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Five Common Used Car Scams to Avoid

If you’re ready to buy a used Toyota or any other used vehicle, that’s great! However, it’s important to remember that there may be those who would stand in your path toward finding the perfect car for you: scammers. Whether it’s a shady salesperson at a dealership or a private seller looking to make an extra buck, be cautious about making deals until you’ve thoroughly considered the legitimacy of the sale. Here are five common used car scams to avoid.

Lies intended to rush or mislead you. Whenever a salesperson tells you there are “only a few left” of the vehicle you want, or that this is a “quick deal ending tonight,” or that “someone else is interested” – don’t let that influence your decision! While any or all of these statements may be true, they are classic tactics some salespeople use to manipulate you. The best thing to do is make decisions based on the facts you know to be true: how much can you afford, what model do you like, and is the offer on the table right now the best deal you can find?

Paperwork “errors.” It’s not uncommon for salespeople to “accidentally” make “mistakes” in the paperwork they ask you to sign. They may change the terms of the verbal agreement you made, including the monthly price, the length of your payments, fees, etc. They may also try to hide extra add-ons – ones you did not agree to – in the monthly payment, including service contracts, gap insurance, extended warranties, and more. Be sure to read paperwork carefully before signing anything!

VIN cloning. Thieves who steal a vehicle and sell it for cash often swipe a vehicle identification number (VIN) from a legally registered car. To avoid purchasing a stolen vehicle, verify that the VIN matches everywhere it’s listed: on the paperwork, the dashboard, the driver’s side door sticker, and the car’s frame.

Odometer fraud. We all know that the number of miles on a vehicle affects the price. Some sellers will use software and devices to tamper with and recalibrate the used Toyota car’s odometer. To avoid being scammed in this way, get a free CARFAX odometer check and compare the odometer with mileage listed on the car’s records.

A price that’s too low. If a price seems too good to be true, it probably is. Do your research on how much the used Toyota you want is worth. While there may be certain times of year when dealerships have great deals, the same isn’t necessarily true of private sellers. If a seller is in a hurry to sell and is offering a low price to facilitate that, be cautious. His or her intentions may indeed be pure, but don’t let that stop you from researching the vehicle’s history, doing a test drive, and taking the vehicle independently to your mechanic before agreeing to purchase it.
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