In The Driver’s Seat: There is no White Whale

Here at Fox, we are always looking out for your best financial interest. That includes trying to help you find creative ways to save money without putting yourself at risk 

This month in our In The Driver’s Seat blog, our car buying guru, Mike Pastorelli, is here to discuss setting realistic expectations when looking at car listings and some red flags to watch out for when arranging a purchase.

Over the last several months, I have received a number of phone calls from members with questions about unusually amazing car deals. Please understand that if a listed price sounds too good to be true, it very likely is. Typically, the scenario looks something like this: a vehicle is found listed for thousands less than similar vehicles on the market, the seller has a very convenient story explaining the low, low price, and they can only accept cash.

Most recently, Manny Member brought in a car listing posted by a seller (we’ll call them Sterling). Sterling had listed the car at an irresistible price and provided a picture of the vehicle, the vehicle identification number (VIN), and a brief story about the car and why he was selling it so cheaply. He was also asking Manny to meet in person to finalize the deal but saying that he would send family in his place, as he couldn’t be there. A lot of things about Sterling’s story were concerning to me: the too-low price, the story given by the seller seemed off, and it’s odd to want a cash-only transaction and to send a relative in your place to collect it. It was time to look into this offer a bit further.

The first step in our fact-checking endeavor was to research the VIN. The history that we found on the car and the story given to us by Sterling were just not matching up. This prompted further investigation. We actually found the vehicle listed for sale on a local dealer’s (let’s call them Deals on Wheels) website. I called up Deals on Wheels and discovered that they had just sold the vehicle and their listing price was a great deal more than the one in the listing Manny had brought me.
Instead of the usual automatic withdrawal or wire transfer, this seller (scammer) wanted a face to face exchange of cash. I shudder to think what could have happened had Manny gone. Sterling could have robbed him or worse! Luckily, Sterling never returned Manny’s call. This is likely because Manny and I did our research and asked the right questions.

The moral of this story is that there simply is NO WHITE WHALE. The stories you hear about vintage cars being found hidden away in a barn somewhere, and then sold to someone for a fraction of their worth are just that – stories. I’m so glad that Manny took the time to call me and let me help research the vehicle and we were able to prevent him from being scammed.

If you are in the market for a new vehicle, you can protect yourself by doing all the research you can. Know the value of the car or type of car you are looking for. If an incredible deal comes along, ask A LOT of questions. There are a few circumstances where you can find low prices (it’s been sitting at the dealership for a long time, or a private party will sometimes sell a car belonging to an ill or deceased relative that they just don’t need). Better yet, let me do it on your behalf! I am happy to do the research and deal with the sellers for you. Give me a call to set up an appointment to chat about the car you’re looking for, so I can help you find it for a fair price!