'Walt the Curber' is a program between Black Press and CarProof to illustrate the risks of purchasing a vehicle from a private seller.

Buying a Used Car? Protect Yourself

When buying a used vehicle, you should do your homework, says CarProof. 150,000 British Columbians buy from a private seller each year.

*The following is a contributed piece from the Vehicle Sales Authority, CarProof Vehicle History Reports and ICBC. For more, check out Black Press’s sponsored program ‘Walt the Curber’ on Driveway Canada, an initiative from CarProof to illustrate the risks of buying a car from a private seller.

**********

When buying a used vehicle, you should always do your homework – learn about the features, read reviews, and compare options to make the best decision for you and your family.

But if you’re one of the 150,000 British Columbians who choose to buy from a private seller each year, there is another critical thing you should know: how to protect yourself from curbers.

Curbers are individuals posing as private sellers who intentionally sell questionable, and even unsafe, vehicles for a profit. The risk of being taken advantage of by a curber is high enough that the Mainland British Columbia Better Business Bureau recently named curbers in its ‘Top Ten Sales Scam for 2014‘.

You don’t have to face this threat alone, however. The Vehicle Sales Authority of British Columbia (VSA), CarProof Vehicle History Reports and the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC) have joined forces to help you learn how to protect yourself when buying a used vehicle.

“As an intentional illegal activity, it’s very hard to pinpoint the losses used vehicle buyers experience each year as a result of purchasing from curbers,” said Jay Chambers, president of the VSA. “Consider this: the private used vehicle market in B.C. totals $900 million each year. If just one-quarter of those sales are related to curbers purposefully evading the law, consumers are putting $225 million at risk every year.”

Unlike licensed dealers, curbers are not required to disclose the history and condition of a vehicle and, even if they do, they often lie or misrepresent the history. They offer none of the legal protection that comes with buying from a licensed motor dealer, such as the right to pursue recourse through the VSA. Even more important than the potential financial losses, there is no guarantee that the vehicle is even safe to be on the road.

“CarProof is proud to provide a critical tool for consumers to help protect themselves from curbers,” said Paul Antony, president and CEO at CarProof Vehicle History Reports. “When you look at a CarProof report, you know the true detail of that vehicle’s past no matter where it’s been in North America. That is critical, so you can know if the seller is telling you the truth and giving you the complete picture and, most importantly, to make sure you make a good decision and don’t buy a potentially unsafe vehicle.”

A vehicle history report – available from ICBC and CarProof – can tell you a lot about the car you’re thinking of buying, including whether it’s been in crashes, written off and rebuilt, has any liens on it (money owing that you could be liable for) or if it’s flood-damaged. Knowing this information is vital. As an example, flood-damaged vehicles do not qualify for on-road licensing or use anywhere in Canada.

“Buying a used vehicle without doing research can lead to an unsafe vehicle being on the road ˆ putting your life, and the lives of others, at risk,” said Mark Blucher, president and CEO of ICBC. “When considering a used vehicle purchase, arm yourself with as much knowledge as possible before signing on the dotted line.”

SIGNS YOU MIGHT BE DEALING WITH A CURBER:

– Is the phone number in the ad you’re looking at also listed within ads for other vehicles? If you find more than one vehicle connected to the same phone number, and it’s not a licensed dealer, they’re likely a curber.

– The seller doesn’t have the vehicle’s original registration form, or the name on the registration is not their name. Ask the seller for ID to confirm they’re using their real name.

– The vehicle year, make, model, body style or colour, don’t match the description on the vehicle’s registration form.

– The vehicle doesn’t match the description when the Vehicle Identification Number (or VIN, found on the base of the driver’s side dashboard near the windshield) is decoded.

– The vehicle’s not at the seller’s residence. Curbers usually insist on meeting at a public place, such as a parking lot, or on bringing the vehicle to you.

– The seller insists on cash only and says they’re in a rush to make a sale.

– If the deal the seller is offering seems too good to be true, it probably is. Find out why before you buy.

HOW TO PROTECT YOURSELF:

Know who you’re buying from

Buy from a licensed motor dealer. You can check if a dealer is licensed on the VSA website.

Take a history lesson

A vehicle’s status is an important piece of information and can be searched for free on icbc.com. After taking this step, compare the vehicle history reports available from ICBC and CarProof.

Give it your own inspection

Confirm that the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) on the dashboard matches the registration form. Check for signs of tampering with the VIN, like loose or mismatched rivets, scratched numbers, tape, glue or paint. Check the odometer for signs of tampering ˆ make sure the numbers are aligned, the mileage is consistent with the age and condition of the vehicle (25,000 km a year is average). Take the vehicle for a test drive on local roads and the highway.

Bring in the professionals

Get an inspection done by a qualified mechanic. If you’re not sure who should inspect the vehicle, the BCAA vehicle inspection is a good choice.

File the paperwork

If you buy privately, pay after the seller goes with you to the Autoplan office to complete the vehicle’s transfer of ownership.

Follow your instincts

If at any point something causes you concern, walk away.

 

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

FedEx distribution centre coming to Castlegar

Development permit for ground facility before council next week.

Kootenay teams heading for curling provincials

Team Buchy and Team Nichols won the senior playdowns.

Trust delivers social grants, several in Trail and Rossland

Columbia Basin Trust supports 31 projects with $680,000 in social grants

Hospital in Trail goes from zero to 100!

Kootenay Boundary Regional Hospital is one of 4 service hospitals operating in Interior Health

Join Take a Hike for a night of fun at the Salmo Ski Hill

West Kootenay Take a Hike is based in the Kootenay Columbia Learning Centre

Kids across Canada more at risk of hospitalization from flu this season: doctor

Dr. Theresa Tam said influenza B does not usually peak until February or later

Closed mills, housing surge support a positive forecast for lumber industries

B.C. lumber producers have closed mills accounting for 18% of province’s capacity, RBC report says

Good Samaritan pays part of rent for B.C. woman facing eviction in can-collecting dispute

Zora Hlevnjak, 76, supplements her pension by collecting cans and receiving public donations

Kelowna’s ‘Baby Mary’ finds biological parents after more than 30 years

Geneologist and DNA test helped her connect with her biological parents

Kelowna hotel to award couples for baby-making with Nooner deal

The deal includes a free stay every Valentine’s Day for the next 18 years

On the job hunt with Nelson’s Make A Change Canada

The employment charity is organizing next week’s Kootenay Patricks, Montreal Canadiens game

‘Scariest boat ride of my life’: Passengers trapped by ice on rocky B.C. ferry sailing

The Nimpkish docked in Bella Coola on Jan.12 coated in a thick layer of ice

B.C. pair ordered to pay $55,000 for oil tank discovered four years after selling home

Judge says defendants breached contract, despite being unaware of tank until basement flooded

Canada to give $25,000 to families of each Canadian who died in Iran plane crash

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also made it clear that Canada still expects Iran to compensate victims

Most Read