Ah December, the holidays are here and a new year looms.
There’s a spirited hustle and bustle unmatched by any other season…. but then comes the rest of the interminably long, dark, soul-sapping winter. We graupel (that’s a pun, not a typo btw) with blizzards, white-outs, treacherous driving, Vitamin D deficiency; and, the excitement that led up to the holidays is replaced by a pining for spring…. a spring that seems an eternity away. Our coping skills are put to a frosty test.
For some, a little shopping puts a smile on their pale sunshine-deprived faces. And many savvy shoppers have learned the next three months is not a bad time to buy a car. Because December’s hectic buzz is followed by a period of semi-hibernation, fewer shoppers brave the elements to visit showrooms….and dealers appreciate these hearty souls’ efforts…. Meaning, many a great deal can be had when car-shopping in December, January and February.
If you are in the market for a vehicle and choose to buy from a dealer, you have more protections today than ever before. Many consumers don’t realize that motor vehicle sales is a regulated industry in Ontario and all dealers and salespeople must, by law, be registered with OMVIC, the regulator of vehicle sales in the province. In order to become licensed each dealer and salesperson undergoes stringent background checks and must pass a course in automotive law and ethics.
Further, dealers and salespeople must abide by Ontario’s Motor Vehicle Dealers Act (MVDA) and Consumer Protection Act (CPA). For example, when advertising a vehicle price, the price must be an ‘all-in price’. In other words, dealers may not add any additional charges other than HST and licensing (unless these charges are for options the consumer chose such as an extended warranty). Charges for freight, pre-delivery expenses, administration, or any other fees, must be included in the advertised price.
The MVDA also requires dealers to disclose information about a vehicle’s past-use, history and condition including:
- damage in excess of $3,000
- if the vehicle was previously registered in another province or state
- if the vehicle was branded (e.g. rebuilt)
- an accurate description of the distance the vehicle has travelled
- if the vehicle requires repairs to major components
And there’s more protection—in the rare instance something does go wrong with a vehicle purchase or lease agreement, consumers may be eligible for compensation of up to $45,000 from the Motor Vehicle Dealers Compensation Fund.
So, for those in the market for a new or used vehicle, these are good reasons to buy from a registered dealer—consumers who buy privately are not protected by the MVDA or CPA. If something goes wrong in a private purchase, the purchaser may find him or herself on thin ice—OMVIC cannot assist the buyer nor can a private purchaser make a claim to the Compensation Fund.
So if you’re dreaming of sugar plums or a new set of wheels this holiday season, or simply like tracking down a great deal in the gloom of winter, get educated. Learn what your rights are as a car buyer and when they apply. Buy from someone you trust. Make your holidays bright, and don’t let a curbsiding Grinch rip you off.
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 omvic.ca 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.
Connect with OMVIC on social media!
Ontario Motor Vehicle Industry Council
Ontario Motor Vehicle Industry Council