The hidden dangers of curbsiders.

Published On
March 11, 2024

In the bustling realm of Ontario’s used car market, a shadowy presence lurks beneath the surface, preying on unsuspecting consumers. Illegal vehicle sellers, known as curbsiders, engage in nefarious activities that threaten both the integrity of the automotive industry and the safety of buyers.

One of the most common practices employed by curbsiders is the use of chop shops. These clandestine establishments specialize in dismantling stolen vehicles, stripping them down to their essential components, and selling off the parts for profit. Chop shops pose a significant threat to car buyers, as the vehicles they purchase from unregistered dealers could contain stolen parts, compromising their safety and legality.

For the average buyer, purchasing a car from a curbsider can spell disaster. Not only could the vehicle be harboring stolen components, but it may also have a murky history, including involvement in criminal activities. Imagine purchasing a seemingly innocuous car, only to discover that it has a stolen engine, leading to potential legal ramifications and financial loss.

Compounding the issue is the fact that curbsiders frequently resort to illegitimate repair facilities to fix the wrecks they acquire. Rather than investing in genuine Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) parts, these unscrupulous operators opt for cost-effective alternatives, often sourced from illegal suppliers. Consequently, unsuspecting buyers may find themselves driving vehicles outfitted with stolen parts, oblivious to the potential dangers lurking beneath the surface.

The repercussions of purchasing a car from a curbsider extend beyond mere inconvenience. In some cases, buyers may unwittingly become entangled in criminal investigations, as the vehicles they acquire could be flagged as stolen property.

The Ontario Motor Vehicle Industry Council (OMVIC) works to protect car buyers from the risks posed by curbsiders. With robust regulations and rigorous enforcement tactics, OMVIC is dedicated to preserving the integrity of the automotive sector and defending the rights of purchasers.

The safest way to protect yourself from buying a vehicle that has been repaired with stolen parts or is a previous write-off is to buy from a registered dealer. The vehicles curbsiders sell often have a long history of undisclosed accident repairs and/or have an odometer that has been tampered with.

Should problems arise after a vehicle purchase, curbsiders can be very difficult to track down. If anything happens with the vehicle, the car buyer is not protected by OMVIC, its compensation fund, or the MVDA as we don’t regulate private vehicle sales. This means you may be out of pocket should you unknowingly purchase a stolen vehicle, a vehicle rebuilt with stolen parts or a vehicle that is unsafe to drive.

To avoid curbsiders, it’s important to do the following:

  • Research the vehicle’s history – including obtaining a vehicle history report and a UVIP.
  • Know who you’re buying from. You can search for registered dealers on OMVIC’s website to ensure you are protected.
  • Beware of vehicles priced below market value.
  • Get a second opinion.

The presence of curbsiders in Ontario’s used car market poses is the biggest threat to car buyers, with chop shops, stolen parts, and criminal activities undermining the safety and legitimacy of vehicles sold. To mitigate these risks, car buyers are encouraged to protect themselves by purchasing vehicles from registered dealers and report any suspicious activities to the relevant authorities. By working together to combat curbsiders, we can uphold the integrity of the automotive industry and ensure a safer, more transparent marketplace for all.