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TORONTO – Toronto police are warning consumers about the potential dangers of buying second-hand vehicles and are reminding drivers to do their homework before making a purchase.
This advisory comes after a March 2010 investigation revealed that a number of vehicles recovered, valued at $250,000, were “re-vinned” and found to be structurally and mechanically unsafe.
“Re-vinning” is the act of changing the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) of a vehicle from a stolen one to a legitimate one.
“Several other vehicles were recovered after they had been sold to unsuspecting buyers as legitimate vehicles,” Toronto police said in a media release.
Police say there are financial and physical risks associated with buying questionable pre-owned vehicles.
To avoid future setbacks, authorities are advising consumers to use a reputable online service to check the vehicle’s history prior to purchase.
“These reports contain important information that can affect your decision about a used vehicle through a detailed Vehicle Identification Number (VIN #) check,” police say.
Through this VIN search, some types of information included in these reports include:
- vehicle registration
- frame/structural damage
- title information – including salvaged or junked titles
- collision indicator – such as airbag deployment
- odometer readings
- service and repair information
- lemon history
- vehicle usage (taxi, rental, lease, etc.)
- total loss collision history
- recall information
Police also say there are several points to consider when purchasing a vehicle privately, either in person or online:
- ask: How long was vehicle owned? Are there maintenance records? Why are you selling?
- confirm seller’s identity: check the individual’s identification and proof of ownership
- take a thorough test drive – not just around the block
- do research: order a vehicle history report before deciding
- carefully review the Used Vehicle Information Package (UVIP) – the seller must provide it (ensure all pages are provided)
- ensure no liens on vehicle (information usually available on UVIP or CarProof)
- get the vehicle inspected by a trusted mechanic or manufacturer’s dealership before purchase
- avoid cash purchases: issue a cheque to the registered owner
- don’t avoid taxes: request a receipt that includes the seller’s information