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USED CAR BUYER: Caught in middle of data void after ICBC VIN checks!

vancouver province

Adrienne Tanner 
Vancouver Province 
Wednesday, February 5, 2003

Bob Werry received a disturbing letter from ICBC this week informing him that the 1998 Subaru he bought in September had a checkered past.

All of Werry's pre-purchase research had not uncovered the truth - the Subaru Outback had been written off in the U.S., imported to Canada as a salvage vehicle and sold to him as undamaged goods.

ICBC now tells Werry he will not be able to sell his vehicle until he re-inspects it for mechanical flaws and registers it a rebuilt salvage.

Even though one arm of the insurance giant knows the sordid details for the Subaru's past, ICBC's accident history check service still shows no record of the vehicle's problems.

(EDITOR'S NOTE: To avoid Bob's expensive situation, you can double check the VINs of all vehicles manufactured and registered in North America. The history of an American automobile coming across the border will show up in these International VIN Checks. You can do an unlimited of VIN Checks for just $19.99 USD. It could save you hundreds, even thousands of dollars in costly repairs.)

That means vigilant consumers who spend $21.40 on an ICBC claims history check have no way to find out if an import car was hauled across the border as a wreck.

The same is true for more than 200 additional vehicles identified by ICBC as undeclared salvage vehicles. (The owners of these vehicles are, like Werry, all receiving bad-news letters from ICBC).

Moira Welland, a spokeswoman for ICBC, could not explain why the information about salvage vehicles is not shared within the corporation. "That's very interesting question. We have some people looking at whether that would be possible to do."

ICBC conducts more than 800,000 used-vehicle transactions each year, Welland said. It may not be worth altering a massive information system for only 200 vehicles, she said.

Werry says his ICBC check did not serve him well. He also wonders what police are going to shut down a ring of Eastern European importers who do not declare as salvage the wrecks they import and rebuild from the U.S.

"ICBC's got the information and this guy could be rebuilding another car today and selling it," he said. "They're doing nothing about it other than catching the poor people who bought the car after the fact.

"A Province investigation in December revealed the problem is widespread throughout the Lower Mainland. Police say they are investigating, but urge buyers to conduct careful research before purchasing a used car through a private deal.

Werry says he wants to know when ICBC found out his car was a salvage vehicle. If they knew before he bought it, ICBC should be liable for both his inspection costs and loss in value, he said. 

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Vigilant consumers who spend $21.40 on an ICBC claims history check have no way to find out if an import car was hauled across the border from the United States as a wreck. Protect yourself with International VIN Checks