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OMVIC Blog: Car Buying Tips

Homework for Car Buyers

Sep 26

Thursday, September 26, 2019  RssIcon


Whether you’re buying your first

or twenty-first car, read up!

Just started college and need your own set of wheels? Embarking on a new job that requires having reliable transportation? Or maybe you’re a car-buying veteran and think you’ve got vehicle acquisition down pat - which by the way, research has shown to be unlikely. When it comes to dropping tens of thousands of dollars on a new vehicle, whether you’re a freshman or a senior, it’s a good idea to do your homework before heading to the dealership.

As Ontario’s vehicle sales regulator, OMVIC’s key message is: know your rights, and when they apply.
Hint: consumers who buy from a registered dealer are protected by Ontario consumer protection laws; buy from a private seller, you're basically on your own.

Ontario’s Motor Vehicle Dealers Act (MVDA), the main legislation OMVIC enforces, provides four key pillars of protection to consumers who purchase from a registered dealer:

1. Contract Disclosure

Consumers are entitled to full disclosure of a vehicle’s past-use, history and condition including collision repairs greater than $3,000 and any material fact that might reasonably change the mind of the consumer or affect the price he or she would be willing to pay.

2. All-in Price Advertising

When a dealer advertises a price for a vehicle (new or used), that price must include all fees and charges the dealer intends to collect except for HST and licensing (actual cost of vehicle registration and plates).

3. Cancellation Rights

If a dealer does not fully disclose specific information set out in the MVDA (e.g. the true distance the vehicle has travelled), the customer has rescission (cancellation) rights within a specified time frame.

4. Access to Motor Vehicle Dealers Compensation Fund

If a consumer suffers a financial loss arising from a transaction with a registered dealer, they may be eligible to make a claim (up to $45K) to the Motor Vehicle Dealers Compensation Fund.

These are significant protections, but they are only available to consumers who buy from a registered dealer. 
But talk of rights and Acts and legislation can be a bit overwhelming. Which is why OMVIC created the OMVIC Academy car-buying videos and Car-buying Guide. The guide has proven very popular with tips and checklists to ensure your vehicle-acquisition IQ is top-notch. Topics covered in the videos and guide include:

The Dangers Posed by Curbsiders 

Tip: You can sometimes spot these illegal, unlicensed dealers who pose as private sellers because: they often sell cars below market value; they won’t provide you with the vehicle’s history; they refuse a vehicle inspection by your mechanic; and/or, the vehicle is not even registered in their name. 

Understanding Negative Equity 

Tip: Before you agree to a long-term car loan, consider how much you drive (will the car last the term of the loan). Remember, cars depreciate as soon as they are driven off the lot. So, long-term car loans can leave you in a cycle of greater and greater debt if you trade vehicles in frequently. 

Protecting Yourself if Buying Privately

Tip: ask the seller for maintenance records, purchase and review the car’s history report (CarFax), have the vehicle inspected by your mechanic and ensure there are no liens on it. 

All-in-Pricing Advertising

Tip: Before you buy the car, take a picture of the dealer’s advertised price and bring it with you to your dealer. You should never be charged more than the advertised price, unless of course you add options or there are fees for financing you selected.

So, whether you’re off to college, work or a pickle ball match at the senior’s centre, if it’s a new(er) car that’s going to get you there, don’t get schooled, get educated.



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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