Is my used car safe to drive?

A used car dealer has sold you a car. Is it safe to drive?

A result of the "challenged economy" has been an increase in sales of used vehicles. When you are buying a previously owned vehicle you might also be purchasing someone else's problems.

How do you know that the vehicle does not have a mechanical concern that will soon start digging into your wallet? Perhaps this "good deal" has not turned out as well as it first appeared.

Alberta Transportation has just released a change that came into effect May 14, 2010. Car dealerships must assess mechanical fitness on used vehicles.

In order to provide potential buyers with more information, the province will now require all dealerships to have a licensed journeyman technician complete a mechanical fitness assessment on used motor vehicles prior to their sale.

“This is about providing consumers with more information about their purchases and increasing consumer confidence and awareness,” said Luke Ouellette, Minister of Transportation. “Our focus is on increased transparency and these regulation amendments will do just that. I would like to thank the motor dealers for their ongoing support and input in helping to develop these important changes.”

Alberta Transportation has worked closely with the Motor Dealers’ Association of Alberta to develop the amendments to the Vehicle Inspection Regulation. The news release advises that they will continue to work closely with the motor dealers in communicating the changes to consumers.

“With this change, Alberta motor dealers will provide enhanced protection for consumers looking to purchase used vehicles,” said Denis Ducharme, Motor Dealers’ Association of Alberta. “When purchasing a used vehicle at a motor dealer in Alberta, you know exactly what you’re buying.”

Prior to these amendments, dealerships completed a certificate indicating the overall condition of the vehicle without requiring a complete mechanical assessment. Under the revised regulations, a mechanical assessment will be completed by licensed journeyman technician with a trade certificate as an Automotive Service Technician or Heavy Equipment Technician under the Apprenticeship and Industry Training Act.

A mechanical fitness assessment will be valid for 120 days from the time of completion. This is a change from 14 days for the previous certificate. The extended time period recognizes the broader nature of the assessment.

More information about the amendments to the vehicle inspection regulation is available on the Alberta Transportation Website.

At this point we are awaiting confirmation that this inspection is accepted by the insurance companies as a satisfactory vehicle inspection. We will advise you once we have that information.