The number of cars being sold with repayments still owed has risen dramatically in just six months.
According to new figures obtained by the Irish Independent, the proportion of 'indebted' vehicles being offered for sale went from 9.5pc in June to 11.5pc in December.
That spells danger for unsuspecting buyers because if you buy a car with money still owed, the lending institution can legally seize it and leave you at the total loss of what you paid for it.
Such losses can range to tens of thousands of euro. Buying an average 2013-reg car that is subsequently seized could mean losing upwards of €10,000.
The significant increase in 'finance-owed' cars on sale is pinpointed in an analysis by car-history check company Cartell.ie. It said nearly 30pc of cars registered in the past three years are being put up for sale with finance outstanding.
On the face of it that suggests a lot of people cannot meet their repayments, and have over-stretched in the rush to get into a new car.
But there is also the strong likelihood that many people who have Personal Contract Plan (PCP) lease deals are testing the market for the value of their vehicle before entering a new contract.
Experts say some may be trying to see how much they can get over and above the Guaranteed Future Minimum Value (GMFV) agreed when they took out the PCP originally.
The more they can get above the GMFV the more equity they will have in the car at the end of the PCP deal. That could mean having to come up with less money to begin a new plan, or having cash to spare.
But there is a growing concern too that the number of cars for sale with finance owed reflects an inability to meet monthly repayments.
The Cartell.ie figures are based on an analysis of 5,906 vehicles. It found that almost a third registered in the last three years have finance outstanding.
Other findings include:
Older vehicles are registering high levels of debt too.
The report found that to be the case with 8.1pc of all 2010 registered vehicles, for example.
Cartell's John Byrne said the figures show buyers need to be "particularly careful" and emphasised how important it is to check out a car in advance.
Between 2008 and 2012, the RSA examined 867 forensic investigation files on fatal collisions. They focused on the vehicle and associated behaviour, which may have contributed to the collision.