Shopping Options

We offer tips on various ways of getting your next vehicle. From a registered dealership to buying privately, have all the information ahead of time.

Options for your next vehicle

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.

Some dealers provide services that allow car buyers to purchase or lease vehicles online without visiting a dealership. The vehicle is then delivered to the purchaser or lessee’s door.

Buying a vehicle remotely (sight unseen, with no physical inspection or test drive) requires consumers to be educated and take appropriate steps to ensure the transaction goes smoothly.

Tips when buying remotely/online

Individuals buying or leasing a vehicle sight unseen should:

  • Ensure the dealer and salesperson are registered with OMVIC using our find a dealer search.
  • Understand all-in-price advertising.
  • Carefully review and keep a copy of the dealer’s advertisement identifying the vehicle make, model, trim level, year, mileage, colour, stock number, etc.
  • Have a conversation with the dealer/ salesperson by explaining your needs and ensuring the vehicle will meet your expectations.
  • If you are buying a used vehicle ask for, or purchase, an accident history report (for example, CarFax) and carefully review it.
  • Once negotiations are complete, have a conversation with the dealer or salesperson and have them carefully explain the entire contract and any finance or warranty agreements.
  • Ensure any promises or representations (for example, no accidents) are included in the contract.
  • Ensure any conditions (for example, subject to partner’s approval or subject to xxx being repaired/installed/included) are written on the contract.
  • Request the dealer provide a written contract cancellation period to allow the purchaser to inspect and test drive the vehicle. Please note, dealers do not have to offer a cancellation period and can choose whether they want to offer it or not. It is not a mandatory requirement under the MVDA. Contract cancellation policies may vary from dealer to dealer. Ensure the dealer’s policy is in writing and that it details the time and mileage restrictions, how the consumer must give notice if they choose to exercise their right to return and how the vehicle will be returned (for example, the dealer will pick it up or the customer must return it, etc.) should a customer utilize the cancellation policy.
  • Have the dealer email you the contract for review before signing. Ensure the make, model, model year, colour and trim level of the vehicle are correct and that promises, and representations are included. Please note it is illegal for a dealer to send the contract with the vehicle for the purchaser to sign at their home or office etc. at the time of delivery or bring on a remote test drive. Dealers are required to send (for example, email) the documentation to the car buyer to e-sign or to print, sign, scan and email back to the dealer, prior to delivery.
  • Carefully inspect the vehicle when taking delivery and read our delivery tips.
  • Keep copies of all documentation including email discussions, text messages, the advertisement, contract, finance agreement, safety inspection certificate, etc.

Tips for a remote test drive

Some dealers provide remote test drives so that a car buyer does not have to physically visit the dealership. This is similar to purchasing online with the contract being delivered electronically, but it provides an opportunity to see and test a vehicle before signing the contract.

Remote test drives are defined as test drives that originate at a place other than a dealer’s registered premises. They are allowed if the dealer representative who provides the test drive is a registered salesperson and, the test drive is offered solely for evaluating the vehicle’s performance, suitability and/or condition prior to purchase or lease and for no other purpose.

It’s important to note that remote test drives may present specific challenges car buyers should be prepared for. To get the most out of a remote test drive, read our test drive tips. Also, the salesperson who is providing the remote test drive must be registered with OMVIC. Ask to see the salesperson’s license before the test drive begins.

You are only protected when you buy from an OMVIC-registered dealer, so take extra care when buying privately. Consider the following car-buying tips:

  • Ask questions: how long was the vehicle owned? Are there maintenance records? Why are they selling?
  • Ask the seller for ID and compare it to vehicle ownership: they must match.
  • Take a thorough test drive (not just around the block).
  • Purchase and review a vehicle history report before deciding (for example, CARFAX).
  • Carefully review the Used Vehicle Information Package – the seller must provide it and ensure all pages are provided.
  • Ensure there are no liens on vehicle (info usually available on UVIP or CARFAX).
  • Have the vehicle inspected by trusted mechanic before purchase.
  • Request a receipt that includes the seller’s information and actual selling price.

If you choose to buy privately, educate yourself. Don’t become a curbsider’s victim. Learn how to spot the telltale signs of curbsiders.

Most consumers purchase their motor vehicle with a guarantee that it met minimum safety standards on the day of certification. These safety standards are set out by the province and are detailed in the Light Duty Vehicle Inspection Standard.

Though the safety certificate itself is not required to be provided to a car buyer (except in the case of a used vehicle that is leased) the dealership will have a copy which verifies the vehicle passed a safety inspection at an inspection station, licensed by the Ministry of Transportation (MTO).

However, in some instances, some vehicles may still be sold “as-is”. When a vehicle is sold “as-is”, it means that the vehicle hasn’t undergone a safety inspection and may not meet minimum safety standards. In fact, the car may require significant repairs before it can be considered mechanically sound and in road worthy condition.

When you choose to purchase a vehicle without a safety certificate, you’ll be required to read and sign the following statement on your bill of sale:

Vehicle sold “as-is”

The motor vehicle sold under this contract is being sold “as-is” and is not represented as being in road worthy condition, mechanically sound or maintained at any guaranteed level of quality. The vehicle may not be fit for use as a means of transportation and may require substantial repairs at the purchaser’s expense. It may not be possible to register the vehicle to be driven in its current condition.

It’s crucial that consumers understand that purchasing a vehicle in an as-is condition means that the onus is on them to bring the vehicle to such a standard that it’s fit for the road.

A lease is like a long-term car rental because you don’t actually own the vehicle. A leasing agreement runs over a series of months (for example, 36, 48, 60) with a set monthly payment. Leasing is available for both new and used vehicles.

Learn more about leasing a new or used vehicle