UCDA urges caution with hybrid trade ins

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The Used Car Dealers Association of Ontario is warning members to do their due diligence with hybrids and other alternative powertrain vehicles now entering the market as trade ins.

Noting in the latest edition of its Front Line newsletter, the UCDA suggests these vehicles can pose “serious problems” for dealers not familiar with refurbishing costs associated with the technology.

Hybrids now coming back to dealerships as trade ins means your staff must be equipped to handle the appraisal and any repair costs, the association says.

Offering up an example from one member, the UCDA tries to convey just how technical things can get.

One dealer took in a 2005 Ford Escape hybrid just out of warranty with a brake warning light illuminated on the dash.

A Ford tech bulletin suggested that the master cylinder required changing. Parts and labour were approximately $1,500, but the problem was not fixed.

“It actually needed the hydraulic control unit that is an intricate part of the electro-hydraulic brake system that provides the regenerative braking and ABS functions.”

Total cost to make the warning light go out: $5,082.76.

The UCDA suggests that first and second generation hybrids will need a better appraisal and more thorough inspection by trained personnel.

“Otherwise, the customer’s expensive repair problem that they are trying to avoid, is going to be your problem.”

As a start, the UCDA has added a new section to its trade appraisal form. It also suggests creating a better inspection process that is documents before the deal and again at delivery.