If you are thinking about buying a car, a used one might be a good solution for you if you find yourself without enough money, time and choice in buying. However, before purchasing a used vehicle – or a new one, for that matter – you need to do a lot of homework about both your prospective car and the dealer, so as not to make a very expensive mistake. You need to make sure to avoid curbsiders, here is how you do it.
Curbsiders are illegal, unlicensed vehicle dealers that often pose as private sellers, but some operate from small automotive businesses (repair shops, rental companies, etc.). Not only do they misrepresent themselves, but they also usually misrepresent the vehicles they sell – with many being previous write-offs with undisclosed accident repairs or are odometer-tampered.
Seeing as curbsiders are car dealers who are not licensed by OMVIC, their consumers are also not protected by OMVIC, since they are considered to have made a private transaction and are thus excluded by the Motor Vehicle Dealers Act and don’t have access to OMVIC’s Compensation Fund.
Moreover, in case you experience problems with your vehicle after the purchase, it’s very difficult to track curbsiders down and hold them responsible, which can end up costing you a lot in the end.
There are several significant differences between an OMVIC-certified dealer and a curbsider.
An OMVIC-regulated dealer:
- Is bound by the regulations of the Motor Vehicle Dealers Act, OMVIC’s Code of Ethics and other consumer protection legislation
- Operates visibly in the community with a permanent lot
- Possesses and displays OMVIC registration
- Contributes to the Compensation Fund.
On the other hand, a curbsider:
- Operates illegally – ignores consumer protection legislation
- Often misrepresents themselves and the vehicles they sell
- Difficult/impossible to track down after sale
- Purchase not protected by the Compensation Fund.
Furthermore, OMVIC has very clear objectives intended to make the car purchase process easier and protect the customer:
- Consumer protection (pursuit of those who would prey on an unwary public)
- Increased consumer confidence (compliance activities and complaint handling)
- Consumer awareness (dissemination of information concerning consumer rights via public information and awareness programs)
- Dealer professionalism (certification programs for new dealers and salespersons)
- Increased accountability (administration of a Code of Ethics, Standards of Business Practice and an open disciplinary process).
Here are the signs that you might be dealing with a curbsider:
- Vehicle is priced below-market-value
- Vehicle not registered in the seller’s name or has only been registered in their name for a short period of time
- Doesn’t provide vehicle history report
- Refuses vehicle inspection by purchaser’s mechanic
- Only wants to meet in public
- Won’t provide a receipt or proof of purchase.
As you can see, it’s very important to do everything in your power to avoid curbsiders and here are some tips on how to do exactly that.
1) Beware of the vehicles with below-market-value price
To be able to sell vehicles as quickly and easily as possible, curbsiders may offer a too-good-to-be-true price. They can do this because the vehicles are often accident-damaged, odometer-tampered or rebuilt write-offs, but be aware that no one sells vehicles for less than they are worth. If a deal seems too good to be true, that’s a warning, not an opportunity.
These online resources may help you determine vehicle values/prices:
- Canadian Black Book (wholesale)
- Canadian Red Book (retail)
- The Automobile Protection Association
- Car Help Canada.
2) Get information about the dealer
Curbsiders often sell vehicles that are not registered in their name, so it’s important to ensure you’re dealing with the registered owner:
- Ask the seller for ID and compare it to the vehicle ownership – they must match
- Curbsiders may make excuses if they don’t match or the vehicle has been registered to the proper name for only a while.
3) Research the vehicle’s history – get UVIP and a history report from CarProof
A history report from CarProof provides useful information on:
- Reported collisions/incidents
- Existing liens
- Past odometer readings
- Out-of-province registration information
- Theft recovery
- Ministry of Transportation branding information (e.g. salvage, irreparable, rebuilt, none).
By law, private vehicle sellers must provide the purchaser with a Used Vehicle Information Package (UVIP) – available from Service Ontario locations and online.
- Current registered owner and vehicle ownership history
- Lien information
- Past odometer readings
- Estimated fair market value of vehicle (if available)
- Carefully review the UVIP to ensure all pages are included.
- For obtaining both a UVIP or history report, the vehicle identification number (VIN) is required.
4) Get a second opinion about the vehicle
Even if you get maintenance records from the seller, have the vehicle inspected by your trusted mechanic. A mechanic may find problems the seller did not disclose or know about. However, if the seller resists, walk away.
OMVIC regularly prosecutes curbsiders, which often results in significant fines or jail time if convicted. You can report one here: 1-888-NO-CURBS (662-8727) or firstname.lastname@example.org.
CRS Automotive is an OMVIC-certified dealer whose salespersons are there to help customers find the right used luxury vehicle. We will provide assistance, but never be pushy because we value our customers. Come and see for yourself – we are waiting for you at our Cambridge, ON location!