New service to better protect used car buyers

    VANCOUVER, Sept. 15 /CNW/ - ICBC has launched a free online service to
allow customers to look up a vehicle's status, helping them to make informed
buying decisions when purchasing used vehicles. All vehicles in North America
are assigned a status to describe the general state of the vehicle and whether
it qualifies to be on the road.
    The vehicle status search launched today on and works by
entering the vehicle model year and vehicle identification number (VIN) - a
series of letters and numbers assigned by the vehicle manufacturer. In most
cases, a VIN is 17 characters long and can be found on a vehicle's dashboard
identification plate, on the doorpost and on the engine firewall.
    After entering the VIN and vehicle model year online, customers are
provided with the current status of the vehicle, which will be one of the
following four designations:

    -   Salvage: This status is given to a vehicle that has been written off
        as a result of a crash, but has the potential to be repaired or
        reconstructed. The vehicle must be repaired and inspected before it
        can be licensed or reinsured.

    -   Rebuilt: This status is assigned to "salvage" vehicles after they
        have been repaired and have passed inspection. It is also used for
        homemade and specialty vehicles to indicate that they have been
        inspected and are structurally sound.

    -   Altered: This status is given to a vehicle that has been
        significantly modified after its manufacture. The status is added
        when the vehicle has passed inspection.

    -   Normal: If a vehicle does not have a status of rebuilt, salvage or
        altered, it is considered to have a normal status. "Normal" is simply
        a term used for the purposes of vehicle registration. A normal status
        does not mean the vehicle has never been damaged or is in good
        mechanical condition.

    The status search provides the current status listed in the B.C. vehicle
registry. Changes to a vehicle's status are reported by insurance companies,
tow operators, and automobile recyclers to the Registrar of Motor Vehicle,
which in BC is ICBC. ICBC provides vehicle licensing and vehicle registration
services, including maintaining the vehicle registry, on behalf of the
provincial government.
    A vehicle's status is only one part of its overall history and may change
overtime. The status of a vehicle does not fully describe its mechanical
condition or damage history. Additional tips for customers buying a used car
are available on Customers can also get detailed information on a
vehicle's registration, crash and lien history through the existing Vehicle
Claims History report and CarProof Verified BC report. For more information
about these reports, which are available online for a fee, please visit
    "We encourage anyone thinking of buying a used vehicle to use the tools
ICBC makes available to help them - a little research can go a long way," said
Mark Francis, manager of Provincial Vehicle Registration and Licensing. "There
are a number of precautions people can take to protect themselves in making an
informed buying decision, giving them the trust and confidence that their
purchase is a good one."
    The online vehicle status search was one of the commitments made by ICBC
following the investigation into its Burnaby-based research and training

For further information:

For further information: Media contact: Adam Grossman, (604) 982-1332

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