What you need to know about vehicle inspection in Canada

By: Kyle Prevost on August 17, 2016

Driving a vehicle in Canada isn’t as simple as just putting the cash down and driving your new ride off the lot as you test the sound system. In order to operate a vehicle legally it has to be insured. Before you take that step, you must first get a vehicle inspection (also known in some places as a “safety”) done in the province you are looking to insure your car or truck in. The reason for these mandatory safety standards inspections is to make sure that our roadways stay safe for all drivers so you don’t have to share your drive with vehicles that put lives in danger.

Each province has its own specific set of guidelines when it comes to vehicle inspection. However, there are some general similarities that apply across the board in Canada.

Importing a car

First of all, if you are importing a vehicle, you need to become familiar the Registrar of Imported Vehicles (RIV). This is the federal government organization responsible for making sure only the legal conveyances and proper vehicle modifications make their way into the country. If you are importing a car, an RIV vehicle inspection must be done within 45 days of your arrival, or else you risk contravening the Motor Vehicle Safety Act and consequent penalties.

If you choose to bring the vehicle across a land border crossing the Canada Border Services Agency will check the VIN number, and the current status of the vehicle before providing you with the necessary paperwork for the RIV and asking you to pay the necessary RIV fees.

Vehicle inspection by a mechanic

In the course of a general vehicle inspection, expect to have a licensed mechanic look over the various features of the conveyance and make sure that all systems are operating properly. Safety components such as the brake lines, fuel intake, engine, transmission, and electrical components are looked at extensively, so be prepared for the entire process to take roughly two hours. Before signing off on any work, double-check that your service provider has the necessary documentation to compete a safety standards evaluation. The inspector needs to provide the certification at the conclusion of the evaluation.

Canadian Tire garages across Canada are licensed to provide to standard inspections. Before making the decision to go with this national retailer, look into local options. You might be surprised to find substantial price savings available. Just make sure that in looking for a good deal you don’t allow someone who is unqualified to charge you without providing the necessary vehicle inspection documentation.

A note about inspections for salvage vehicles

Salvage vehicles – which are generally cars and trucks that have been damaged in accidents – have separate regulations. If you choose to import a salvaged vehicle, you have up to one year from the date of import to make the necessary repairs in order to get the conveyance road worthy. Since salvaged vehicles are somewhat unique from an importation and insurance perspective, talk Transport Canada if you have any questions. Don’t rely on generalized vehicle inspection information.

Bottom line

Your safety and ability to get home safely depends on your vehicle. By extension, the mechanic completing your vehicle inspection signs off that your car has met the required safety standards has your wellbeing in their hands. Make sure the person checking under your hood knows what they’re doing and comes well reviewed. After all, the goal is to enjoy several years of worry-free driving.