Consumers cautioned to avoid importing or buying water-damaged vehicles from Hurricane Sandy

DATE: | News releases

Edmonton… The Alberta government and the Alberta Motor Vehicle Industry Council (AMVIC) caution Albertans to do research before importing or buying a new or used vehicle from the United States. With reports of more than 230,000 vehicles damaged by flooding during Hurricane Sandy, it’s possible that unscrupulous sellers and brokers may try to unload them on unsuspecting consumers.

“Alberta has strong consumer protection laws in place when you buy a vehicle from a licensed business,” said Service Alberta Minister Manmeet S. Bhullar, responsible for consumer protection. “Through AMVIC we investigate complaints and enforce our regulations related to licensed automotive businesses or sales people but that protection does not apply when you import a vehicle on your own or buy from a private seller. Vehicles are a major purchase and Albertans need to be aware of their rights and the risks of importing a vehicle from a private or online seller.”

“Consumers can trust the expertise of an AMVIC licensed automotive sales business to help them find good deals on quality vehicles. However, some consumers believe they can get a better deal by shopping independently for new and used vehicles over the U.S. border,” says John Bachinski, executive director of AMVIC, the automotive industry regulator in Alberta. “Importing a vehicle is a complex process and not every vehicle manufactured in the U.S. can be imported into Canada.”

Consumers can check Transport Canada’s website at www.tc.gc.ca for a list of eligible vehicles that can be imported. Canada’s Registrar of Imported Vehicles’ website www.riv.ca includes comprehensive information on fees, forms, and federal inspection requirements. Consumers can build their own importation checklist.

Buyers can research the title history of a U.S. vehicle by:

  • checking the U.S. National Vehicle Title Information System www.vehiclehistory.gov/ for title fraud involving the vehicle;
  • checking the Canadian Police Information Centre website www.cpic-cipc.ca for Canadian stolen vehicle information; and
  • purchasing a CarProof or CARFAX vehicle history report for information on prior registrations and insurance claims.

Vehicles brought into Alberta must pass an out-of-province inspection at a licensed inspection facility. During the inspection, a licensed technician will check the vehicle to ensure it meets Alberta Transportation’s inspection standards. Alberta Transportation provides an online tool to help consumers locate a licensed inspection facility at http://www2.infratrans.gov.ab.ca/vis/production/vishome.asp

If there is evidence the vehicle was submerged in water at or above the bottom of the dash, the vehicle will be considered non-repairable and it cannot be licensed in the province.

When buying a recently imported vehicle from a private seller or broker in Alberta, consumers should be aware that “non-repairable” or “parts only” vehicles can take time to appear on insurance and registration documents. During this time, a dishonest seller could attempt to sell the vehicle for a bargain price or move it to another jurisdiction. A buyer may only learn months later that another jurisdiction identified the vehicle as non-repairable.

For more information on vehicle registration services, visit Service Alberta’s website at www.servicealberta.ca.

Media inquiries may be directed to:

Paul Oss
Communications
Service Alberta
780.422.8811
paul.oss@gov.ab.ca

John Bachinski
Executive Director
AMVIC
780.466.1140 (extension 2239)
jbachinski@amvic.org