How to Avoid Getting Screwed During Your Vehicle Purchase

Buying a vehicle privately can have its advantages. Maybe you find it easier dealing with someone you know. Perhaps you find dealerships intimidating. Maybe you're afraid that the myth about the Big Bad Car Salesman is true, and you'd rather not risk being taken advantage of. Concerns like these are, by this point, well earned. People have had lots of poor experiences at dealerships. But thanks to the Alberta Motor Vehicle Industry Council (or AMVIC), those sorts of experiences should be a thing of the past. In the next five minutes I'm going to show how to avoid getting screwed while buying a car, and why buying at a dealership is now a much, much safer experience than buying privately.

In order to do business today, automotive businesses need to be licensed by AMVIC. They must follow a specific set of rules and regulations that govern code of conduct, integrity, and transparency both at the dealership and in advertisements. If a dealership steps out of line, then warnings, investigations, fines, and a revocation of their license can follow.

Each salesperson and repair technician is also required to be licensed. Many other roles are licensed as well. All of this is done to protect you, the customer. AMVIC does everything it can to remove the predatory stigma surrounding the auto industry.

Because of that, dealerships have become much more reliable, much more accountable, and much simpler to deal with than private sellers.

Trust Established Businesses

When it comes to dealing with an established brand name dealership--like Kentwood Ford--the public can be sure the business is AMVIC licensed (if you're not sure, just ask them to provide proof). If they're licensed, they're bound to do business in an ethical manner.

AMVIC licenses are particularly welcome when buying a pre-owned vehicle. Most of the time when you're buying privately, you're buying used. And it's here that a dealership separates itself from private sellers. There are just so many more checks and balanaces, thanks to AMVIC's regulations. For instance, at Kentwood Ford, when you buy pre-owned, you get:

  • A complete 140-point AMVIC approved inspection with all repairs completed unless otherwise disclosed
  • A VIN (Vehicle Identification Number) check and verification
  • A complete CarProof vehicle history report, detailing all accidents and repairs
  • An assurance of lien removals
  • An assurance of the non-theft
  • Full disclosure of all incurred charges during the transaction
  • Full disclosure of all financing information

Consequences of Buying from Non-Licensed Dealers

Recently, I saw a business avoid licensing and accountability--for a time--by operating as a "licensed" loan arranger. They promised to get prospective buyers loans from unknown sources, and then put those buyers in touch with supposedly "private" sellers. As a customer, there is no way to hold a business like this accountable for its actions. This business is not AMVIC licensed and they think this is a clever work-around to avoid having meeting all the requirements met of a license. It's no wonder that people are getting screwed while buying a car.

This business also advertises vehicles on Kijiji. They offer mostly high kilometer (160,000 kms and up) units. It doesn't offer AMVIC inspections, CarProof, assurance of lien removals, proof of ownership, proof of previous thefts, or any one of the safety checks AMVIC requires.

AMVIC licensed dealers provide all the documents, checks, and inspections that protect consumers. Some do a lot more than that, but every AMVIC licensed dealer has to provide a minimum standard of disclosure and information.

Some dealerships, like Kentwood, provide additional benefits. Here's a list of extra protections we provide:

  • Flat Commission sales personnel
  • No additional fees, GST and AMVIC $6.25 levy apply
  • 30 day exchange privilege
  • Complimentary service loaners (some conditions apply)
  • Lifetime engine warranty
  • Refundable deposits
  • In-house financing
  • In-house insurance
  • Full service and repair facilities
  • 24/7 customer service
  • Loyalty referrals and discounts

Buyer Beware

While unlicensed businesses and private sellers may seem to offer a cheaper purchase to the unknowing public, the purchasers of these vehicles often incur far higher expenses in the long run. Purchasing an unreliable or unsafe vehicle will cost you much, much more and potentially put your life--as well as those in your vehicle and the vehicles around you--at risk of injury or even death.

True value comes with peace of mind. You have rights but you also have responsibilities. Educate yourself. Know your rights. Report bad actors.

In other words: buyers, be aware.

Or beware. Your choice.

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