Look out for roadside sharks this summer

AutoTrader NZ
Published 3 September 2020

Car buyers seeking a bargain at one of the many roadside selling venues across the country need to be wary of illegal, unregistered traders, Motor Trade Association (MTA) says.

Warmer temperatures and longer days have historically seen an increase in both the size and number of roadside selling venues, as genuine and bogus sellers alike seek to take advantage of increased public interest.

MTA Marketing and Communications General Manager Ian Stronach says, while many of the cars being sold at the side of the road are by genuine private vehicle owners, buyers need to be wary of illegal high-volume, unregistered traders.

“We regularly get calls from disappointed buyers who run into problems after purchasing a car. It’s not the everyday, one-off sellers who cause the difficulties – it’s the illegal traders who pass themselves off as private sellers. Buyers have little or no legal recourse when dealing with these characters. In many cases, the details they provide are incorrect and the purchaser is unable to locate them after the money has changed hands,” Stronach says.

By law, anyone selling more than six vehicles a year must become a Registered Motor Vehicle Trader (RMVT). But some of those operating from roadside venues simply pass off the cars they are selling as belonging to a “family member”. Many of these cars will have been recently added to the Vehicle Register, which can sometimes be a clue.

While there are quick and easy ways to make thorough vehicle background checks – through MotorWeb, for example – some buyers bypass the proper checks and end up dealing with illegal traders. They unwittingly end up drawn in to “trade sales”, but with none of the accompanying benefits of dealing with a proper RMVT.

More and more roadside selling venues have sprung up across the country in recent years, and most towns in New Zealand have at least one spot where roadside sales take place. While a small number of local authorities have banned them, primarily because of the traffic and safety hazards they create, most have been allowed to trade unimpeded.

“Long experience has taught us that as long as people are willing to take risks to find a bargain, there are those who operate illegally who will meet their needs. The roadside selling season is now getting up to full speed – as always, buyers need to be aware and do their homework if they are to avoid a costly mistake,” Stronach says.