Note: This post is for information purposed only and does not constitute legal advice. If you require legal advice, please contact a lawyer. You may wish to consult legal reference resources such as the Law Society of Upper Canada’s Lawyer Referral Service, Community Legal Education Ontario (CLEO), or the Canadian Bar Association’s list of Pro Bono Legal Resources in Canada.
Here at PIAC, we often receive emails and letters about consumer advocacy on a variety of subjects, some outside the scope of our expertise. Over the past few months, Canadian consumers have written us repeatedly regarding various struggles they have encountered regarding automobile ownership. According to Statistics Canada, over 11 million Canadians depend on their vehicle to get to and from work. As a result, we’re pleased to offer a few resources for those experiencing car troubles.
Photo Courtesy of Ryan McGuire
Step 1: Talk to your dealer. In most cases, consumers have already taken this step. However, it is worth inquiring since the source of your problem may have already been identified by your vehicle manufacturer or dealer. In addition, your issue may already be the subject of a recall or other remedy. You can search for vehicle recalls using Transport Canada’s Motor Vehicle Safety Recalls Database or consult Transport Canada’s Motor Vehicle Safety Directorate for other safety issues.
Step 2: If your concern remains unresolved after discussing it with your dealer, you may approach the organization that regulates the sale of motor vehicles in your province or territory. Usually, this is a vehicle industry council, such as the Alberta Motor Vehicle Industry Council (AMVIC), the Motor Vehicle Sales Authority of British Columbia or the Ontario Motor Vehicle Industry Council (OMVIC). In many instances, these organizations will investigate your concerns and offer a dispute resolution service.
Step 3: If the complaint remains in dispute after consulting the regulator, you may consider contacting the Canadian Motor Vehicle Arbitration Plan (CAMVAP). CAMVAP is a program for disputes between consumers and vehicle manufacturers. Alleged manufacturing defects or implementation of the manufacturers’ new vehicle warranty can be put before a neutral third party (arbitrator) for resolution. To reach CAMVAP, visit their website or call 1-800-207-0685.
Photo Courtesy of Evan Kirby
Consult An Experienced Honest Broker: At any point during this process, you may also consult an organization with expertise in the automotive sector from the consumer perspective, such as the Automobile Protection Association (APA). The APA disseminates information about automobile defects, advocates for improved automobile safety standards and promotes consumer information about the automotive industry in Canada. The APA routinely appears as a media commentator, and collaborates frequently with news programs such as CTV’s W5 to raise awareness on automotive issues. More information can be found on the APA website, or by calling 416-204-1444
PIAC hopes the vast majority of Canadian automobile owners never require this information. However, if you do experience car troubles, the resources listed here may help fix your problem and get you back on the road.
Jonathan Bishop has been a Research Analyst with the Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC) since 2012. He has authored or co-authored numerous research studies from the consumer perspective on a range of issues including international wireless data roaming, customer loyalty programs and air passenger rights. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.