Buying a used vehicle in Ontario? Get a pre-purchase vehicle inspection before you buy!

Published On
March 22, 2019

Buying a car can be a huge financial commitment and no one wants to end up with buyer’s remorse due to unexpected repairs soon after purchase. That is why it is vital car-buyers exercise their due diligence before purchasing any used vehicle – and in many cases, that means getting a pre-purchase mechanical inspection.

Pre-purchase inspections are one of the most effective ways to ensure car-buyers don’t overpay for a vehicle or get stuck with a vehicle that requires unexpected repairs. Mechanics can often spot a vehicle that’s been involved in a collision or has been poorly maintained. 

But not all pre-purchase inspections end with dramatic findings; in many cases, they simply uncover needed repairs due to normal wear and tear. Often the seller doesn’t even know about the problem. This gives the potential buyer and seller an opportunity to address any issues – sometimes resulting in a price change, the seller conducting the repairs as part of the purchase agreement or the car-buyer walking away. 

Should I have a mechanic inspect a car before buying it? 

Anyone considering buying a vehicle from a private seller should ‘insist’ on an inspection before purchase. Car-buyers should keep the original copy of the mechanical inspection for their records and to negotiate a price change if the inspection identifies mechanical issues. If the car-buyer does not get the response they want, OMVIC recommends walking away.

While car-buyers who purchase from an OMVIC-registered dealer have many protections not available to those buying privately (e.g. dealers must disclose needed repairs to major components), a mechanical inspection on a used vehicle is also important, particularly if the vehicle has no warranty. 

How much will an inspection cost? Where can I find a good mechanic? 

Depending on the vehicle, pre-purchase inspections usually take about an hour, are available from many general repair facilities or specialized inspection companies. Don’t know where to find a good mechanic? Member-based organizations such as the Automobile Protection Association (APA) and Car Help Canada offer vehicle-related services including lists of pre-screened reputable mechanics/repair shops/appraisers. Like OMVIC, these consumer protection groups encourage car-buyers to conduct a pre-purchase inspection of a vehicle they are considering for purchase. 

OMVIC is here to help! 

To learn more about the protections afforded to you under the Motor Vehicle Dealers Act and resources when purchasing from an OMVIC-registered dealer, visit For advice and answers to all your car buying questions, reach out to OMVIC’s consumer support team at or 1-800-943-6002. Plus, explore their free education services and webinars by emailing 

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