At last! You can finally put your old car into retirement. The money is in the bank and you can start looking for a newer model. But, before you spend your money, think carefully about where you’re going to make your purchase. Although there are some laws to protect car buyers, dodgy dealers still exist. Here are some of the signs that your dealer may be less than honest about the vehicles he or she is selling.

Making an excuse so you can’t take a test drive

If a dealer says, “sorry my colleague’s gone off with the key and she won’t be back today.” Smile sweetly, tip your hat and get out of dodge. Test driving a car is one of the most important steps in your car-buying journey. When you’re behind the wheel you can listen for any odd noises. You can also make sure the clutch and the brakes are working properly and test the windscreen wipers, lights, the horn and the air con.

Unclear viewing

Watch out for cars that are parked up against walls or other obstacles. It means you can’t walk around the whole car. It could be that the dealer is hiding scratches, an ill-fitting door or minor crash damage. If the dealer doesn’t want to move the vehicle to let you look you’ll know he or she is up to no good.

Over the top air freshener smells

Now, you know what car air freshener smells like and Dior it’s not. So if you can smell that sickly sweet odour when you sit in the car look down at the carpets. Are they discoloured, is there any sign of damp? The car may have a problem with the doors or the roof. It could be that when it rains the water seeps through into the car. This will make the car smell musty. Heavily perfumed air freshener might mask the smell.

Running the engine

If you’ve made an appointment with a dealer to see a particular car and when you arrive he’s ready to go with the engine running – beware! It could mean the car has a fault that makes starting difficult. Or, there could be an engine problem. You’ll spot this when you turn on the ignition and blue smoke escapes from the exhaust. If he seems reticent to turn the engine off be suspicious. In fact, leave and don’t go back.


When you take the car out for a test drive, don’t let the dealer put music on or continually talk to you as you’re driving. This may be a ploy to distract you so that you don’t notice any noises, rattles or clunks. Listen to the car as you’re driving because strange noises can be a sign that there’s a problem.


It seems old fashioned, but it’s still done. And, according to this article in the Daily Express, it’s becoming more common. A car with fewer miles can command more money. Check the mileage on the last MOT. If there’s a service history you should be able the mileage rising steadily. If there’s a sudden difference this could be a signal that someone has tampered with the car’s odometer. Always check the mileage when you look at the car. If you buy it, check it again when you pick it up. Dodgy dealer might have put the clock back while it was on the forecourt and changed it back when he or she sold it to you.

Swerving the bad guys

You can of course avoid any heartache and avoid dodgy dealers altogether. How? By using One Woman Owner’s concierge service. For £50.00 you’ll get the benefit of a 20-minute phone call with one of our experts. They can guide you through the buying process and help you make a perfect choice. Have a look at our website for more details.

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