Created on Thursday, 05 August 2010
Prior to the 1980s, it was widely assumed that when buying a used car, you were buying someone else's problem.
Over the past 30 years or so, that stereotype hasn't entirely disappeared, but used vehicles have come a long way in quality and value.
When shopping for a used vehicle, consumers are faced with many decisions that will ultimately impact their buying decision (styling, price, overall condition, year, make, model, insurance costs, etc.).
The most important decision should be whether to purchase from an Ontario Motor Vehicle Industry Council (OMVIC) registered car dealer or from a private seller. OMVIC regulates the activities of all dealers, brokers, lessors (new and used) and their dealings with consumers.
If you decide to purchase privately, it's a case of buyer beware. It's up to you to conduct due diligence on the seller and the vehicle itself. If something goes wrong, there is no consumer protection legislation that can assist you.
If you purchase from a registered car dealer (new or used), you are protected by the Ontario Motor Vehicle Dealers Act (MVDA) act and other consumer protection legislation.
OMVIC registrants have a vested interest in selling quality pre-owned vehicles that are in excellent physical and mechanical condition. Contractual language used for all transactional bills of exchange must meet OMVIC requirements.
Another benefit in purchasing from a registered dealership is the peace of mind that comes from knowing what you're buying. The current Motor Vehicle Dealers Act (MVDA) 2002 requires that registered salespeople and dealerships disclose all relevant information about pre-owned vehicles offered for sale.
Full disclosure includes such items as kilometREs driven, accident history (if any), and disclosing whether a vehicle was used as a police car, taxi, emergency vehicle, or as a daily rental. For example, a newspaper ad for an ex-daily rental must clearly indicate that fact, and it must be disclosed on the bill of sale.
Many new-car dealers participate in "Certified Used Car" or "Certified Pre-owned" programs (CPO), sponsored by their manufacturer. These programs promote high standards set by each manufacturer and every dealer subscribing to the program must adhere to those values.
CPO programs are not available to non-franchised or independent used-car dealers, car buying services or brokers. They typically include performance and safety standards that exceed the minimums set by the MTO, as well as factory warranty protection (over and above the standard, balance of new-car warranty); 24-hour roadside assistance; multi-point bumper-to-bumper inspection, including powertrain and running gear, reconditioning and often exchange privilege.
Used vehicles sold on independent used-car lots, with or without a third-party warranty, are sometimes advertised as "certified." When asked to define certified, the seller will often explain that the vehicle comes with a MTO safety standards certificate.
This is the bare minimum requirement that all vehicles must provide to the MTO when ownership changes. Any ministry-approved repair shop will check safety items only, such as brakes, lights, tires, horn, etc., prior to issuing a Safety Standards Inspection Certificate. Powertrain components, including engine and transmission or accessories, are not part of the inspection.
Therefore, used vehicles are not truly factory certified if the authority and standard set out by the manufacturer are not behind the warranty.
Improved quality in the manufacturing process has enhanced the public perception of the excellent value of used vehicles. Passenger cars and trucks are being built to higher standards, which means that they are lasting longer and require fewer repairs.
So, when you're buying a certified pre-owned vehicle today, you're not buying someone else's problem; rather, you're purchasing a vehicle that will provide years of problem-free driving pleasure.