Common-Sense Advice for Buyers

Whether you found a car you may wish to buy in a newspaper classified ad or online, you should always use your best judgment when buying a car in Jamaica.

Scrutinize ads carefully for warning signs
If there are pictures, be sure the pictures match the description eg pictures may be of an LHD car but the description says RHD. Ensure the vehicle details are consistent eg RHD vehicles usually measure mileage in KM while LHD vehicles usually do so in M. Incorrect/invalid phone numbers may mean the advertiser is trying to avoid being contacted by phone. Beware of advertisers who only want to discuss the transaction via email.

Have a good idea of the vehicle's market value
Be very wary of any vehicle being advertised way below fair market value, especially those seeking a quick cash sale. As the old saying goes, if it sounds too good to be true, it usually is.

Be wary of complicated deposit/payment arrangements
Be cautious when putting down deposits on cars that need to be imported. Avoid transactions when seller can't meet in person and/or requests payments be made by money wire (eg via Western Union or MoneyGram)

Use electronic communication safely
Do not send sensitive personal or financial information (such as your TRN, credit card or bank account numbers) to anyone via email, text message etc. Remember that electronic communications are not always secure and your personal information can sometimes be intercepted, misused and easily forwarded to others.

Have the vehicle inspected
Before paying a deposit or buying, have the vehicle you are interested in inspected by an experienced independent mechanic or a profesional inspection service. An inspection will help you identify issues the seller may not have communicated to you but of which you should be aware. Bear in mind however that an inspection won't guarantee a car is free from issues or that all existing issues have been identified.

Get a vehicle history report
A vehicle history report can provide helpful information, such as if the vehicle has been in a major accident which was reported to insurance, or whether it was ever reported stolen. Get a CarFax report if the vehicle was recently imported from the USA and you are unsure if it was badly damaged.

Verify ownership and transferrability
Before paying a deposit or the full purchase price, ensure that the advertiser actually has the power to sell and that the ownership of the vehicle can be transferred to you. An existing lien on a vehicle means it cannot be transferred until that lien is lifted. If getting a loan to buy these checks are usually facilitated by your lending institution but you may have to do your own due diligence. Check the title with the Tax Office to ensure your transaction will not be problematic.

Get a proper receipt
Ask the seller of the vehicle for a receipt that clearly states his name, and address and add the phone number you have been communicating with the seller with to this receipt.

Trust your gut.
Our instincts are there for a reason. If something about a transaction sends off warning bells in your head, sometimes its best to trust your instincts and avoid the transaction.

Help us help you (and others)
If you believe there are vehicles being advertised on with the intention of defrauding others, please contact us at [email protected] with details and we will look into the matter.