Car buyers should be wary of unlicensed car dealers posing as private sellers, says the car buyer’s Dog & Lemon Guide.
Editor Clive Matthew-Wilson says: “You don’t get bargains from unlicensed car dealers. Often you’ll end up paying much the same as if you had bought the same car from a legitimate car yard, but you won’t get much protection if anything goes wrong.”
“As traditional car yards go broke, some of the salesmen are setting up backyard operations. These salesmen pose as private sellers. Because they pose as private sellers, buyers get no warranty and may find it hard to get their money back if the car turns out to be a dud.”
Matthew-Wilson says there have always been unlicensed car dealers, but he expects the numbers to grow as car dealers give up on unprofitable car yards and sell over the internet instead.
“If you have no yard and don’t give warranties, your business is automatically going to be more profitable. However, ultimately, the consumer is going to suffer.”
“Many illegal car dealers simply disappear when things get rough. Others flee the country as the prosecutors move in. They won’t be back, and neither will your money.”
Matthew-Wilson says unlicensed car dealers are easily spotted because their cars are usually registered in someone else’s name.
“The story is always the same: ‘It’s my wife’s car. It’s my cousin’s car.’ The bottom line is this: if someone tries to sell you a car that’s in another person’s name, walk away. You should also be wary of vehicles that are sold from a different address than the one on the ownership papers. If you suspect that the car may be stolen, contact the police.”
“When you’re out looking at cars offered privately, check that the seller’s name matches the name on the ownership papers. Ask to see his driver’s licence to prove his identity. It’s also worth noting how long the seller has owned the vehicle. If it’s less than three months, the chances are that the seller is an illegal dealer.”
“If you’re ringing up about a car offered by a private seller. Don’t say: “I rang about the Nissan”, say: “I rang about the car”. If the person on the other end of the phone says: “Which one?” then you are probably talking to an unlicensed dealer and you should hang up.”
The Dog & Lemon Guide has prepared a video to help private buyers avoid buying lemons: