Protect yourself when buying and selling a vehicle

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It's important to know a vehicle's complete history before you make your purchase.

Protect yourself

Below are the Top Ten ways to protect yourself and help ensure that you have no costly surprises, and what you're buying is precisely what you want.

Make sure you are buying from the legal owner.

The registered owner and the legal owner aren’t necessarily the same person.

The legal owner is the individual who actually owns the vehicle. Only he or she can sell it. In most instances, the legal owner is also the registered owner. However, that is not always the case.

Only the legal owner has the right to sell or dispose of the vehicle. You’ll find the legal owner’s name on the right-hand side of the registration card. The registered owner’s name is on the left-hand side of the registration card.

Check the vehicle status.

The Stolen and Wrecked Vehicle Monitoring Program identifies potentially unsafe write-offs and stolen vehicles and prevents them from being registered.

The Stolen and Wrecked Vehicle Monitoring Program identifies potentially unsafe write-offs and stolen vehicles and prevents them from being registered. Ask the owner to show you the Transfer of Ownership Document (TOD) for the vehicle before you buy it. The TOD will indicate if the vehicle was formerly written off and rebuilt, or if it is currently a write off. See information on statuses under the Stolen and Wrecked Vehicle Monitoring Program.

In addition, you can call us with the vehicle's serial number and we'll check whether the vehicle has ever been an Autopac write-off. In Winnipeg, call 204-985-7000. Outside Winnipeg, call 1-800-665-2410 toll-free. Note that we can only confirm if a vehicle was written off in Manitoba

Consider purchasing an independent vehicle history report to confirm the vehicle's history within and outside of Manitoba.

Independent reports can be purchased online for a fee from companies such as CARFAX.

Check for any liens against the vehicle.

You should always check to see if anyone else, other than the legal owner, has a financial interest in the vehicle.

To check for liens against the vehicle, contact:

The Property Registry (Teranet Manitoba)
500-200 Graham Avenue
Winnipeg, MB R3C 4L5
Phone: 1-844-737-5684 (toll-free)

You can also check for liens online by visiting the Teranet Manitoba’s website.

Find out whether the vehicle has an anti-theft immobilizer.

If the vehicle is equipped with an aftermarket immobilizer device, be sure you get all of the key fobs, including the red programmable fob or PIN access code from the previous owner. Ask for all documentation that was provided when the device was originally installed as there may be important information about how to care for the immobilizer and get it serviced.

If the vehicle has an approved aftermarket immobilizer installed (Mastergard M6000 and Autowatch 573PPi), these devices come with a lifetime warranty on replacement or repair if found to be defective. If you have an Autowatch 5773PPi, be sure to register as the owner of this device on the Autowatch Canada website. This will help to ensure you have no difficulties in making a warranty claim should you have to do so.

Use our Insurance Rate Calculator to estimate the annual Autopac premium you'll pay to insure the vehicle after you buy it.

Remember, if you are purchasing a vehicle worth more than $70,000 you will need Excess Value Coverage to protect your full investment. If you're purchasing a new vehicle, consider buying New Vehicle Protection. And, if you're leasing a vehicle, make sure you consider Leased Vehicle Protection.

Check for open recalls on the vehicle.

Check for open vehicle safety recalls and confirm with the current vehicle owner that they have been addressed. You can search for open vehicle recalls by vehicle make, model and model year and learn more about vehicle recalls in general on Transport Canada’s website.

Watch out for flood damage.

Flood-damaged vehicles – from Manitoba or that have been brought into Manitoba from across North America – can be dangerous, as water can enter the electronic components, causing corrosion and malfunctioning of important safety features such as airbags. It can also leave behind mould and other toxins.

To identify a flood-damaged vehicle:

  • Check for damp or musty odours.
  • Check for any signs of rust or mud in the trunk, glove box and beneath the seats.
  • Check under the hood and look for a water line marked by mud or silt.

Be in the CLEAR.

The Canadian Loss Experience Automobile Rating (CLEAR) system was developed by the Insurance Bureau of Canada's Vehicle Information Centre. This centre collects Canada-wide information about vehicles involved in accidents and the costs of the resulting claims.

CLEAR compares claim costs for different vehicles and can help you decide which vehicle is right for you. Their How Cars Measure Up publication outlines the safety features and anti-theft devices on recent model year vehicles, along with the claims experience of the most popular vehicle models on the market. This information can help you make the right call when it comes to purchasing your next vehicle.

Confirm an import’s eligibility.

If you are importing a vehicle from outside Canada, it’s important to check with Canada's Registrar of Imported Vehicles to ensure the vehicle is eligible for importation into Canada. Here’s more information on importing a vehicle.

Vehicle history

Dealers are required under Manitoba law to fully disclose information pertaining to a vehicle's history.

A private seller does not have the same requirements to disclose information. You may want to consider having the vehicle inspected by a trusted mechanic before you buy, and purchasing a vehicle history report.

You can purchase a vehicle history report, as outlined in Item #3 in the list above. For more information and tips when purchase privately or from a dealer, please read this important tip sheet from the Consumer Protection Office.

Selling your vehicle

You will need to take several steps when selling your vehicle privately. You and the buyer need to fill out two documents together:

  • The Transfer of Ownership (TOD) document. This document proves to the buyer that you own the vehicle, and will be required when they register the vehicle. The TOD document can be found on the back of the vehicle’s registration.
  • A written bill of sale describing the vehicle's year, make, model, serial number, and the agreed selling price. Write up two bills of sale, one for each of you, and make sure you and the buyer sign both copies. You can write your own bill of sale, or download our template.

You will also need to either provide the buyer with your valid Certificate of Inspection (COI) or inform them they will need to have the vehicle inspected before they can register and insure it. After the sale is complete, be sure to retain the licence plates and cancel your Autopac coverage on the vehicle.