Buying a Used Vehicle in Ontario? Get a Pre-Purchase Vehicle Inspection BEFORE You Buy!

Buying a car can be a huge financial commitment and no one wants to end up with buyer's remorse due to unexpected repairs soon after purchase. That is why its vital consumers exercise their 'due diligence' before purchasing any used vehicle - and in many cases, that means getting a pre-purchase mechanical inspection. 

Pre-purchase inspections are one of the most effective ways to ensure consumers don't overpay for a vehicle or get stuck with a vehicle that requires unexpected repairs. Mechanics can often spot a vehicle that's been involved in a collision or has been poorly maintained.

But not all pre-purchase inspections end with dramatic findings; in many cases they simply uncover needed repairs due to normal wear and tear. Often the seller doesn't even know about the problem. This gives the potential buyer and seller an opportunity to address any issues - sometimes resulting in a price change, the seller conducting the repairs as part of the purchase agreement or the buyer walking away.

Should I Have a Mechanic Inspect a Car Before Buying?

Anyone considering buying a vehicle from a private seller should 'insist' on an inspection before purchase. Consumers should keep the original copy of the mechanical inspection for their records and to negotiate a price change if the inspection identifies mechanical issues. If the consumer does not get the response they want, OMVIC recommends walking away.

While consumers who purchase from an OMVIC-Registered Dealer have many protections not available to those buying privately (e.g. dealers must disclose needed repairs to major components), a mechanical inspection on a used vehicle is also important, particularly if the vehicle has no warranty.

How Much Will an Inspection Cost? Where Can I Find a Good Mechanic?

Depending on the vehicle, pre-purchase inspections usually take about an hour, are available from many general repair facilities or specialized inspection companies and cost approximately $100-$150. Don't know where to find a 'good' mechanic? Member-based organizations such as the Automobile Protection Association (APA) and Car Help Canada offer vehicle-related services including lists of pre-screened reputable mechanics/repair shops/appraisers. Like OMVIC, these consumer protection groups encourage consumers to conduct a pre-purchase inspection of a vehicle they are considering for purchase.

To contact one of these consumer protection groups, visit their websites below:

Automobile Protection Association:

Car Help Canada:

Leverage the OMVIC Academy--Get Educated

The OMVIC Academy videos and associated guidebook will help turn apprehensive students into informed consumers. Inspired by sitcoms from the 80s and 90s, each video follows students Ling, Timmy, Justin and Ellen on their journey to becoming "confident car buyers" while guided by the sagacious Professor OMVIC. The videos and Car-Buying Guide are targeted to first-time buyers and new Canadians. OMVIC also encourages high school teachers and driving school instructors to utilize the Academy resources.


An educated and informed consumer is a protected consumer.

Visit to learn more about your car-buying rights and when they apply, as well as additional tips for buying a car in Ontario.

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