Private car buyers advise everyone else: Get consumer protection

(NC) -- More than one-third (37 per cent) of Ontarians say they bought their last used vehicle privately because they thought they'd save money.

But consumers who buy from a private seller lose the benefit of Ontario's consumer protection laws – they only apply when purchasing from an OMVIC-Registered Dealer. However, among avid private purchasers, 63 per cent would advise others to buy from an OMVIC-Registered Dealer to get protections they willingly forgo.

“It's a case of do as I say, not as I do,” muses Terry O'Keefe, OMVIC Director of Communications and Education. According to OMVIC, the provincial vehicle sales regulator, this interesting contradiction is one of several to emerge from a poll it commissioned of 503 Ontario used vehicle buyers conducted in August 2014 by Vision Critical.

The additional danger of purchasing from a curbsider, an illegal, unlicensed dealer who often poses as a private seller, does not dissuade some die-hard private buyers. In fact, 65 per cent of them would still buy privately, despite advising family and friends otherwise and even though 41 per cent only answered “maybe” when asked if they could recognize a curbsider.

So what might motivate a committed private purchaser to change their ways and buy from a registered dealer? For 34 per cent of those surveyed, only a bad experience would do it.

“There seems to be a disconnect – private buyers want others to get protection but willingly forgo it while not being completely armed with information they need to protect themselves,” says O'Keefe. “And we know that curbsiders are lurking in classified ads, waiting to pounce.” OMVIC's website lists many charged and convicted curbsiders. “This alone shows that buying privately comes with significant risk.”

So what's the smart approach? “No matter where you make your next purchase, get informed and ask the right questions,” says O'Keefe. “Finally, understand that you're protected when purchasing from an OMVIC-Registered Dealer; you're not when buying privately.” For more on your car-buying rights and protections, visit


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