A survey of 2,000 motorists by used car website Trusted Dealers found that private sellers were increasingly willing to bend the truth to secure a sale.
With almost 6.8 million used cars sold in 2010, the findings suggest that 1.4m used cars are being sold dishonestly each year with potentially dangerous consequences for unsuspecting motorists.
‘Money’ was listed as the main reason for telling porkies, suggesting that many motorists are increasingly willing to tell lies and cut corners because of the pressure of recouping cost on a car during tough economic conditions.
The most common lies were designed to hide existing faults, with one in three (34 per cent) designed to cover up mechanical issues and one in ten (10 per cent) hiding a poor service history.
However some buyers admitted to more serious offences. One in ten motorists were prepared to lie about their car’s mileage and five percent omitted to tell buyers about previous accidents.
Neil Addley, managing director of Trusted Dealers said: “This research clearly demonstrates the hidden dangers of buying a car from a private seller and although the majority of lies covered small defects, a worrying minority were trying to conceal potentially serious problems.
The research also found that Scottish sellers are the most likely to twist the truth (27 percent), followed closely by lying Londoners and wheeler dealing Essex Boys.
Yorkshire was found to be the most trustworthy part of the UK with fewer than 13 percent of sellers prepared to tell a lie.
Over a third of private sellers (38 per cent) said they had used diversion tactics to distract a buyer from a problem with a car, with 15 per cent parking the car in a position to hide bumps, cracks and scratches.
A further three percent used temporary air fresheners to hide permanent smells.
To help buyers avoid potential scams, Trusted Dealers has put together 5 tips for buying in safety:
1. Arrange to view the car at the seller’s home and make sure you see them come out. Check the address matches the registration documents. Beware of a seller who insists on meeting at a pub or in a car park, their motives may be suspect.
2. Always take a friend, partner or relative with you for safety and don’t carry cash.
3. Check the car matches the description on the online advert. If they’ve exaggerated how good the condition of the vehicle is, be on your guard because the seller may also be hiding much more serious mechanical problems.
4. Take care with payment. Many forms of internet payment are not suitable for transactions between strangers and could be open to fraud. These include ESCROW, Moneygram or Western Union money transfers. Never hand over cash.
5. If something looks too good to be true, it probably is. Be suspicious and prepared to walk away.