If this Honda Civic owner didn’t know his car and its history like the back of his hand, he could’ve been scammed out of thousands of dollars.
It’s hard enough to extend the benefit of the doubt to a stranger buying a car from you, but this latest incident shared by a San Diego resident makes it that much harder.
San Diegan and Redditor /u/InternationalToker shared home security footage to the /r/SanDiego subreddit showing how these potential used car buyers used an old trick that could’ve cost him thousands if he took what they said at face value and offered them a discount.
Check out the footage for yourself below and see if you can spot what they did.
“While on the test drive the guy makes a point to rev the engine good and hard then says he notices smoke coming from the exhaust, which has never happened before and this is a car we drive every day,” /u/InterntionalToker explains
As you can imagine when they circle back to his house, the used car buyers make a call to their “mechanic,” explain to OP that it’s likely a head gasket or catalytic converter issue that will cost thousands to fix, and immediately asks for a lower price.
OP knew his car, knew something was off and fortunately convinced the buyers to let him deal with the issue first just in case it was an easy fix (as is his right as the current owner.)
Upon reviewing his security camera footage and if you didn’t already catch what they did, the used car buyers squirted clear oil from a water bottle into the Honda Civic’s exhaust pipe seconds before OP opened his garage door to greet them.
With the car likely never started that day, the engine and exhaust pipe are cold. But, after a few minutes of steady driving, the exhaust components get nice and hot, enough to burn off oil squirted into the exhaust that presents itself as clouds of white smoke.
To a less knowledgeable car owner who lets someone else take care of their car and only really puts gas in it, seeing white smoke suddenly pouring out your car’s exhaust pipe plus the car buyer’s convenient explanation might be enough cause for you to lower your price on the spot just to be done with it.
Thankfully, OP (and now you) knew better.
“Really glad we didn’t get caught out and I hope this can prevent other people falling for this very convincing scam.”
As hinted at, this is an old scam used car buyers use.
A quick google reveals this trick might be more of a thing in Europe than here in the United States.
Here’s the same situation playing out in the UK sometime in 2017.
According to a 2018 story from RAC Insurance, con artists used the same trick on a UK resident selling his 13-year-old car except they poured oil into the coolant reservoir and exhaust.
And a 2021 story from the Sun explains how unscrupulous used car buyers also poured oil into this Audi’s coolant reservoir. Thankfully, the car owner’s Dad was watching his security cameras, spotted the scam as it was being set up, and tipped his son to bail on the buyers ASAP.
Used car buying tips often warns the buyers to look out for dishonest car sellers who are willing to cheat you or withhold valuable information, but this latest incident goes to show both parties should keep their wits about them.
If you’re out to sell your used car and if you already haven’t, it would behoove you to familiarize yourself with your car’s repair history, know exactly what’s wrong with it, and just plain get to know your car from top to bottom.
Do a walk around of it, take photos of your car from all angles, and under the hood too, so you have reference photos just in case.
That way, if something during the test drive or tire kicking session goes wrong, you’ll know if it’s truly something that fits your car’s history or if this is an anomaly worth stepping back from to reevaluate.
If anything, if you feel like you’re being pressured into cutting your price and the deal just feels…off, it’s best to trust your instincts and politely decline going further with any potential deal.