Curbers and Private Sales

Curbers (unlicensed dealers) and private sales

Private sales account for a significant percentage of the used vehicle transactions in BC. A private seller may offer a lower price than a dealer and have first-hand proof of its accident and repair history, if they are selling you their own car. But, many vehicles are offered for sale by curbers, unlicensed dealers posing as private sellers. They may be selling stolen, rebuilt or flood damaged vehicles without disclosure. Your options are very limited if things go wrong and you’ve bought privately. You’ll have to go to Court to seek compensation. See How to Spot a Curber or watch our video series to learn more before buying from a private seller. See the Consumer Protection Facts- Curber facts.

Tips for buying privately

  • Know who you’re buying from: Ask the seller for ID to confirm they’re using their real name and if it matches the vehicle registration
  • Get the history of the vehicle. A vehicle’s title status can be searched for free on icbc.com. After taking this step, get a vehicle history report from ICBC or
  • Check for unpaid liens
  • Check the vehicle: Confirm that the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) on the dashboard matches the registration form. Check for signs of tampering with the VIN, like loose or mismatched rivets, scratched numbers, tape, glue or paint. Check that the mileage is consistent with the age and condition of the vehicle (25,000 km a year is average). Take the vehicle for a test drive on local roads and the highway
  • Get an inspection: An inspection by a qualified mechanic could keep you from making a mistake
  • File the paperwork before you pay: Ask the seller to go with you to the Autoplan office to complete the vehicle’s transfer of ownership
  • Follow your instincts: If anything causes you concern, walk away. If the deal that the seller is offering seems too good to be true, it probably is. Find out why before you buy.
  • Click here Consumer Protection Facts- Buying Privately

Checking for Liens

Motor dealers are required to sell vehicles free of liens but a lien check is recommended when buying privately. With a garage lien for prior unpaid repairs, or a former owner’s unpaid loan, the vehicle can be repossessed from a new owner. If there is a record that you searched for liens in BC and none was registered when you took ownership, a BC lien holder will not be able to take your vehicle away. There is a slight possibility a lien could be registered between the time you do a search and when your deal is finalized. To guard against this, make your purchase subject to a condition that the vehicle is free from liens at the specified time of the sale. If there is a lien on the vehicle registered in another province, it still could be seized. A comprehensive vehicle history report, like CARFAX Canada offers a Canada-wide lien search. Liens registered in BC can be checked at the Personal Property Registry, through BC Online, or at select Service BC office locations using the VIN. There is a small fee. Banks, credit unions and finance companies often provide this service for a slightly higher fee.

What is a consignment sale?

What is a consignment?
Consignment is an arrangement where you (the consignor) leave your vehicle with a dealer to sell. The dealer acts as an agent for the owner.

Can all dealers sell vehicles on consignment?
No. The Vehicle Sales Authority (VSA) has the authority to decide if a dealer will be allowed to conduct consignment sales. See web link below.

Selling on Consignment

Are there any risks involved in selling a vehicle through consignment?
Yes. A dealer may go out of business and you may lose the vehicle or any money owed to you. B.C. law requires that a dealer enters into a consignment agreement with you, and identifies that certain terms and conditions must be included.

What happens if I experience a loss?
You can contact the VSA if the dealer does not return the unsold vehicle or give you the money from the sale of the vehicle. This could occur if the dealer goes out of business or if the dealer acted improperly.

How much do I have to pay the dealer?
The amount of payment is between you and the dealer. Legislation allows the dealer to charge a straight fee, a percentage of the sale, or to keep any amount over a set minimum selling price you want to receive for the vehicle. The consignment agreement must clearly state how the dealer gets paid and when you get your money from the sale.

Buying a Consigned Vehicle

Are there any risks involved in purchasing a vehicle on consignment?
Yes. For example, there may be an unpaid lien or conflicting legal interests over the consigned vehicle. Ask the dealer about any liens on the vehicle.

Do dealers have to follow specific rules when selling on consignment?
Yes. The Motor Dealer Act and the Motor Dealer Consignment Sales Regulation require dealers to disclose that a vehicle is on consignment in advertising and on the purchase agreement. The purchase agreement must also meet specific requirements.

Is consumer protection available for a vehicle purchased on consignment?
If you bought from a licensed dealer, yes. You will have the same protections as if you bought a new or used vehicle owned by a dealer.

Helpful Links:

  • VSA online public registry allows you to find a consignment dealer in your area – the registry can be found here
  • VSA Buying Guide has information that may be helpful to make an informed decision at various stages of buying, leasing or consigning a vehicle.
  • Consignment Sale Requirements for Dealers can be found at this link

If you have any questions, please contact VSA Consumer Services.

NOTE: This is to provide general information and is not intended to be legal advice.

Fuel consumption ratings vs Actual fuel consumption

The Fuel Consumption Guide offers a comparison of vehicle fuel consumption ratings using the Federal Test Procedure. It does not predict what the actual fuel consumption of a particular vehicle will be. Actual fuel consumption depends on many variables, such as driving habits, the terrain, the weather conditions, and how much the vehicle is loaded.

Importing a vehicle

Some vehicles need to be modified to meet Canadian standards. Before purchasing a vehicle to bring into Canada, you should contact the Registrar of Imported Vehicles for more information. Vehicles imported from outside of Canada are required to have both a federal vehicle inspection and a provincial private vehicle inspection or PVI. Vehicles brought into BC from other provinces are required to have only the provincial private vehicle inspection.