I want to buy a car from a used car dealer. What do I need to know?

Get information about the vehicle

Registered dealers must give you basic information about the car they want to sell you, including:

  • the make, model, style, colour, and year of the car
  • the total kilometres the car has been driven
  • if the car was a rental car, police cruiser, taxi, or emergency services vehicle
  • if the car is very different now from its original design and features
  • any other fact about the quality of the car if that information could influence your decision to buy it

The dealer must also tell you if there are problems with the car, including:

  • if the mileage shown on the car is not accurate or not available
  • if the car ever had any fire, flood, or structural damage or structural repairs
  • if the anti-lock brake system or airbags do not work
  • if two or more body panels beside each other were replaced
  • if the car has had more than $3,000 damage in an accident
  • if the manufacturer’s was ever cancelled for any reason
  • if the car was ever declared a total loss by an insurer, was considered un-repairable or suitable for salvage, or if it was rebuilt
  • if the car was ever reported stolen and later recovered

This information about the vehicle’s past use, history, and conditions is called disclosure

A contract can be cancelled within 90 days of when you receive the car if the dealer did not tell you:

  • the total mileage on the car
  • the make, model or year of the car
  • that the car was used as a daily rental car, police cruiser, taxi or emergency vehicle
  • that the car was ever declared or branded a total loss by an insurer
  • that it was considered un-repairable or suitable for salvage, or
  • that the car was rebuilt

Consumer Protection Act

The Consumer Protection Act says that a dealer cannot make false or misleading statements about the car. Making false, misleading or deceptive statements in order to sell a car is known as an unfair practice.

For example, a dealer must not tell you that:

  • the car is of better quality than it really is
  • the car is only available for a limited time, if that is not true
  • you are getting a special price or benefit, if it is not true

Unfair practices also happen when a dealer:

  • takes advantage of language difficulties that you may have
  • takes advantage of physical, mental, or emotional disabilities that you may have
  • charges far more than what is reasonable for the car
  • pressures you to buy a car that the dealer knows you cannot afford

If the dealer used an unfair practice to get you to buy the car, and you are within 1 year of when you signed the agreement, you can cancel it.

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