Changes to Ontario’s used vehicle safety standards could impact prices


By Lawrence Papoff

Ontario’s used vehicle safety standards are going to get an overhaul to keep them in step with the times.

It’s 2016, not 1976 after all. Back then, there were no such things as airbags, anti-lock brakes, electric stability control and hybrids.

But there’s more to the changes than that. Regulation 611 and every one of its 10 sections that govern safety checks – powertrain; suspension; brakes, steering; instruments/auxiliary equipment; lamps; electrical; body; tires and wheels; coupling devices – will be tougher.

Tire depth, for example, is one of the changes under the new regs. Technicians must inspect the tread to find the area where the depth is at its minimum. If tread depth is less than 2 mm at the point of minimum depth, it fails.

There are now three leak levels: seepage that doesn’t form drops; seepage that forms drops not great enough to fall and seepage that forms drops that fall.

A vehicle with a one, two or three-level leak will fail.

Techs must also road test the vehicle by driving it at a speed over 40 km/hr.; turn left and right with the wheel at full lock – as far as it can be turned; slam on the brakes at no less than 40 km/hr.; apply the parking brake and drive over at least one bump about five cm in height.

Then the tech has to record and report all “tell-tales” that don’t result in a failure.

Ontario’s Ministry of Transportation (MTO) developed the changes with the help of industry players such as the Trillium Automobile Dealers Association and the Used Car Dealers Association.

“The Ministry worked in partnership with our stakeholder associations to develop the standard,” explained Bob Nichols, MTO senior media liaison officer.

“Our stakeholders have been very supportive, offering detailed and practical advice and field testing the standard as it was going through the drafting stages to confirm the average length of time it would take to complete an inspection and that the requirements could be easily checked on the shop floor.”

But Kevin MacDonald, Canadian AutoWorld’s wholesale columnist, warned dealers would have to be cautious when taking in trades.

He notes the short-term impact will reduce values on units under $5,000 dollars.

“In fact, just finding a value on some of these trades will be difficult due to the confusion and flux associated with these types of market shifts,” he says.

“It will be cost prohibitive to pay strong money for a unit for retail if they are expected to recondition to this extent.”

MacDonald says the days of the $50 inspection are long gone because the inspection times are going to increase as will the recon work needed.

He expects dealers will ship cars that don’t make the grade to other provinces with lower inspection standards.