Tips for Buying a Vehicle Online (i.e. sight unseen) and Arranging Remote Test Drives
Some dealers today provide services that allow “remote customers” to purchase/lease vehicles online – with no visit to a dealership and the vehicle delivered to the purchaser’s (or lessee’s) door. Other dealers will bring a vehicle to a customer’s home or office for the purpose of a “remote test drive”. But buying a vehicle remotely (sight unseen, with no physical inspection or test drive) or arranging for a remote test drive, requires consumers to be educated and to take appropriate steps to ensure the transaction goes smoothly.
Tips When Buying Remotely/Online
Remote customers buying a vehicle sight unseen should:
- Ensure the dealer and salesperson is registered with OMVIC (this can be done through a quick search)
- Understand all-in-price advertising
- Carefully review (and keep a copy of) the dealer’s advertisement identifying the vehicle make, model, trim level, year, mileage, colour, stock number, etc..
- Have a conversation with the dealer/salesperson by email/phone/video call/etc. explaining your needs and ensuring the vehicle will meet them
- Used vehicle? Ask for, or purchase, an accident history report (e.g. CarFax) and carefully review it
- Once negotiations are complete, have a conversation with the dealer/salesperson by email/phone/video call/etc. in which he/she carefully explains the entire contract and any finance or warranty agreements
- Ensure any promises/representations (e.g. no accidents) are included in the contract
- Ensure any conditions (e.g. subject to partner’s approval or subject to xxx being repaired/installed/included) are written on the contract
- Request the dealer provide a written contract cancellation period to allow the purchaser to inspect and test drive the vehicle.
Note: Dealers do not have to offer a cancellation period and can choose whether they want to offer it or not. It is not mandatory requirement under the Motor Vehicle Dealers Act (MVDA).
- Have the dealer email the contract for review before signing: ensure the make, model, model year, colour and trim level of the vehicle are correct and that promises, and representations are included. Important note: it is ILLEGAL for a dealer to send the contract with the vehicle for the purchaser to sign at his/her home/office/etc. at the time of delivery. Dealers are required to send (e.g. email) the documentation to the consumer to e-sign or to print, sign, scan and email back to the dealer, prior to delivery
- Carefully inspect the vehicle when taking delivery. Click here for more delivery tips.
- Keep copies of all documentation including email discussions, text messages, the advertisement, contract, finance agreement, safety inspection certificate, etc.
- ***Tip: specific to the current Covid19 Crisis***
- Ask the dealer what processes are in place to protect customers and staff during various stages of transaction (test drive, etc.)
- Inquire if the vehicle, keys, paperwork, etc. will be sanitized prior to taking delivery
- Getting ready for delivery? Ask what the dealer will be doing to maintain social distancing
- Take all necessary precautions to protect yourself
Consumers with questions about an online vehicle purchase can contact OMVIC’s Complaints and Inquiries Team for free assistance by calling 1-800-943-6002x3942 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tips and Information for Consumers Arranging a Remote Test Drive
(When a Dealer Brings a Vehicle to a Buyer’s Home/Office)
Some dealers provide “remote test drives” so that a consumer does not have to physically visit the dealership. This is similar to purchasing remotely/online with the contract being delivered electronically, but it provides an opportunity to see and test a vehicle before signing the contract. Remote test drives are defined as: test drives that originate at a place other than a dealer’s registered premises and are allowed if the dealer representative who provides the test drive is a registered salesperson and, the test drive is offered solely for evaluating the vehicle’s performance, suitability and/or condition prior to purchase or lease and for NO other purpose.
Just as with remote/online purchasing, remote test drives may present specific challenges consumers should be prepared for.
To get the most out of a remote test drive OMVIC suggests consumers consider:
- Is the Salesperson Registered? The salesperson who is providing the remote test drive must be registered with OMVIC. Ask the salesperson to see their license before the test drive begins.
- Partner up. If possible, bring a friend or family member; they may notice something you don’t.Note: for security reasons, if going alone, let someone know the details of your meeting and take a cell phone.
- Make sure the vehicle is a good fit. Before taking the car out for a test drive, make sure it is a good fit. Adjust the seat and mirrors. Can you reach the steering wheel and pedals? And sit in the back seat – how’s the fit there? Also, ensure the vehicle is the vehicle you were interested in (make, model, model year, trim, colour etc.).
- Give yourself the best possible chance to find any problems. Test drive during the day. It is easier to pick up scratches, dents, paint imperfections, possible body work under good light. Also consider the time of day for the test drive; an 8 a.m. test drive may seem like a good idea but depending on the location – getting up to highway speeds may be difficult in rush hour traffic.
- Put the 'test' in test drive. Don’t hesitate to take the vehicle on the highway; see how it handles regular highway speeds. Does it accelerate smoothly? Is the steering crisp or does it wander? Pay attention to how the transmission shifts at different speeds. Find a safe/quiet location and test the brakes – are they firm or does the pedal sink to the firewall? Do they pull to one side? How does the suspension handle road imperfections?
- Test all features. A test drive is not only about the ‘drive,’ but an opportunity to ensure all accessories and equipment function properly. This includes air conditioning and heat, radio, blue tooth, power windows and locks; it is also a good time to ask how many remotes (for locks/starter) the seller has – they can be very expensive to replace.
- Do not sign a contract during the test drive! A s noted above, it is illegal for a dealer to bring a contract to the consumer’s location for signing. Dealers are required to send (e.g. email) the documentation to the consumer to e-sign or to print, sign, scan and email back to the dealer, prior to delivery.
- Request cancellation period: Consumers can ask for a written cancellation period to be included in the contract so that they can test drive and inspect the vehicle.
Note: Providing a written contract cancellation is not a mandatory requirement under the Motor Vehicle Dealers Act (MVDA). Dealers can choose to refuse.
- A note about contract cancellation policies. These may vary from dealer to dealer. Ensure the dealer’s policy clearly is in writing and that it details the time and mileage restrictions, how the consumer must give notice if they choose to exercise their right to return and how the vehicle will be returned (e.g. the dealer will pick it up or the customer must return it, etc.) should a customer utilize the cancelation policy.