How many kilometres until a ‘new’ car is no longer new?

I was ready to buy a new EV from a dealer. Before I came in to sign, I had them email me a copy of the sales agreement so I could send it to my insurance company and get the car insured. I noticed that it listed the mileage as 2,800 kilometres, even though the car was listed as new on the website. I’d taken the car for a test drive one evening, but I didn’t think to look at the odometer on a new car. I then asked whether it had been a demo and they said it was new because it had never been licensed or insured. They said it had high mileage because “it had been in their inventory for a few months.” Then they said the warranty had started nearly six months before. None of this had been mentioned before I’d asked. I didn’t take the car. So, how many kilometres can a car have on the odometer and still be considered new? – Jason, Edmonton

Your brand new car may not be all that new, experts say.

Under provincial regulations, there are no limits on how many kilometres a car may have on the odometer when sold as new.

Instead, a vehicle is considered new until someone registers it. That’s typically the first buyer, but it could also be the dealer if the car is being used as a demo model.

“A new vehicle would have a New Vehicle Information Statement (NVIS) for the consumer to take with them to register the vehicle [with the province],” said Laura Meador, a spokeswoman for the Alberta Motor Vehicle Industry Council (AMVIC), which regulates car dealers in Alberta. “If the NVIS had previously been used to register a vehicle, then that vehicle must be identified as used, regardless of the odometer reading.”

Mileage may vary?

While dealers and buyers have different ideas of how many kilometres a new car should have on the odometer, anything more than 1,000 kilometres is “brazen,” said George Iny, president of the Automobile Protection Association, a national pro-consumer advocacy group with offices in Toronto and Montreal.

To a car dealer, [new] means a vehicle was never registered in someone else’s name or plated as a dealer service loaner,” Iny said. “To a consumer, new means fresh from the factory, not driven except for the short distances for [shipping and unloading] – that would be under 50 kilometres.”

Dealers often register new vehicles for personal use or for customer test drives, Prymak said. “When they do this, the vehicle automatically becomes a demo and is considered a used vehicle.”

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