Don’t buy a vehicle from a “Curbstoner”

OK, so what, precisely, is a Curbstoner?

Here’s some background:

You know that place on your commute that always has a bunch of cars for sale? the patch of waste ground by the stoplights? Buying a used car or leasing a car is a major decision (you can check the van leasing info to take the best decision), and you want to be sure you’re shopping at Autozin a trusted dealership. Many people mistake car washing with car detailing. This car detailing introduction provides an overview of car detailing and how it’s different that a simple car wash or wax job.

That’s almost certainly a curbstone site. Curbstoners are unlicensed vehicle dealers, called as such because they tend to park a selection of cars for sale in popular areas along the curbstones. They operate in this way because a private sale of a vehicle is not covered by the legal restrictions that a dealer must abide by.

You’ll run into yet another headache when trying to get quotes, as the insurance company will have to look deep into the vehicles history, and if the scam has something to do with who legally owns the vehicle the consequences could fall on you. These iffy car sellers will never tell you the full story, but once money has changed hands there’s no going back to them for help. For exactly that reason they may hide certain things from you that could affect you severely shortly down the line.

Why are they bad?

Several reasons:

  1. They operate like a business but are unlicensed so if they sell you something that is unsafe, unroadworthy or illegal, there is no legal comeback. They also deprive your community of tax and revenue.
  2. They sell vehicles that no-one in their right minds would buy if they knew the full story. The cars they sell may have been salvaged from scrap, welded together from several different cars, have faulty engines, transmissions, chassis, body parts or safety features.
  3. They are criminals first, salesmen second. If you think you are going to get a bargain, you are probably wrong.
  4. In many cases, they do not hold title and may be relying on bureaucratic delays to sell you a salvaged car that could end up killing you.
  5. They take up valuable parking areas, create an eyesore and encourage illicit activity.

It is estimated that up to 80% of the cars advertised online (primarily Craigslist) and in newspaper classified ads are for sale by these unlicensed dealers.

Curbstoning is the unlicensed flipping of used cars and a scam
So How do I tell a real owner from a curbstoner?

There are several signs to look for, any of which should make you extremely suspicious:

  1. They will insist on a ‘Cash Only’ sale. No exceptions. They want your money now. There’s a good chance that 10 miles down the road the car will self-destruct.
  2. They will meet you at the car’s parking place. They don’t want you coming back or showing the cops where you bought the car from.
  3. They will be selling lots of cars at the same time. When you phone, ask them about the car. If they say “which car”? you’ll know they’re selling more than one. Look at the ad in the paper/online closely. Look above and below it and you may see the same phone number/email address or writing style.
  4. The registration documents will not match the seller. They will make any end of excuses but the fact is a vehicle owner should ‘own’ the vehicle he is selling.

Everyone wants a good deal, and buying a car from a private seller is a great way to get one, but if the private seller ends up being a curbstoner, you will almost certainly lose any money you hand over and you could end up even poorer. Curbstoners ted to operate at the lowend (sub $3000) of the market and disproportionately target those who can least afford it.

If you see or hear about this happening in your neighbourhood, contact your city or county and hopefully we can save everyone from fraud and danger.

More information and References:

4 responses to “Don’t buy a vehicle from a “Curbstoner””

  1. on.

    The biggest scan artist are the dealers. I worked for a major dealership in the dmv area, and I regret being part of such a huge LEGAL scam. Was this article written by a carfax rep? cause it sound like a sales pitch. It’s all brainwash. So what if a mechanic bought a car at a auction, say car needed timing belt and owner decide to get rid of it, mechanic repair car and sell for half price the stealership sell it for. Mechanic just save that hard working family $$ they can use for Christmas gifts or vacation In this modern day slavery, tough, greedy economy. You don’t hear about those stories. You only hear the ones were some idiot spend $15k on a 97 salvage honda, which I find very hard to beleive. I personally have sold quality 5,6 years old car with less than 70k miles for less than $5k to happy families disclosing accident and show them pictures of previous damages. So what. They were very happy they not stuck paying some finance company $300/mo + interest in order to drive a 5yr old car. So what if the radiator, AC condenser, and bumper had to be replaced. I see nothing wrong with that if the price is right. Example, a 2009 fusion with 50k miles, salvage title selling for $4500. Prior damage include blown airbag radiator, and radiator support. All these parts bolt on and off just like in the factory and the right tool can reset the aibag just like original. By the way, airbags are one of the easiest. fix…don’t let the stealerships scare you. Car is now completely repaired but the salvage title not worth much if a buyer wants to trade in or resell after a couple years. The same fusion, clean title and carfax (of course carfax don’t tell you everything. Some of these clean title vehicles have unreported previous damage, or major mechanical issue. Dealers buy these used cars at the dealers auto auto not even knowing why they selling it or why someone trading. At least with the ” salvage” vehicles at auction, u see the damage and know why they selling it), selling for $9500. ..Good resale and trade in value in the future. I, personally, would buy the salvage vehicle for 4500 and save 5k. I make 50k at the job. Drove my salvage fusion ( mind you salvage is not written on the car so no one knows…the title with the word “recon, rebuitl, or salvage…whatever term they use, is in my drawer not even seeing daylight) back and forth to work for 3yrs now with a 110kmiles. Decide to trade in at the dealer and they said car is only worth 1k. Man! I bought this car for 4500 3yrs ago. However, I made 150k at the job in the past 3yrs, and this car made it possible. I guess 3500 is not a loss but an investment towards my job, plus all the interest I would’ve have to pay if I had put down payment on the “CLEAN” title fusion. I can even keep my salvage fusion for another 3yrs.
    You hear the bad stories about curbstoners, never the good ones. Ok they don’t pay taxes which is wrong but don’t tell me it’s illegal to protect consumer. No! It’s illegal because state is not getting their cut. Gov cares but one thing , and that’s tax. They don’t give a crap about ur protection from curbstoners or scammers. So they use scare tactics. We live in a brainwash society, so carfax, a giant company, and the dealers will wash off your brain with acid to steer you away from the small guy. My wife bought a 2012 car from a dealer clean title. A year later I notice all the paint job from quater panel area, and I’ve had to replace front tires twice a year…something wrong with a that suspention..definitely been in wreck that carfax don’t know about.
    Take away. Don’t let government, carfax and dealership scare you from buying car from the street even when price is too good to be true..u might have just stumble on a great deal! Government not protecting you, they just upset they can’t track and collect tax from a curbstoners…they already collecting too much money especially in state of MD..and the ridiculous parking fines in DC, Carfax and dealership are in the sales business so go figure. Bottom line have a mechanic check out the car, salvage, previously damage whatever the situation. If PRICE is right, don’t just steer from salvage vehicle by looking at carfax alone, especially for less than 5k. Check out vehicle and test drive. Ask seller what was repaired (previous photos help) and have a professional inspect repairs. Sometimes insurance companies salvage vehicles just because it’s over 5 yrs and a ridiculous repair bill. It took me 10 minute to replace driver wheel airbag on a 2002 bmw 3 series, $25 airbag reset tool on ebay. Dealer wanted 8hrs labor to replace just wheel Airbag claimed they had to remove steering column. My jaw dropped when my ins agent told me the cost of repairs. If you don’t believe me check out a video online how to replace steering wheel airbag on a 2002 bmw 325i…only 2bolts come off in the back 0f wheel, nothing else. Then check out ebay for the price of the wheel airbag and a bmw airbag reset tool. Then call the dealer or any major repair shop and get a price quote for the same job. Then come back and leave a comment base on your observation. my insurance totaled my car and sold back to me for 800. What a deal! I’ve seen lots of salvage car that didn’t require much work to get back on the rd, sometimes it’s just cosmetic work. So next time you shopping for a used car don’t let carfax make the decision for you. Physical inspection and the price are the most important things 

  2. You cant assume that every curbstoner is illegal or selling crap cars that will quickly break down.

    I was a curbstoner for a dozen years. Fully licensed most of the time.

    My ethics were WAY above most car lots.

    I sold for cash only. But I would work with the sellers lenders.

    I had multiple repeat customers and I never hid the fact that I was a dealer.
    I didn’t openly advertise it but I didn’t hide from it when meeting and showing cars either.

    The “stopcurbstoning” site is by car lots that don’t like competition.

    The bottom line is I saved most people over $1000 on a cheap car as compared to the car lots.

    I had lower expenses & could provide better deals.

    No car lot, no salesman, just me.

    Most of my deals were win-win situations for myself and the buyers.

    On the other hand, salesman at many dealerships wouldn’t think twice about LYING to sell people a car.

    So while some curbstoners may be unethical, you cant assume that they as a whole are any worse than the salesman who work at car dealers.

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