OMVIC Warns Auto Buyers Tempted By U.S. Pricing

by : Sean Patrick

With the Canadian dollar enjoying parity in the United States, many consumers may be tempted to purchase a vehicle from an American dealer. While it is true that some models sold here are priced higher than their American counterparts, consumers should consider the following factors before making a decision:

All vehicles imported into Canada must pass federal inspection from the Registrar of Imported Vehicles prior to being registered. Some models may require modification to meet Canadian standards and some models may not be admissible at all.

Some manufacturers may not allow American dealers to sell their vehicles to Canadian consumers. Auto manufacturers differ in their policies regarding selling new vehicles outside of national limits.

The manufacturers warranty may be compromised or voided if the U.S. vehicle is imported into Canada. Again, every manufacturer differs regarding warranty coverage. In the event the warranty is compromised, the dollars saved during the initial purchase could easily be eroded by repairs required down the road.

Ontario's extensive consumer protection legislation covers transactions that occur in Ontario only. Ontarians who shop south of the border are not protected.

All Ontario motor vehicle dealers are registered with the Ontario Motor Vehicle Industry Council (OMVIC) and consequently bound by the law and strict Standards of Business Practice, which include disclosure requirements in ads and contracts. Depending on where a consumer purchases their vehicle in the U.S., the dealer may not have similar obligations.

Beware hidden charges not disclosed in ads by U.S. dealers placed in Ontario newspapers. And if considering a used vehicle, beware of non-disclosure of material facts. If you end up with an accident-damaged or odometer-tampered vehicle, you will be forced to deal with your problems back in the jurisdiction where you purchased the vehicle.

In the event of a dispute with an Ontario dealer, OMVIC offers a free complaint handling service to assist consumers resolve their concerns possibly saving the time and expense of going to court. Disputes concerning vehicles purchased in the United States will need to be addressed in the State where the transaction took place.

Consumers who purchase their vehicles from Ontario dealers have further protection from the Motor Vehicle Dealers Compensation Fund. All Ontario dealers contribute to this fund, which can compensate consumers if they suffer a financial loss arising from a transaction with a registered motor vehicle dealer.

OMVIC administers the Motor Vehicle Dealers Act which is a public protection statute on behalf of the Minister of Government and Consumer Services. OMVIC's mandate is to maintain a safe and informed marketplace by ensuring registration of dealers and salespeople, maintaining a complaint line for consumers and conducting investigations. OMVIC is also responsible for administering the Motor Vehicle Dealers Compensation Fund on behalf of a Board of Trustees.