Oil trick could scam drivers out of thousands

Oil trick could scam drivers out of thousands
Private car sellers are being warned of a scam that sees potential buyers try to knock thousands off a car’s asking price — by tampering with its engine.

The scam, which seems to be making a comeback, sees con-artists secretly pour oil into the coolant reservoir of the vehicle for sale, and then offer a cut-price because they falsely claim the engine is wrecked.

The latest warning comes after a Kent motorist was targeted by scammers, who offered just £1,100 for a £3,600 Volkswagen Touareg after tampering with its engine before a test drive.

Get 3 months FREE breakdown cover!

With 12 months of Ultimate cover, new customers get 3 months for free.* Plus, get roadside and home rescue as standard, only with the RAC.^

Michael Browne, from Whitstable, Kent, was selling his 13-year-old vehicle online when an interested buyer contacted him, initially asking for £300 off the car’s price.

An hour later, the buyer showed up to Mr. Browne’s house with a friend and an 11-year-old boy and began inspecting the vehicle before taking the Touareg out for a test drive.

During the drive smoke started billowing out from the car, leading the prospective buyer to ask to check the engine again, which is when he asked for a considerable discount on the price.

READ MORE: How to sell a car privately — top tips

The con-artists claimed the car would need a new engine, but when Mr. Browne spotted oil on the driveway he became suspicious and asked the buyers to leave.

Mr Browne said that he had been distracted while showing the potential buyers around the car, which gave the swindlers enough time to pour oil into the coolant reservoir and exhaust pipe.

"While one was looking at the engine, the other one wanted to look at the spare tyre so they got me around to the boot," he said.

"That must have been when the young lad who was around the front put dirty oil in the coolant. I think they used a squeezy bottle. While I was looking at the engine, he must have put some in the exhaust pipe."

After taking the car to the local garage to get its system flushed out, Mr. Browne checked online and realised that the scam is fairly common before taking to social media to warn other private sellers.

Copyright Press Association 2018. Motoring News articles do not reflect the RAC's views unless clearly stated.

SEE ALSO: Buying a used car — the ultimate checklist

Did you know, you can get fined for moving out of the way of an ambulance?

Want more useful content like this sent straight to your inbox?

*Ends 05/08/21, 7am ^Vs AA and Green Flag.