A 'checklist' when purchasing your vehicle in Manitoba

It's important to know a vehicle's complete history before you make your purchase. There are several ways to ensure that what you're buying is precisely what you want:

1. Make sure you're dealing with the legal owner of the vehicle

Registered owner vs. legal owner: For your insurance to be valid, the registered owner must be correctly identified on your insurance certificate. It's important to know the difference between legal owners and registered owners.

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, sometimes that isn't the case.

For instance, someone may lease and use a vehicle without actually owning it. The leasing company remains the legal owner, while the person leasing the vehicle is the registered owner.

The registered owner is the one who has right of possession, either by owning the vehicle or by having been given the right of possession through an exclusive use agreement. Right of possession to a vehicle is obtained when the owner gives up, in writing, the legal control over how, when, where and by whom the vehicle is used. The registered owner can't sell the vehicle unless he is also the legal owner. Only a registered owner who is also the legal owner can sell the vehicle.

The Drivers and Vehicles Act does not permit a person with physical possession of a vehicle, or someone who normally drives the vehicle, to be the registered owner unless they can prove that they own or have been given exclusive use of the vehicle.

For example, a father is the legal owner of a vehicle but his son uses the vehicle to attend school and a part-time job. The father has retained legal ownership of the vehicle and does not want to give his son exclusive use of the vehicle. In this situation, the father must still be the registered owner.

2. Check the vehicle status

Ask the owner to show you the Transfer of Ownership Document (TOD) for the vehicle before you buy it. The TOD may show one of the following:

  • rebuilt: a former write-off that has been properly rebuilt
  • irreparable: for "parts only"--a write-off that can never be registered again
  • salvageable: a write-off requiring proper rebuilding and inspection before being registered again (see Body Integrity Inspection Certificate)

3. 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
General Inquiries
276 Portage Avenue
Winnipeg, MB R3C 0B6
Phone: 1-844-737-5684

You can also check for liens online by visiting the Property Registry website.

4. Check to see if the vehicle is a write-off

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: We can only tell you if the vehicle was ever written-off in Manitoba.

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

CarProof and CARFAX are provided with all registration and claims history information for vehicles registered in Manitoba and insured by Manitoba Public Insurance. To obtain a complete vehicle history report from CarProof or CARFAX, contact them directly through their websites.

6. 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.

7. 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 $50,000 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.

8. 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.