Before you buy a used car (or other used goods of significant value) you should do a Personal Property Security Act search to protect yourself financially.
A search may reveal that the seller obtained a loan using the car as security. If so, the lender may have rights in the car, such as a lien. If you bought the car and the seller failed to pay off the loan, the lender could seize your car.
If a search reveals that a loan has been registered against the car you should contact the seller to confirm whether or not the loan is still in effect. If the loan has been repaid, you should insist that the seller require the lender to promptly register a discharge. Do not enter into a sale until you have proof that the lender’s interest has been discharged.
Conducting a Personal Property Security Act search is especially important if you’re buying privately. You do not need to search when buying a used car from a registered motor vehicle dealer in Ontario, unless the car is worth more than $15,000.
Search (and registration) services are available online or by phone at (416) 325-8847 or toll-free in Ontario at 1-800-267-8847. TTY users dial 1-800-461-8866, or (416) 326-8866 in Toronto. You must have a major credit card to pay.
Private sector companies can also conduct searches for you. Consult your yellow pages under the heading “Searchers of Records” or obtain a list of private sector third-party suppliers who can register/search for you.