How to spot a dodgy car dealer

There is a small number of dodgy dealers scamming customers across the UK

There are plenty of signs we as car buyers should be looking our for when buying our next car. Lets look into how to spot them before we fall into their trap


Keep your eye out for the below. If a dealership asks for any of the below then be on your guard and think carefully about your next course of action

  • Demand you leave a deposit for a test drive. If you agree check it's refundable & get this in writing.
  • More than one independent dealer trading from the same site and office. Proceed with caution.
  • Can find any information about a business online should send alarm bells ringing.
  • No website? Ask the dealer for their company registration number & search on companies house
  • Check if they are trading from their home address
  • Is the owner a director of any other closed down dealerships?

Do your homework

Your in control of who you hand your money over to. When we go to book a holiday and find a nice hotel, most of us search Google the hotel or go straight to TripAdvisor. You should do the same and check out Car Dealer Reviews to see what they public say about them.

  • What do the reviews say
  • What can you find about them online
  • Do they have a website
  • Search their address on Google maps
  • Are they well established or a new business

What do the reviews say

Search reviews from more than one source. Car Dealer Reviews is a great first call, they have been established for 5 years, 3 years longer than any other provider and they do not rely on revenue from dealerships meaning they are 100% behind car buyers.

  • What do the reviews say? If they are negative and centre around aftersales then you have been warned. Others have been mistreated and so might you be.
  • No reviews because the dealership is hard to find online is also of concern.

What can you find online

When looking to buy car from an independent car dealer you should always do a background check on them online, you never know what you might find. This search isnt as necessary when you buy from a main franchised dealer as they carry more than enough credibility. In searching for those its more about the reviews and level of service.

  • What appears when you Google the dealerships name?
  • Cant find any informaton? This always concerns me when there is no trace online. You have to ask yourself why not? Is this a private seller masquerading as a main dealer and trading from home. This represents a high risk.
  • Bad press about the dealership. For this to happen means something illegal has taken place and this place should be avoided.

Do they have a website

If this dealership doesnt have a website and trade solely through classified pages then to me, too often than not it means its an individual trading from a private address. They could close down and disappear overnight in my experience.

  • Typically a dealership will have a website link directly on their page on AutoTrader or whichever selling platform they lose
  • If you insist on proceeding with your purchase you should ask for the company registration number and search for them through companies houe. This will name who you are dealing with and when they were established.

Search for the dealerships address

This should be imperative in any search for an independent dealership. Why wouldnt you want to see where you are going to buy a car from.

  • Searching a dealerships address eliminates buying from individuals trading from their own address. Whilst there is no legal issue here we would suggest that your rights and help post sale might not be the same, yet you are paying dealership prices.
  • If your happy dealing with a trader who sells from their home just make sure the car is fully checked over and once again that any promises made pre sale are in writing.

Are they an established business or new

Whilst we shouldnt discriminate against buying from a new dealership, what concerns me is when dealerships try to cover this fact up instead of being upfront about it.

  • Look out for the word combined 40 years experience vs established for 40 years. If no year is displayed when they opened they could be new. Not always a problem, but if this is the case then reviews become important to understand how they treat their customers.
  • Is the owner a named director of any other businesses that may have closed down?

Author: Carbuco

Share your thoughts

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.