Accident Disclosure When Buying a Used Vehicle

When buying a used car, its accident history will affect your decision to buy it or not. This is called accident disclosure and is one of 21 disclosures required by law in Ontario to appear on your purchase contract. Disclosures, put simply, tell you details about the vehicle’s history and stay with the vehicle until it’s scrapped. In this blog post, I’ll talk about accident disclosures for used vehicles.

What Counts as a Disclosure?

When you speak with the sales rep at the dealership, they’ll take time to provide you with various details about the car. They should tell you about its history and provide any supporting documentation that is needed. However, your conversations with the sales rep do not count as disclosure under the law in Ontario. Providing disclosure verbally does not meet the requirements of the Act.

A disclosure is only considered a disclosure when it is written on the contract that you must sign to purchase your car. The law further states that disclosures be “clear, comprehensible, and prominent.” For example, the dealer cannot write “DR” on the contract for “daily rental.”

Accident Disclosure

When you’re searching for a used car, some dealers will offer a vehicle information report as an incentive to contact them. A report is not required by law, and typically will only cover about five out of the 21 legally required disclosures. These reports are useful, but they’re incomplete. A full inspection will reveal much more about the car’s history.

All significant previous accidents and subsequent repairs must be disclosed on the sales contract.

Mechanical Repair Disclosures

Mechanical repairs are conducted after an accident but also as part of routine maintenance. These repair disclosures will not show up on a vehicle history report. For example, if the air conditioner in an old car broke down, the previous owner may have chosen to not repair it. The dealer may make the same decision, depending on their assessment of the vehicle. However, the dealer must add to the contract that the air conditioner requires repair.

The components covered by the repair disclosure include the engine, transmission, power train, sub frame/suspension, computer, electrical system, fuel system, and air conditioning.

Do You Still Have Questions About a Vehicle’s Accident History?

If you have questions about a car, ask them! Sales reps are required to do their best to disclose as much history about the vehicle as they can reasonably discover.

Get It in Writing

If you sign a contract that does not disclose in writing and in clear, comprehensible, and prominent language the vehicle’s history, you have recourse to return it. For example, you may find the following on your contract: “Customer has received a Carproof report and is aware of all vehicle history and previous province/country of origin.” This is not full disclosure.

Thousands of people shop for used cars every day. As a used car buyer yourself, you have the right to full disclosure of the vehicle’s history. Don’t be afraid to ask for it. If you have any questions or concerns about the dealership you are buying from, contact the UCDA, Used Car Dealers Association. If the dealer is a member, we can help.

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