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Tips to Spot Curbsiders and Avoid Dishonest Car Sales

When purchasing a second-hand vehicle, make sure you know how to spot unlicensed sellers and buy from a registered dealer

A profile of the rear end of a red vehicle on the left, and a white vehicle on the right, including their back lights and trunk. They sit in a row of vehicles on either side, which are blurred.

A second-hand car may be a smart way to save a few bucks on your next set of wheels, but it’s important to protect yourself from unfair deals.

Spotting curbsiders

While Kijiji or Facebook Marketplace can be good resources for finding a car, it’s important to watch out for curbsiders—unlicensed dealers posing as private sellers.

The name comes from their technique of meeting prospective buyers by a curb in a parking lot or residential area, rather than a registered dealership.

These individuals might misrepresent the vehicles they sell by not disclosing a car’s history or, as an example, falsifying the odometer reading, as they aim to resell it quickly. Should problems arise after the purchase, curbsiders are often difficult to track down after the sale.

Regulating vehicle sales

One of the main goals of the Ontario Motor Vehicle Industry Council (OMVIC) is to effectively regulate vehicle sales by ensuring registered sellers adhere to consumer protection laws.

While OMVIC can offer support and advice to consumers if they purchase from an OMVIC-registered dealer, this doesn’t apply to private sales and curbsider deals.

Purchasing from registered dealers

To avoid disappointment, shop at dealerships that display the OMVIC blue-and-yellow decal, or buy through online OMVIC-registered automobile retailers.

Always ask to see a CARFAX-style history report of the vehicle you’re considering.

Look at its used vehicle information package (UVIP) from ServiceOntario, as a seller is legally required to provide this package to a buyer when selling a pre-owned vehicle. It contains a description of a vehicle and its history in Ontario.

Have the vehicle inspected by a third-party prior to purchase. If the seller refuses any of these requests, walk away.

And as always, if a deal seems too good to be true, it usually is.

Shop with confidence

Visit OMVIC.ca to access free car-buying resources to get you started, and sign up for the monthly newsletter, Consumer Line. You can also contact OMVIC’s consumer support team at consumers@omvic.on.ca or 1-800-943-6002 for expert advice and answers to all your car buying questions.

Follow OMVIC on social media to stay up to date on the latest news.

Image provided by OMVIC