What to know when buying a modified vehicle in B.C.

Buying a modified vehicle

I'm in the process of buying a lifted Jeep YJ and don't know much about the restrictions such as the maximum suspension or body lift. Can you give me general information on raised 4x4 trucks and SUVs?

Any vehicle that has had its suspension height altered by more than 10 cm either up or down is required to be taken to a designated inspection facility and passed before it is used on the highway in British Columbia.

The facility issues a document showing the pass and the owner of this vehicle should have a copy to show you. Failing that, he may be able to tell you when and where it was inspected and the facility may have the record instead.

I usually tell people that if they modify a vehicle, they should have the inspection done and have the facility list the modifications that they have approved on letterhead attached to the inspection form. This way you can show a curious police officer (or buyer) the list and satisfy them that all is as it should be.

It is illegal for anyone to sell a vehicle for use if that vehicle is not equipped in all respects in compliance with the Motor Vehicle Act and Regulations. There used to be a space on the APV9T transfer form to indicate if the vehicle was roadworthy, but I don't see that on the current version of the form.

You can sell a vehicle that is not mechanically fit if you make the buyer aware that it is being sold to them for parts or rebuilding. It would be wise to state this in the bill of sale for the vehicle.

A bill of sale is a legal document that protects both the buyer and the seller when a vehicle is sold.

As a buyer, you may wish to make the purchase contingent on the vehicle passing an inspection if the seller does not have satisfactory proof of roadworthiness.

As a seller, the bill of sale is your means of proving that you are no longer the owner of and responsible for the vehicle.

I have seen many instances of raised vehicles with serious problems, including things like frame rails cracked at the steering box, tires that rubbed in the fender wells, rear differentials that rotated when the vehicle was accelerated and illegal modifications to the frame.

As with any significant purchase, be very careful what you spend your money on. If you don't have the necessary knowledge to see problems on your own, make sure that you hire someone that does. The inspection fee may seem trivial to buying a vehicle that needs expensive repairs before you can drive it legally.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

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About the Author

Tim Schewe is a retired constable with many years of traffic law enforcement experience. He has been writing his column for most of the 20 years of his service in the RCMP.

The column was 'The Beat Goes On' in Fort St. John, 'Traffic Tips' in the South Okanagan and now 'Behind the Wheel' on Vancouver Island and here on Castanet.net.

Schewe retired from the force in January of 2006, but the column has become a habit, and continues.

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The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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