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We all know that we have to have our wits about us when we visit a slippery second-hand-car salesman. It's one reason we're so grateful when we are offered the chance to buy from family who are trading up. Finally, someone we trust who will give us a good deal on a car we can rely on.

Except, a new survey has revealed that when we buy a car from relatives we're nowhere near as safe from rip offs as we think.

Buying from family costs more

According to a survey by Trusted Dealers, some 65% of respondents said that buying from family cost them more in the long run than if they had gone elsewhere. In the early stages everything looked rosy, they were offered a good discount over Sunday lunch, popped round for a test drive, and shook hands on a deal.

However, some 15% said even this wasn't all it seemed. After being quoted a price and told it was the going rate they didn't shop around. However, they subsequently discovered they had paid well over the odds for their car.

For the vast majority of buyers, however, things turned sour later. The problem was that relatives took advantage of the trust implicit in their relationship to shift cars with problems. Over time the troubles emerged, and the cost of the repairs soon ate away any discount their family member had offered them.

So what does this survey tell us?

If you take these results at face value, we are a nation of lying charlatans, prepared to sacrifice family relationships for a fast buck. It means we shouldn't trust our family as far as we can throw them, and if we are offered a second-hand car by a family member we need to steer well clear.

However, there's another explanation. There's a chance that a good number of these cars are being sold by people who have hung onto them for as long as possible, so they are getting pretty elderly by the time they are on the market. There's not necessarily any way that the seller can tell that the car is about to break down: they may be selling it in good faith. It's just when they get to a certain age that things start to go.

The problem comes then that when things go wrong, it seems like they were palming off a dodgy motor.

Whether they sell a lemon deliberately or innocently, the end result is bound to be a family row. It begs the question of whether we should ever be buying a second hand car (or indeed anything else) from family, or whether it's just not worth risking your relationship.

What do you think? let us know in the comments.