Consumer Line

May 2015

OMVIC Message


In This Issue

  • Cooling-off period: WHAT it means and WHEN it applies

  • Safety Recalls: What You Need to Know

  • 2015 Georgian College Auto Show

Auto Talk

2015 Georgian College Auto Show

2015 Georgian College Auto Show Logo

What: Georgian College Auto Show – North America’s largest outdoor auto show

When: June 5-7 2015

Where: Georgian College Barrie campus

For more information, visit

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Cooling-off period: WHAT it means and WHEN it applies

OMVIC sets the record straight

Signed up for hot yoga or a spinning class but decided you prefer walks in the park? You might be in luck. In Ontario consumers can legally cancel a gym or fitness club contract within 10 days – no questions asked. The same is true if a consumer signs a contract with a door-to-door salesperson; and consumers who sign-up for a new water heater now have a mandatory 20-day cooling-off period. But do all purchases allow a specified time for the consumer to change their mind? What about vehicle purchases?

Cooling-off Period

So here’s a question. When you sign a contract to buy a car from a dealer, there is:

  • A) A 24 hour cooling-off period
  • B) A 48 hour cooling-off period
  • C) A 10 day cooling-off period
  • D) No cooling-off period

A Common Misconception

OMVIC recently conducted a survey asking Ontarians this same question: only 16.7% answered correctly – D – there is NO cooling-off period when buying a car; the other 83.3% were either misinformed or uninformed. “It’s a common misconception and it causes a lot of headaches,” explains Tim Hines, Manager of the Complaints & Inquiries Team for OMVIC. According to Hines, disputes involving contract cancellation account for more than 20% of all consumer enquiries his department receives. “Sometimes it’s simply buyer’s remorse, but often the consumer wants to back out after doing some budget calculations and discovers just how costly insurance will be for the model they’ve bought. Unfortunately, it may be very difficult to cancel at that point.”

And while some dealers may cancel a contract and return a deposit as a gesture of good-will, they’re not obligated to do so. It’s perfectly acceptable for dealers to seek reimbursement for liquidated damages, another way of saying “out of pocket expenses”, from the consumer; these are the reasonable costs the dealer will incur for letting the consumer out of the contract.

Tips BEFORE signing a contract

An educated consumer is a protected consumer. Doing your research before signing a contract is vital and includes:

  • Determining your budget including ALL expenses (not just the car loan payment)
    • Insurance
    • Fuel
    • Maintenance/repairs
    • Parking

And don’t forget to compare finance rates and terms; do you really want a car loan for 84 or 96 months? Don’t make your buying decision based solely on a low monthly payment.

  • Researching the actual vehicle includes checking:
    • Reliability: repairs can be expensive!
    • Depreciation: how well does the model retain its value
    • Additional products, services and warranties you’re offered

All Sales Final

With no cooling-off period for car sales, consumers shouldn’t sign a purchase contract unless they’re absolutely certain they want to complete the transaction. Once signed, it’s a legally binding contract. There’s no cooling-off period – period.

Sales Final

To contact OMVIC’s Complaints & Inquiries Team call 1-800-943-6002 x5105 or email


Safety Recalls: What You Need to Know

With millions of vehicles recalled, many for serious safety issues, it’s vitally important owners take steps to ensure they’re aware if a vehicle they own, or are thinking of purchasing, is the subject of a recall and to have recalled vehicles repaired/serviced.

Manufacturers are required to notify the original purchaser of issued recalls. If a consumer purchased a used vehicle and didn’t take steps to contact the vehicle manufacturer to notify them that he or she is now the registered owner, that consumer likely won’t receive any recall notices issued.

Recalls are issued by vehicle manufacturers and are regulated federally by Transport Canada. While recalls are not issued by dealers, franchise dealers can be an excellent resource for information related to recalls.

Dealers (and private sellers) can legally sell vehicles with outstanding recalls. It is therefore vital that consumers take steps to educate and protect themselves by searching for recalls and by ensuring they are registered with the vehicle manufacturer to ensure receipt of future recall notices.

Search for Vehicle Recalls

Check Transport Canada’s Road Safety Database to search for recalls. Consumers can also call the manufacturer or visit their website – many make recall information available there. Note: some manufacturers’ online recall searches may not include Canadian vehicles.

Recalls for the same vehicle model can vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. The US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has a searchable database of US issued recalls here.

How to Protect Yourself

Consumers who have purchased a used vehicle should contact their vehicle manufacturer’s customer service department and have them update their database with the current owners contact information. To do this, consumers will need to provide the vehicle’s Vehicle Identification Number (VIN). Consumers can also contact/visit the service department of a franchised dealer for the manufacturer and ask them to update the manufacturer’s database.

Vehicle owners who believe a safety-related defect is affecting their vehicle should report the problem to Transport Canada. This can be done by completing Transport Canada’s Defect Complaint Form or by calling 1-800-333-0510.

OMVIC Contact

OMVIC administers and enforces the Motor Vehicle Dealers Act (MVDA) on behalf of the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services. OMVIC maintains a fair and informed vehicle sales marketplace by regulating dealers and salespersons, regularly inspecting Ontario's 8,000 dealerships and 25,000 salespeople, maintaining a complaint line for consumers and conducting investigations and prosecutions of industry misconduct and illegal sales (curbsiding). OMVIC is also responsible for administering the Motor Vehicle Dealers Compensation Fund on behalf of its Board of Trustees.