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OMVIC Blog: Car Buying Tips

8 Tips For Buying A Used Car Privately In Ontario

Aug 26

Written by: OMVIC Communications
Wednesday, August 26, 2015  RssIcon

So you think you’ve found a great deal on a car. The price is right … and mileage isn’t too high. But it’s for sale by a private owner. You know there are some risks involved with a private sale, but do you know how to protect yourself? What happens if you end up with a real lemon … or worse? 


Buying A Used Car Privately Can Be Risky

Keep in mind that there are no "lemon laws" in Ontario and no consumer protection legislation that covers private transactions. According to Terry O’Keefe, OMVIC Director of Communications and Education, “Should a person purchase privately and something goes wrong, that consumer would unfortunately be on their own.”


OMVIC Is On Your Side

Remember, you’re ONLY protected by OMVIC, Ontario consumer protection laws, and the Motor Vehicle Dealers Compensation Fund when you buy from a registered dealer. If you’re going to purchase privately, OMVIC wants you to protect yourself, get educated, and follow these 8 car-buying tips.


Follow These 8 Simple Tips When Buying A Used Car Privately:

  1. Ask questions: How long was the vehicle owned? Are there maintenance records? Why are they selling?
  2. Confirm seller’s identity: check ID and compare it to the name on the vehicle ownership; they should match. If the vehicle is not registered in their name, there’s a very good chance you may be dealing with a curbsider– an illegal, unlicensed dealer. Curbsiders often pose as private sellers and commonly flog vehicles that are rebuilt wrecks or have rolled-back odometers.
  3. Take a thorough test drive – don’t just drive around the block.
  4. Do your research before buying: online vehicle history reports like CarProof or CARFAX may provide valuable information such as previous collisions.
  5. Carefully review the Used Vehicle Information Package (UVIP) that the seller must provide (ensure all pages are provided). Check for liens; and check to see how long the seller has owned the car – if it’s only for a short period, that might also indicate that you may be dealing with a curbsider.
  6. Have the vehicle inspected by a trusted mechanic before you purchase. Just because the vehicle has passed a safety inspection doesn’t mean it has no defects that could cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars to repair.
  7. Avoid cash purchases: issue a cheque to the registered owner.
  8. Don’t avoid taxes: request a receipt that includes the seller’s information.

 Your Guide For Buying A Used Car

Check out this helpful interactive infographic  that displays the car-buying process from start to sold, and the potholes that potentially line the route to a private purchase. This infographic includes videos and extra tips to help you ask the right questions along the way to protect yourself and make an informed purchase. 

OMVIC Protects Car Buyers In Ontario

An educated and informed consumer is a protected consumer. Visit OMVIC’s website to learn more about your car-buying rights and when they apply, as well as additional tips on buying a car in Ontario.


As the regulator of motor vehicle sales in Ontario, OMVIC protects consumers and maintains a fair and informed marketplace by:

  • Maintaining strict registration requirements for Ontario’s 8,000 dealerships and 26,000 salespeople
  • Regularly inspecting all Ontario dealers (new and used)
  • Providing free complaint handling to consumers
  • Developing/delivering consumer and dealer education/awareness programs
  • Investigating and prosecuting non-compliance of registered dealers and salespeople
  • Investigating and prosecuting illegal car sales (curbsiding)

Looking to buy a new or used car in Ontario? Understand all-in pricing and learn how consumers are protected by the Compensation Fund which is your right if something goes wrong.




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