Tribunal gives cold shoulder to Coquitlam company’s pickup truck heater claim

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A pickup truck’s defective heater was at the centre of a recent legal conflict between a car dealership and a Coquitlam-based traffic control company.

In June 2022, Safeside Traffic Control Ltd. bought a 2011 Ford F150 truck from Maple Ridge used car dealership Cypress Auto Brokers. Safeside later found the heater didn’t work.

Alleging fraud and negligent misrepresentation, the Coquitlam company sued Cypress for $2,180 – the cost of repairing the heater.


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Citing the principle of “buyer beware,” Civil Resolution Tribunal vice-chair Eric Regehr recently dismissed that claim.


Cypress contended the heater worked when they sold the truck. However, Safeside alleged the auto dealer erased internal diagnostic codes to hide the broken heater.

Safeside owner Angie May Lamb was in the process of buying the truck for $16,465 when a Cypress employee assured her: “everything worked.”

Lamb subsequently found the air conditioner and stereo didn’t work. Cypress made those repairs.

In his judgment, Regehr concluded Lamb didn’t try the heater during the test drive and Safeside didn’t have the truck professionally inspected before buying it.

The truck had more than 110,000 kilometres on it when the sale was completed.

About four months and approximately 200 kilometres after the purchase, Safeside found the temperature gauge didn’t work and there was no heat.

After taking the Ford truck to a mechanic in late-October 2022, Safeside demanded Cypress pay to fix the heater.

Cypress declined, saying it: “can not warranty a used truck for the rest of my life,” according to the judgment.

Erasing alleged

In early November, the mechanic texted Safeside a photo of three diagnostic codes related to the vehicle’s HVAC system.

The mechanic said the codes “most likely” existed in June when Cypress fixed the air conditioning, according to Safeside’s submissions.

However, Regehr decided it would be “inappropriate and unfair” to make a judgment based on “hearsay expert evidence.”

“There is no other expert evidence that the heater was likely broken at the time of purchase,” Regehr wrote.

Safeside’s claim depended on the Coquitlam company proving on a balance of probabilities that Cypress either concealed diagnostic codes or negligently misrepresented the truck’s condition.

Caveat emptor

The general rule for buying used vehicles is “buyer beware.” However, exceptions can be made if a buyer can prove a breach of implied warranty.

As the Ford was more than 10 years old, the court considered the pickup an older vehicle. Legally speaking, an older vehicle that can be safely driven is considered “reasonably durable” even if it breaks down shortly afterward, Regehr wrote.

Safeside contended that the heater was important because employees take breaks in the truck during cold weather. However, there was no evidence Safeside told Cypress about this before the sale, Regehr wrote.

The claim was dismissed.

The dispute was decided through written submissions to the tribunal.


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