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Buyer Beware

May 2, 2014 Featured, Transportation No Comments

Buying/selling vehicles is a dreaded process for me, but I just went through both. As I posted recently, I’m no longer car-free. Yesterday I registered the 2007 Honda Civic EX my fiancé and I recently purchased. The process started months ago; researching cars, auto loans, and insurance.

On Monday we sold my fiancé’s old car.  We listed all the known defects, including failing emissions, in our Craigslist ad. The new owner is mechanically-inclinded so I know he’ll fix all that is wrong with it.  We got our bottom line price and were honest about the car. The same cannot be said for some of the cars we saw online.

After looking at ads for months we finally applied for a loan with our credit union. We were approved but the car needed to be a 2007 or newer and have less than 100,000 miles. We’d narrowed our search to Toyota Corolla/Camry or Honda Civic/Accord. Finding one we liked for under $9,000 and less than 100,000 miles wasn’t going to be easy.  There are plenty listed with manual transmissions, for example, but since my stroke I need an automatic transmission.  In early April I saw a car we might like, though neither of us likes red cars.

Craigslist ad, this car sounded too goof to be true
Craigslist ad, this car sounded too good to be true

I’d focused on “by owner” listings because dealer prices are generally higher. I emailed the seller, then we spoke by phone. He suggested we meet at his office to see the car. Once I got the address I Googled it and discovered it was an auto broker. First red flag. I found a website for the broker and the car was listed in the inventory, with the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN). A Facebook friend who works for a dealer offered to run a CarFax reports for us so I sent him the VIN.

And we saw why the price was too good to be true, the title wasn't "clean" as advertised.
And we saw why the price was too good to be true, the title wasn’t “clean” as advertised.

I emailed the guy and said we wouldn’t be coming to view the car after all, noting he wan’t a private seller and the title wasn’t clean. The next morning we found the Civic we ended up buying.


Later today I’m mailing a dealer complaint to the Missouri Department of Revenue.  It took some time & effort to make the complaint but I don’t want someone getting tricked into buying a vehicle like this. I saw ads in Craigslist where people were honest and listed the fact the car they were selling had a salvage title, but not this guy. This car might have been rebuilt well and serve the next owner for years, or it might be a nightmare.

Buyer beware!

— Steve Patterson


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