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OMVIC Blog: Car Buying Tips

Don't Let the Grinch Steal Your ID (or more)

Dec 12

Tuesday, December 12, 2017  RssIcon

 Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer

How to Get the Most out of Your Trade-in and Protect Your Identity

You know Dasher and Dancer and Prancer and Vixen, Comet and Cupid and Donner and Blitzen. But do you recall…the “458 Italia Speciale?”

Rumours swirling around the North Pole claim Santa Claus is considering trading in his trusty team of reindeer for a 597 horsepower “black prancing stallion”. According to the elvish grapevine, the Ferrari’s front and rear movable flaps cut drag and its side slip angle control are better able to tackle unpredictable equatorial cross-winds. An elf at S.L.E.D. (Santa’s Lead Engineering Department), who wants to remain anonymous, described the current sleigh as having the aerodynamics of a “flat-sided igloo”.

While these reports are “unsubstantiated”, if they are indeed true -- just like any other informed car (or sleigh)  owner/buyer - that jolly old elf may have some homework to do.

Trading-in a vehicle (versus selling privately) has both pros and cons. On the downside, dealers generally offer only the wholesale value of a trade-in, which tends to be less than what a consumer might get selling privately. On the positive side, trading in a vehicle is easier, faster and more secure; it avoids the myriad of headaches associated with selling privately such as no-shows, ownership transfer and obtaining secure payment. Additionally, there are tax savings to be had when trading in. For example, a consumer with a $10,000 trade-in, who is buying a $25,000 vehicle, will only pay HST on the $15,000 cash difference ($25,000 - $10,000); a significant savings of $1,300.

Determining Fair Value

When trying to determine the value of a trade-in, consumers should understand it can be affected by numerous factors including the vehicle’s popularity, its condition, mileage, colour, even the time of year or locale. Here are some key steps to help a consumer determine what a fair value might be:

  • Consult the Canadian Black Book ( This free online service provides general information including wholesale value estimates.
  • Get an appraisal: Some dealers offer this service for a small fee; they may even make an offer to purchase the vehicle directly.
  • Make the dealer aware of recent repairs/improvements made to the vehicle. New tires and/ or new brakes could increase the value of the vehicle because it will decrease the dealer’s re-conditioning costs.
  • Know the current condition of the vehicle. Much needed repairs will bring down the value of the vehicle, whereas low kilometres will likely increase it.
  • Understand a trade-in’s value can be negotiated and may vary significantly between dealers.


Trading-in? Protect Your Identity

“There is a huge amount of personal information stored in many of today’s cars”, explained Terry O’Keefe, Director of Communications and Education for Ontario’s vehicle sales regulator, OMVIC. “You don’t want that information, or what it can access, to fall into the wrong Grinchy hands”. So once a consumer has made the decision to trade a vehicle in, they should make a list of what to delete and… check it twice:

  • Saved addresses (like HOME) in the navigation system
  • Garage door opening codes
  • Stored phonebook/contacts
  • Documents from the glovebox/door pockets/etc. that might contain personal/private information

Disclosing a Trade-In’s History

Dealers are required by law to ask a customer trading in a vehicle to sign a trade-in disclosure document outlining the previous use, history and condition of the trade. The dealer is then obligated to disclose this information to the next purchaser.

Money Owing?

A consumer who still owes money on a vehicle being traded-in should call their lender to obtain the loan payout (amount still owing). Many dealers will do this for their customers, but consumers should verify the payout and be mindful of early warning signs that indicate the loan on a trade-in was not paid in full. “Should a payment be deducted from a consumer’s bank account for the loan on a vehicle traded in, contact the dealer and the financial institution”, said O’Keefe. “If that doesn’t rectify the problem, the consumer should immediately contact OMVIC’s Complaints and Inquiries Team”. And if a dealer offers to make the monthly loan payments on a customer’s trade-in, rather than pay off the loan in full, consumers should understand this is a significant risk (not to mention illegal), and contact OMVIC’s Complaints and Inquiries Team at once.

For more information and vehicle-purchase tips, visit

 Santa and reindeerImportant note: Just prior to printing we were able to reach Santa’s Workshop for comment. According to a spokes-elf, Santa is indeed considering the purchase of a “summer” toy, but there is no truth to the rumour that Rudolph et al are being retired from their regular Christmas Eve duties. As he emphatically pointed out, “You’d have to be a cotton-headed ninny muggins to believe otherwise”!


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