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Common Scams and Pitfalls When Buying an Automobile

» Posted November 9, 2016Resources | Share This Post

Buying a car is a big investment, and the investment is a good one only if the vehicle that you buy is a reliable one. No car owner should be stuck with a bad car that does not work as promised, and that’s why the California car lemon law is so critical to consumers across the state.

The importance of protecting consumer rights during the car buying process cannot be overstated, especially with many dishonest dealers doing business in California. Consumer protection laws do provide some important remedies if problems arise, but car shoppers should always be informed, so they can look out for their own interests. For example, it is important to be aware of common scams that can arise when shopping for a vehicle. 

Common Car Buying Scams

NewsOk reported on some of the most common scams involved that can occur when car shopping, all of which shoppers must take care to avoid.  Some of the scams include:

  • Bait and switch: Some car dealers advertise really low prices just to get you to come in the door. After you have arrived to look at the “cheap” car, you'll be told the original is not there anymore or you will find out that the advertised price was not actually approved.  You will instead be pushed into buying a costlier car.
  • Fake Certified Stickers: Certified pre-owned cars sell for more money than non-certified cars since the certification process requires testing and inspection to make sure the vehicle is okay. Certified cars often come with a warranty as well. Some dealers, however, put fake Certified Stickers on cars or provide fake certification documentation.  When the sticker is fake, the car buyer pays a higher premium without getting the benefits of a legitimate certified car.
  • Hiding the salvage status of a vehicle.  If a car is in salvaged status, that means it has been through a natural disaster, serious car wreck, or other incident that has affected its title. Having salvaged title should mean the car is worth much less than a comparable car without a troubling history.  Unfortunately, some car dealers are not forthcoming about the status of the salvage title and may even try to prevent you from discovering the salvage title until the sale is complete. Trying to hide this kind of info is sometimes called title washing. 
  • Odometer scams: Some dealers will tamper with the vehicle's odometer in order to make it seem as if the car is a lower mileage car than it actually is.

While you can educate yourself and try to avoid scams, there can still be problems during the car buying process. You may do everything right and still end up with a brand new car that just keeps breaking down. If this happens, the car lemon laws in California can provide you with protection. You should contact an attorney to learn more about what to do if there is an issue with your vehicle and about what your rights are when problems arise.


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