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Although having a brand-new car is often what most people idealize, it is not always realistic. A brand new car requires a large financial commitment and more often than not, good credit. This is why deciding to go the second-hand route is a popular option among Canadian consumers.

If you decide to purchase a used car. One of the most important steps you can take is to make sure the vehicle has a clean history. Luckily, there are many different companies that offer car history reports in Canada.

What’s Included In Your Car History Report In Canada

A car history report includes details regarding your vehicle that you don’t get from your dealership. It generally includes information regarding major accidents, odometer rollback, ownership history, registration, repair costs and a number of other aspects that can affect your purchasing decision.

Reasons To Get A Car History Report In Canada

There are many reasons you should always get a vehicle history report prior to purchasing a used car.

To Avoid A Lemon Car

Firstly, you don’t want to get stuck with a lemon car. This term is used to describe buying a used car that seemed to work and be of good value but actually had hidden defects and safety issues.

To Check The Accident History

Secondly, you’ll be able to check the vehicle’s accident history and what kind of damages it has endured. Moreover, you’ll be able to check if any professional maintenance had been done. This can tell you exactly what kind of problems the car has had and will have as well as if the car was used responsibly.

To Check For Illegal Odometer Rollback 

Thirdly, some private sellers or dealerships roll back the odometer even if it is illegal to do so. These sellers typically do so to increase the car’s value. Checking your vehicle’s history report will ensure you don’t fall for these sneaky sellers.

To Check The Ownership History

Lastly, being able to check the ownership history is essential in understanding how your vehicle was handled in the past. You’ll be able to check how long they kept it for and what regions it’s been driven which should give you an idea about the car’s life expectancy.

Ways To Obtain The Car History Report In Canada 

There are a few platforms you can use to get your car history report in Canada. While some are free, others come with a fee. 

Insurance Bureau Of Canada

The ICBC is a provincial Crown corporation in BC that provides information about whether a vehicle was restored or rebuilt as a result of a disaster. ICBC’s free VIN Verify service protects consumers from scammers looking to sell previously damaged vehicles. 

With ICBC, you can find out whether a vehicle was branded as non-repairable after flood damage in the GTA and Alberta (southern). A car is branded non-repairable if the vehicle had water reach the bottom of the dash. 

Transport Canada

Transport Canada offers a tool for consumers to research a vehicle’s recall history by its VIN. Through Transport Canada, you’ll be able to get information regarding recalls for your vehicle, the tires or the child car seat. 

They list recall lookup tools for various car brands such as Acura, BMW, Honda, Hyundai, Kia, Mazda and  Toyota. Best of all, they’re free to use.

VinAudit Canada

Consumers can use VinAudit Canada to verify a vehicle’s information and compare it to the seller’s claims about the vehicle. VinAudit’s reports include information about a vehicle’s title, specs, registration records, recall records, auction records, theft records, US vehicle history, vehicle status check and supplemental resources. 

There is a $14.95 cost per vehicle to use VinAudit Canada. However, if you want to check the car history for multiple cars, VinAudit has a great deal. 

  • 5 Vehicle History Reports –  $34.95
  • 10 Vehicle History Reports – $44.95

Carfax Canada

Getting a Carfax report is a great idea. Using just the VIN, Carfax is able to trace back where the car was manufactured, its insurance and collision history, its odometer record, and also, whether there has been a security claim filed against it.

  • Vehicle History Report, no lien check – This vehicle report costs $46. It provides you the car’s history, but no liens check. This should only be used if you’re 100% certain there’s no money owed on the vehicle. Otherwise, you could be stuck with someone else’s debt
  • Vehicle History Report + Lien Check – For $64.95 you can check the vehicle’s history and 1 lien check. 
  • 3 Vehicle History Reports + 1 Lien Check – If you’re comparing multiple vehicles, this option can help you save money. Get 3 vehicle history reports plus 1 lien check for $104.95.

This kind of information obtained from Carfax is a real asset when refuting claims made by the seller. The seller may claim the car was only in a fender bender yet Carfax may indicate an accident with a $10,000 or more insurance claim. The report may not indicate exactly what the accident was but it will still be valuable information that could be the deciding factor in whether to buy or not.

Can You Get Your Car History Report In Canada From Your Dealer? 

Often times dealers will provide at least some information on the car’s history. Although this is a good start, as a consumer it is important to be as informed as possible because sometimes others do not have your best interests in mind. 

That being said, try to do as much research yourself as possible. You may uncover certain things about a car’s history that can alter its value. For example, the car may have been in a serious collision, rebuilt or the odometer may not read accurately. It is critical to be aware of all these variables before making your purchase.

Other Factors to Consider When Buying A Used Car

Here are some straightforward pointers you should keep in mind when doing your due diligence before you purchase your next car:

Find The Right Financing

When buying a used car, it’s important to find the right financing. Low-interest rates and flexible terms are the cornerstones of a good car loan. It can help you save money on interest, keep your monthly payments low and protect you from building negative equity. 

If you’re looking for a used car, you use an online car retailer like Clutch. They can help you find cars based on the financing your qualify for. That way, no matter what car you choose, you’re almost guaranteed to qualify. 

Attention To Detail

If a dealer does provide you with a report, don’t just focus on what’s written but also on what may be omitted. Also, pay close attention to the date the report was performed. If the report is not recent or lacks information, this should be a red flag.

Have The Car Inspected

Having the car inspected will give you an objective assessment of the vehicle. The mechanic performing the inspection has no real interest in whether you buy the car or not, so his inspection should be neutral. 

Inspections usually take an hour and mechanics will charge their regular hourly rate for their labour. So in Canada, you’re looking at approximately $80 for an inspection.

Compare Sources

As we discussed, reports can have their limitations. Cross-checking more than one report can be an effective way of assessing just how accurate of a representation each report is. 

For example, if you are provided with a report, it’s in your best interest to have your own inspection performed. If the initial report omitted certain information, it should show up after cross-checking the two reports.

Bottom Line

If you’re buying a used car, it’s important that you know everything about its history. Buying a car is expensive, so you want to make sure it’s in good condition before you commit your hard-earned dollars to a purchase. Doing a little in-depth research into a car’s history will help you make a more informed purchasing decision. 

Car History Report In Canada FAQs

What is a Vehicle Identification Number (VIN)?

A VIN is a 17-digit number unique to a specific vehicle. It serves to identify vehicles and provides important information, including the following:
  • Year, make and model
  • Manufacturer
  • Features and specifications
  • Warranty and insurance claims
  • Recalls
  • Registrations

Is it okay to buy a car that has been in an accident?

It’s important to understand that a previous accident may negatively affect the value of the vehicle, as well as its condition and reliability.

What is a clean title?

A ‘clean title’ means the vehicle has never been considered a total loss.
Lisa Rennie avatar on Loans Canada
Lisa Rennie

Lisa has been working as a personal finance writer for more than a decade, creating unique content that helps to educate Canadian consumers in the realms of real estate, mortgages, investing and financial health. For years, she held her real estate license in Toronto, Ontario before giving it up to pursue writing within this realm and related niches. Lisa is very serious about smart money management and helping others do the same.

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