Buying a vehicle is the second largest purchase in most peoples' lives, next to buying a house.
When it comes time to buy, there is one question that usually comes up: "Should I buy a new or a used vehicle?" Both have their advantages and disadvantages. One disadvantage to buying a new vehicle is the depreciation. Depreciation occurs on all vehicles, but most dramatically in the first few years of the vehicle's life.
MUCDA studies have shown that three to five year old vehicles had already experienced the greatest percentage of their depreciation. In today's harsh economic climate, used vehicles offer consumers the chance to save thousands of dollars. There are many ways to find the "right" used vehicle. In local newspapers, automotive magazines, and private postings there are literally thousands of vehicles for sale. However, when buying a vehicle privately, the vehicle is purchased "as is". The vehicle may have a Safety Standard Certificate, but this is neither a warranty nor a guarantee that the vehicle will last for any specific period of time. Also, "private sales" might not be quite what they seem. Consumers must beware of whom they buy from.
Curbsiders are everywhere and they are out to prey on innocent victims. The 1996 UCDA study found one individual with over 60 vehicles for sale. He was not a dealer. Although consumers often feel that they are getting a great deal at the time, the disadvantages certainly outweigh the advantages. If the vehicle is found to be stolen, then the buyer is out of luck. The law says that a stolen vehicle returns to the original owner. The buyer loses the whole purchase price, and would have to sue the seller, who by then may or may not be able to be found.
Odometer fraud is another key element in the curbsider being able to offer such a good deal. Some vehicles sold by curbsiders have had their odometers "turned back". This allows the curbsider to sell the vehicle for seemingly less than it is worth.
There is also the risk of liens being registered against the vehicle. Any liens that are found to be registered against the vehicle would then be the responsibility of the new owner ... they would have to either pay out the lien, or face repossession of the vehicle by the lien holder.
The vehicle may have had prior accident damage, and the buyer would have little or no recourse.
Finally, the "good deal" may not be so good. The Provincial sales tax dept requires that provincial sales tax be paid on the "Red Book" value, or the actual purchase price, whichever is higher. This could eat up any perceived savings.