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Black Market Auto Sales

Black Market Car Sales or "Curbstoning" is an illegal scheme to draw shoppers to a roadside or vacant lots and sell unfit cars without permits, licenses or mandated consumer protection.

Private Auto Purchase Tips from the Pros

A Public Service from your local, licensed auto dealers


For most New Mexicans, a safe and reliable vehicle is crucial to being able to live, work and be part of the community.  A car is among the most expensive purchases anyone ever makes, so it pays to be attentive to the details when buying.  This is especially true if you are buying a car from a street corner, whether in your town or on the internet.  Here are some tips to help:

  1. Ask the seller in the first call whether the title is in his/her name. If the answer is “no” just hang up.  They will tell you it is their auntie’s car, or their sister out of state.  It is illegal in New Mexico to sell a vehicle that is not titled to the seller, and you will end up paying taxes and penalties on every sale of the vehicle that was not reported.  Ask the seller to give you the VIN number of the vehicle.  Ask the seller if the vehicle is salvaged, and whether the miles shown are actual.
  2. Check the car out online. A lot of data can be had for free.  First, check to see if the vehicle has any open recalls from the manufacturer.  Use the VIN tool at the NHTSA’s website:  You can also check whether the vehicle is stolen or salvaged for free by looking the vehicle up on the NICB’s website:  You can also go to a number of pay sites, including AutoCheck and CarFax to get detailed histories for the car.
  3. Be cautious where you meet a seller for a test drive. Make sure it is in a very public place to ensure your safety.  If you like the car, arrange for a pre-purchase mechanical inspection of the vehicle during your test drive.  If the seller won’t agree – don’t buy that car!
  4. Check the title out fully. Check the seller’s drivers license to ensure he/she is the registered owner.  Does the VIN match the VIN on the vehicle?  If the title says that it is a Duplicate Title, be cautious and do not buy the vehicle until you have had a chance to check the vehicle and ensure that it has not been sold twice.
  5. Document everything. Make sure to print and save all internet ads, text messages and emails between you and the seller.  This will allow you to prove what went on in case something goes awry with the deal.

And remember, no licensed New Mexico automobile dealer displays vehicles on street corners or abandoned restaurant parking lots.  You can find them at their dealerships, offering a minimum 15 day/500 mile warranty, bonded and insured and always there for you if there is a problem with your

Buying From a Black Market Dealer is Not Worth the Risk!

Just this week, I had a consumer come to our office and discuss with me their awful experience dealing with a $2000 purchase of a vehicle off a curb here in Albuquerque. The consumer had saved up for over six months to purchase the car and was excited to finally have the transportation they needed to get to and from work. It did not really work out that way.

The consumer was given the keys to the car for the cash, and when they asked about the title, they were told it would be given to them the next day. The next day turned into three weeks and still no title. The consumer then started to have major concerns about the safety and reliability of the vehicle. The engine started to smoke, and the clutch on the manual transmission started to get harder and harder to use.

At that point, the consumer was really worried about the purchase and found the New Mexico Independent Automobile Dealers Association online and came to us to seek any remedies. We found not only was the consumer sold a bad car, they were sold a car that had an outstanding title loan on it, and the seller did not and could not produce a title!

As the Executive Director of NMIADA, unfortunately I have to deal with this kind of scenario all too often and have to tell these unsuspecting consumers that the seller is in the wind and they really have no recourse. In New Mexico, a licensed dealer has to be fully bonded, and provide a 15 day/500 mile vehicle warranty to protect the consumer from curbstoning situations exactly like this.

I just wish more consumers understood the protections licensed dealers provided them. Rather than finding what they think is the best deal, they should find the best dealer to make a deal with. Help us help you—buy from a licensed car dealer. In the long run you will always be better off!

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