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Find out about the car you want

Before driving a vehicle, make sure you know its history.

Start by asking the Société de l’assurance car du Québec for the car’s history and check if the file contains mentions like “rebuilt” or “severely damaged” and if so, and that the seller didn’t claim it, cross out the car! If it’s a merchant, file a complaint, as this type of cover-up is illegal.

Some companies, including Carfax, sell vehicle history reports that list the accidents suffered (provided they were reported by the owner to their insurance company), the mileage at the time of each event, and an estimate of the repairs made. The report costs $35-$50 and you will need a 17-digit Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) to apply online.

Also make sure the vehicle has been paid in full. To do this, you must perform a search in the Register of personal and movable rights in rem. This search incurs a fee of several dollars, but ensures that you don’t pay twice for the car and that the lender doesn’t come to confiscate it if the previous owner didn’t finish paying off their loan.

Also check the Canadian Police Clearinghouse to make sure it’s not a stolen vehicle.

Note: The Consumer Protection Authority also recommends that you do not sign any paperwork until you have actually made a decision to buy a car. Indeed, a used car purchase can only be canceled in certain cases, depending on how the operation is funded.

This advice is taken from 100 TIPS for Consumers, Your Rights on a Daily Basis, produced in collaboration with the Consumer Protection Authority. On the occasion of its 50th anniversary, the Authority is offering this guide free of charge to all consumers.

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