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Scam Alert: What Dealerships Don’t Want You to Know About Used Car Inspections

Looking at buying a used car from a dealership that claims all of their cars go through an inspection checklist before selling? Think again if you believe this or a CARFAX report will prevent you from buying a lemon that could easily cost you up to $10,000 in repairs to make it safe let alone drivable. Here’s what one mechanic in the business has to say about this type of scam.


Used Car Consumer Warning

According to YouTube channel FordTechMakuloco, you cannot depend on a used car seller to be telling you everything you should know about a used car they are selling. In fact, even when they or someone else hands you a CARFAX report attesting to a used car’s history, you should never base your final used car purchase decision on a piece of paper.


While useful, a CARFAX Vehicle History Report can provide some very important information that can impact your decision on whether or not to buy a used vehicle from a dealership, a used car lot, an ad in the paper, or even a relative. Information listed in a CARFAX report comes from thousands of sources and can include:

• Vehicle registration
• Title information, including salvaged or junked titles
• Odometer readings
• Lemon history
• Total loss information
• Stolen and recovery information
• Structural damage
• Accident indicators, such as airbag deployment
• Service and repair information
• Vehicle usage (taxi, rental, lease, etc.)
• Recall information

CARFAX is well-known for providing used car shoppers with important and updated information and warnings about vehicles involved in flood damage, reports of odometer fraud, and how buyers can avoid overpaying for a vehicle.

However, a CARFAX Report is not the end-all toward making a good used car buying decision. In fact, the CARFAX website tells users of their services that, “Not all information is reported to CARFAX.” And that, “The CARFAX Vehicle History Report should be used along with a pre-purchase vehicle inspection and thorough test drive.

And so, when someone offers to hand you a CARFAX report they gathered for your convenience as proof of the reliability and condition of the car they are selling, you have to be skeptical of what they are really showing you.

What Goes on Behind the Scenes With Used Car Inspection Checklists

According to the FordTechMakuloco YouTube Channel, the host reports that after 10 years of experience working at a Ford dealership, what he has found typically happens with used cars entails this process:

• A used vehicle gets traded in by its owner to the dealership who takes over ownership.

• Sales, turns the vehicle over to the Service Department to get inspected.

• The Service Departments runs through a checklist as fast as possible, glosses over much of the inspection, and then makes a few service recommendations.

• The Sales Department receives the checklist report and then makes the final decision as to whether anything is done to the used vehicle before putting it up for sale. The goal of Sales is to turn over the vehicle as soon as possible with the least amount of work put into a used car; therefore, there really is no quality assurance to the process. Just profit for the seller leaving the customer with a potential used car problem.

In other words, that checklist is about as useful and informative to the used car buyer as a guarantee from a stranger selling his vehicle telling you that “It’s always ran great for me.”

Still Not Convinced?!

As a real-life example of one used vehicle a buyer should have passed on, here’s an informative YouTube video of the type of inspection process the buyer should have sought from a trusted mechanic rather than rely on the seller’s honesty and full disclosure of the condition the vehicle was really in at the time of sale.

To jump right to the inspection, start at the 2:20 timepoint in the video.

This is Why You Should Always Get a Used Car Inspection!

And finally…

For more used car articles, be sure to check out the following links about the most common maintenance issues with owning an electric vehicle and what you should look for to spot hidden problems in a used car.

COMING UP NEXT: Transmission problem diagnosis with a simple tool.

Timothy Boyer is Torque News automotive reporter based in Cincinnati. Experienced with early car restorations, he regularly restores older vehicles with engine modifications for improved performance. Follow Tim on Twitter at @TimBoyerWrites for daily automotive-related news.


Ptg0 (not verified)    May 3, 2022 - 5:16AM

Funny article. You are advising people to take their cars to people that make a career out of taking advantage of others for an "auto inspection" because you cannot trust used car dealers?
Thats like expecting a detective to perform an investigation or better yet, paying a "lawyer" for legal advice....
Ever hear of the concept of upselling?