Curbstoners are unethical car dealers posing as private sellers. Curbstoners will sell used cars out of their home or on the side of the road. Curbstoners may also recruit other people to help sell used vehicles.

Curbstoners generally sell vehicles with questionable histories, including rolled-back odometers, hidden mechanical problems, or wrecked cars and salvaged vehicles that "cosmetically" look good. Curbstoners will sell vehicles below book value and give the buyer a hard-luck story of why they must sell the vehicle. Buyers are taken in by the lure of a low price and the attitude of "his loss, my gain." In many cases, buyers are led to believe that they are dealing with either the vehicle's owner or relative and may let their guard down.

When you are buying a used car from an individual, ask these questions before you spend time traveling to take a test drive:

  1. Whose name is the car registered?
  2. Do you have the title?
  3. Is there a lien on the vehicle?
  4. How long have you owned the car?
  5. How many miles on the car?
  6. Why are you selling the car?
  7. Have you performed any significant repairs to the car?
  8. Has the car ever been wrecked?
  9. Do all the electrical and mechanical systems work?
  10. Is the car available for a professional inspection?

If you feel comfortable with the seller's answers, schedule to test drive and remember the 1-2-3 Steps of buying a used vehicle.

You cannot negotiate your best deal until you know the EXACT condition of every component and system.