Vehicle Inspections: Tougher Standards for Used Vehicles

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Ontario introduces new safety standards for used motor vehicle inspections.

If you sell used vehicles in the province of Ontario, it’s imperative that you familiarize yourself with the new safety standards, which have changed for the first time in over 4 decades. On July 1, 2016, the Ministry of Transportation amended the safety standards for used vehicle inspections in Ontario. These changes are the result of amendments to the Passenger/Light Duty Vehicle Inspection Standard, set out in Regulation 611 under the Ontario Highway Traffic Act.

The Standard sets out vehicle components and systems that must be checked during inspections at licensed Motor Vehicle Inspection Stations, and the standards that must be met for a vehicle to be considered roadworthy and obtain a safety standards certificate.

Road test and inspection report

All ten sections of the Standard have been amended and a new section requiring a road test has been added to the inspection process, during which a technician is required to assess the presence of warning lights and proper functioning of the odometer and the vehicle’s mechanical systems.

Following inspection, a report must be provided to the consumer with the results, including measurements for specified components such as tire tread depth and any warning lamps that are illuminated. Licensees or technicians can create their own report provided it meets all the requirements set out in Regulation 611.

Powertrains, suspension and brakes

Section 1 of the Standard adds new components to the inspection of the powertrain system including the accelerator pedal, throttle actuator, exhaust system, drive shaft, differential, clutch, clutch pedal, engine and transmission mounts, gear shifter/ selector and position indicator, drive belt pulley, electric and hybrid electric powertrain, gasoline and diesel fuel systems, and compressed natural gas and propane fuel systems.

Section 2 of the Standard deals with the suspension and includes new ride height, bushing, and shock/strut requirements. There are also new requirements for air suspension components and suspension system travel.

Section 3 deals with brakes and sets out new requirements to measure and record the dimensions of brake components including drum, rotor and brake lining. The criteria for various types of brake systems are more closely aligned with the specific requirements for each of the various system types such as vacuum assist, hydraulic assist, and air assist. There are also new requirements for Anti-lock Brake System, and new Electronic Stability Control systems are required for light duty vehicles manufactured on or after September 1, 2011.

Steering, instruments and lamps

Section 4 deals with steering and introduces new requirements for upper strut bearings, steering dampener, tilt/telescopic hardware, remote steering systems, hydraulic power steering system pump and associated components and minimum parts quality and maximum leakage requirements.

Section 5 deals with instruments and auxiliary equipment and adds new requirements for horn switches, speedometers, odometers and windshield wipers. Limits on coolant leakage from all heaters and fuel leakage from auxiliary heaters were also added to the standards.

Section 6 deals with lamps and changes the requirements to incorporate the lighting equipment required by the federal safety standard at the time the vehicle was new.

Electrical systems and vehicle body

Section 7 deals with the electrical system of the vehicle and provides requirements for vehicle wiring and the vehicle’s battery. Battery, posts, connections, mounts, and covers must be tight and free from corrosion, deterioration, or evidence of burning. Further, all equipment must be secure, comprised of OEM-quality components, and in good condition.

Section 8 of the Standard addresses the body of the vehicle. Specific requirements have been introduced to deal with a loss of structural integrity of cab, cargo or passenger body, frame or subframe, tailgate, bumper, seats and seat belts due to specified weaknesses, deficiencies, damage, seizure, wear, loss of components or material or improper repair procedures. There are new requirements to inspect equipment, latches, handles, door openers, hinges and other devices attached to the vehicle. All equipment must be in good working condition, not be missing, nor present an unsafe or hazardous condition to individuals who may be exposed to the vehicle.

There is also a new requirement to inspect the entire area of the windshield swept by either the driver or passenger side wiper including window tints. Further, occupant protection systems required by federal law must now be tested for functionality via the vehicle telltale diagnostic lamp. The system check includes air bags, seatbelt pretensioners, and side air bag curtains.


Section 9 of the Standard provides that tires are not roadworthy if any single point on a tire’s tread is below the minimum and the minimum required tread depth has increased. There is also no mixing of radial with other tire construction types (such as bias ply) permitted. In addition, the use of wheel spacers is now prohibited, although adaptors are permitted if they are in good mechanical condition.

Section 10 of the Standard provides for clearer distinctions between various types of hitch systems and more detailed criteria aligned with specific requirements for each hitch type. Section 11 is a new section added to the Standard to capture the elements that should be inspected and recorded during a road test of the vehicle including: telltales, shock absorber functionality, odometer and steering.

The previous standards had been in place for some 42 years. Notice of the revisions was given at the beginning of the year in order to provide some time to amend existing process for inspections of used vehicles.

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