Mechanical Problems on Used Cars and Motorcycles Sold by Merchants

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You just bought a used car. You put the key in the ignition. The motor doesn’t start. There’s a loud “boom”, then it’s quiet.  What do you do? If you bought the used car or motorcycle from a merchant, the law gives you some protection.

Important! The rules are different if you bought your vehicle from an individual instead of a merchant. A “merchant” is a dealer or other person doing business.

Have you thought of checking these things?

  • Does the warranty of good working order apply?
  • Does the manufacturer or dealer warranty apply?
  • Does your purchase contract include an extra warranty? 
  • Can the problem can be resolved through the Canadian Motor Vehicle Arbitration Plan (CAMVAP)? To learn more about CAMVAP, see the rest of this article.

The Warranty of Good Working Order

If the “good working order” warranty on the used car or motorcycle still applies and covers the problem, you can take these steps: 

  • Communicate informally with the merchant to ask her to fix the problem. 
  • Send a legal letter (a “demand” letter) to the merchant to inform her of the problem and ask her to fix it. The advantage of this kind of letter is that it gives you written proof, including the date, that you informed the merchant of the problem.

If the merchant refuses to fix the problem, you can take these steps:

Important! Even if the warranty of good working order on your used car or motorcycle has expired, or your vehicle was never covered by this warranty, the “legal” warranty still protects you.

The Manufacturer or Dealer Warranty

If the used car or motorcycle stops working, check if the original manufacturer or dealer’s warranty covers the problem. If it does, follow the procedure in the warranty contract.

An Extended Warranty in Your Purchase Contract

The purchase contract for the used car or motorcycle might have a warranty that is better than the one provided by the law. This is often called an extended warranty. You have to check to see if this is the case. If it is, follow the procedure in the contract. 


Your used car has a manufacturing defect? Check if the problem can be submitted to the CAMVAP.

What is the CAMVAP?

The CAMVAP (Canadian Motor Vehicle Arbitration Plan) is a program to resolve disputes between car manufacturers and car buyers. 

What kinds of problems can be submitted to the CAMVAP?

Disputes that can be submitted to the CAMVAP must respect certain criteria, including the following:

  • The disagreement is between you and a manufacturer (and not, for example, a dealer).
  • Your car is this year’s model or a model from the last four years.
  • Your car has travelled less than 160,000 kilometres.
  • The disagreement is about a defect in the manufacturing of the used car.

For more information about this program, consult CAMVAP’s website.

What are the advantages of submitting a dispute to CAMVAP?

The costs of CAMVAP are paid for by car manufacturers. You only have to pay for your expenses (e.g., photocopies and costs for experts).

A neutral and impartial person called an arbitrator hears the case and makes a decision that must be respected by both sides.

Important !
This article explains in a general way the law that applies in Quebec. This article is not a legal opinion or legal advice. To find out the specific rules for your situation, consult a lawyer or notary.