PITT MEADOWS, British Columbia -

You have your vehicle history report and your safety inspection. That’s enough, right? The team at Titan Certified, which launched this past September in Canada, says “no.”

The company refers to its transmission and engine inspection offering as a “DNA Blood Test” for vehicles, and markets the test as the “third and final inspection report, which closes the loop and assures dealers and consumers the two most expensive components of the vehicle are sound.”

Auto Remarketing Canada chatted with Dale Finch, president and chief executive officer of Titan Certified Inc., to get a handle on how the process works and how it can potentially help dealers and consumers protect their profits and assets.

“It’s really about confidence for consumers and dealers, and it’s a great marketing program for used vehicle departments,” Finch said.

The process

In today’s vehicles, it can be tough to diagnose internal engine problems. Gone are the days when a compression test took 30 to 45 minutes. In some vehicles today, dealers will have to allot two to three hours for the inspection, and on a diesel vehicle, that time grows even more.

“It’s a major deal, and it’s not easy to do,” said Finch.

That said, Titan Certified has developed a system Finch says is efficient and increases confidence in vehicles for both dealers and consumers.

Here’s how it works.

The company has in its tool belt what it refers to as a "Vampire Gun," which is a vacuum gun with a three-ounce bottle attached to it to capture the oil.

“We have a tube that goes down the dipstick tube of the engine and transmission or in the cooler line on specialty vehicles such as BMW and Mercedes that have sealed transmissions,” said Finch. “Basically, we take a sample of the fluid, and then they get couriered off to a lab.”

The company currently has two labs in Canada, in both Burlington, Ontario and Edmonton, Alberta. The oil is analyzed by the lab, the data is loaded into the company’s system and then it comes to a Titan Certified engineer for analysis.

“We have a proprietary algorithm for our database. Our founder and engineer has been doing this for about 20 years, and he has perfected this process in the used-car industry,” said Finch. “He compares ASTM/OEM standards to our database, looking at the types of vehicles. Data on a GM car might pass, but that same data on a VW might fail the unit, depending on a variety of factors.”

The vehicles can make it through the system with a pass or fail, or a pass with a fluid change, which Finch says can be a big deal, especially on a BMW or Mercedes, since a transmission service for these vehicles can get up to $1,000.

“If it passes, or passes with a fluid change, it goes through the system, and our engineer approves the status of the vehicle, and then the dealer gets the results of the vehicle,” said Finch.

Passing vehicles receive a 90 day, 5,000 kilometer guarantee for buyers.  

“We have a short-term guarantee for the 90 days because we don’t want to get in the way of the dealer’s extended service contract sales or the business office sales, which are obviously very important to them,” said Finch. “But if you have a car that fails, it’s not going to make the end of it financing very often, and it is going to cause problems.”

A marketing tool

Once the dealer has a “pass” on the vehicle, that’s when he or she can really start using the Titan Certified badge as a marketing tool.

“From there, the dealer can market the certified badge for six months, or up to 700 kilometers,” said Finch. “When it’s sold, they can go back into the system, and they basically print off a guarantee document for the consumer, and it has a bunch of information about what’s covered, and if there’s a claim, how they can navigate that, and then they can give it to the customer, and away they go.”

Titan Certified also has a widget that allows dealers to post the Titan Certified badge along with each vehicle that passed on their website, which can serve as another item to catch a shopper’s eye.

“That’s the whole crux of selling is to get the consumer confident in the vehicle and the dealers confident in the vehicle,” said Finch. “When they have got that, what we recommend is a visual and safety inspection and a vehicle history report for sure on the vehicle, and then with a Titan report, it's full-circle protection, and the customer should be pretty confident by that point the vehicle will be a good purchase for them.”

The Titan Certified report also gives the salespeople on the lot something else to discuss with a customer during the sales process.

A path to more inventory

Beyond a marketing tool, another interesting way using Titan Certified could potentially help a dealership is by expanding inventory options.

Finch offered this example. Many dealers say they aren’t going to sell a used car with over 100,000 kilometers, or wherever their cut-off might be. With Titan Certified, that same vehicle you might have passed over or wholesaled could now potentially be retailed if it passes the transmission and engine test.

“We have vehicles pass at over 400,000 kilometers, and then we have vehicles that fail at very low mileage for many reasons … the customer didn’t service the vehicle, daily rentals that don’t get an oil range for 20,000 kilometers – all these things contribute to failures, including flood damage,” said Finch. “These are all things that we can determine.”

Transparency is key

Finch explained the key to the product is “transparency,” and instilling confidence in both the buyer and seller.

“I think transparency is the key to success. You are informing the consumer and the dealers involved, potentially the financial institutions. They could say I will loan you this money, but I want to know the vehicle is good, and this is a way they can do that,” said Finch. “A car never fixes itself, so if you have got the information and it’s good, then it starts out good.”

The Titan Certified team is currently busy educating Canadian dealers about the process, and Finch shared he expects the company to expand further in the future.

“We have a very sophisticated computer system for dealers, which is very easy to use and upload their vehicles. It’s an almost fully-automated system. We developed that, and we then designed it to work both in Canada and the U.S,” said Finch. “It will be pretty easy to adopt to other commonwealth countries, as well, like England and Australia, and so on. As we go forward, we will be able to add other countries on.”

For more information, see titancertified.com.