Shopping Tips

Things to consider before you buy

We offer information on how to make the best decision for your situation and tips for each of the sales options.

Read more about your shopping options

Consider all your expenses:

  • Insurance
  • Fuel
  • Maintenance
  • Parking availability and cost
  • Repairs

  • Determine your priorities such as price, features, mileage, warranty, etc.
  • Research vehicle reliability and depreciation rate
  • Compare finance rates from dealers, banks and other sources
  • Ensure vehicle meets current and possible future needs
  • Research additional products, services or warranties you’re offered
  • Consider the pros and cons of a new versus used vehicle
    • Some charges apply only to new vehicles (e.g., freight, pre-delivery inspection, air tax, etc.)
    • Demonstrators (demos) are used vehicles
  • Prices advertised by Ontario dealers must be all-in and include all fees and charges

  • Canadian Black Book may provide the wholesale value of your trade-in
  • CARFAX often shows reported incidents or collisions and can also provide lien information
  • Transport Canada may list known defects or recalls
  • Used Vehicle Information Package (UVIP) provides ownership history, lien information and historical odometer readings – by law, a private seller must provide a UVIP (ensure all pages are provided)

Financial tips

Understand the full costs you might be signing up for.

Things to consider when you're ready to buy

Buying or leasing from a registered dealer provides car buyers with legal rights and protections and is definitely the safer way to purchase a vehicle, However, car buyers should still take steps to educate and protect themselves to ensure the transaction goes as smoothly as possible. When buying from a dealer consider the following tips:

  1. Ensure the salesperson understands your needs. Not being listened to? Shop elsewhere.
  2. Take a thorough test drive—not just around the block.
  3. Understand all-in price advertising—don’t accept additional charges (except HST and licensing) being added to the advertised price unless they are options you have requested and believe have value.
  4. Used vehicle? Ask for, or purchase, an accident history report, for example, CarFax.
  5. Used vehicle? Have it inspected by a trusted mechanic—particularly if the manufacturer’s warranty has expired. A pre-purchase inspection may find issues the seller did not disclose, or was unaware of.
  6. Get all conditions and promises in writing (for example, xxx to be repaired, subject to partner’s approval, etc.).
  7. Get all disclosures in writing (for example, no accidents).
  8. Keep copies of all documentation including the advertisement, contract, finance agreement, safety inspection certificate, etc.
  9. Carefully read the contract (and finance agreement) before signing—there is no cooling-off period once signed.
  10. Carefully inspect the vehicle when taking delivery.

When buying a car privately or from an OMVIC-registered dealer, car buyers have to learn to protect themselves. One of the key steps is taking a thorough test drive – not just around the block!

Read how to make the most of a test drive


Read your contract or bill of sale and understand all the terms. Do not sign the contract until you’re ready to commit to the deal.

Once you give your deposit and/or sign the contract, you have agreed to purchase or lease that vehicle. This is a legal and binding contract and there is no cooling-off period in Ontario.

Picking up a new(er) vehicle can be very exciting. It is important to keep emotions in check as there are important factors to consider and steps to take at the time of delivery.

  • In some instances, a new version of the contract is presented; if this is the case, make sure the terms and prices are the same as the initial agreement.
  • Don’t allow yourself to be rushed through the process; ensure that all of your questions and/or concerns are answered or addressed.
  • Take a thorough walk-around with the salesperson to inspect for any scratches/damages. This should be done in daylight or in a well-lit area.
  • Have the salesperson explain how to operate all systems and features of the vehicle.
  • If the agreement stipulated repairs would be conducted or options added, ensure these are completed before handing over money or signing-off on the final contract agreement.
  • Sometimes when purchasing a vehicle, a consumer will sign a credit application and then sign the loan agreement at the time of delivery. Ensure the loan agreement has the same terms and interest rate as agreed upon and no additional fees have been added.
  • Have the maintenance and warranty requirements explained and ensure the owner’s manual is available (or made available electronically).
  • Obtain all keys to the vehicle.
  • If the vehicle is pre-owned, ensure there is a spare tire and jack.
  • If the vehicle is equipped with locking lug nuts on the wheels, ensure you get the key.
  • Before driving off the lot, ensure all paperwork has been provided including contract, loan and warranty documentation and a safety inspection certificate if the vehicle is used.

Four key areas of Ontario’s consumer protection legislation

  • Vehicle disclosure: Car-buyers are entitled to full disclosure of a vehicle’s past-use, history and condition as well as all material facts that could otherwise change the mind of the individual entering into the contract.
  • All-in price advertising: If an advertisement includes the price of a vehicle, that price must include all fees and charges the dealer intends to collect. HST and licensing (actual cost of vehicle registration and plates) do not have to be included in the price so long as the ad clearly states they are not included.
  • Cancellation rights: If a dealer does not fully disclose specified information about a vehicle, a car-buyer may be able to cancel or rescind the contract.
  • Access to the Motor Vehicle Dealers Compensation Fund: If a car buyer suffers a financial loss arising from a transaction with an OMVIC-registered motor vehicle dealer, they may be eligible to make a claim to the Motor Vehicle Dealers Compensation Fund.

Know when you’re protected

Consumer protection legislation only applies when car-buyers purchase from an OMVIC-registered dealer. There is no consumer law that covers private transactions. If something goes wrong, you will not have access to the compensation fund and OMVIC will be unable to assist.

To identify an OMVIC-registered dealer, look for the blue and yellow decal on dealership doors and windows.

You can also use our search for OMVIC-registered dealers and salespeople.

Know your rights

Don't get taken advantage of

Car buying FAQs

There are no automatic warranty provisions in Ontario. The Safety Standards Certificate is not a warranty, it only means the car met a minimum set of safety criteria on the day it was examined. This certificate is valid for a period of 36 days only.

No. The intention of the Used Vehicle Information Package (UVIP) is to protect car-buyers from purchasing a car with a lien on it from a private individual or from a curbsider.

Even if you are buying from a registered dealer it is a good idea to get one. The dealer may offer to provide it, or you can obtain one from the Licensing Offices of the Ministry of Transportation (MTO) for $20. In addition to information on any lien, you’ll find who the previous owners of the vehicle were.

This shouldn’t happen. It is the dealer’s responsibility to ensure the car is free and clear of all liens. Contact the dealer and ask them to rectify the situation. If you the dealer cannot be reached or does not assist, please contact our consumer support team.

If you trade in a vehicle with a lien on it and the dealer agrees to pay it out, it is their responsibility to ensure the lien is immediately and fully paid. Follow up with the lender to ensure the dealer has paid it out. If they haven’t, contact your dealer.

If the dealer does not resolve the lien, contact our consumer support team. If your transaction is with a registered dealer and you have your bill of sale, you can make a claim to the Motor Vehicle Dealers Compensation Fund (MVDCF) to have the lien paid out.

There is no such thing in Ontario. If required, civil action, in small claims court, for example may be your best option. If the car is a current model, or up to four years old, you may qualify for assistance from CAMVAP; however, this is for problems with the manufacturing, and not those arising from a dealer’s service.

Under limited circumstances, the Ministry of Transportation (MTO) will inspect your vehicle, especially if a Safety Standards Certificate has recently been issued.

Otherwise, have an independent mechanic look at the vehicle. For more information on transferring or registering a vehicle in Ontario, the Highway Traffic Act, the Safety Standards Certificate, a list of FAQs and other pertinent information, please access the MTO drivers and vehicles information page.

If you feel an inspection was done improperly, and would like more information, please visit the MTO information page.

Before buying or leasing a vehicle, check to ensure the dealer is registered. If you do business with a registered dealer you can make a claim to the MVDCF for financial losses you suffer if the dealer refuses, or is unable to compensate you.

Contact our consumer support team as it may be possible to arrange delivery of your vehicle. If not, and you have purchased your vehicle from a registered dealer, have a bill of sale and proof of payment, you can make a claim to the MVDCF for reimbursement of your deposit.

If you are a car-buyer who has purchased your vehicle without knowing the dealer owed money on it and you are up-to-date with payments, then you are legally protected from having your vehicle repossessed. Contact your dealer to resolve the matter.

If the dealer does not resolve the debt, contact the lender who ordered the repossession. Often, they will return your vehicle after they’ve received confirmation you are a bona fide car-buyer (e.g., your bill of sale and proof of payment). If you are not able to resolve the matter through the dealer or lender, contact our consumer support team. Provided your transaction is with a registered dealer, you can make a claim to the MVDCF.

Car-buyers who leave their vehicles on consignment with a registered dealer are entitled to receive a written agreement which includes the amount you will receive for the vehicle, what the dealer will charge you for selling the vehicle and any additional costs you must pay.

The dealer should advise you immediately when the vehicle is sold. You are also entitled to receive the name and address of the final purchaser. If you have concerns about a vehicle you’ve consigned which you cannot resolve with the dealer, contact our consumer support team. Provided your transaction is with an OMVIC-registered dealer, you can make a claim to the MVDCF.

If you’ve purchased a third party extended warranty from a dealer, contact the warranty company to ensure your warranty is activated. If not, contact your dealer to arrange to have the warranty activated.

If the dealer does not resolve the matter, contact our consumer support team. Provided your transaction is with an OMVIC-registered dealer, you can make a claim to the MVDCF for the cost of repairs which should have been covered by the extended warranty and/or a refund of the money you paid for the extended warranty or a portion of same.