Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism.
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
Just$1.99
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Cancel Anytime
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Canada’s most-awarded
newsroom for a reason
Stay informed for a
lot less, cancel anytime
“Exemplary reporting on
COVID-19” – Herman L
$1.99
per week
for 24 weeks
Get full access to globeandmail.com
Just $1.99per week for the first 24weeks
Just $1.99per week for the first 24weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(select.open)}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](select.open),dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); } //

Is there such a thing as a clause that allows the return of a new car when buyer’s remorse sets in? What about when there’s something wrong with the car? A friend just brought a new car and its computer system shut down 10 days later. – Ann, Toronto

When you buy a car, satisfaction isn’t guaranteed.

In Ontario and most other provinces, once you sign a contract to buy or lease a new or used car, there’s usually no getting out of it.

Story continues below advertisement

“The basic rule with car sales is that a contract is binding,” said George Iny, president of the Automobile Protection Association (APA). “A sales agreement may not even have to be in writing to bind the customer, although I have not heard of a dealership trying to enforce a verbal agreement to buy a vehicle.”

In Ontario, car sales are covered by the Consumer Protection Act (CPA) and the Motor Vehicle Dealers Act (MVDA).

Under the MVDA, the dealership has to tell you basic information about the car before you buy it, said the Ontario Motor Vehicle Industry Council (OMVIC) which regulates the province’s dealers.

For instance, they have to tell you the correct mileage and whether the car had been used as a taxi, limo, police car, emergency vehicle or rental car.

If they didn’t, you can cancel the contract within 90 days.

But if the dealer didn’t deceive you and you just changed your mind, you’re stuck with it, Iny said. Under the CPA, similar rules apply if you buy a car privately.

In most provinces, including Ontario, cooling-off periods – a few days in which you can back out of some contracts – don’t apply to car sales.

Story continues below advertisement

But Quebec gives you two days to back out of a sales contract with a new or used dealer – but only if you took out an auto loan through the dealer as part of the sale. If you bought with cash or through a personal loan, you’re out of luck.

In British Columbia, there is a one-day cooling-off period for lease transactions, Iny said.

We’ve come to expect that when we walk into a store, we can return anything we buy – but that concept has mostly “eluded the best minds in auto retailing,” Iny said.

Some used car sites, including Clutch, allow you to return or exchange a car within 7 to 15 days after you buy it, Iny said

No lemon aid?

Once you sign that contract, most glitches and repairs are normally covered by the warranty.

But what if your car keeps needing repairs and is constantly in the shop? Can you return or exchange a lemon?

Story continues below advertisement

“Laws on warranties in most provinces allow it, but no auto maker recognizes a consumer’s right to return defective goods,” Iny said, “You would have to sue, which can take years and cost a bundle.”

Unlike the U.S., Canada doesn’t have lemon laws to protect you if your car is plagued with problems that dealers can’t fix, Iny said.

Instead, we have the Canadian Motor Vehicle Arbitration Plan (CAMVAP).

It handles disputes over defective cars and can order a car maker to fix a car or buy it back.

Car makers aren’t required to join CAMVAP, even though most do. It’s not always hard enough on car makers, Iny said.

“The APA likes the idea of a specialized auto arbitration process for bad cars, but it should be independent, not a creature of the car makers,” Iny said. “Fiat Chrysler recently pulled out of CAMVAP because decisions weren’t going their way.”

Story continues below advertisement

In 2019, 29 Fiat Chrysler (FCA) cars faced CAMVAP arbitration. The company had to buy back 15 and repair three.

When asked what a buyer should do if a new vehicle is facing problems, FCA said it would “continue to honour our warranty obligations.”

Have a driving question? Send it to globedrive@globeandmail.com and put ‘Driving Concerns’ in your subject line. Emails without the correct subject line may not be answered. Canada’s a big place, so let us know where you are so we can find the answer for your city and province.

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow the author of this article:

Follow topics related to this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

UPDATED: Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies