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This article was published 28/8/2015 (2243 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
CarProof Corp., the London, Ont.-based company that provides vehicle-history reports, is offering its reports free to Manitobans.
The company is running the promotion as a way to raise consumer awareness about the fact comprehensive information about used vehicles is available -- including safety recalls.
The company is launching the marketing promotion in Manitoba partly because of the manageable size of this market. It will gauge the take-up as the company rolls out the program across the country.
CarProof claims to have the most comprehensive reports in the industry. It buys data from hundreds of different sources including insurance companies, auto-repair shops, towing companies as well as the manufacturers' safety recall reports.
The idea for the program was also hatched in Winnipeg. Not long ago, the CEO of CarProof Corp. was in Winnipeg when there was news of another manufacturers' safety recall.
Ed Woiteshek, said he pulled up a particular vehicle from a dealership website, and entered the VIN (vehicle identification number) and pulled a CarProof report on the vehicle.
"Even though it was a GM certified pre-owned vehicle, which means the manufacturer signed off on the quality of the car, there was an open safety recall on that car (but there was no reference to that in the marketing of the car)," said Woiteshek.
"We thought it was crazy and we decided we had to do something to create more awareness of the issue for consumers."
To access the free CarProof vehicle-history reports, Manitoba vehicle owners just have to go to the CarProof website (mb.carproof.com/) type in the VIN and a valid email address.
The reports typically cost $40.
Steve Chipman, president of the Birchwood Automotive Group and chairman of the Canadian Auto Dealers Association, said Birchwood provides a CarProof report on every used car it sells.
He said dealerships want to make it easier for vehicle owners to find important information, including which vehicles are subject to safety recalls.
"We want to be transparent -- here's the information, make your buying decision -- plus we want to have safe vehicles on the road," said Chipman.
Woiteshek, said unlike other companies that sell vehicle-history reports, CarProof has teamed up with dealerships to encourage consumers to have a more favourable view of the industry.
"Our whole mission statement is around creating trust and confidence in used-car transactions," he said.
CarProof's data suggests as many as 10 per cent of the vehicles on the road in Manitoba are not safe because they are subject to open safety recalls.
As well, CarProof's data suggests about 35 per cent of the cars on the road have had some sort of accident repairs done.
Woiteshek said of the 35 cars out of 100 that have had accidents, CarProof has good vehicle-history data on 33 of them.
While it is likely to raise consumer awareness, giving the reports away for free will be a significant marketing expense for CarProof.
"This is not something we could turn on overnight," Woiteshek said. "We debated it for months... But we are doing it for a reason -- to build awareness in the market about some issues in the industry that our product can help solve."
Martin Cash has been writing a column and business news at the Free Press since 1989. Over those years he’s written through a number of business cycles and the rise and fall (and rise) in fortunes of many local businesses.