The most popular story so far this month online for the Mission Record is about a woman who sued – and lost – after buying a lemon.
No, not the fruit, but a lemon vehicle from a resident in Mission after spotting an ad on Craigslist.
You can read more about the story here, but basically she bought the vehicle and then the car imploded on the drive home from Mission.
A Civil Resolution Tribunal adjudicator ruled in favour of the seller and our readers were split about if that was fair.
I’ve received a lot of feedback since then, most interestingly from Jerome Rodriguez with Pioneer Chrysler Jeep, Mission.
“First things first, it’s always unfortunate to see situations like these when someone loses their hard-earned money over some misrepresentation or misunderstanding or even bad luck,” Rodriquez said. “Luckily, it’s not too hard to avoid these situations.”
Rodriquez offered these five tips to keep you safe:
• Run the ‘selected vehicle’ through an inspection: These inspections are done by trained professionals and can be done via your local service shop or car dealership. The process involves a thorough inspection through the vehicle to certify its current condition. This inspection will reveal any potential issues it might have, and also tell you if it is safe to drive or not. These, however, can cost up to $150-250.
• Always ask for a CARFAX Report & A Lien Check: Carfax’s are official reports on the history of the vehicle which would tell you exactly how many owners the vehicle has had, where all has it been driven and if there were any accidents on it etc. Additionally, having a lien check is also integral because when your private transaction is completed, the car is transferred on to your name along with any outstanding payments on it. These detailed reports are a must when buying a used vehicle but can cost up to $61 to get.
• Understanding the Seller: Now this is probably the hardest part of a private transaction. You must carefully weigh everything the seller is telling you because despite their “honest answers,” you may never know why they actually sold that car. It might be a major repair they hid, or the fact that the car is always in the shop. Perhaps it has a nasty smell or maybe it is unreliable.
• Avoid Curbers: These people pretend to be private sellers when, in reality, they are in the business of selling cars without a licence. Since they operate without a motor dealer licence, the cars bought through them may not be protected by the Vehicle Sales Authority of BC (VSA).
• Buyer Beware: Regardless of how good your due diligence is, how prepared you were or even if you followed all the tips above, if the deal goes wrong, there will be no recourse.
“Despite your best efforts, the car can still have accidents that don’t show on Carfax,” Rodriquez said. “It can still have issues that an inspection doesn’t uncover. Or the seller could straight up lie to you. That is the harsh truth when it comes to private sales.”
Fortunately, there already is a way provided by the government that gives you the option of legal recourse, should anything go wrong, without any cost to you as the buyer. The VSA was created exactly for the purpose of safeguarding any and all consumers in the market.
“This authority imposes all the tips above and the latest safety laws and regulations on dealerships like us (Pioneer Chrysler Jeep, Mission) to make sure all used and new cars are properly inspected, safe to drive along with legal recourse, if needed,” he said. “We also perform a deep history check and reveal it to the buyer during the time of purchase. This whole process if done by the consumer, can cost a pretty penny assuming there are no damages to the vehicle.”
Rodriquez urged people to go through a dealership to reduce the risk.
Chris Campbell is the interim editor of the Mission Record.