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Importing Canadian Vehicles to the U.S.



  • rroyce10rroyce10 Posts: 9,359
    ...... There is a few places to purchase vehicles around you (we took a boat trip up there last year) ..

    All this stuff about the legal, not legal, good stuff, bad stuff, green stuff, blue stuff, etc, etc, etc. really isn't the point here.

    The simple point is: If you buy Canadian, you save some big money, no doubt about.

    What the consumer HAS too remember is: You save a lot upfront -- But, when you trade, you get slammed. So if you are going to keep the vehicle for 50/60++ months, then it becomes a good deal .. and if you are aware of this, and Stay Aware of it .. and will except it, then it's not a problem.

    Just don't get short term memory loss when you go to trade it, cus' the numbers .. you won't like.

  • sonjaabsonjaab Posts: 1,057
    These guys keep them till the wheels
    fall off anyway. So resale value is
    not a concern to them. MY one bud had
    a 85 ford pu well worn out snowplwing.
    Was looking for a late model ford xcab
    4x4.....a 99 at the ford dealer us truck
    22k.....Can imported one at dealer across
    street 19k.....3 grand savings!....geo

    BTW; He had a warranty issue and took it
    to Watertown ford dealer no problem...
    He paid the 100 deductible they fixed it !
  • alfoxalfox Posts: 716
    Nicely put dusti, but I'm not sure it's totally correct as stated.

    The assessments of what's right and what's wrong in all this I'll leave alone - we can each decide this for ourself, since it's not a matter of imutable fact, but a judgement to be made based on our personal values.

    The assesment of what's legal and illegal I will also leave to others who know the law. I don't.

    But the question of the warranty I is one of which I am reasonably sure. U.S. warranty laws do not apply to items bought in foreign countries. Even though it may be the same precise product (and who's to say it really is?) the Federal laws of implied warranty do not apply. State laws may vary by state. I believe the law was written this way to protect manufacturers from liability for products made for foreign markets that do not meet U.S. codes and standards for product safety.

    Even with identical vehicles, Canadian laws regarding warranty and liability may differ significantly from ours (I don't know - anyone know that? Where's iceman?) A warranty has a cost - they are not free. Cars are priced such that the manufacturer's warranty is covered in their selling price. If a car is sold in a country where a lesser warranty or liability is permitted by law, the car can be sold cheaper, since the manufacturer has less exposure to suits. One way to circumvent that is to but the car where the price is less because liability is lower, and move it to where liability is higher. That may explain some of the reason for this whole thing.
  • janzjanz Posts: 129
    and it is clear that money can be saved by buying Canadian. Just like certain modifications to a vehicle can void the warranty, there are valid concerns about factory warranty support on these cars not built to US specs. To those who think warranty should be supported, for this reason quite frankly, why should they?

    However, the problem as pointed out in the Grey market article posted on, there is a HUGE difference between a consumer choosing to go to Canada to save money on a new vehicle purchase (warranty or not) and the illegal importing of Canadian vehicles into the US being sold to unsuspecting American owners, that MAY not have warranty support and most likely have rolled back odometers.

    These people are victims in every sense of the word as they paid for a new or nearly new car with low miles and probably have the impression the vehicle is under warranty. Not to mention the fact thay they MIGHT not even legally own the vehicle. These vehicles are misrepresented as having with low miles, and are paying way more than the actual value of the vehicle. These owners DO NOT GET THE BENEFIT OF THE COST SAVINGS. The illegal importers do in the payoffs and reselling that occurs to bring these illegal vehicles into the US.

    That's my rant. Thanks, Janz
  • alfoxalfox Posts: 716
    to tell a car built for the Canadian market vs one built for the U.S. market using the VIN#?

    My local VW dealer, for example, seems to be dealing in "program cars" these days. They are (they say) cars that were allocated for various dealers as executive cars, etc., but were not used as such. But because they were allocated as program cars they can sell them $1,000 or better below market price (TMV). They apparently collect these things from other dealers. I saw two Passats and two Jettas, nicely equipped, that fit that description. All had no mileage (<10.)

    Now I wonder if they could really be gray market Canadian cars trucked down here and being sold illegally. Possible?
  • Hi alfox. As you may have seen, recently published an article on Gray Market vehicles. At the end of this article, there is a section on how consumers can protect themselves from unknowingly purchasing a Canadian vehicle in the U.S. Here is the section, it may help you out:

    "How You Can Protect Yourself

    Protecting yourself from purchasing a gray market car can be a challenge, as even investigators who work full-time on gray market cases often have a hard time identifying these vehicles. Investigators offered these tips for consumers purchasing a used car or a "near-new" or "demo" vehicle from the current model year with low mileage.

    1. Make sure the speedometer and odometer are in miles, not kilometers.

    2. Look for a label on the driver side door or door jam stating the vehicle was imported from Canada via a registered importer.

    3. Check this area for a Canadian Maple Leaf symbol. (Note though that this may simply indicate the vehicle was manufactured in Canada for sale in the U.S.)

    4. If you are purchasing the vehicle at a franchised or independent dealer, ask the salesperson for the auction invoice, car jacket or warranty report and look for any notations of the vehicle being imported or a sale or repair in Canada.

    5. If you are purchasing the vehicle through a private party or at an independent dealer, write down the VIN (stamped in a metal plate located on the driver side of the dashboard near the windshield). Go to the service department of a dealer who carries that franchise, tell them you are thinking of purchasing this vehicle and you'll be using them for your service. Ask them to run the VIN and give you a copy of the warranty report. Look at the warranty report for notations of repairs done in Canada or the vehicle being shipped there originally.

    6. Regardless of the seller from whom you're buying the vehicle, write down the VIN from the plate on the dashboard and run a report on If the report has language such as, "Vehicle inspected. Found to meet U.S. highway safety specifications," it is likely to be a gray market car. Investigators cited Carfax as a resource for their investigations, noting the strength of its database, which includes more than 2 billion records covering vehicles with 17-digit VINs.

    7. If you know or have reason to believe the car you are purchasing was imported from Canada, or if you just want to double-check, run a report on, which accesses the databases for all of the Canadian provinces. The Smart Search, which costs $24.95 Canadian (about $17 U.S.), will show data from all provinces or a specific province can be checked for a reduced rate."

    Smart Shoppers / FWI Message Boards
  • alfoxalfox Posts: 716
    So the answer to my specific question is no. A dealership could (in theory) truck new cars from Canada and sell them as "new" US program cars and you couldn't easily prove it.

    I assume that if you get your warranty service from that dealership, they can cover it, provided it's enough for them to eat. Major repairs could be a problem.

    I'd love to hear vwguild's take on this....
  • I thought that those of you who have visited this particular discussion might find the following article interesting:

    "Car Makers Lose Power to Stop Gray Market

    SOURCE: North American Automobile Trade Association

    The European Commission introduced bold new laws today to stop car manufacturers from restricting gray market sales. The new laws are designed to give consumers the benefits of free trade and to allow them to cross borders to buy cars. Independent vehicle dealers and consumer groups in Canada and the United States are already pushing for similar changes in North America.

    The new laws became necessary when manufacturers tried too hard to keep gray market sales out of Europe. DaimlerChrysler, the company that has taken the harshest measures against gray markets in North America, was fined (euro) 71.825 million last October by the European Commission. Volkswagen AG and General Motors Nederland BV were hit with similar fines. The European Commission found that manufacturer imposed restrictions hurt consumers and new rules to protect the gray market were needed.
    Brian Osler, President of the North American Automobile Trade Association (NAATA), applauded the changes. 'It is completely unreasonable for manufacturers to restrict cross-border sales within a free trade zone like North America or Europe. Consumers should have a right to buy a car wherever they want, as long as safety and emissions standards are met.'

    The new rules in Europe protect the rights of gray market dealers to buy cars for export. A press release issued today by the European Commission notes that manufacturer restrictions on cross-border sales '...hamper what is a perfectly legitimate trade, and they will in future be prohibited.'

    'If manufacturers get too aggressive in fighting the gray market in Canada and the U.S., they will end up facing similar laws here too", says Mr. Osler. "Consumers are fed up with manufacturer price fixing. They want the gray market to bring them identical cars at lower prices.'"

    Smart Shoppers / FWI Message Boards
  • dtwleungnycdtwleungnyc Posts: 188
    Anybody wants to place a bet that the car manufacturers, evetually will raise the prices of their cars in all region to a similar price? i.e. If car A costs $20,000 US dollars in the U.S.. and costs $18,000 CAD in Canada. Now the same Canadian car will cost $26-$27K Canadian? So that there won't be a reason for gray market anymore? Except for hard to find rare vehicles? Just a thought.
  • alfoxalfox Posts: 716
    It will probably force manufacturers to offer the same warranties in both countries (US and Canada), which would probably accomplish the bulk of the price equalization.

    There were a slew of other changes made by the EU for European auto sales at the same time. Be interesting to see how the other changes relate to the US business model. It sounded like the EU is forcing manufacturers to allow dealers to look more like they have looked here for years, with multiple brands at the same dealership.

    Wonder if they will begin to do more badge differentiatiation between Canadian cars and similar US models.
  • masspectormasspector Posts: 509
    The common man marches on. Thanks for the post car man.

    "Anybody wants to place a bet that the car manufacturers, evetually will raise the prices of their cars in all region to a similar price?"

    How predictable. Heaven forbid the manufacturers keep the same system (which they seem to be making plenty of money on). Lets just raise the price. Just like the fact that no companies in america pay any corporate tax. It is all passed on to the consumer in the price of the product.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 20,225
    In those car companies! You can share in the fortunes!
  • masspectormasspector Posts: 509
    And reward that kind of behavior? Not with my money.
  • dustidusti Posts: 36
    on what some corporations will do to make a buck.

    afraid of big government? me too, but that's not the only BIG power to be concerned about.

    check this link out to see the police state that's in the making.


    what these corporations need is a good crack upside the head...

    and unfortunately the government is the only entity powerful enough to give it to them.
  • sonjaabsonjaab Posts: 1,057
    AS you know I have been shopping for a
    new CTS. But the dealers are not doing
    the GMO/GMS deal. So I have been looking
    at used 02 Devilles. I can get a new one
    for 35k. But a used 02 for around 29k.
    In Syracuse NY Caddy dealer.
    Since I have a summer motel in the 1000
    Islands NY I am over to Canada a lot !
    NEW CASINO in gananoque Ont.
    Stopped a local Caddy dealer used 02 Deville
    roof,chromies,bose, etc... in Gan. 39k can.
    25k amer.. Dealer sez no prob. with bringing
    and reg in ny. Remember the speedo and odo.
    has a switch on dash for km or mph !
    Will go back wed. after the pope leaves and
    things settle down in Canada !.........geo
  • sonjaabsonjaab Posts: 1,057
    Dealer will bring it to NY and take care of
    the duties $250 can. and I will only have to
    pay NYS sales tax.and reg fees !They are also
    taking my 96 Deville in trade 6k Amer.$
    Warranty issues no problem. Called local Cad
    dealer they said no problem ! Will post more
    if I do the deal...........
  • ajspecvajspecv Posts: 3
    HI, I'm planning buying 2002 Nissan Sentra Spec V.
    And i'v been thinking of going over my friend's house in Toronto and get back to MA with new Sentra. Is it a good idea?
    I'm American, am i allowed to buy a Nissan car in Toronto? If i am, what procedure should i take?
  • audia8qaudia8q Posts: 3,138
    The automotive news had an article a couple weeks ago about GM changing their exporting rules for Canadian dealers. Essentially they are eliminating US dealers from doing any warranty work on canadian units plus charging back the canadian dealer any and all rebates, inccentives and then putting them on allocation hold...

    This is in the works now...I'm not sure if its a done deal or not but its close...
    chrysler did the samething last week.

  • rroyce10rroyce10 Posts: 9,359
    ........ Unfortunaltly, even with all the $$ you might save .. you get no warranty with a Nissan product from Canada ..

    Also keep in mind .. unless you are going to keep this puppy for 5/6 years you are going to loose about 40% of the value as soon as it's titled, in comparsion to it's American counterparts.

    So, just make sure you do the math .. and no what your futere mught be, cuz if you have to trade it in 20/30/40 months, it will get ugly.


    Audia8q ..

    Hi Rich,

    That seems to be the decision and that will become "retro" as of Jan ist of 02 .. so it doesn't give the consumer much of a break .. Ouch..!

  • sonjaabsonjaab Posts: 1,057
    I read that article too. Gonna buy a extended
    warranty locally anyway. Resale thats why I
    am going used again. Heck my 96 Cad is only worth
    5000 trade in the US ! MY 97 gm full size xcab
    4x4 I got 16500 trade last year on GMS deal !
    I won't get much for the Caddy in 6 yrs anyway
    gray market or not. Them GM trucks sure hold
    their value in NY. So them i will buy new !

    BTW; That Chevy dealer sold my 97 truck the NEXT
    day for 19k !
  • ajspecvajspecv Posts: 3
    Oh, damn.. so even if i buy extended warranty, it's useless?...i was gonna give money to my uncle up in toronto..and make him buy it for me... isn' fair...thanks anyway...
    guess...buying it from canada isn't an option for me...
    i live in MA..can you recommend..any NISSAN dealer that i could get that SE-R at low price?
  • sonjaabsonjaab Posts: 1,057
    Check with some of the aftermarket warranty
    companies. Pref. the ones that Nissan Deals
    with..It don't hurt to ask !..good luck
  • masspectormasspector Posts: 509
    What if a canadian citizen buys the car new in canada and then sales it to an american? Are you saying that GM and Chrysler are limiting an individual Canadian's right to sell a used car to an American? Thanks for any clarification.

    In ajspecv's case if his uncle buys the car and then sells it to him, would that be allowed?
  • audia8qaudia8q Posts: 3,138
    Since I dont import or export new cars I am not dialed into the exact specifics but I have heard that 6 months of ownership before the US transfer is what the MFG's are looking for.
  • janzjanz Posts: 129
    to bring a Canadian manufactured car into the US. Is is a matter that it needs to be done correctly and that many of the big US auto mgfs are now looking to limit warranty service to Canadian cars built for the canadian market and then imported to the US.

    A US citizen CAN buy a Canadian car and bring it into the US PROVIDED they use the proper import channels that require modification of certain safety equipment to assure that it meets US standards per the NHTSA and supports the chain of information to provide owners with recall info.

    There is a fair amount of illegal importing and fraudulent representation of these cars occuring and it is becoming the position of the american auto manufacturers to stop the warranty support to put pressure on the those bringing bootleg Grey market cars into the US. Honda America already does not provide warranty service imported Canadian cars.
  • janzjanz Posts: 129
  • ajspecvajspecv Posts: 3
    Ok... then. i could buy that NISSAN under my uncle's name who lives in Canada,put his address down, and list my name as a 'frequent driver.'
    Bring it over, after six month, transfer the title to my name. would that work? ^^ sorry guys.. this's just too good to give up.

    ok, let's say i trasfer the title after six months, what problems would i have then?
  • landru2landru2 Posts: 638
    But if you tried to buy a Ford with your American address you would be told, "Thanks, but no thanks."

    Ford has made us require that all customers sign a declaration that the vehicle will not be exported for 6 months. They hold the dealership responsible for any vehicle exported, whether they know it will be exported or not.
  • masspectormasspector Posts: 509
    I respectfully disagree with your assesment of the situation here. If you read some archived posts from other boards, it was common place over the last few years for americans in the northern part of the country to just ride over to canada and buy a vehicle. Maybe landru can back me up on this. In fact for infinti there is a whole thread about how to buy in canada. If this were so illegal I would think that edmunds would not allow such a thread ( How about a thread on the best ways to carjack?)

    The issue is that american dealers were losing business to their canadian dealers and they whined to the manufacturers. Americans were buying identical cars for thousands less. If it was such a problem of illegal activity wouldn't the govt and not the manufacturers be spearheading this effort? Please read the post above about the decision in the European Union. Those govts are saying that it is ok to buy in any country. The manufacturers were the ones that were trying to stop this.

    If buyers have to use an import service to buy canadian cars, I am sure any savings would be eaten up in middle man fees.

    I agree with you that the illegal gray market cars are a problem and consumers in the US need to be on the look out for them, however what the manufacturers are doing by denying warranty service on all canadian cars in the US is trying to stem the tide of individuals and dealers that are going to buy cars cheaper in canada.

    What they are doing does nothing to help or effect illegal grey market cars. If I buy a grey market car unbeknownst to me from a used car lot ( and maybe the dealer did not even know that it was grey market) and then take it in for service and they say no way it is canadian, how does that help me, the unwitting victim of the crime? Now I have a car that I thought was american that is really canadian, worth about 40% less trade in value and I cannot get warranty work done by the manufacturer during the regular warranty period. Big help to me.
  • tboner1965tboner1965 Posts: 647
    Here is my story. Not about cars, but with a computer monitor.

    Back in the late 80's I purchased a Magnavox EGA monitor for my then state of the art 286 computer.

    I was in the Army and got stationed in Germany, so the monitor and computer went with me. Now for those of you who don't know, Magnavox is part of Philips, which I believe is a Dutch company.

    A few months later, and while the monitor is still under warranty, it fails. About a block away from my apartment is an electronics store that sells the very same monitor, but with the Philips name, not the Magnavox name. They do service as well, so I ask if they can service my Magnavox monitor under the warranty.

    A week later the answer is no.

    So I have to ship this thing back to the USA. I box it up in the original package, with all the cables and such and ship it back. I also include a check for first class postage back to me.

    Well I get the monitor back 6-8 weeks later, from the service center in Tennesee. It was shipped parcel post, the cables were missing, and there were no screws holding the back cover in place.

    I was livid! I called them and gave them my serial number, at $1/minute and said I want my cables, the money I sent for postage, the screws for the cover and money for this call.

    I got a check and parts 4 weeks later.

    The monitor was not repaired.

    I haven't purchased a thing from Philips/Magnavox in over 14 years since that last episode, and I've purchased plenty of consumer electronics.

    In my case, I was not trying to abuse any system or take advantage of currency exchange advantages. I simply wanted my product, with their name on it, repaired in a timely fashion.

    Magnavox/Philips, in my opinion, made a costly mistake to make it difficult to get my product repaired, and followed up by not doing a very good job when I followed the rules they set up.

    I'm sure there will be many similar stories about cars if the car makers choose not to stand behind their product.

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