Ontario consumers have many choices about where to buy a used car, from private sales to dealers. We all want to buy a car that’s perfect for us, but who you choose to buy from is also an important decision.
Buying from a dealer registered with the Ontario Motor Vehicle Industry Council (OMVIC) — the regulator of motor vehicle sales in Ontario — can help you enter the used vehicle-buying market with confidence.
“When buying a vehicle privately, the seller is not mandated by provincial legislation to make specific disclosures regarding vehicle history or condition,” says John Carmichael, CEO of OMVIC. To help the buyer make an informed decision, they may purchase a Used Vehicle Information Package (UVIP) from the Ontario Ministry of Transportation, which provides some basic vehicle information. Among other information, the package includes the Vehicle Identification Number, year, make and model, whether there’s a lien attached to the car, and whether the car is mechanically unfit and has not received a Safety Standards Certificate.
“If the car was misrepresented by a private seller, you’re not covered by consumer protection laws,” Carmichael says. “Your options are limited to taking them to small claims court.”
There’s a better way. Look for the OMVIC decal at the dealer’s premises or find registered dealers near you through the OMVIC dealer search website.
Carmichael highlights four advantages consumer can count on when they buy from an OMVIC-registered dealer.
1. Professionalism you can count on
All OMVIC-registered car dealers and salespeople are licensed by OMVIC and bound by both the Motor Vehicle Dealers Act and OMVIC’s Code of Ethics.
“That involves more than training in automotive law and ethics,” says Carmichael. “Dealers and salespeople also undergo background checks to be eligible for OMVIC registration.
2. All-in price advertising
“When an OMVIC dealer advertises a vehicle, the price must include everything that comes with the car, except for HST and licensing,” says Carmichael. “That means dealers can’t bump up the price for an unlisted feature, fee or charge, and that the car is ready to sell for cash at that price.”
A dealer may offer a purchaser extra products or services, such as an extended warranty, or undercoating. However, the sale price of the vehicle or completion of the sale will not be tied to accepting these extras.
3. Dealer disclosures
Governed by provincial law covering dealer auto sales, OMVIC dealers are required to satisfy a list of specific disclosures about each vehicle they sell. The list of required disclosures will vary depending on a vehicle’s history and condition. However, here are just a few of the disclosures that must appear on a vehicle sales contract:
- The make, model, trim level and model year of the vehicle
- If the vehicle has been used as a taxi, limousine, police vehicle or to provide emergency services
- If the vehicle has been leased (rented) on a daily basis and has not been subsequently owned by someone other than a dealer
- If any collision or incident damage to the vehicle was greater than $3,000 (and the total cost of repair if known by the dealer)
- If the vehicle has sustained any damage caused by fire
- If the vehicle has sustained any damage caused by immersion in liquid that has penetrated to the level of at least the interior floor boards
- If the vehicle requires certain repairs
“Having all of these disclosures made by an OMVIC dealer allows buyers to concentrate on questions about the vehicle that are most important to them,” says Carmichael. “Does the vehicle have working cruise control, automatic sliding doors, heated seats, USB connections or a navigation system? You can ask those types of questions instead of worrying about the basics covered in dealer disclosure.”
4. Post-purchase protections
OMVIC recommends that all buyers ensure that the car they’re looking at meets their expectations prior to signing any agreement or driving the vehicle off the lot. However, buyers who stick with OMVIC-registered dealers and who qualify may still have some avenues to pursue if they’re not satisfied with their purchase.
“You should try to resolve your problem with the dealer first, but you can contact OMVIC for advice and assistance if the issue can’t be resolved,” says Carmichael.
In certain specific cases, consumers may also be eligible to apply to OMVIC’s Motor Vehicle Dealers Compensation Fund.
“Sometimes private sales can look appealing,” says Carmichael. “But the disclosures and protections offered by buying at an OMVIC dealer definitely tips the scales.”
Visit OMVIC.ca to access free car-buying resources to get you started or contact OMVIC’s consumer support team at [email protected] or 1-800-943-6002 for expert advice and answers to all your car buying questions.
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This story was created by Content Works, Postmedia’s commercial content division, on behalf of OMVIC.