When you buy a used vehicle, chances are high that you’re buying someone else’s problems that could end up costing you a lot of money.

“There was significantly more mileage on the car than was indicated and it’d also been an auction car, an accident repair car,” said Brian Cooper who recently helped his daughter find a used car.

He had been looking on Craigslist and fortunately he found the problems before making an offer.

“Purchasing direct from another consumer comes with significantly more risk,” explained Shawn Vording, VP Automotive Sales at CARFAX Canada.

According to CARFAX:

• 1 in 3 used cars have damage

• 1 in 5 have recalls

• 45 per cent have a lien on them

For about $55 you can get a CARFAX verified report that will tell you many things about the vehicle’s history, including whether the vehicle has been in an accident, has been stolen, has a lien, any recalls and if the odometer has been rolled back. It pulls that information from data bases in real time. 

“(It's) very critical to make sure you’re not buying someone else’s problem,” said Vording.

“When I posed the questions to the seller, I got no response,” said Cooper.

When dealers fail to disclose known problems with used vehicles there are repercussions and laws to protect you. But when you buy privately you’re on your own.

In addition to a CARFAX vehicle history report, you should also get an ICBC claims report and an independent mechanical inspection.

CARFAX pulls its information to make sure that it gets everything right but it also offers a Canadian Lien Guarantee, meaning if you bought a vehicle based on the vehicle history report at the time and an enforceable lien shows up later on, CARFAX will pay up to $5,000 to compensate you.

“The most important thing for a consumer is to make sure that you’re comfortable with the purchase that you’re making knowing the history of that car,” added Vording. “For me personally, not getting disclosures would be a no starter I would move on there’s a lot of other cars available on the market.”

And that’s exactly how Cooper felt after getting conflicting information from the seller that didn’t align with the CARFAX report.

“And it just led me to say, ‘I’m just going to walk away’,” Cooper said.