Nova Scotia

Used car lemon law coming to N.S.

Nova Scotia's used car dealers will soon have to identify rebuilt or previously damaged vehicles by placing labels on their windshields.
Used car dealerships will have to label previously damaged cars when Nova Scotia's new law comes into effect. ((CBC))
Nova Scotia's used car dealers will soon have to identify rebuilt or previously damaged vehicles by placing labels on their windshields.

Changes to the Motor Vehicle Act were introduced Monday to ensure consumers know a used vehicle's history before they buy it. The province said the changes are a response to complaints from consumers.

"These new consumer protection measures will help Nova Scotians make informed decisions before they drive off a car lot," said Ramona Jennex, the minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations.

Nova Scotia will become the first province to clearly label a vehicle as a "lemon" — vehicles deemed unrepairable or ones that are manufacturers' buybacks, according to a news release from Service Nova Scotia. Vehicles that have been involved in a serious collision in Canada or the U.S. will also be labelled.

Dealers who do not comply with the new legislation when it goes into effect later this year will be fined. Not providing a full agreement of purchase will result in a $500 fine. A $1,000 fine will be given to dealers who do not provide a certificate of registration.

Paul Arsenault, the registrar of motor vehicles at Service Nova Scotia, said the amendments would help consumers when choosing their next car.

"This will give us some more tools to make sure that the brand on the certificate clearly reflects the damage that is done and then we're going to make sure they show the certificate to the person coming into the showroom," said Arsenault. "That's something that we don't believe is done all the time now."

The province said most dealers already disclose vehicle history.

Dealer welcomes changes

In the last year, 87,915 used-vehicle transactions involved licensed dealers in Nova Scotia. These transactions include dealer-to-dealer sales and rental car agency sales.

Paul Gillan, owner of Tri-City Auto in Lower Sackville, said he welcomes more disclosure from dealers.

"Hopefully that weeds out the people that maybe are not doing the customers so great a favour," said Gillan. "It's going to make the dealers that buy better vehicles shine a bit more because they've got nothing to hide."

Harold Campbell, who was at a car lot on Monday, said he likes the idea of more information when buying a used car.

"It's very important to make sure you're getting a good quality car," said Campbell. "You don't want to buy one and in six months time, you're sorry you bought it because you spent a lot of money on it."

The new rules will not apply to private auto sales or trade-ins.

John K. Sutherland, executive vice-president of the Nova Scotia Automobile Dealers Safety Association, said excluding private sales and trade-ins is an issue.

"We need to be concerned about where we're driving the problem vehicles and if that's into the trade-in side, if that's into the private sale side, we will have problems eventually," said Sutherland.

The province said it will be eight to 10 months before the provisions go into effect. 

There are about 1,500 licensed car dealers in Nova Scotia.