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OMVIC Blog: Car Buying Tips

Filing a Complaint with OMVIC? Before you do, read this!

Jul 26

Friday, July 26, 2019  RssIcon


When it comes to buying a car in Ontario, the majority of consumer/dealer interactions take place without a hitch, but when a transaction hits a pothole, consumers in Ontario can request advice or help from an OMVIC Complaint Handler.

But before filing a formal complaint with OMVIC, the regulator recommends consumers engage in the 2-step process mentioned below.

Navigating the complaints process

Consumers who do their due diligence beforehand and have all the relevant documents—with appropriate date and time, copies of inspection reports from mechanics, estimates of repairs etc., —are more likely to experience a smoother interaction during the complaints process.

Step 1: Reach out to the dealership: You may have interacted with a particular sales associate during your initial interaction, but now ask to speak with the person-in-charge (or general manager) of the dealership. State your grievance clearly and politely and try to reach an amicable solution.

“The complaint process is like a staircase (with an escalating process),” Tim Hines, Director, Complaints & Inquiries at OMVIC explained. “So, start with the easiest thing: Have a conversation with the general manger or the owner (in the case of a used car dealership). Many-a-time, an issue can be resolved at this stage because dealerships are like any other business: They have appropriate policies and procedures.”

It’s important you have copies of all relevant documents such as contracts, loan agreements, a copy of the advertisement, etc., when you’re discussing your complaint with the dealer. Make sure to keep a record of communications including dates/times and the names and business titles of everyone you dealt with.

Step 2: If the discussion with the dealer doesn’t resolve your grievance, send a registered letter addressed to the owner or general manager, along with copies of all the pertinent documents. In the letter, outline the issue and the proposed solution. Maintain a professional tone in the letter. It may take more than a few days for the dealer to respond, and it is recommended waiting 5-7 business days for the dealer to respond. Also, it would be a good idea to keep a copy of the letter for your records.

“When consumers meticulously document and record minutes of their meeting and discussions with the dealer, before getting OMVIC involved, it can significantly streamline the complaints process and shorten the negotiation time-frame with the dealer,” said Hines. “If these steps fail, then it’s time to call OMVIC and request our assistance.”

How long does the complaints process take?

The time frame for complaint resolution depends on a lot of variables, such as date of purchase, the vehicle’s age and condition and the complexity of the issue (to name a few).

An educated consumer is a powerful force

Buying a vehicle, whether new or used, can be confusing, even intimidating. You can make informed decisions by arming yourself with the necessary knowledge. OMVIC’s vehicle-delivery checklist is one such resource.

Before you drive off the lot:

1. Re-inspect the vehicle (with the salesperson) in a well-lit area.

2. Ensure agreed upon repairs are completed.

3.Ensure agreed upon options have been installed.

4. Confirm terms/prices are unchanged (if a new version of the contract is presented).

5.Understand maintenance and warranty requirements.

6. Ensure owner’s manual is in the vehicle.

7.Verify vehicle has a spare tire and jack as well as locking lug nut key (if equipped).

8. Make sure all your questions are answered.

9. Check to make sure you have copies of all paperwork (contract, loan agreement, safety certificate (if car is used), etc.


You can contact OMVIC’s complaints and inquiries team in one of three ways: Fill in an online complaint form, call 1-800-943-6002 x 3942 or email us at


As the regulator of motor vehicle sales in Ontario, OMVIC’s mandate is to maintain a fair and informed marketplace by protecting the rights of consumers, enhancing industry professionalism and ensuring fair, honest and open competition for registered motor vehicle dealers. Visit to learn more about your car-buying rights as well as additional tips for buying a car in Ontario.

For car buying tips, check out the OMVIC Academy. You can view other resources such as multilingual videos and download the OMVIC Car-buying Guide.

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