Buying Privately

Without the consumer protection of buying from a licensed dealer, you will have to protect your interests.
Be sure you are not buying from a Curber.  Click here for more information on how to spot a curber.

Here’s what you will need to check:

Who is the seller?       Ask for identification to confirm the seller is using their real name and that it matches the name on the vehicle registration.  Get their contact information.
Is the vehicle description accurate? Check that the Vehicle Identification Number or VIN (definition available here) and decals on the car.  Check that the vehicle
make, model and colour are the same as on the vehicle registration
What is the vehicle status?
Use the free online service, available at this link to look up the status of a vehicle in BC Vehicle Registry.
Is it normal, rebuilt, salvage, altered or non-repairable
Get proof of the vehicle historyPurchase a vehicle history report online from ICBC, CARFAX Canada or another provider. Review it carefully.
Is the vehicle stolen?Use Canadian Police Information Centre, available at this link, a free service to run the vehicle license plate or VIN to see
if it was a stolen vehicle.  A CARFAX Canada report will have this information.
Get a lien checkWhat is a lien – definition is available at this link.  Check for unpaid liens. A CARFAX CANADA vehicle history report, available
at this link offers a Canada-wide lien search. Liens registered in B.C. can be checked at the Personal Property Registry website, or at select Service BC office locations.
Get repair and service recordsAsk for the records from the owner.  A true private seller will have these records and they will be in their name.  A curber will not.  A CARFAX Canada report may provide some service records.
Does the vehicle have an open recall?What is an open recall – definition available at this link. You can use the website of the manufacturer or go to the Government of Canada general recall website CARFAX Canada reports also may have a Recall section.  Many sellers will not even know about open recalls.
Mechanical conditionGet the vehicle inspected by a qualified mechanic.  Paying a small fee before you buy could save you many headaches and future costs.
Is the vehicle safe?A Private Vehicle Inspection (PVI) checks that the vehicle meets minimum safety requirements. Commercial Vehicle Safety Enforcement (CVSE) has a list
of facilities. A qualified mechanic will know, too.
Purchase documentsPurchase and transfer documents should be completed correctly and truthfully.  A curber may want you to lie. You can use our sample Sale/Purchase Agreement available here.
If you have a problem?You will have to go through the courts.  The Vehicle Sales Authority will not be able to assist you.

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.