Buying a car can be a daunting and time-consuming experience without the added danger of being duped by scammers. So whether buying from a car dealer, privately or directly from an auction, you won’t get caught out if you avoid these common pitfalls.
Some dealers cut corners by dodging or only partially paying duty, leaving buyers at risk of having their cars impounded when identified by the Nigerian Customs, especially travelling between states. The problem of evading duty is so serious that Nigerian Customs make periodic visits to roadside car dealers to check if the duty on the cars in their stock has been fully paid. You can’t afford to take chances. You can avoid this problem by paying ₦5,000 at the Nigerian Customs Office to verify if the duty on a car has been paid before you buy any car.
A vehicle that has been refurbished after a crash or natural disaster is supposed to have “salvage status” clearly indicating this fact to potential buyers. When a dealer doesn’t disclose the “salvage status”, this is called Title Washing. This deprives you of the historical information needed to evaluate the car’s true value and condition: you could end up having to spend on very expensive repairs or buying a car that continually gives you problems. So before you buy a car, verify its true status by obtaining the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) and with this check its detailed history online. The VIN can be checked on AutoDNA.com, Autozone.com, vincheck.info, uk.vin-info.com, vindecoder.eu among others.
The vehicle’s odometer is occasionally tampered with to read a lower mileage e.g. 70,000 miles in place of 130,000 miles, suggesting the car has been driven less often than it actually has been, thereby asking for a higher price. Digital odometers were once thought to be less susceptible to tampering, they have become just as easy to manipulate. So request for the vehicle’s maintenance records and try to match it with the current odometer reading before you purchase. However, it is important to note a car with an odometer showing high mileage is not an issue as long as the car has been properly serviced.
Escrow scams and deposit traps
An escrow scam is very common, and it occurs 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, only transact business across trusted and secure payment networks where fraud can be followed up. If the seller insists on a deposit, it might be advisable to look elsewhere.
Expensive returns and cannibalization
Avoid buying cars from auctions if you are inexperienced because once you’ve won a bid it will usually cost you almost three times its value to return it so you have to be absolutely sure of your purchase. Another danger one can be exposed to is vehicle cannibalization, where important parts of a car are tampered with or replaced with substandard equipment. A vehicle history report will always be of great help in such cases.
It is still possible to get cheated even after taking these precautions as crooks device newer ways to cheat buyers, but arming yourself with this checklist will help you avoid the common pitfalls. We will continue to monitor and inform our readers of new tricks.
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