Curb Stoning: Beware of Shady Car Deals

  • 3 min read

In the used car market, there exists a pervasive practice known as curb stoning that has been going on for half a century. But what exactly is a curb stoner?

Unveiling the Curb Stoner

Essentially, a curb stoner is an individual who poses as a legitimate car dealer by placing enticing advertisements on various classified platforms such as Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, AutoTrader, or local newspapers. Back in the 70s and 80s, since curb stoners couldn’t get a car lot without a license, they’d sell their cars from the curb, hence the name. 

These crafty operators create the illusion of being authorized dealers when, in reality, they are unlicensed individuals profiting from flipping cars. They procure vehicles from salvage auctions, repossessions, shady used car dealerships, or even distressed sellers. The unsuspecting buyers then become their targets, as the curb stoners resell these cars without any legal protections. 

The Consequences of Buying from Curb Stoners

The absence of purchasing from licensed dealers brings forth several issues. Firstly, buyers are left without warranties or anyone to turn to in the event of problems with the purchased vehicle. Complaints on platforms like Yelp, contacting the Better Business Bureau, or reporting the situation to state Dealer Licensing Divisions prove futile, as curb stoners lack the necessary credentials. They simply operate as everyday individuals flipping cars. To further deceive buyers, they may even assume a fake dealer persona or fabricate a dealer name.

Another predicament lies in the paperwork. Frequently, curb stoners provide buyers with what is known as a skip title or jump title. Although the front of the title appears legitimate, the back remains incomplete or open-ended. Unfortunately, attempting to register such a vehicle at the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) with a jump title will lead to confiscation and an inability to obtain proper registration.

The Persistence of Curb Stoning

It’s disheartening to acknowledge that curb stoning continues to plague the market. Despite a decline during the 90s and 2000s due to stricter regulations and enforcement, the resurgence of this shady practice can be attributed to government agencies facing budget cuts and deprioritizing investigations. Consequently, reporting incidents to the police or other authorities often results in classifying the matter as a civil issue, and little action is taken unless flagrant violations occur—something that is quite rare.

Safeguarding Yourself as a Buyer

To protect yourself from falling victim to curb stoners, exercise caution and adopt certain precautions. Always insist on seeing a dealer’s license and thoroughly examine the title, ensuring it is properly endorsed. By adhering to these principles, you can significantly reduce the likelihood of finding yourself entangled in an unfortunate situation.

It is essential to remain vigilant when navigating the used car market, as the menace of curb stoning poses a significant threat to buyers. With its long-standing history, this practice has resurfaced in recent years due to reduced government oversight. As a buyer, be proactive, demand transparency, and avoid purchasing vehicles from unlicensed individuals. By doing so, you can steer clear of the pitfalls associated with curb stoning and ensure a safer and more satisfactory car-buying experience.

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