Buyers Guide: It’s a sin not to display the CIN
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When you’re on the lookout for a vehicle, dealers are obligated to provide you with is a consumer information notice — also known as a CIN.
This notice has key information that should be scrutinised before committing to any purchase.
The CIN card will be displayed in the window of any car being sold by a dealer. By failing to do so, a trader will be in breach of the Motor Vehicle Sales Act.
The trader must also receive written acknowledgment that you have received a copy of the CIN card.
You will be asked to read and sign this document, so make sure you read the fine print.
There are a few areas on a CIN that are not as straightforward as they first appear and are worth further investigation.
Vehicle year is one such example. On a CIN card of a vehicle registered in New Zealand after 1 January 2007, vehicle year will relate to the date of the vehicle’s first registration anywhere in the world.
However, if the vehicle was registered in New Zealand before 2007, the date entered could refer to one of three scenarios: the year of manufacture, the model year or the year of first registration.
This could trip you up when you’re comparing vehicles based on the model year displayed on the CIN.
The dealer may not even be aware of a pre-2007 vehicle’s actual date of manufacture, but there are free online reports that can determine this simply by using its VIN number.
The CIN will also display the distance travelled. But here is a lesson in why it’s important to read the “important Information” that is found on the reverse.
The small print will explain that “you should not place too much importance on the odometer reading when buying a used motor vehicle”, highlighting the risk of used vehicles having had their odometer wound back.
Used imports have posed a risk of this in the past, but many now arrive with their odometers certified.
This process, conducted overseas before the vehicle enters the country, usually involves physical inspection of the odometer and checks against overseas records.
Traders are obligated to disclose any security interest over a vehicle and, if you buy a car with interest registered on the Personal Property Securities Register (PPSR) and it has been disclosed, there’s a chance that the vehicle may be repossessed.
Make sure you look for this at the top of the CIN, as it can get overlooked in the excitement of
a purchase, and could leave you losing not only your investment, but also picking up someone else’s bill.
If a vehicle has been imported as damaged or has obvious structural damage when it has entered the country, it is recorded and should be disclosed to a potential buyer.
However, vehicles that have been damaged within New Zealand are typically not recorded.
If a vehicle has been re-registered, this may be because of a lapsed registration or an insurance write-off. Take care to review these tick boxes on your CIN as they can drastically affect a vehicle’s value.
The Motor Vehicle Sales Act carries heavy penalties. A business breaching its obligations can face fines of up to $200,000, and individuals can receive a $50,000 penalty for serious offences, so it’s in a trader’s best interest to fill in these cards accurately.
Though they provide a wealth of information to the consumer, they don’t give you all the answers, which you’ll know if you read the disclaimers.
If you’re buying privately, a CIN isn’t required. A $20 Vehicle History report will give you all this information, not to mention some peace of mind.