Buying and selling used cars can be a massive headache, including from private sellers. Over the years, buying a used car has got such a bad reputation that people buy new cars to avoid the hassle. (not that that works by the way, new car dealers can be just as bad). I wont focus on professional dealers today, that list would be 30 minutes long, but on ordinary private used car sellers. Whilst most people are generally fairly honest, selling a car privately does seem to bring out the worst in people. Here are a few of the most cringey and downright annoying things said by used car sellers. Lets get started.
1. “Future Classic”
In a world where sought-after classic cars reach insane prices, its easy to believe that every older vehicle has “classic” potential. Of course, that’s not true, but one of the most common used car seller tactics is to suggest that every older car might just be a “future classic.” Although some exotic, quirky or performance vehicles will definitely be worth something in the future, ordinary family sedans, diesel hatchbacks or economy models will soon be forgotten and sent to the scrapyards, no matter how “mint” condition it is or low mileage it is.
If you’re buying a used car and the seller suggests that their 90s Nissan Sunny is a future classic, feel free to burst in uncontrollable laughter.
2. “Ran when parked.”
If you’ve ever browsed the classifieds, you’ve probably encountered the phrase “ran when parked”. This suggests that the car was roadworthy when it was last used, but the seller isn’t sure if it is now. It actually means two things for the most part. Firstly, the car is broken, probably very broken actually and the seller hasn’t repaired it. Secondly, it probably means that the potential repair bill was much bigger than the seller was willing to pay, or the effort was so great that they couldn’t be bothered to fix it.
If someone tries to sell you a car in “ran when parked” condition simply ask them why its not running now, or if they have any ideas. If they give you a straight, honest, and logical answer, maybe you should continue with negotiations. If it was their granddads car and he was in hospital, fair enough. If they give you a fairytale though, walk away!
3. “Don’t worry; replacement part is only $18.”
When you hear this, it might sound reassuring to newbies. The thing which is not working at the moment can be fixed quickly and cheaply? Great! Is it really true though? In the majority of the cases, unfortunately, no. Used car sellers, especially ones who sell a lot of cars, try to make their vehicles presentable and in fully working condition knowing that that will raise the price.
If you come across the car with some mechanical default and you get assured by the seller that its no biggie, with the replacement part being cheap, ask yourself the simple question. If this part is really that cheap, why didn’t the seller change it themselves before selling? In most cases, theres usually a much bigger and more expensive mechanical or electrical problem lurking underneath that “cheap” part, and the seller knows it!
4. “A/C just needs charging”
One of the most useful innovations in modern vehicles is air conditioning. It is something most of us simply cant live without, and so you want it in working condition for sure. Often when you buy a used car, the A/C is dead or warm and the seller explains that it ‘only needs a re-gas’.
For the sake of your wallet, don’t fall for that trick. I know I did once! Even though a regas is usually a cheap and straightforward job, in most cases, if the seller says that, it probably means that there’s a much bigger problem at hand. “it just needs a regas” is seller speak for compressor hoses broken, the compressor itself is cracked, or even worse, the AC unit needs replacing. If this is the case, you will face big repair bills, sometimes into 4 figures!
5. “Someone else is interested.”
This is one of those annoying marketing clichés that somehow found its way into the car world. It is a cheap trick that attempts to fool you that if you don’t buy this car today, tomorrow someone else will have bought it instead. If you’re a careful car buyer, this false sense of emergency is actually offputting and there is really no reason to rush yourself just because the dealer said so. Of course, some cars sell quickly, but its best to view each car as if you’re the only customer in the world. Doing it that way will allow you to rationally view the cars faults, and not be pressured into buying just because there is a line behind you!
6. “Previous owner was a little old lady.”
Imagine going to see the car you interested in and the seller gives you the classic story about the previous owner being a little old lady that only drove her car to the shops and always kept it in the garage. Unless they can provide you with the title or registration papers, birth certificate, and a couple of photos, don’t believe a single word. The little old lady story is as old as the car market itself and although its sometimes true, you should probably be suspicious.
The funniest thing is when the seller tries to use that sales pitch when selling lifted a Jeep Cherokee with off-road tires. Not exactly a car for little old lady, right? And by the way, who said little old ladies are good drivers anyway?
So, there you are. What else do sellers always say? Let me know in the comments.