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APA in the News - Archive

 

2018

 


Wheels.ca - Mark Toljagic
April 4, 2018. A Brief History of Automobile Warranties

Caveat emptor, or buyer beware, was the guiding principle during the earliest days of the automobile era. Cars were an amalgam of crudely tooled parts made from questionable materials and workmanship that varied by the day and the supplier. It wasn’t until Henry Ford perfected the assembly line and supply chains that consistent quality could be assured and backed by a definable warranty.

A 1925 Ford offered the typical warranty of the day: “90 days on material; 30 days on labour. No guarantee whatsoever on fan belts, glass, bulbs, wiring, transmission bands, hose connections, commutator shells, rollers, spark plugs or gaskets...”

The 3-year/60,000-km comprehensive warranty remains the industry standard today, although some automakers have gone further. Virtually every luxury brand from Acura to Volvo has adopted four-year/80,000-km coverage, while Hyundai, Kia, Mitsubishi and Jaguar have gone to five years. Curiously, Volkswagen provides a comprehensive 6-year warranty to U.S. buyers, but four years of coverage in Canada.

Mazda has tried to break the mould by offering Canada’s only unlimited mileage warranty...

“We expected Mazda to become the default brand for Uber drivers and delivery people everywhere, but that’s not the case yet,” says Iny. “Mazda told the APA their unlimited mileage warranty has not led to a migration of high-mileage drivers to the brand.”

Iny says Canadians are especially receptive to good warranties, which helps to close deals in the showroom. However, as good as new-car warranties appear on paper, in practice they can sometimes disappoint for a host of reasons.

“Dealers are not compensated adequately for diagnostic time, so the customer sometimes gets the runaround,” says Iny. Dealers are paid less by the manufacturer for warranty claims than they would recoup from a customer-paid repair, so warranty work doesn’t always get top priority.

Similarly, a customer repair may be stalled or a minor tweak done until after the warranty expires. Then the dealer “discovers” the real problem, says Iny, and the customer is saddled with a major engine or transmission repair...

Warranty claims may be declined if one or more maintenance records are missing, explains Iny, even if the failure cannot be attributed to a missed oil change. And customers are sometimes charged for filters and fluids which were not due for replacement and should have been included in the price of a major repair.

Despite the pitfalls, consumers have generally been well served by today’s warranty innovations, which help to differentiate automakers in a hotly contested marketplace. But where do they go from here?...

Read the full story on the Wheels.ca website.

 

 

 


CBC News - Sabrina Marandola
February 13, 2018. Should car inspections be mandatory in Quebec?

Quebec Coroner Jean Brochu hopes his latest report into a fatal crash in 2016 involving a ride-sharing service will raise awareness about the dangers of getting into a stranger's car — but his report stops short of making any recommendations to the Quebec government.

"I just wanted to make sure that people are aware that with all these enterprises of ride-sharing, there is absolutely no guarantee that things will go well," Brochu said.

Brochu's report examined a collision that occurred on Highway 40 between Ottawa and Montreal. It claimed the life of Katy Torres, a 30-year-old PhD student who was in the passenger seat of a vehicle that swerved into on-coming traffic and slammed into a van...

According to George Iny, president of the Automobile Protection Association, making inspections mandatory for the four million cars in the province could do more harm than good.

..."Ride-sharing is so fragile right now as it is, that if that were brought in, it would probably mean that the whole model would fall apart." Iny said that a basic inspection can cost anywhere between $50 to $80. "We know of provinces where you have mandatory vehicle inspections, and they do not have better road statistics than Quebec," Iny said.

Instead he suggests a system where customers give ratings and feedback about the vehicle they were in, similar to Uber's model, or perhaps the company can also ask to see documentation.

"A ride-sharing company could ask for some record of maintenance — paperwork even. They wouldn't necessarily be running an inspection program, but…after a certain number of kilometres or age, then you start to have the cars inspected."

Read the full story on the CBC website.

 

 

 


Driving.ca - Lorraine Sommerfeld
February 6, 2018. Chrysler Pacifica recall follows months of engine stalls

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) has issued a recall notice on their 2017 Pacifica minivans after months of mounting pressure from owners, the Center for Auto Safety in Washington D.C., and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). All non-hybrid Pacificas, model year 2017, are included in the recall, including 153,859 in the U.S. and 7,457 units in Canada. All the vehicles were made in Windsor, Ontario.

The recall says: “An investigation by FCA US has discovered that under a rare set of conditions, a vehicle’s engine control module (ECM) may incorrectly assess the engine’s operating status. If this occurs, the engine may stall.”

The recall notice also states that “[m]ost such events known to FCA US reportedly occurred at idle or while starting, turning, or driving at low, steady speeds. Further, most were singular events that occurred over thousands of miles of travel, and customers were able to restart their vehicles immediately afterward.”

The notice is right in pointing out the rarity and randomness of the stalling incidents, but it is that situation that has left some Pacifica owners at loose ends. Dealers have been unable to duplicate the problem, which also hasn’t come up on on-board diagnostic codes from the vehicles, and fixes up until this point consisted of best-guessing. But according to some owners, some of the stalling issues happened with low mileage on their vans, and in other cases the stall happens at highway speeds, which is even more dangerous considering that, when the engine fails, the driver loses all power steering and braking.

Read the full story on the Driving.ca website.

 

 

 


Driving.ca - Lorraine Sommerfeld
January 22, 2018. Few Canadians are replacing their Takata airbags

Data shows only 16 per cent of vehicles have had dangerous airbags changed, despite parts now in dealerships

When faulty Takata airbag inflators caused 19 vehicle manufacturers to participate in the largest recall in history, it seemed the headlines –and gory details – would never fade. The story of airbags exploding and killing people with shrapnel was broken by the New York Times in November of 2014, though later reports would reveal that Takata knew of the problem much earlier. With more than 42 million vehicles affected in the U.S. from model years 2002 to 2015, it was clear early on there was no way replacements could be made quickly enough to satisfy the recall. 5.3 million of those recalls are in Canada, where no deaths or injuries have been reported.

Now, those replacement airbags are becoming available; the problem? Not enough car owners are getting the job done.

There have currently been 11 deaths and 184 injuries in the U.S. caused by the faulty airbags; climate, particularly humidity, has played a large role in the instability of the inflator, leading to early supply going to regions of the world most likely to experience problems. It’s hard to argue the necessity of such a move, but it’s been frustrating for Canadians left holding the (air)bag.

Read the full story on the Driving.ca website.

 

 

 


CBC News - The Canadian Press
January 11, 2018. 'Don't shop for the cheapest car': tips on the smart way to buy used

Sales of new vehicles may have hit a record high, surpassing the two-million mark for the first time last year, but the majority of consumers are still projected to buy used primarily for one key reason: cost savings.

DesRosiers Automotive Consultants forecasts that about 59 per cent of prospective buyers in Canada will purchase used vehicles this year.

It's been well established that new vehicles incur rapid depreciation as soon as they're driven off the lot. Most new cars can lose up to 50 per cent of their value during the first four years of ownership.

That's exactly why Esther Paulsen and her husband Tim bought second-hand when they were shopping around for a replacement vehicle last December for their growing family.

"Our decision to go new or used was dictated by budget," said Paulsen, a teacher in Toronto. "We didn't even look at new as I was coming off a maternity leave and we are basically single salary with two kids."

But looking to save money buying second-hand shouldn't preclude buyers from wanting to ensure their car is in top condition, cautions George Iny, president of the Automobile Protection Association.

Read the full story on the CBC website.

 

 

 


The Globe & Mail - Steve Mertl
January 3, 2018. Push-button ignition: Convenience comes with risk

Keyless entry has become so common most drivers probably can't remember the last time they used a key to unlock the car.

And increasingly, drivers don't use a key to start the vehicle, either – employing the nearby fob so they can push a button on the dash or centre console.

Some auto makers even offer smartphone apps, whose functions can include remote starting, among other things, as cars become part of the Internet of Things.

But are we paying a price for this convenience when it comes to safety?

Push-button starters are actually nothing new. Starter buttons predominated until after the Second World War before being supplanted by all-in-one systems where a twist of the ignition key operated the starter motor.

...

Safety watchdogs have also chronicled instances of drivers pushing the button to stop the engine without putting the car in park, allowing their vehicle to roll away. Many systems emit warnings or even shut down shortly after the driver exits the vehicle and the fob is detected leaving with them.

"The problem is if you leave the key in the cupholder and just exit the car, the car doesn't know to turn off," says former Toronto auto dealer John Raymond, now on the board of the Automobile Protection Association.

Read the full story on the Globe and Mail website.

 

 

 

 

2017

 


Auto Service World - Sidhartha Banerjee, The Canadian Press
December 13, 2017. Quebec revising winter tire rules

Quebec will reportedly bring forward the mandatory date by which winter tires must be put on all vehicles in the province and also increase fines for those who don’t follow the rules.

It remains the only Canadian jurisdiction that requires drivers to have winter tires by law – between Dec. 15 and March 15. The nine-year-old legislation comes with the threat of a fine from $200 to $300.

In B.C., drivers are required to have winter tires installed on their vehicles if travelling on designated highways around the province, mainly in the Interior and near high mountain passes.

Despite some occasional calls in other parts of the country, there doesn’t appear to be an appetite for Quebec-style rules in other provinces.

Read the full story on the Auto Service World website.

See APA's Winter Tire Reviews.

 

 

 


Driving.ca - Lorraine Sommerfeld
December 12, 2017. Mercedes says goodbye to diesel in North America

Rather than the result of a scandal, it could be due to improper fuel south of the border

While it was hardly surprising to watch Volkswagen flee the scene of its diesel crimes, a just-released listing from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is offering another interesting morsel: it appears Mercedes-Benz is also throwing in the towel on their diesel entries in North America.

Vehicle manufacturers must submit product information to the appropriate governing regulatory body – in the U.S., it’s the NHTSA, in Canada, it’s Transport Canada – ahead of those vehicles hitting showrooms. They must provide documentation that all vehicles are in compliance with safety and emissions rulings. They must also note any changes from previous model years, and include supporting data.

The current submission to NHTSA from Mercedes-Benz is devoid of any of their diesel models, which signals they won’t be selling those editions of their vehicles in that country.

Read the full story on the Driving.ca website.

 

 

 

 


The Globe & Mail - Jason Tchir
December 9, 2017. Looking for a foreign-made SUV for $17,000 or less - We compare the Mazda CX-5 and the Subaru Forester

I'm looking for a compact SUV, 2013 or newer, foreign-made. I'd like something with lots of room that's nice to drive, safe and good on gas – ideally for $17,000 or less. A guy I work with insists that my best choice is a Subaru Forester but I like the looks of the Mazda CX-5. I don't absolutely require all-wheel drive. I've already ruled out the Toyota RAV4 and Honda CR-V. – Danielle, Ottawa

The list of good compact SUVs out there is anything but compact.

You've narrowed the list, but there's still the 2013 Kia Sportage ($15,904 for AWD), 2013 Hyundai Tucson ($15,829 for AWD) and the 2013 Nissan Rogue ($16,123 for AWD).

A North American SUV, the 2013 Chevy Equinox ($16,483 for AWD), took top place in J.D. Power's 2016 dependability study of three-year-old vehicles.

The Forester and the CX-5 were both on the lower half of that list (seventh and eighth out of 10, respectively).

But they're safe options, literally. The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety (IIHS) named both as top safety picks.

Read the full story on the Globe and Mail website.

 

 

 


Driving.ca - Lorraine Sommerfeld
November 20, 2017. The numbers are in: Canadians really like our SUVs and trucks

Canada has a population of just over 36 million people; by the close of this year, current annual sales of new cars will be about 2 million. Estimates put used car sales at about three million for the same time period.

We buy a lot of cars.

Light trucks, actually. For all the jabber after the last economic crash a decade ago, the one that took the leasing industry with it, we’ve left behind the promise of subcompact vehicles, become bored with sedans and continue to shun the hybrid and electrics that dominate headlines but little else.

“Sixty-eight to sixty-nine per cent of the market this year is light trucks,” says Dennis DesRosiers, of DesRosiers Automotive Consultants. “In fact, for four of the past 12 months, it’s been over 70 per cent, and this will stay positive for another year, at least.” DesRosiers crunches numbers and breaks down stats; he cares little about what ad campaigns and headlines say we should be buying, and instead reports on what we actually are.

“The used car numbers are actually the most revealing,” says DesRosiers. “In 1990, there were 600,000 vehicles on the road that were over ten years old. Today, there are 11 million, and over the next two years that will grow to 12 million.” Used car sales were two million in 1990; over the next couple of years, DesRosiers predicts that will leap to 3.5 million. It’s the fastest growing part of the market, and all for one reason.

Read the full story on the Driving.ca website.

 

 

 


The Globe And Mail - Jason Tchir
November 9, 2017. Time for that annual debate: winter tires or all-seasons?

This is Canada. We pride ourselves on being able to survive the most miserable winters anywhere. We giggle (to ourselves, politely) at tourists wearing down jackets before the Christmas decorations are in stores.

Some of us still think winter tires are for snowflakes, so the annual debate has begun in many of the country's major metropolitan areas: Are winter tires really necessary?

"We've heard everything from 'The company is just trying to sell more tires' to 'I don't need them because I have all-wheel drive,' " said Michelin Canada driving expert Carl Nadeau.

Nobody's really sure how many of us use winter tires – surveys vary. In a 2016 Michelin survey of drivers in Ontario, 43 per cent did not own winter tires – tires with the mountain snowflake symbol on the side – and 50 per cent thought all-season tires were just fine for Canadian roads. In a nationwide survey that same year by the Tire and Rubber Association of Canada (TRAC), about 68 per cent of Canadians said they use them – almost twice as many as two decades ago. The TRAC survey reported use was 100 per cent in Quebec, where winter tires are required by law from Dec. 15 to March 15. But use generally decreased from east (80 per cent in the Maritimes) to west (49 per cent in British Columbia).

"The tire industry invented this idea of the all-season, and people said, 'Great, I don't have to buy extra stuff in the winter,' " said Geoff Wiebe, a Regina-based tire expert for Kal Tire. "All-seasons say M+S [mud and snow] on the side but really don't hold up on snow and ice when we test. We call them three-season tires."

Read the full story on the Globe and Mail website.

See APA's Winter Tire Reviews.

 

 

 


Driving.ca - Lorraine Sommerfeld
November 3, 2017. Government buying luxury cars actually benefits you, the consumer

You’ll be relieved to know the federal government’s Freshwater Fish Marketing Corporation did not use your tax dollars to purchase any make of Porsche, Lexus, Mercedes, Tesla, BMW, Lamborghini or Ferrari since November 4, 2015. Whew.

If consumer goods are to be regulated and tested to maintain any kind of safety and integrity in the marketplace, then it is up to good government to foster the most stringent grounds for testing that it can. And yes folks, that costs money. Perhaps you’d be happier monitoring your own water contaminants or Listeria outbreaks, or perhaps you don’t bother with all those pesky recalls when they do occur. Or perhaps you’re happy to let a manufacturer, even one as well storied and famous as Volkswagen, stamp their own seal of approval on their products. I mean, how could that go wrong?

They say if you ask the right question, you can get any answer you desire. By asking current Liberal government agencies if they’d purchased any vehicle that was one of the seven listed up top that came to more than $50,000, they could basically make a birthday cake out of entitlement, ice it in spoiled brat and light it on fire. Except, the agency that made the purchases – Environment and Climate Change Canada – is tasked with knowing what any car is belching out, and if it adheres to Canadian law. They actually purchased, new or used, 47 cars ranging in cost from $11,020 to $96,724 to test for emissions. They are duly sold at government auction when testing is concluded.

Noooooo! scream the Up In Arms brigade. Borrow those cars! Rent those cars! Get the manufacturers to give you those cars! Except testing can take time, modifications are often made during that testing, and if one lesson has been learned the hard way, it’s been letting a manufacturer provide a product of their own choosing for independent tests will have one that is, well, whatever the maker chooses it to be.

Restaurant reviewers go to great extreme to protect their identities so they can deliver you a true glimpse into how you, a normal person, will be treated. The Automobile Protection Association (APA) does undercover work with W-5 and produces the most revealing underbelly of the auto industry dealing with consumer protection. Without this secrecy, this stealth, you don’t get the truth, you get a glossy advertisement. As for the ridiculous focus on the cars the agency purchased? “Given that the European brands (Mercedes, BMW, Audi, Fiat, Porsche and VW) are up to their ears in allegations or lawsuits over cheating on emissions tests, it is absolutely correct to target those brands for testing from a risk reduction perspective,” says George Iny, president of the Automobile Protection Association (APA).

The VW emissions scandals ripped apart the diesel industry. Diesel in passenger vehicles was for years touted as the missing link, our bridge from gasoline to well, everything else. Who needs electrics or hybrids when we have clean diesel? Diesel, complete with little green leaves on the dash to remind us we’re not just not polluting, but we’re also practically scrubbing the air clean around us. Except, it was a lie. And it wasn’t the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), or the Canadian equivalent that discovered the deception; it was three university research students deep in the woods in West Virginia who did.

They realized they couldn’t adequately test for emissions with a skint budget in an area that had no diesels in rental fleets, and they soon found they couldn’t beg or borrow any, so they went to California where they could do both. Cars not supplied by a manufacturer.

From George Iny: “Why is government public relations so inept that it can’t make a simple case like this one? The public health and environmental benefits of a well-run emissions program with enforced standards far outweigh the costs of purchase and disposal of a couple of dozen cars a year. For an example of what can happen when complacency sets in, you can look at almost any large European city; the air quality has been deteriorating since the early 2000s, despite more stringent standards on the books. Manufacturer certification in private compliance labs is riddled with conflicts. The negative public health impacts are very large.”

Read the full story on the Driving.ca website.

 

 

 


The Globe and Mail - Jason Tchir
October 30, 2017. I’ve got two Volkswagen diesels. Will the emissions fix hurt performance and fuel economy?

If you get the emissions fix for your Golf TDIs, they'll pollute less – but your fuel economy will get worse. That's partly why Volkswagen turned off the emissions controls in the first place.

 "They're emitting lots of NOx [nitrogen oxide] because VW shut off the emission controls in the real world – it's very blatant," said John German, senior fellow with the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT), who discovered the cheat in tests in 2013 and 2014. "We're not talking minor – these guys are emitting 2.5 times more than a Mack truck."

Understanding the problem they're trying to fix might help you decide whether you want it. Along with other pollutants like carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides are produced when your engine burns gasoline, diesel and even ethanol. They're bad, mainly because they lead to smog and acid rain.

"There are some direct health impacts from NO2 (nitrogen dioxide) and that's primarily a proximity thing – if you're bicycling in a bike lane and you're three feet from a VW diesel, you're inhaling it," German said. "But NOx and NO2 contribute to the formation of ozone, and ozone is one of the larger air health problems in the U.S."...

United States got better deal?

In April, Quebec and Ontario courts approved a $2.1-billion settlement for about 105,000 cars with 2.0-litre TDI engines after a class-action lawsuit.

Each owner got a payment between $5,100 and $8,000. Many had the choice to either sell their car back to Volkswagen or get an emissions modification approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

The Automobile Protection Association (APA) said Canadians fared better than Europeans on the deal, but American customers got 10 to 20 per cent more than Canadian customer when VW bought cars back, even without the difference in the exchange rate. That's because the Canadian deal based the resale value on the medium-low range of the book value.

The governments of Canada and Ontario have been "mostly passive," said APA president George Iny. "It's the Canadian law firms acting for the class and VW likely working internally that arrived at an agreement that is a relatively close copy of the U.S. deal..."

 

  Read the full story on the Globe and Mail website.

 

 


CBC News - Sharon Burgess
October 24, 2017. Smart car model under investigation bursts into flames on Highway 417

A Swiss woman who arrived in Ottawa in August to study English had one of the most terrifying experiences of her life on the road last week.

Aurélie Rossier, 34, was alone and heading west on Highway 417 near Bronson last Wednesday when the interior of the 2008 Smart Fortwo she was driving suddenly filled with smoke.

"I couldn't see the road anymore. I couldn't breathe," said Rossier, who spoke with CBC in French.

In a panic, Rossier pulled over to the side of the road, opened the door and quickly got out. Another driver stopped to help and urged her to get away from the vehicle.

Moments later the car was engulfed in flames.

"To see a car burned like this, it was really crazy for me," Rossier said. "I was really, really scared."

As the flames shot high into the air, Rossier said she saw the smoke change colour from white, to grey, to black, and heard the sound of windows shattering from the heat...

Rossier had borrowed the car from her friend Aaron Matharu, who told CBC it belonged to his parents and was bought used about five years ago. After the fire, he said, he called customer service at Mercedes-Benz to inform it of the location of the car so it could investigate.

"They were in total denial, [saying] that they'd never heard of such [an] occurrence and this was the first time," said Matharu, who discovered for himself the U.S. investigation of the 2008 Smart Fortwo.

The insurance company was similarly disengaged, Matharu said, because the vehicle was not covered for fire damage. The company did not say anything about referring the car fire to Transport Canada, but Matharu said he would make a report himself.

CBC contacted Mercedes-Benz Canada requesting an interview about the car fire in Ottawa as well as the investigation in the U.S., but received only a statement.

"The safety of our customers is our primary concern and our colleagues in the U.S. continue to fully co-operate with NHTSA in its inquiry and support all investigations to their full extent."

Potential defects frequently not investigated

A consumer watchdog for drivers said potentially serious defects often go unreported in Canada.

Consumers in the U.S. are well aware of who to call, but people in Canada don't know where to complain if they suspect a safety defect in their vehicle has caused property damage, said George Iny, director of the Automobile Protection Association.

In some cases, Iny said, insurance companies make settlements with the car manufacturer instead of reporting incidents to Transport Canada.

"If they can get some money from the car maker, they'll agree to a hush-hush deal," said Iny, who believes that insurers should be required by law to make a report if they have any reason to suspect a safety defect.

Reports of even one or two fires in Smart cars in Canada are alarming and worthy of investigation, Iny said.

"The Smart is small and it's made of plastic. So when it catches fire, the event is over pretty quickly," Iny said. "A fire spreads very quickly inside a vehicle, and you always have barely enough time to get out before the vehicle is in flames. But we're wondering if the risk here might be even greater."

 Read the full story on the CBC website.

 

 


National Post - Mia Rabson, The Canadian Press
September 28, 2017. Supreme Court denies federal evidence to Quebec gas price fixing lawsuit

A class-action suit that alleges oil companies and fuel retailers in Quebec were engaged in fixing the price of gasoline hit a pothole Thursday

A class-action suit that alleges oil companies and fuel retailers in Quebec were engaged in fixing the price of gasoline hit a pothole Thursday when Canada’s highest court blocked it from accessing evidence from a related criminal investigation.

The Supreme Court ruling means lawyers for the claimants in the class action cannot interview the chief investigator of the Competition Bureau or get access to evidence, including 220,000 wiretap conversations.

“Disappointed,” said George Iny, executive director of the Automobile Protection Association, one of the parties behind the class-action suits.

“It will make our case a lot harder, but it’s still possible to do it.”

However, Iny said the ruling pertains only to the discovery process — the preliminary work of gathering evidence for a possible trial. He said he hopes that during the trial itself, the investigator can be compelled to testify or produce documents.

In other words, he said, “We’re still in the game.”
A spokeswoman for the Competition Bureau called the decision a welcome one...

“The Competition Bureau has collaborated with the class-action plaintiffs and will continue to do so, within the scope of its mandate.”

Iny’s organization filed two class-action suits after the Competition Bureau found evidence of price fixing among gas retailers in four cities in Quebec and charged 39 individuals and 15 companies...

Earlier this year, one of the class actions related to the four cities where charges were laid resulted in a $17-million settlement with two-thirds of the companies involved.

The second suit, however, involves retailers and companies in 26 other cities, where the Competition Bureau investigated evidence of price fixing but did not lay any charges.

That is the suit at the heart of the Supreme Court ruling....

 

 Read the full story on the National Post website.

 
 


Reuters - Allison Lampert
August 11, 2017. Canadians shift to smaller, more frequent, auto loans repayments

MONTREAL, Aug 11 (Reuters) - Canadians are making smaller payments more frequently on auto term loans as new financing offers lure buyers away from the typical monthly billing cycle, a trend public advocacy groups say could push consumers to purchase more expensive vehicles that they simply cannot afford.

“Because long-term car loans tend to involve lower monthly or bi-weekly payments, extended terms can encourage consumers to buy more car than they may be able to afford,” said Kathryn Dunn, a spokeswoman for the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada

This new financing trend has made it easier for consumers to pile on debt, further extending already over-leveraged households.

According to Statistics Canada, households have amassed huge debt, with the ratio of debt to disposable income at a near record of 166.9 percent during the first quarter of 2017.

 

  Read the full story on the Reuters website.

 

 


The Toronto Star - Paola Loriggio, The Canadian Press
September 21, 2017. Consumer agencies warn about flood-damaged cars from U.S. coming into Canada

Consumer protection agencies are warning those shopping for used cars to stay alert as some vehicles damaged in the recent floods south of the border may appear on the Canadian market.

The agencies say vehicles caught up in hurricane Harvey and other disasters will likely be disposed of by insurers but some may be imported into Canada and sold to unsuspecting drivers.

They say the vehicles may seem to be in perfect condition because the damage caused by flooding can take months or even years to manifest.

The Automobile Protection Association says the issues may not be flagged in a history report or come to light in an inspection.

 

Read the full story on the Toronto Star website.

 

 


CBC News - Leah Hendry
September 20, 2017. Buying a used car? Tips on how to avoid costly mistakes

If you're in the market for a used car, online classifieds such as Kijiji and Craigslist are go-to places to find deals.

There are some private companies that, for a fee, will retrieve a history of the car, its odometer reading, whether it's ever been involved in an accident or if it's been rebuilt.

However, with a bit of sleuthing, you can find out some critical information about the used car you want to buy all on your own.

Ontario sellers are legally required to provide a used-vehicle information package (UVIP) to a buyer when they sell a pre-owned vehicle, to protect the buyer. The package includes a description of the car, the present and previous owners, the odometer reading, lien info and the vehicle's condition, as well as whether it's been dismantled or crushed. A buyer can't proceed with the ownership transfer without the UVIP in hand.

In Ontario, (private) sellers are legally required to provide a used vehicle information package (UVIP) to a buyer. Ontario's UVIP is a great tool — if it's used properly, said George Iny, executive director of the Montreal-based Automobile Protection Association.

"Usually people obtain it at the licence bureau," said Iny. "Sometimes they don't even open it until they say goodbye to the guy who sold them the car."

 

Read the full story on the CBC website.

 
 


The Globe and Mail - Jason Tchir
September 5 2017. What does a prior accident do to my car’s resale value?

When you're selling a car that's been in a crash, it's easy to feel like you're on the losing side of history.

But a record of the damage doesn't necessarily mean you'll take a hit for that full amount when it's time to sell.

"I had a Tahoe that I scraped on a parking pillar and had an $1,800 damage claim to repaint the two doors," said Joe Varkey, vice-president of marketing for Carproof. "If I went to a dealership or a reputable body shop and had it fixed, those doors are as good as new – by no means does it reduce the value of my vehicle by $1,800."

So what does a vehicle history report from Carproof or Carfax – which have been owned by the same U.S. company since 2015 – actually show? It depends on what they can find.

"To the extent we have this information available, we'd report the date of the incident, the cost estimated and/or paid for the repairs and other costs, the city and province of the incident, and some details of the nature of the damage/incident," Varkey said.

So, your $51.95 Carproof report might show that $5,000 claim. Or it might just show the original estimate from the repair shop – which could be higher or lower than the actual cost to fix.

 

 Read the full story on the Globe and Mail website.

 

  


CBC News
August 29, 2017. GPS immobilizers, setup fees and other car-lease caveats in Quebec

If you've never heard of a GPS immobilizer, chances are you've never leased a car on bad credit.

Bury, Que., resident Daniel Lallier did just that in May, and ended up having his car remotely immobilized by the dealer over an extra $200 fee that, it turned out, was likely illegal.

George Iny, president of the Automobile Protection Association, said it's a situation that most car buyers may never face, but it's far from unique.

"If you're in the mainstream of auto financing, you will never see an immobilizer on your vehicle," he told CBC News.

Dealers use the GPS tracking device to immobilize a car remotely as an alternative to more traditional forms of repossession, like having a tow-truck show up and haul a car away.

 

Read the full story on the CBC website.

 

 


CBC News - Nelly Gonzalez
August 18, 2017. Why this man's van wasn't included in a huge Ford recall

A Winnipeg grandfather wants to know why his minivan wasn't included in a massive Ford recall after the vehicle started falling apart during a road trip last month.

Wayne Douglas Weedon, 69, said the bracket holding the third back seat of his 2004 Ford Freestar fell off while he was driving with his wife and three grandchildren to Lac du Bonnet on July 22.

Weedon said he was driving no more than 30km/h on a bumpy gravel road when he heard a loud noise coming from one of the rear tires.

"I stopped immediately and I thought what the heck is going on here?" he told CBC News.

Weedon said he got out of the vehicle and saw the seat bracket and a rusted metal plate in the well of a back tire.
...
Iny said the onus is on the automobile maker to issue the recalls and assess the safety risks but he also said Transport Canada could do more to address the safety concerns of consumers.

Read the full story and see the video on the CBC website.

 

  


CBC News - Matt D'Amours
May 19, 2017. $17M settlement reached in lawsuit targeting Eastern Townships gas 'cartel'

A 10-year legal battle has resulted in a $17-million out-of-court settlement between a group of Eastern Township motorists and a number of gas retailers in the area.

The class-action lawsuit involving residents of Sherbrooke, Magog, Victoriaville and Thetford Mines sought damages from a so-called cartel charged with criminal price fixing by the Competition Bureau...

The bureau said the gas retailers — individual operators who ran their stations under the banners of Shell, Esso, Petro-Canada and Irving Oil — called each other to agree on prices.

The $17-million settlement, which two-thirds of the companies and retailers named in the class-action lawsuit have agreed to, could translate into a reimbursement of about $40 each for 200,000 residents after legal fees and other deductions.

"By the standards of a class action, that's actually relatively significant on an individual level," said George Iny, executive director of the Automobile Protection Association, the group spearheading the lawsuit. "The settlement today is a very big step forward in the action. It's a very tough battle." The money may be paid in gas cards, direct mailers, or money off at the pump, Iny said...

  Read the full story on the CBC website.

 

 


The Globe and Mail - Jason Tchir
April 17, 2017. Am I owed a loaner car after a part recall?

If your car is waiting on a repair or in the shop for long, it’s dealers’ choice as to whether or not you get a loaner. The same goes with a recall.

“Provincial laws do not specifically require a loaner vehicle,” George Iny, director of the Automobile Protection Association, said in an e-mail. “The decision to continue driving or not is usually made in consultation with a dealer after an inspection of the vehicle – when delays are excessive, the dealer usually obtains approval for a rental from the auto maker, particularly where a luxury brand is involved.”

The loaner is a “gesture of goodwill,” said Terry O’Keefe, spokesman for the Ontario Motor Vehicle Industry Council, which investigates consumer complaints about Ontario dealerships. “Nothing in the Motor Vehicle Dealers Act requires a dealer to give a loaner.”

And if you can’t drive your car because of a recall?

“If an open recall were to make a vehicle unfit to drive, a consumer could have a right to compensation for a replacement vehicle under the general laws on warranty or under contract law,” Iny said.

 Read the full story on the Globe and Mail website.

 

 


Driving.ca - Lorraine Sommerfeld
April 29, 2017. Sitting since 2015, cars receive software fix and sold with high incentives, mostly to people already with deposits

Wanna buy a new 2015 Volkswagen diesel?

That’s a trick question. Even though the vehicles, those at the centre of one of the automotive industry’s largest controversies in its history, were released for sale on April 12th, they’re already long gone. The 2.0-litre TDI-equipped vehicles had been quarantined in the wake of Dieselgate, the world-wide emissions cheating scandal that brought the German automotive giant to its knees.

Since the discovery that VW had been intentionally, deviously, futzing with the pollution control software on many of its diesel cars since 2009, North American owners spent more than a year in limbo, awaiting settlement options for their tainted vehicles. When they were finally announced, those settlements were generous; depending on the age and condition of their vehicle, owners could see compensation that amounted to either a fix plus a payment of between $5,100 to $8,000, or a buyback based on the value of the car pre-scandal, plus that payment.

In the meantime, inventory already on dealer lots was frozen. With the announcement of an approved fix by the EPA in the U.S. (and accepted in Canada), those impounded cars were cleared for sale. It’s a move a lot of people were betting on, and a local dealer told me the 43 cars he had in stock were gone in a couple of days.

 
Read the full story on Driving.ca.

 
 


CBC News - Riley Laychuk
April 17, 2017. Another customer claims Winnipeg car dealership owes her money for trade-in

Another customer has come forward claiming a Winnipeg car dealership owes her money following a CBC News story about a Brandon couple who claim to be owed more than $28,000.

Warren and Mary Houle told CBC News their story about a trade-in deal with SRT Auto earlier this month.

They were quoted a trade-in value of $28,157 for their 2013 van, which they understood would be applied to the outstanding loan for that vehicle.
...
George Iny, director of the Automobile Protection Association — which lobbies for auto safety standards and promotes consumer information — said some dealers use over-valuing trades as a sales tactic.

"What you do is inflate the trade-in value, then you pack two loans on to the price of the next vehicle," Iny said in a phone interview from Montreal.
...
Iny reviewed two bills of sale provided by CBC News. Both the Houles' and Richard's bills of sale show the value of their trade-in listed as equal to the lien payable on their initial loans.

He said in both cases, the purchase prices appear to be inflated.
...
More oversight needed

Iny said the best course of action in this situation is to contact Manitoba's Consumer Protection Office. Cases like this, he said, are signs that current rules and regulations need to be better enforced.

"I think the root of the issue is the level of oversight. Regulators just don't get out there. They don't put themselves in the shoes of one of the customers they regulate," Iny said.

 

 

Read the full story on the CBC website.

 

  


Maclean's - Julie Cazzin
March 31, 2017. Even Ford Motor Co. is concerned about Canadians’ car loan debt

Ford Motor Co. has joined financial regulators in raising concerns over Canadians’ appetites for longer-term loans to finance the purchase of new vehicles. Regulators have warned in recent years about debt-burdened consumers taking advantage of loan offers that leave them in a negative-equity situation where they owe more on the car than it’s actually worth.Mark Buzzell, chief executive officer of Ford Canada, told media in an interview at the Vancouver auto show this week, that Canadian automakers are selling 41% of their vehicles with loans of six or more years. It’s not uncommon to see loans stretch out to eight or nine years, with interest rates still sitting at near-record lows.Ford says it is moving to reduce the number of sales it makes at longer terms, but it’s hard when the rest of the industry is doing so. “We really are trying to limit the trade cycles to shorter terms, but at the end of the day we have to stay competitive,” Buzzell told Bloomberg News...

 ...Automakers—not just Ford—are concerned, says George Iny, car analyst and director of the Automobile Protection Association. “They’ve told regulators two or three times now that they are concerned that car buyers are overburdened and carrying a lot of debt forward from a previous financed vehicle when they go into a dealership to finance a new one.”

 

Last year was a record year for auto sales with 1.95 million in vehicles sold and Iny points out that there’s two key reasons for that. “It’s been fuelled by low interest rates coupled with longer financing terms of 84 and even 96 months that many car dealerships are offering, just to make the sale...”

In many ways, we are starting to witness the same kinds of problems in the car market that are seen with real estate. Low interest rates and tiny monthly payments are causing home buyers to over extend themselves to the brink. This same problem is now surfacing in the car-buying market...

“It’s good to limit your financing to 72 months and if it’s not possible for you, at least be aware that you shouldn’t be financing unpaid payments from your previous car,” says Iny. “Don’t roll the old debt onto the new loan, which people get talked into doing quite often.”

So, don’t stretch your bi-monthly or monthly payments to get something newer or bigger. Instead, stick to what you were originally going to buy and if the monthly payment is lower than you can afford, “take that difference and do the smart thing,” says Iny. “Save it in a Registered Retirement Savings Plan. You’ll increase retirement savings and get a refund as well.”

 

Read the full article on the Maclean's website.

 

 


Breakfast Television Toronto
March 9, 2017. Car Dashboard Warning Lights: What you need to know

Do you know what to do when these dashboard warning lights appear in your car? George Iny, Director of the Automobile Protection Association, breaks down what these symbols mean and what you should do when you see them in your car.

 

Watch the interview and find more information on these lights on the Breakfast Television website.

 

 

 


The Globe and Mail - Steve Mertl
February 22, 2017. Drive it like a rental, then buy it, too?

Thousands of rental cars and trucks find their way into the used-vehicle market every year, either via rental companies’ sales channels or from auto dealers that’ve snapped them up at auctions.

But it seems so counterintuitive. Consumers shopping for a used car want reliability – and what springs to mind: an ex-rental? Seriously?

Yes, seriously. Ex-rentals fill out the supply of relatively low-mileage, late-model vehicles and there are often bargains to be had. Some have as few as 20,000 kilometres on the odometer and are still under the auto maker’s warranty.

“Given depreciation, you can save quite a lot by buying a rental car that’s only one or two years old,” said Brian Murphy, research and editorial vice-president of Canadian Black Book.

But he warns it’s just as important to do your homework as when buying a used vehicle that was privately owned.

“Don’t get a good price on a bad car,” Murphy said.

Murphy and George Iny, of the Automobile Protection Association, say that when considering an ex-rental, the whole transaction should be looked at. If the vehicle is financed, it might be cheaper to buy new because auto makers may offer incentives and low or zero-per-cent financing.

 

 Read the full article on the Globe and Mail website

 

 


CBC News - Aaron Saltzman
February 14, 2017. Looking for a vehicle that retains its value? Buy Japanese, Black Book says

Japanese manufacturers again dominate the list of vehicles that retain their value best, according to Canadian Black Book, the online resource for vehicle values.

"Toyota and Honda are two brands that do very well," says Brian Murphy, Canadian Black Book's vice-president of editorial and research. "The other countries, less so."

The used car market in Canada is huge. According to Desrosiers Automotive Consultants, 2.8 million used vehicles were sold in Canada last year, with a total value of $38.9 billion.

The awards measure the value of four-year-old vehicles based on actual sales figures, so this year's awards are tracking 2013 models.

There are 20 vehicle categories and for the first time this year, three "overall brand" winners, for best car, best truck/SUV, and best luxury vehicle

Subaru won the best overall brand in the car category, Toyota won the truck/SUV segment, while Porsche won best luxury vehicle.

 

 Read the full article on the CBC website

 

 


Wheels.ca - Mark Toljagic
February 13, 2017. Exploding Sunroofs: Remedies and the Future of Auto Glass

It’s the answer service advisors almost always recite: an unseen stone is the culprit, making it an insurance matter. But armed with growing witness evidence amassed on the Internet – and with regulators beginning to probe defective auto glass – consumers are challenging the pretext.

The last thing motorists need to worry about on today’s busy highways is having their sunroof spontaneously explode, sending glass fragments raining down on them while driving 100 km/h.

While relatively rare, it can happen when so-called “safety glass” shatters, seemingly unprovoked, for a variety of reasons that are not commonly understood.

“The automakers rely on exclusion for ‘external causes’ in their warranties. It’s one of the four or five exclusions common to all automaker warranties, the others being abuse, negligence, and normal wear and tear,” points out consumer advocate George Iny, president of the Automobile Protection Association.

“In theory, the burden of proof when you reject a warranty claim lies with the warranting party, but automakers are sometimes too quick to reject without doing any serious root cause analysis to exclude a defect in the part.”

 

 Read the full article on the Wheels.ca website

 

 


The Globe and Mail - Steve Mertl
January 31, 2017. What to look for when shopping for a used electric car

Electric vehicles made up fewer than 7,000 of Canada’s 1.9 million annual new auto sales last year, but older EVs increasingly are finding their way into the used-car market.

Data supplied to Globe Drive by autotrader.ca shows searches on its car-sales website for battery-electric cars rose over the past six months from 0.05 per cent to 0.09 per cent of total searches. List views almost doubled to .23 per cent.

That’s a drop in the bucket on a site that gets eight million visits a month, but its a definite upward trend. The Nissan Leaf and Tesla Model S are the most commonly searched and listed.
...
George Iny, of the Automobile Protection Association, says the Leaf stores its lifetime charging history, including quick charges that can damage the battery. A would-be buyer could ask for a readout.

If shopping used, check to see if the warranty is transferable. A replacement battery will cost upward of $5,000.

 

 Read the full article on the Globe and Mail website

 

 


Wheels.ca - Mark Toljagic
January 16, 2017. Exploding Sunroofs: What can cause it, and who's to blame?

Frustrated drivers who were told by dealers to put their broken sunroof claim through insurance are pushing back by getting industry regulators involved. In one example spurred by owners, the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is investigating reports of spontaneous sunroof breakage in 2011-14 Kia Sorento models.

NHTSA has reviewed similar complaints by owners of other vehicles, and has sent information requests to four additional manufacturers: Ford, Volkswagen, Hyundai and Nissan. In reality, no automaker appears immune to the phenomenon.

Transport Canada has received a significant number of sunroof explosion complaints, and started two active investigations, one prompted by a Calgary realtor whose sunroof spontaneously shattered while driving his Buick. The dealer blamed an unseen rock, but when pressed, General Motors contributed $500 towards the $1,000 repair.

Faced with growing online evidence – and the gathering storm of class action lawsuits – manufacturers have begun to grudgingly admit that their auto glass may be defective. Some have begun honouring warranty claims and quietly recalling selected models.

Volkswagen Group is recalling some 2013-14 Audi A8 and S8 luxury sedans because the glass in the standard sunroof may shatter. Hyundai issued a recall on certain 2012 model-year Velosters for spontaneously exploding panoramic sunroofs. Jim Trainor, Hyundai’s U.S. public relations manager, suggested “defects with the glass” may be a factor.

For its part, the Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) has not noted any increase in the number of insurance claims involving broken auto glass, and hasn’t opened a dialogue with manufacturers regarding spontaneously exploding glass.

“IBC has not been made aware of increases in claims resulting from shattered glass and, therefore, we have not engaged the auto sector on this,” says IBC spokesperson Andrew McGrath.

Consumer advocate George Iny, president of the Automobile Protection Association, says insurance companies have not been rejecting roof glass claims, even though they probably could challenge some claims or impose a premium surcharge on vehicles with glass roofs.

“You can be certain that the day the insurance industry imposes a surcharge or excludes coverage for the glass roof of certain vehicles, the carmakers will design a better roof.”

  Read the full article on the Wheels.ca website

 

 


The Globe & Mail - Jason Tchir
January 12, 2017. I may take the VW buyback, what similar used car should I get for the money?

Don’t count your buyback until it’s hatched – the Dieselgate deal won’t be before the courts for approval until March.

But, if the deal happens, getting rid of your wagon – instead of getting the emissions problem fixed – is something to consider, says George Iny, president of the Automobile Protection Association, a subscription-based watchdog.

“It gets expensive to keep running after 150,000 kilometres,” Iny said in an e-mail. “Transmission, fuel pump, other repairs.”

Under the proposed deal, owners will get a cash payment and can either get the problem fixed, trade in their cars or get the buyback, with adjustments for options and mileage at the time of the actual offer.

When? That’s “TBD,” Volkswagen’s website said.

 

Read the full article on the Globe & Mail website

 

 


CBC News - Katie Nicholson, Joanne Levasseur, Vera-Lynn Kubinec
January 11, 2017. Dozens of Manitoba car buyers get extra fees back from dealerships

In the wake of a CBC I-Team investigation into car dealerships charging extra fees on top of the advertised price of a vehicle, 66 customers have received settlements or refunds from 27 dealerships.

Last September, the I-Team's undercover shoppers found seven out of 10 dealerships were still trying to add extra fees on top of the advertised price, despite a new provincial law in 2015 meant to protect car buyers from surprise fees.

Since the I-Team's September story, the Consumer Protection Office said it received 90 complaints from car buyers about fees added to the advertised price of vehicles.
...
The Automobile Protection Association's George Iny said "sometimes regulators get confused and they forget who they are there to protect."

"Transparency must be the rule for complaints that are legitimate," Iny said. "Publicity helps level the knowledge inequality between buyer and seller."

Iny also believes that compliant dealerships have suffered because no one knows which ones were following the regulations.

 
Read the full article on the CBC website


 


Driving.ca - Lorraine Sommerfeld
January 9, 2017. Gas prices bring plenty of complaints but little change from consumers

Of course this is about recent jumps at the pump. But there have always been increases in taxes, gas-jackings at long weekends and tragedy pricing whenever there is an oil spill or fire that oil companies seem uniquely good at pimping for a silver lining. Drivers are junkies, and they know it...

But consumers are a complicated lot, according the Automobile Protection Association (APA). “They respond one way in surveys and act another when they get in the showroom,” APA president George Iny explains. Over and over, they say they want fuel economy but ever increasing fuel prices do little to dampen their enthusiasm for buying bigger and bigger vehicles...

Will the latest round of fuel jumps change anything? John Raymond, a long-time industry consultant now with the APA, doesn’t think so.

“SUV sales will not change, except for some buyers converting to CUVs. Pickup sales will not change unless incentives dry up. People are tired of traditional three-box vehicles [sedans], that game is over. Hatchbacks are making a comeback, especially if they are two inches higher off the ground and have plastic appendages. Sports cars will continue to be making little more than a blip on the sales charts, because you get crazy performance from sport SUVs and premium cars today.”

If Raymond is right – and I think he is – ask yourself something as you go to purchase that SUV tomorrow. If a tank of fuel costs $75 and gets 600 kilometres, are you prepared for it to cost you $80? $90? More? Or will you simply believe that Canadians are somehow being punished more than other countries for exercising their right to drive comparatively huge vehicles? 

Read the full article on at Driving.ca

 

 

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