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OMVIC Blog: Car Buying Tips

Buying an inexpensive car for your budding academic star? Don’t get schooled…get educated.

Sep 2

Written by: OMVIC Communications
Wednesday, September 2, 2015  RssIcon


Sending a ‘child’ off to university or college can be traumatic – for the parents of course; the kid will be just fine. So to make it easier to keep ‘em coming home for more than just Thanksgiving and spring break, some parents will head out with their teens on an elusive hunt for a decent, but cheap, set of wheels. It’s worth noting decent and cheap can be difficult to find in peaceful coexistence in the automotive jungle.


Buying an inexpensive car for your budding academic star?

“Many consumers looking for an inexpensive vehicle assume their best bet is to buy privately,” explained Terry O’Keefe, Director of Communications and Education for OMVIC – Ontario’s vehicles sales regulator. “Unfortunately that assumption isn’t always accurate and can lead to serious problems.” That’s because car buyers who purchase privately forego nearly all consumer protections provided by Ontario law. Should something go wrong with a private car purchase, consumers are basically on their own with little recourse other than the court system.


A Safety Inspection Is NOT A Guarantee

One mistake car buyers often make is assuming that because a vehicle has passed a safety inspection, it has no defects – that is not always the case. “The issuance of a safety certificate indicates items such as brakes, tires, steering components, lights, wipers and the exhaust have met the minimum standards of safety (set by the Ministry of Transportation) on the date of inspection,” says O’Keefe. “But it is not a guarantee that nothing is wrong with the vehicle”. Vehicles that pass a safety inspection could still have issues unrelated to safety items (e.g. engine/transmission/air conditioning) that require expensive repairs.


Curbsiders Lie In Wait, In The Private Classifieds

Wading into the private vehicle sales marketplace also exposes consumers to curbsiders. Commonly posing as private sellers (though some work from small auto-related businesses) these illegal, unlicensed car dealers often sell vehicles that are rebuilt wrecks with undisclosed accident repairs or rolled-back odometers. According to O’Keefe, they’re the chameleons of the auto marketplace. “Curbsiders prey on unsuspecting consumers. Often the vehicles they sell aren’t registered in their names (or have only been registered to them for a short time); some even use phony ID.” If a consumer buys from a curbsider and later discovers issues with the vehicle, that seller will be nearly impossible to track down.

And curbsiders are far more prevalent than most consumers understand – as are OMVIC’s enforcement activities. To date in 2015, 30 individuals/businesses have been convicted for curbsiding; 69 additional cases are currently before Ontario’s courts.


Tips On Buying A Car Privately

To avoid getting ripped off and to help ensure your future Rhodes Scholar finds a reliable ride to the campus (and home for visits every weekend of course), get educated. Visit OMVIC’s website and learn to spot the telltale signs of a curbsider and consider the following tips for any private vehicle purchase:

  • ​Ask questions: how long was the vehicle owned? Are there maintenance records? Why are tehy selling?
  • Confirm the seller is the registered owner: compare his/ her ID with teh vehicle ownership document
  • Take a thorough test drive, not just around the block
  • Order a vehicle history report (CarProof, Carfax) to check for previous accident damage 
  • Carefully review the Used Vehicle Information Package (UVIP)--the seller must provide it 
  • Ensure there are no liens on the vehicle (info usually available on UVIP or CarProof)
  • Have the vehicle inspected by a trusted mechanic before purchase 


        

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