One of the biggest concerns amongst car buyers is who to trust when buying a car? This is a question often asked and there are unfortunately some people out there that have been duped in car sales scams across the country. Thankfully, this is not the norm and there are ways for buyers to do background research about the person or company that they want to buy their new car from.
We recently took note of a scam that happened in Durban. Some online dealerships had branded themselves as Automart Durban. A customer, who recognised the Automart name, assumed that the dealership was legit and got scammed into a transaction. What some people fail to remember is that AutoMart.co.za does not sell any vehicles or motorcycles. We are simply an advertising platform for buyers and sellers to trade. The scammer was later found and due recourse has been followed.
The moral of this story is that you should always make sure that if you are buying a new or used car, that the person or company you’re dealing with has been checked out and verified as legitimate. We always say rather safe than sorry.
What are some of the things buyers can do to check out the legitimacy of car dealers?
Things to check before you visit the dealership
- The first point of call is to see what other people think about the dealership. Using Google, Facebook, and review websites like Hellopeter are a great place to start. Do a little research on their reviews and what people have had to say about them. Also, check out how the dealership engages with their clients. If comments are posted or complaints made, do they engage with them and how so?
- Also, have a look at their website and where they are located. Look at how many cars they have in stock. Do they seem legit? Check if the number of cars they are advertising can possibly fit into their dealership’s showroom.
- And finally, make contact to see how they respond to calls and or emails.
If you have a good sense that all is in order, a visit to the dealership is next on the cards.
Things to take note of when at the dealership
- What is the general condition of the dealership and the stock on the floor? Do the cars all look like they are of a relevant and decent quality or is the place a little run down?
- When reviewing the cars, make sure you ask questions about them. Salespeople should know what is on the dealership floor and they should be eager to show you any car because they believe in the stock that they sell. Listen for excuses and reasons if you can’t get direct and honest answers about the vehicles.
- Be vigilant of dealers who advertise vehicles they don’t have on their showroom floor and that you can’t test drive when visiting the dealership.
- Look out for shoddy patch jobs and make sure you have a close inspection to check for any previous signs of damage. Look at the angles of all the panels and inspect the panel gaps. These should be even across the entire vehicle. Skew panels might be the telltale signs of previous damage. You can also try to look at the vehicle in different light settings. If the paint colours on all the panels don’t match, it might also be a sign of previous damage to the car.
- Test drive the car to make sure it’s working properly. Pay close attention to any strange noises.
- This one is simple: Deals that seem too good to be true often are. Beware of deals that make you think you are getting the bargain of a lifetime.
- Don't be pushed into concluding a deal. Any deal that seems rushed might be a sign that the dealership is just trying to offload their stock quickly.
- It's also advised to take a person who knows a thing or two about cars with you. Car people are the best at seeing through the small talk and quick cover-ups. They should be able to give you an honest opinion that you trust.
With Auto Mart, if you want to make sure if a vehicle or dealer is legit, you can simply call, email or WhatsApp for assistance. If you feel like a vehicle advertised on our website is a scam, please report that advert by clicking on the orange “Feel this is a scam?” button on the advert detail page.