“Buyer beware”: Dispute breaks out in BC court over collector car’s broken odometer

A used car buyer has taken their fight to BC court after they bought a car thinking it was a collector vehicle, but later discovered it had a lot of issues which made it ineligible for ICBC’s collector status.

The issue is laid out in a recent BC Civil Resolution Tribunal decision, which is posted publicly online, and shares that the car in question was a 1990 Chrysler LeBaron.

Collector cars are not only eligible for collector licence plates but could also lower the insurance premiums for the owner. However, a car loses its eligibility if the vehicle isn’t maintained or restored to the condition to the manufacturer’s specifications, according to ICBC.

The decades-old vehicle was bought for $4,750 by Palvinder Loyla, who wanted a partial refund over the sale because the collector status was null and void due to the vehicle’s odometer not working.

Once they got the car, they noticed a laundry list of mechanical and cosmetic problems, like a broken muffler, emergency brake, and leaking transmission fluid. Plus, the car’s paint job was damaged, and the light flaps didn’t work.

The car also had an MP3 player and a spoiler, which didn’t exist when it was made in the 1990s.

However, the tribunal did not sympathize with Loyla, citing that they didn’t do one thing that would have ensured that they had bought the car they were promised.

The car buyer didn’t actually test drive the car, or even see it in person. They bought the car “sight unseen” through two “representatives.”

“I find that a non-working odometer is a patent (visible) defect, rather than a latent defect. In other words, I find that it would have been possible to determine that the odometer did not work before purchasing the car, by test-driving it for a few kilometres and noting the odometer readings,” tribunal member Kate Campbell said in her decision.

She dismissed Loyla’s claims for a $2,420 refund and sided with the seller, Craig Kennon.

“In general, the principle of “buyer beware” applies to private sales of used vehicles. To be entitled to compensation for a used vehicle that is not in the condition the buyer thought it was, the buyer must prove fraud, non-innocent misrepresentation, breach of contract, breach of warranty, or a known latent (invisible) defect: see Mah Estate v. Lawrence, 2023 BCSC 411,” Campbell explained.