If you buy cars privately beware of sellers who misrepresent themselves

Published On
August 10, 2023


Individuals who pose as private sellers, offering personal vehicles for sale, when in reality, they’re illegal dealers who buy and sell vehicles without the proper licenses or registrations are called curbsiders. This practice is illegal in Ontario and these individuals deceive buyers by misrepresenting the vehicles they sell and passing off used wrecks as unsuspecting customers’ dream cars. They often conceal the vehicle’s accident history, hide previous repairs, or tamper with the odometer to roll back the mileage.

Curbsiding is on the rise due to disruptions in the vehicle supply chain and low inventory levels. Shockingly, OMVIC estimates that at least 25 percent of vehicles listed as “for sale by owner” online are actually posted by curbsiders. Which presents a great risk to consumers.

What’s worse, if you decide to make a private purchase and something goes wrong, your options are limited. Consumer protection laws safeguard vehicle buyers only when they purchase from an OMVIC-registered dealer. OMVIC’s primary role is to protect and educate consumers who purchase vehicles from registered dealers. They play a crucial role in ensuring a fair and transparent transaction when buying or leasing a vehicle.

How to spot a curbsider and safeguard yourself

Prepare yourself with valuable knowledge about curbsiders including what to look for, early on in your buying journey, by visiting omvic.ca. Equipping yourself with this information will help you steer clear of unexpected surprises along the way.

Keep an eye out for several unmistakable warning signs.

  • Always request identification and proof of ownership from the seller. If the vehicle is not registered in the seller’s name or has only been registered for a short period, consider it a red flag.
  • Exercise caution when dealing with a seller who refuses to allow you to conduct an inspection. Additionally, invest in a comprehensive vehicle history report to uncover any undisclosed accident history.
  • Obtain a used vehicle information package (UVIP) from the Ministry of Transportation. This package will provide valuable insights into any existing liens, as well as the vehicle’s previous owners and odometer history.
  • Be vigilant in ensuring that the vehicle’s odometer hasn’t been tampered with. Pay close attention to excessive wear on both the interior and exterior of the vehicle.
  • Research the seller. If the seller has multiple vehicles available for sale or operates within an automotive-related business, such as a repair shop, gas station, or car rental agency, it’s highly likely that they are not selling their personal vehicle.

Should you suspect that you are dealing with a curbsider, promptly report them by contacting [email protected] or dialing 1-888-NO-CURBS (662-8727).