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How to buy and sell a used vehicle safely on BCAA Auto Marketplace


Buying a new vehicle is a big decision. It’s only natural to have concerns about how safe it is to make an online transaction when there’s a lot of money involved. We understand where you’re coming from and that’s why BCAA Auto Marketplace was created to make buying and selling a vehicle in BC a better experience. It's important to be vigilant to protect yourself when buying a used vehicle.

Here are a few common scams to look out for when buying a used vehicle:

Be wary of sellers asking for a deposit

In this scenario, the seller will list vehicles on the marketplace considerably below market value or priced too good to be true. When the buyer puts in an offer, the seller will ask for a deposit to hold the vehicle for the buyer. After the buyer sends the deposit money, the seller then ends contact and delists the vehicle. The seller disappears with the deposit and the buyer is left with no vehicle.

We do not recommend sending money for any reason before you have met the seller. Always meet the seller in person, inspect the vehicle and take it for a test drive before any money is exchanged.

Needs some simple fixes

This is when a seller doesn't fully disclose the condition of the vehicle. They will claim that there are only simple fixes required to get a vehicle running in a good condition, which are usually only scratching the surface of the work that needs to be done before it can be driven. We recommend asking for the VIN (vehicle identification number) or a vehicle history report before purchasing a used vehicle. The buyer may also want to consider having a mechanic look over the vehicle and to assess if the vehicle is in the condition the seller claims it to be.

Title washing

When vehicles are significantly damaged in a disaster or an accident, they can be given titles such as flood, salvage or irreparable. Scammers will try to cover up and erase the vehicle history to get unsuspecting buyers to purchase a vehicle without knowing it has been significantly damaged. To decrease your likelihood of purchasing a vehicle that has been title washed, do a VIN check on the vehicle (which comes with a vehicle history report). Alternatively, the buyer can purchase a vehicle history report and read about the history of the car, as well as any maintenance or mechanical work that has been done in the past.

Changed odometer

When evaluating a used vehicle, mileage is often used to value the vehicle. Scammers can tamper with the odometer and make the vehicle look newer than it appears. In the vehicle history report, buyers can check the odometer history from when the vehicle was taken into a shop for servicing. If there are any major discrepancies with the odometer physical reading and the vehicle history report, the odometer may have been tampered with.

Payment through alternative methods

If you do not trust the method of payment, do not go through with the transaction. Many scammers use forms of alternative payments such as crypto currency, gift cards, fake websites, and fake emails from trusted websites such as PayPal. Be wary of any online transactions and be sure that you are using secure channels to transfer money. Legitimate sellers are less likely to be hesitant to meet up in person and use proper payment methods that protect both the buyer and seller.

Undisclosed lien

In British Columbia, when selling a used vehicle, a seller must disclose if there is an ownership claim, known as a lien, on the vehicle upon purchase. Scammers may try to sell vehicles that have liens and not provide this information during the buying process. We recommend purchasing a vehicle history report that includes a lien check on any used vehicle you are interested in buying to check if there are any undisclosed liens. If you would like to learn more about vehicle history reports, find out more here.

If you do not need a lien check, you can also purchase a vehicle history report from ICBC or request a free status check.

Becoming familiar with vehicle scams is important as you are looking through listings over the internet. Having the knowledge of potential scams can help prevent you from losing your money. Always be wary of deals that are too good to be true, as often, they almost always are.

BCAA Auto Marketplace

We understand that shopping for a used vehicle can be a bit overwhelming so that’s why we created BCAA Auto Marketplace, British Columbian’s trusted place to buy and sell your car.

BCAA Auto Marketplace was designed to make the used vehicle buying and selling process easier. Built on a trusted community of verified users, BCAA Members, and access to vehicle details and reports so you can navigate the used vehicle market with confidence to find your perfect vehicle match.

  • Buy or Sell for Free: No cost for listing or selling on BCAA Auto Marketplace
  • Simple and Straight Forward: Transparent pricing identifying vehicles by “great price”
  • Verified Members: Buy and sell from verified users and BCAA Members
  • Customer Support: Access to resources and a dedicated BCAA Auto Marketplace customer support team

Visit BCAA Auto Marketplace today to find a vehicle with confidence with one of BC's most trusted brands.*

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The foregoing information is for general informational purposes only. Readers are cautioned against making any decisions based on this information alone and any reliance you place on such information is strictly at your own risk.
*BCAA, in association with CAA, was chosen as the #1 Most Trusted Insurance Brand by British Columbia participants in the 2023 Gustavson Brand Trust Index.