July 22, 2014 6:53 pm

Toronto police warn of dangers of buying pre-owned vehicles

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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.

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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

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