Curbers and backyard mechanics

Curbers (a.k.a., curbsiders) are illegal sellers operating without the required AMVIC sales licence.

Typically, curbers sell stolen, damaged, or odometer-tampered vehicles.

Consumers who buy these vehicles are often disappointed and find that when problems surface, the seller is gone and they have limited recourse.

Spot a curber:

  • Curbers may appear to be selling from a legitimate looking business or may pose as an individual selling their vehicle through a private sale.
  • Curbers are often anxious to make a sale.
  • You might find their phone number used on multiple ads for different vehicles—legitimate private sellers usually only have one vehicle for sale.
  • If you think you might be dealing with a curber, a quick search on AMVIC’s database can tell you if you are doing business with a registered salesperson or licensed business. If you cannot find who you are dealing with, you can call AMVIC at 1-877-979-8100 ext. 2002 to be certain.

Private sales vs. curber:

Individuals in Alberta can sell their own private vehicles as they wish. The problem arises when someone is making a business out of it. Even if it is just one car purchased to flip, in other words reselling it to someone else, that seller would be required to have a salesperson registration and a retail sales licence from AMVIC– Alberta’s automotive regulator.

Backyard mechanics

Alberta is the only province in Canada that regulates service and repair businesses the same way as automotive sales businesses. Any automotive service and repair business operating in Alberta must be licensed by AMVIC.

Backyard mechanics often operate out of residential properties, which is against municipal zoning laws. They often do not have the proper equipment to prevent environmental damage or to ensure safe operations. Backyard mechanics create an unfair marketplace for businesses that are licensed and are not accountable to consumers under the Consumer Protection Act.

Help us protect you:

  • Make sure the seller is the registered owner of the vehicle.
  • Purchase a vehicle history report.
  • Insist on an independent inspection.
  • Never give the seller personal or banking information.
  • Use a proper bill of sale.
  • Be prepared to walk away – there will be other vehicles.

Suspect a curber? Create a new account on AMVIC’s online consumer service’s portal and file a complaint to let us know.

Why does it matter?

  • AMVIC-licensed businesses have clear guidelines for the advertisement and sale of vehicles that protect consumers.
  • All AMVIC-registered salespeople must have completed a course on the laws and regulations they are required to follow. Plus, a consumer who buys a car from a licensed business will have additional protections, potentially including access to AMVIC’s Compensation Fund.