Toronto

Ont. car dealers face stricter rules

Ontario has unveiled a host of new regulations aimed at providing better protection for consumers looking to buy new and used cars.

Ontario has unveiled a host of new regulations aimed at providing better protection for consumers looking to buy new and used cars.

The amended Ontario Motor Vehicle Dealers Act (OMVDA), which went into effect on Friday, includes a code of ethics for car dealerships.

The new regulations include provisions that require car dealers to:

  • Disclose more details about a vehicle's history.
  • Pay stiffer fines for any violations of the OMVDA, such as tampering with the odometer.
  • Show the full price of the vehicle, including all fees, in advertisements.
  • Take back a vehicle and refund the buyer if they fail to fully disclose past accidents or use.

The province has also hired more inspectors to enforce the new rules.

"Dealers that aren't doing things above board are going to be found out. It's those dealers — and there's been many of them in the past — that have tarnished our industry with consumers," said David Bessuille, general manager of Erinwood Ford in Mississauga, Ont.

"So at the end of the day,  you're going to know what you're getting a lot more than you used to. And that's good for everyone, it protects you. Everything is above board," he told CBC News.

Mohamed Bouchama, a consumer advocate and president of Car Help Canada, encourages consumers to find out about the new rules before they buy.

"It's very critical. Otherwise if consumers are not aware of their rights, it's like nothing's changed," he said.

Bouchama was part of a panel that helped shape the regulations, which were seven years in the making.

 "We fought hard, although the industry was not too happy about certain changes, but the government really stuck to their guns."

The new rules were originally to take effect in April 2009. But that implementation date was pushed back after the auto industry asked for more time to adjust to the new rules.