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Saskatchewan beefs up protection for car-buying public


The underlying theme of the new regulations, which became law Feb. 1, is buy from a licensed dealer.

The Financial and Consumer Affairs Authority (FCAA), the province’s consumer watchdog, warns the regs don’t apply to private sales.

The new regs applying to licensed dealers include the following advertising rules.

Licensed dealers must include accurate pricing in their advertising.

The sticker price or the price listed in an ad must represent the total cost, not including taxes if the buyer is paying for the vehicle in-cash, without financing, a trade-in or extras. This is referred to as “the drive- away price.”

The drive-away price must include charges for freight, inspection before delivery and any additional fees and levies.

The drive-away price applies only to full-cash purchases and does not apply in the case of trade-ins or financing.

A buyer can sue for the difference between the advertised price and the price they paid if a dealer doesn’t follow the requirements in the regulations.

The Consumer Protection Division of the FCAA warns it may consider other regulatory actions against an offending dealer.

Licensed sellers must provide buyers with reasonably obtainable information such as the vehicle’s history or any other information that might influence a decision to purchase.

Material facts that must be disclosed include the following.

A printed VIN search (in the case of used vehicles).

If the vehicle was damaged in transit, totalling more than 20 per cent of its value (if new).

If the vehicle was used as a taxi, for law enforcement, as an emergency vehicle or for racing.

If the odometer doesn’t represent the true distance traveled by the vehicle, or has been altered or replaced.

If the vehicle was owned by a rental company in the last 24 months.

Any information a dealer should expect could influence a consumer’s decision to buy or lease, or refuse to buy or lease, a vehicle from the dealer.

If a dealer advertises a periodic payment for a vehicle that is to be financed on approved credit, the dealer must include in the advertised price the total charges that the consumer would pay if credit is approved, not including taxes.

A buyer may choose to pursue a dealer for damages or for the purchase price if there is a failure to disclose all necessary information about a vehicle, or if the information disclosed is false or misleading.
 
If the dispute meets the conditions for a failure to disclose a consumer may be able to return the vehicle for a full refund and recover any damages or losses.

The new regulations call for a minimum warranty on the sale of some used vehicles. If a used vehicle has fewer than 200,000 km, the dealer must supply a minimum warranty on the power train for 30 days or 1,000 km, whichever comes first.

If any component of the powertrain fails during the warranty period, the purchaser can choose to have it repaired or have the purchase price be returned.

If repairs are made, the dealer may only require the consumer pay a maximum of $200 towards the cost of the repairs.

The required warranty does not apply if the consumer misused the vehicle or the defect was brought to the buyer’s attention in writing.

The regs also cover leasing.

Susan Buckle, executive director of the Saskatchewan Automobile Dealers Association, says the dealers were consulted about the changes, which bring Saskatchewan in line with other provinces, like Alberta and Manitoba.

“We’re very happy with the update in the regulations.”

For more information, visit www.fcaa.gov.sk.ca/CPD-VD.

With files from the Regina Leader-Post.