers to essentially sell on stolen cars. In the example of cloning, which is an increasing problem, scammers clone the information documents of a legitimate vehicle, so that when the buyer is looking at the registration, everything seems to be above board. It’s only when you drive it away that the problems start. Combat the risk of this by ensuring that you get a landline number of the dealer, meet them at the address registered on the document, and pay by banker’s draft. Ringing is similar, although the documentation given belongs to a write off. Of all the scams, ringing is the worst because you are liable to have the car taken away.

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