Used car grifting 101

Used car grifting 101

Grifting:  1. Swindling or cheating  2. Obtaining money by fraud or illicit schemes

Did a car dealer deliberately drill holes in my car and then lie about it? would have been my only blog about used cars if our son hadn’t asked for help finding one.

As a side note, when showed that blog, Orloff’s service manager waved it off as fake news.  

Recognizing my mistakes, I thought I had achieved a level of expertise in the procurement of used cars.  That turned out to be yet another mistake.

Here’s three blatant grifts you may encounter:

We drove up to Racine, WI to look at a 2019 KIA with very low miles.  I had negotiated a price with Zach, the used car manager during a lengthy phone conversation the night before.

Zach assured me this was the car I was looking for.

First thing I noticed was that a piece of the door handle was missing.  Opening the door, it got worse.

It looked as if someone had taken an axe to the door frame, leaving deep gouges.  It did not look like anything that could be fixed easily, if at all.

WTF? I exploded.  Without missing a beat, Zach said with aplomb, Take it for ride.

We were on the phone for 45 minutes, Zach.  Don’t you think you should have mentioned this before we drove up here?

Zach just hunched up his shoulders and shuffled away.

Our next stop was a KIA dealer in Elmhurst, Illinois where we saw a 2018 Nissan listed online for $12,000.

After a quick test ride, we sat down with the sales associate who asked the inevitable, How much do you want to pay for this car?

How about the advertised price? I asked.  $12,000.

Excusing himself to confer with the ubiquitous my manager, he finally returned with a detailed bill of sale, the price at the bottom being more than $18,000.

Why would I buy this $12,000 car for $18,000?

He explained to me that they have to price their cars aggressively online to get customers into the store.

In other words, they lie.  Some might call it bait and switch, but it is essentially fraud.

On Line 2, below the $12,000 was a $1,300 VIP package for free car washes.

Next was a $2,300 charge for inspection of the car to validate the warranty, which I would imagine they had already done.

I was baffled about the $1,000 processing fee, but stunned after it was explained to me that it was for facilitating the sale.

Since they didn’t send a limo for me, I couldn’t imagine what they had done to facilitate the sale, other than unlocking the doors that morning so I could come in and buy a car.

That one should offend even the most inexperienced buyer.

Every bill of sale in Illinois includes a $300 document fee, which they say goes directly to the state.  It does not.

$300 is the maximum Illinois allows dealers to charge for processing paperwork.  It was $175 until the Secretary of State bumped it up to $300 beginning January 1, 2020.

We left that dealer with only the free water they had given us.

Broomhilda called her old friend, Alyssa, whose husband, Tom used to be in the car business.  He vouched for a guy named Steve, who’s a Toyota dealer in Oak Lawn, Illinois.

Steve had a 2019 Nissan Sentra with only 2,200 miles.  It was almost too good to be true.  It was, in fact, too good to be true.

Our level of trust was high though, so we brought the car home for our son.  Entering the VIN online, his insurance premium doubled with one keystroke.

A little research into the car revealed that it had a salvage title.  We found pictures online of the wreckage before it was fixed.

Steve professed innocence of the car’s provenance and gave us our money back.  It wasn’t a bad car, but the nature of the title made it very expensive to insure.

These are just a few of the pitfalls one might encounter searching for a used car.  We were just lucky to run into all of them.

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