1 in 5 used vehicles listed online in Alberta has unfixed safety recall: report

EDMONTON – A recent report done by CarProof found close to half a million cars on Alberta roads are operating with unfixed manufacturer-initiated safety recalls.

It also found 20 per cent of used vehicles listed for sale online have an open safety recall.

People looking for used cars should have them inspected before buying; anyone who doesn’t get an inspection may not know recalls even exist or that they should check.

“There’s very little information out there. The average consumer knows nothing about recalls to speak of”, said David Dansereau with Lad’s Auto Repair.

“They only hear it when it’s a major recall and it affects their vehicle, but what they don’t know is that a lot of the times there is or has been many recalls to that same vehicle and they’ve never been performed.”

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Buyers can also go to a dealer with a VIN and ask about outstanding recalls.

WATCH: One of the last things used car buyers check is whether the vehicle has any outstanding recalls, but starting this month Alberta registry offices will begin offering a free background check when you register your vehicle. Global’s Tony Tighe has the details.

“I was blown away,” said Ed Woiteshek, president and CEO of CarProof, a company that provides vehicle history reports.

The company started analyzing numbers in June. It looked at the three million registered vehicles in Alberta and compared that number to the VINs with open safety recalls. The result? About half a million.

READ MORE: New law coming to compel vehicle recalls in Canada 

The Alberta Motor Vehicle Industry Council says there are a number of ways consumers can protect themselves.

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“I think regardless of if you’re buying online or if you’re in person, you need to arm yourself with all the information possible,” said AMVIC spokesperson Laura Lowe.

“Do your research about the business. That means, in Alberta, make sure it is licensed by AMVIC. Do your research about the vehicle and be sure that this is the vehicle you want before you enter into a purchase contract.”

Lowe recommends seeing the vehicle in person, copying the VIN and searching the vehicle’s history using that VIN.

“You should actually copy it down off the vehicle itself,” she explained. “Make sure the VIN you were given in relation to that vehicle actually belongs to it. Read it off yourself and document that or use your smartphone and get a picture. That way,  you’re certain that the VIN matches the vehicle you are considering.”

She suggests using one of the vehicle history search options available – or multiple searches – to get the vehicle’s background.

“If you’re buying a used vehicle it’s a really good idea to make sure you learn everything you possibly can about that vehicle before you sign anything and before you agree to purchase it.

“That could be getting an independent inspection, that could be getting a vehicle history report and even check with the manufacturer to find out if there are any outstanding recalls.”

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Woiteshek agrees buyers have to do their homework, which is especially important when safety is on the line.

“When a consumer buys a car from another consumer, there’s no protection,” he said. “It’s even more of a reason why they should be looking at reports.”

To help lower the number of cars on the road with open safety recalls, CarProof is offering free vehicle checks for the next few months.

However, he hopes the system by which drivers are notified about recalls is “modernized.”

With files from Tony Tighe

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