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Ontario Vehicle Safety Inspections Important Tips

Some Basics on Purchasing a Vehicle or Selling from Sils Complete Auto Care your  Mississauga and Oakville Auto Service Facility.

1. Ensure to purchase a safety inspected vehicle from an OMVIC certified dealer within Ontario.

Many are also members of the Used Car Dealers Association, which has a list of car-buying tips at, along with ways to identify ‘curbsiders,’ unregistered dealers masquerading as private sellers.

2. Ensure to review the car during day light hours in clear weather preferably.  In the night it’s hard to see issues or concerns with the car. If it isn’t available for a second look on a dry day, walk away.

3. Fresh undercoating or rust protections sprays. It can hide a multitude of sins. Sellers may state they  just had it undercoated for my new buyer, meaning just had my issues covered up so you cant tell. You might be purchasing problems beneath it. Common vehicle safety inspection coverups are heavy rust on brake lines, gas lines and general body. As well spray foam filled holes in the body and then covered with black rubberized spray. 

4. Bumpers and panels that don’t line up. These can indicate a car that’s been in a collision. Look for possible signs of repair, including areas that are a different colour, trim pieces that look newer than the rest, paint overspray, or ripples in the body.

Just because Carfax, Carproof shows no accidents on file that does not mean that an owner could have paid out of pocket cash for accident damage repairs. I have seen repairs upwards of $20,000.00 paid to avoid insurance claims in my auto repair ownership time. 


5. No road test. No buy.  You need to feel the vehicle, listen for issues. Handling and braking should be felt. Manufacturer features, functions, and accessories. Take time on the road test and try them out. Ask the seller about all the features.  See if they start commenting “we’ll this doesn’t work, and that doesn’t work” . Items like: heated seat(s), cooling seat(s), rear seat belts, fold down seating, lay away seating, all positions movement of seats, All interior lighting, radio and all radio features, navigation system and blue tooth pairing system, fuel door, truck and hood release functions. Auto sliding doors side and rear, remote control key fobs and do all features work with fobs on car. See if equipped with Wheel lock keys and have owner show them to you and verify they fit. A government vehicle safety inspection does not cover many of these "accessory" features inside a vehicle. 

6. Puddles and smells.  Any leaks dripping during a Ontario Vehicle Safety Inspection fail on a vehicle. However many people wash and clean engine of leaks prior to having safety inspection performed. European cars have large under vehicle covers that capture leaks and are not necessarily seen on the ground. A Technician should inspect this with the cover removed.. A buyer of the vehicle should even pay extra to ensure these covers are removed if necessary, you need to see what's under there. 

7. Missing or incorrect paperwork. If you’re buying the vehicle certified, examine the safety certificate. It cannot have any blank areas and the vehicle information number (VIN) must match that of the car. TIP: request a copy of the actual inspection check list from the auto repair facility from the seller.  By law an auto service facility must document the inspection and provide a copy to the seller, or the shop must keep them on file. 

Check the date of the safety. It expires after 36 days, weekends and holidays included. An unscrupulous seller might date it so it runs out shortly after you take delivery of the vehicle.

If it’s a private sale, the seller needs to provide a Used Vehicle Information Package, obtained from the Ontario Ministry of Transportation, which you keep when you buy the car.

Make sure the seller’s name matches that in the package. If not, you may be dealing with a curbsider. See this link to OMVIC for curbsider. 

The package will also tell you if the car was ever written off, if there are any outstanding liens against it, and if there is any reason why it can’t be licensed. An owner ship branded "rebuilt" means it was written off and after significant repairs and proper certification it was approved on the road again.  In my personal opinion, walk away fast from these vehicles sales. 

Check the mileage on the package with the car’s odometer to be sure it lines up. 

Beware, too, if the seller can’t provide the vehicle’s service records, including maintenance and repairs.

8. The ‘death rattle.’ That’s any rapping, tapping or banging sound coming out of the engine when it’s running, especially when it’s cold. Check the tailpipe; the exhaust shouldn’t be blue or black, or smell of antifreeze. Pull out the oil dipstick, and pass on the car if the oil looks creamy-white, which can indicate an internal coolant leak.

9. A vehicle with a  "Too" clean interior.  Either you have a person you is dedicated to having a spotless vehicle or it just went to a detailing facility for the full makeover.  Beware of too-heavy air freshener smells that could be masking cigarette smoke or mildew from water leaks. Tip: remove the spare tires area covers and panels, get in there, see if any water pooling. Car car leak inside and people never realize it.  Sunroof drains and door seals leak causing water to enter the vehicle, hence the musty smell in the car. 

Here at our Oakville Auto Repair facility we've seen floors wet from plugged sunroof drains and the constant wet smelly sock smell in the car. This is much harder to notice in the winter time. 

10. A rush job. Beware the car that you have to buy right away, whether it’s a private seller with a deadline such as moving away or selling it for a relative, or a dealer who says it’s ‘on special today’ or ‘it will be gone tomorrow.’ There could be issues like mechanical repairs needed and wants to unload fast, a dealer unloading a lemon they cant sell for a fair market price. 

11. Should I get a car inspected before I buy it? YES, Get a Pre purchase vehicle inspection.  It’s not a perfect guarantee. A certified technician in an automotive facility can assess the vehicle pre purchase and warn you against pending issues or provide advice on the condition of the vehicle.  Find a facility that is up to date with safety guidelines. Many shops have no manual, and perform safety from memory.  The guidelines have recently changed and allow for many more items to be inspected. As well inspecting non safety items like maintenance issues is important.   

CAA Website  We are CAA Oakville Auto Repair facility. We have been with the CAA for over 20 years. 


12 Air conditioning. This is a hard area. In winter you can’t really tell if it’s working. Add to the complexity, that when many older cars have a failure they are likely to find the cheapest solution to solve the problem. The automotive market is flooded with flammable based refrigerant alternatives you can buy off the auto store shelf.  So once it fails the seller fills it with this flammable based chemical, and voila cold air again ready for the sale.   The only way to avoid this is to fully test the a/c system pre purchase or at least verification of a non flammable refrigerant in the system. There will be a cost to do this in many cases, but could save you a bad purchase deal, if not hundreds in a/c repairs down the road .

You can’t expect to keep a seller waiting too long for your decision, but you should be able to give it some thought before you buy.

A safety inspection is NOT a warranty on the car. Effective the date of the inspection a licensed government technician stated it passed all criteria to transfer the ownership. The certificate is valid for 36 calendar days.  If You fail the inspection you have 10 days to have it fixed to standards and re inspected by the original facility. The facility may have a fee to Re Inspect the vehicle as they need to verify those repairs were done properly and to specifications.

If you wish you can sell a vehicle “ as is “ and that means exactly that – you get what you buy and the buyer assumes the risk of the safety inspection concerns.

Q: What do you inspect Ontario Vehicle Safety Inspection? 

A: It's a long list 

Here is the attached 2015 updated manual a certified licensed technician will follow for a ontario safety inspection check list.

Common areas of dispute we see in our Oakville auto repair facility. . 

Rust - The amount of rust on brake lines, gas lines. If you can "flake" the rust of with your finger it fails. Not scrubbing it with a tool, and picking at it. Take you finger and flake the rust off means you fail a safety inspection

Warning lights: In 2015 we stared failing vehicle safety inspection on ABS and SRS lights. Other lights like stability control, TPMS, battery warning all need to be documented. 

Serpentine belt, axle shafts, fluid leaks dripping are all new issues neglected during safety inspection as they are part of the newer inspection process. 

Have any issues or need a Ontario Safety Inspection for transfer, sale, or coming in to province we can help. 

Sils Auto Care Centre serving Mississauga and Oakville for car repair and maintenance service since 1976. 

Carlo Sabucco 

Owner - sils Complete Auto Caree Centre




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