By Grant Yoxon

You’ve heard the saying: “Buy a used car, you buy some one else’s problem.”

It’s not always true. In fact there are plenty of good used cars available. And a good used car, purchased at the right price can save you a lot of money and give you many years of trouble free driving.

But there are problem vehicles out there – high mileage cars with odometers rolled back, lemons that have spent more time in for service than they spent on the road and vehicles that have been involved in accidents, even written off by insurance companies, then re-built and re-sold.

There are ways to avoid being taken. Always get the opinion of an independent automotive technician before signing the cheque. If the seller balks, then you should walk, fast.

In Ontario, the seller must provide a Used Vehicle Information Package which shows the vehicle’s Ontario registration history and if there are any liens registered against the vehicle. With this information, you can locate previous owners and ask them about their experience with the vehicle.

For more information about the Used Vehicle Information Package, go to the Ontario Ministry of Transport at www.mto.gov.on.ca/english/dandv/vehicle/used.htm.

But what if the vehicle came from another province or previous owners can’t be located? Nicole Schnell and Denis Jolicoeur may have the answer. They operate Auto Facts, a Winnipeg-based business that specializes in used vehicle research.

Mr. Jolicoeur said, “We will track the vehicle’s history from the original selling dealer and through every state or province that it’s been registered in, providing title location history, any available write-off and accident info, any available service history and warranty information, odometer readings, outstanding recall information, as well as outstanding liens.”

The cost is $30 for the vehicle history search and $9 for a lien check. And if Auto Facts can’t find the information, they won’t charge. It usually takes 2 to 12 hours to complete the report, depending on the age of the vehicle and the number of previous owners.

“Our team will first consult our databases for the vehicle,” said Mr. Jolicoeur, “and then update all details with an extensive series of phone calls to various sources, ensuring that the client gets the most updated and thorough history, paying special attention to the areas that is usually of high concern to any prospective buyer or new owner.”

Ms. Schnell, who has several years’ experience working in new car dealership service departments, and Mr. Jolicoeur, a computer consultant, started their business earlier this year, after buying their current car.

“Nicole sat down at the Dealer Principle’s desk and proceeded to make a series of phone calls to find out it’s history,” recalled Mr. Jolicoeur. “The Dealer Principle, Kobi Hasid, (Kobi’s Auto Wholesale in Winnipeg) commented “That’s amazing!” and I thought, “Everyone should know this stuff before buying a car!”.”

It’s good advice. The more you know about a vehicle before buying it, the more likely you will avoid buying someone else’s problem.

Auto Facts can be found online at www.autofacts.ca.

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