Last Updated on December 19, 2020 by Bernard Juchli
Howdy, Driver? I know you are here to discover how to avoid buying a cloned car. Do not worry, I will show you the tricks to ensure that you do not end up with a cloned vehicle.
What makes a car clone? A car is a clone if it carries the identity of another car that is owned by a legal or a registered owner. Usually, a cloned car is a stolen car that has been legalized by criminals.
You can tell if a car has been cloned by checking whether there is any tampering on the VIN plates and inspect whether the VIN in all parts of the car (interior and exterior) is the same. Also, check whether the engine number corresponds with the V5 document.
It is not okay to buy a cloned car because you would be sharing the same identity with another car. And because a cloned car shares identity with another car, you will be liable for the offenses that the other driver commits.
How to Avoid Buying a Cloned Car
If you are skeptical about buying a car that is cloned, you may ask a knowledgeable mechanic to inspect the used car for you.
Below is how to avoid buying a cloned car:
Don’t Buy if Price is Ridiculous
The first red flag that a car is a clone is the price of the car.
Before you buy a car online, request the price if it is not stated already. Now, research the value of the car and ask knowledgeable people or the dealership for the actual cost of the car.
If the car is too cheap to be true, ask whether it is a salvaged car. And if it is not a salvaged car, the car is a stolen car that a crook tries to sell off quickly after cloning by switching VIN.
Contact the Seller in Address on V5
It is preferable to contact a private seller at the address specified on the V5 logbook or any document that mentions the address of the sale of the car if possible.
If you are dealing with a dealer, then the address of sale will be the location of the dealership or business.
Lookup the VIN
To check the VIN of a cloned car does not guarantee that you will identify the car as a clone. Besides, the VIN will give you the exact information about a different car that is legal. And you may conclude that the used car you want to buy is legal.
Inspect the VIN
After you look up the VIN online, you have to inspect the VIN in the interiors and exteriors of the vehicle to confirm whether the car is a clone.
Regarding how to avoid buying a stolen car, I advise you to inspect the VIN plates for any tampering carefully because the VIN could have been modified by a criminal.
The parts of the vehicle that you will likely find the VIN are:
- Interior of the trunk
- Engine block
- Door jamb of the driver
- Front-end framework of the car
- Drivers side mirror
Note: The VIN could be imprinted in areas of the vehicle other than what I have mentioned above.
So, check every part of the vehicle for the VIN and be sure there is no tampering.
Examine Ownership Documents
To spot a cloned car, confirm the information on the documents that the private seller or dealership gives to you.
It’s typical for crooks to create fake documents such as the V5 logbook, bill of sale, registration papers, and title, etc.
If the information is not consistent with the information available on the VIN, it is likely that the car is a clone. Regardless, the crook could have entered the information correctly.
To be sure that the car is not a clone, check for the authenticity of the documents. If you do not know what the original looks like, check with the local vehicle agency. Or, check what typical original documents look like before you contact the seller.
Check the V5 Logbook
Before you pay for a used car, check the V5 logbook of the vehicle to confirm whether it is a cloned car.
If the seller or the advertisement reports that there is no V5 form, reconsider buying the car; it could be a lie to cover up for the cloned vehicle.
Pay Via the Bank
After you confirm that the car is not a clone, do not make payments in cash.
The seller will demand payments in cash because they do not want to be tracked if the car is a clone and, of course, a stolen car.
If you must pay in cash for the used car, let it be that the used car does not cost over $2,000 (not recommended).
When you buy a used car, register the vehicle immediately.
If you are able to register the car, then you are good to go. But if there is a fault and you are unable to register the car, it will be easier to track the seller and get your money back before it is too late.
But if you buy a car from a certified dealer and discover later that it is a cloned car, the dealer will refund your money.
If you buy a stolen or a cloned car by mistake, report the car to the police to avoid having to fight legal actions.
Like I mentioned, try to register the vehicle earlier so that if the vehicle registration agency holds anything against you, you can fight back legally and spare yourself a legal sanction that will hit your finances negatively.
The rule of thumb is “do not be a victim of car cloning”.