Buying a pre-owned vehicle? Buyer beware
It is always recommended for vehicle buyers to meet their seller in person, in a safe location, bring a friend or family member, and go for a test drive. However, here are some further tips and steps to take before purchasing a used vehicle.
Top stolen vehicles
Keep in mind that older vehicles are often easier to steal as they don't have an effective anti-theft device built in. All new vehicles built in Canada after September 2007 must now be equipped with anti-theft engine immobilizers.
Check the VIN number
Enter the VIN on a free decoder tool: Free VIN Decoder: VIN Check & Lookup in Canada | CARFAX Canada and make sure it matches the vehicle you are purchasing.
Enter the VIN on the manufacturer’s website to make sure it exists and see if there are any recalls or other associated information to that VIN.
Check the VIN on the Canadian Police Information Centre public website to determine if it has been reported stolen to police.
Signs to look for when buying a vehicle
There are 2 VINs on each vehicle under/on the windshield and driver’s door jamb. Check to ensure the VINs match.
Make sure that the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) on the dashboard identification plate matches the vehicle registration form, and that it has not been tampered with. Signs of tampered VIN numbers include: loose rivets, mismatched rivets, screws in place of rivets, scratched numbers on the VIN, tape, glue or paint over the VIN;
Insist on seeing the original vehicle registration form, not a photocopy;
Ask the seller to provide you with photo identification and check that the name on the registration form is the same as the person standing in front of you. Make sure you have their valid home address, home number, and work number;
Check the license plate on the vehicle to ensure it matches the registration form;
Check the vehicle make, model, and colour to ensure they match with the registration form. When looking at the vehicle’s report, carefully look for any inconsistencies such as if the car is registered in two difference provinces at the same time or if the vehicle is listed as gasoline, diesel or hybrid powered.
Get a vehicle history report and a pre-purchase inspection from providers such as a Carfax.
- Be mindful of the asking price, if the price is too good to be true, it usually is.
More tips on buying a vehicle privately can also be found here: Buying Privately - VSA (vsabc.ca)
Why are vehicles stolen in the first place?
To sell the vehicle. Often thieves will take your car out of the province or country. Identification numbers may be altered or removed. Ownership certificates may be forged.
To sell the vehicle parts. Some thieves are stealing vehicles simply for the $200-300 value in the recycled metal.
For transportation. Thieves will use your vehicle to get where they want to go and abandon the vehicle. They may just drive it around to gain
statuswith their friends.
To commit other crimes. Vehicles are stolen and used in other crimes such as robberies, break and enters, drug dealing, etc.
Protect your car
Invest in at least one anti-theft device. There are numerous anti-theft devices on the market. These include:
- Steering wheel locks/Transmission locks
- Electronic Engine Immobilizers
- Satellite tracking systems
- Vehicle alarms
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