For first time car buyers, knowing what to expect from the sales experience can help smooth anxieties. Buying a car is often the second most expensive purchase Ontarians make. Buyers should understand what to expect from dealers and salespersons throughout the buying process.
Here are the top five things to expect at a dealership when you’re ready to buy.
Dealerships and salespersons are held to high standards of professional and ethical conduct. They must adhere to the Code of Ethics under the Motor Vehicle Dealers Act (MVDA). The salesperson should treat you with dignity and respect. They should be honest, fair and transparent.
The salesperson must be clear and truthful about a car’s features and prices. Contracts must accurately reflect the car’s history and follow all-in advertising laws under the MVDA.
Used cars contracts must disclose accurate information about accident history, odometer readings, mechanical defects and whether it was written off by insurance companies as a total loss. Contracts have 22 required disclosures in Ontario.
OMVIC routinely inspects dealerships to ensure staff comply with the code’s expectations and the MVDA. Salespersons and dealers who violate the code may be subject to OMVIC’s discipline process.
Accurate vehicle histories
Buyers are entitled to do their own research about a used car’s history and to verify what a salesperson tells them. Depending on the type of CARFAX vehicle history report a consumer orders, insight can be gained into a car’s accident history, maintenance records, and if the vehicle has liens (legal claim on the car by a creditor).
However, CARFAX reports may not list repairs made without insurance claims. So buyers are advised to also get a pre-purchase inspection from a general repair facility or specialized inspection company, which can spot any repairs or needed maintenance missed by the dealer and the CARFAX report.
Health and safety precautions
As Ontario gradually reopens, health and safety should be a top priority. Dealerships and their salespersons are expected to follow provincial COVID-19 health and safety protocols throughout the buying process.
OMVIC will notify dealers and salespersons as restrictions change, ensuring all they know how to keep consumers safe.
An all-in advertised price
Expect to pay no more than the listed price in dealer advertisements. Under the MVDA, advertised prices must include all fees and charges except licensing fees and HST. This is called all-in price advertising.
The only exceptions to this rule are ads from car manufacturers, advertising unfit and “as is” vehicles and advertisements placed by two or more dealers. In this case, administration fees can be excluded, but must still be listed separately and prominently in the ad. Additional costs not reflected in the advertised price can also include financing and aftermarket products like warranties.
Take a photo of the advertisement and bring it with you while car shopping. Ask for detailed breakdowns of all fees and charges from the salesperson in writing to get the right price.
Information – lots of it
Between technical specifications, pricing discussions, financing and contracts, expect lots of information.
Take time to think things over before committing to a purchase. In Ontario, except in certain circumstances, car sales are final: there is no “cooling off” period once a contract is signed.
Think things through carefully before committing to a purchase. Reflect on whether your shopping experience met these expectations before buying.
At OMVIC, we strive to maintain a fair and informed marketplace for consumers, dealers and salespeople. Our website has tips for buying a car online, and our team is always here to support you through every step in your car buying journey.
Feeling confident? Take OMVIC’s car-buying quiz today to see if you have the knowledge to make a safe and informed purchase. Consumers with inquiries can contact OMVIC by phone, email or the online contact form on the OMVIC website.