6 mistakes Nigerians make when buying used cars and how to avoid being scammed

It is very frustrating when you realise you have made a bad deal after paying for that brand new/used car you have always craved. But, a bad deal is better for you than being scammed, all because you failed to do your due diligence before transactions. Whether the transaction is with a dealership company or a private party or you are purchasing directly at an auction, don’t get scammed!

All that glitters is not gold and ignorance is no defense. Protecting yourself by doing a little research is all you need. Let’s identify some mistakes and scams to avoid.

The Nigeria Customs is your friend

The Nigeria Customs office has a database of properly cleared vehicles in Nigeria. So, visit the customs office and obtain a code that verifies the vehicle at ₦5,000 only. You would agree that it is very much worth it.

Title Washing

A vehicle that has been repaired after a serious accident or natural disaster, such as flood, takes on a salvage status. So, when the dealer hides these facts about the car, it is called ‘title washing’. This deprives you of the basic knowledge and history needed to evaluate the car’s true value. That way you can’t make a good buying decision. So always ask for the status and validate the documents.

Also Read: How thieves bypass modern vehicle security



Sometimes, car dealers pose as private sellers online. They do this to avoid national and state regulations related to buying and selling cars in their country. To beat this kind of scam, it is advisable to confirm the seller’s means of identification and match the details on the car title. So, beware of private sellers with no fixed addresses or means of identification.

Odometer Fraud

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Odometers of vehicles are occasionally tampered with to read favorable mileage relative to the proposed price tag of the vehicle. Although digital odometers were once thought to be tamper-proof, they’re just as easy to manipulate these days. So, request for the vehicle’s maintenance records and try to match it with the current odometer reading before you make that purchase.

Escrow Scams and deposit traps

This is one of the most common traps prospective buyers find themselves in. An escrow scam is pulled on a buyer when the buyer is manipulated into depositing some or all the money into a fake or third-party account. The seller effectively disappears the moment the money is received. To avoid this, the ideal thing is to transact business across a well-researched, trusted and secured payment network where a possible scam can be followed up. If the seller insists on a deposit, it might be advisable to look elsewhere.

Also Read: How to buy and ship a car into Nigeria

Inexperienced? Don’t buy from auction

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Avoid buying cars from auctions if you are inexperienced. When a car is picked at an auction it becomes too little too late to return. It will cost you almost three times the value you bought it to return the car so you have to be sure because the auction is a fast market, the more you look, the less you see.

It is often the safer option to remove greed and anxiety from the equation while relying on your instincts and guts. In addition to that, a vehicle history report can be of great help. This gives adequate information about past ownership, accident history, flood, and other natural disaster damage and accurate odometer settings. It is still possible to get scammed even after taking these precautions because new ways are constantly being devised. Pay attention to this checklist and you will significantly reduce your likelihood of being scammed.

Kindly share your #UserXperience with us as regards scammed cases or almost scammed scenarios you have been faced with.

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