Buyer Beware: Protecting Yourself Against Ford Wheelchair Van Rip-Offs


Did you just find a great deal on a used E-150? Does that Freestar on the used car lot look like the perfect choice for your next wheelchair van? Have you discovered a good-looking E-350 listed for less than Blue Book value? Are you impressed by that low-mileage Windstar advertised in the paper?

You can get a great deal on a used Ford wheelchair van by purchasing a used vehicle. However, you should also know that there are people out there who are more than wiling to take advantage of bargain shoppers. Protect yourself against rip-offs when buying a Ford wheelchair van. These tips may help.

Avoiding Odometer Fraud

1e608c657844fa5f56b6e30b5645f53eIs that low-mileage Windstar really a gently used gem or is someone lying? Odometer fraud is an age-old trick. Con artists roll back the odometer to make the vehicle appear newer and less worn than it is. That allows them to charge more for a vehicle than they otherwise could. Protect yourself against this nasty trick.

Read the Documents. Look at the title and registration paperwork. Pore over old service records. You may find mileage information that varies with the odometer or that indicates that you could be staring at an incident of foul play.

Consider the Context: If the van or minivan was a fleet vehicle (and many E-Series vans are used in that capacity), be suspicious of low mileage odometers. Fleet vehicles log an average of 30,000 miles per year. If the vehicles shows signs of repairs usually associated with older, more used vehicles, that’s another tell. Seats don’t lie, either. Excessive interior wear is an unmistakable sign of high mileage.

Avoiding Hidden Flood Damage

flood damaged wheelchair vanIt’s almost impossible to legitimately sell a flood-damaged vehicle. Even if one can clear the salvage title problems that often emerge, there’s still the fact that vehicles subjected to flooding experience more problems than others do, wear out faster and develop premature excessive rust. They’re prone to electrical problems and mold can be an issue. Don’t accidentally find yourself behind the wheel of a flood damaged Ford wheelchair van.

First, look the vehicle over closely. Look for signs of water damage, silt, mud or unexpected rust in out of the way spots. Check the trunk, the glove box and under the seats. Do a smell test, too. It’s hard to completely cover the smell of mildew and mold. If it passes your inspection, take it to your mechanic. They’ll be able to check other areas of the body, hoses and mechanical elements for signs you might miss.

Second, check the wiring. Reach under the dash. What do the wires feel like? Are they supple and pliable? Good. When wiring is soaked and then dried, it was a tendency to become very brittle. Hardened insulation on wiring can be a sign of flood damage.

Third, get a vehicle report and read it. A CARFAX will usually reveal whether flooding has been an issue in a vehicle’s past. They can also tell you if a Ford wheelchair van was registered in a state that was hit by a hurricane or some other FEMA-adminstered disaster.

Avoiding Sales Rip-Offs

scamsMost used car dealers are honest business people. A few give the rest of the industry a bad name. Unfortunately, you can’t always tell if you’re dealing with one of the bad guys unless you pay close attention. Here are three ways to avoid common tricks designed to separate you from your money.

First, review all of the numbers before you sign a sales contract. You need to be certain that you’re getting full credit on your trade-in, that your down payment is recorded correctly and that the total vehicle price matches what you were told.

Second, don’t accept spot delivery of your Ford wheelchair van. That’s when the dealer lets you take the vehicle home before the final contracts are signed. This allows them to call you back later, telling you that the financing didn’t work as planned, in an effort to get you to sign off on a more expensive deal. Don’t take the keys until the contracts are final.

Third, avoid being charged for dealer extras. Many dealers will try to get more out of their sales by padding the bill with additional dealer markup. Don’t accept the charges if you don’t agree with them and don’t sign off on extras in which you don’t have an interest. Remember, those charges aren’t set in stone. You can negotiate for a better deal on your Ford wheelchair van.

Using Additional Resources

Here are some great online resources that can help you to protect yourself and others from unscrupulous sellers.

National Insurance Crime Bureau (

Look here for a database of vehicles that have been damaged in floods. They also maintain a list of vehicles that have been reported as salvaged or stolen/unrecovered.

Federal Trade Commission (

This is the place to turn to for information about various scams, how to fight them, and where to report them. The FTC supplies a massive quantity of top-notch guidance and information.

Better Business Bureau (

You can report improper activity to this well-known business watchdog organization.

Internet Fraud Complaint Center (

Stop here to learn more about various scams and to report suspicious activity. The site focuses on web-based criminal activity.

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