Some customers who’ve bought vehicles from an Ottawa used-car dealership say they feel the company was “dishonest” with them after discovering multiple safety concerns with their vehicles.
Now they, and an automobile protection expert, are warning others of the potential lack of safety oversight on dealerships in Ontario.
“I felt like he sold me a piece of garbage,” said customer Sydney Blanchard.
Customers said they opted to buy from a dealership that sells what’s known as “safetied” vehicles as opposed to private listings, believing they follow higher standards.
A safety standards inspection and certificate — casually called “safetied” — is required by law in Ontario before completing a sale of a used vehicle meant for the road. It is done by a ministry-licensed garage or mechanic, and confirms the vehicle meets the province’s minimum safety standards.
George Iny, director of the Automobile Protection Association, said Ontario’s safety inspection system suffers from a lack of oversight and is “essentially unreliable” from a consumer standpoint.
Ontario’s Ministry of Transportation (MTO) is the safety oversight body, but Iny says the ministry rarely penalizes those who don’t follow the rules.
“This shop should lose its MTO ability to certify vehicles,” Iny said, should there be a pattern of passing unsafe vehicles at Garage Plus Auto Centre.
In an emailed statement, the ministry said it can’t comment “on any active, pending or previous investigation concerning” a licensed inspection station.
Though safety standards paperwork is required, it’s rarely delivered to the customer with the vehicle, Iny said.
If the consumer feels a safety certificate was issued on a vehicle with significant issues, Iny recommends finding a second opinion. Should the dealer fail to co-operate, consumers can complain to OMVIC or even the MTO in cases of “serious” safety violations.