Drivesmart column: ‘Safety inspection’ from dealership might not mean what you think

You must take the vehicle to a designated inspection facility

By Tim Schewe

This inquiry arrived in the DriveSmartBC inbox last Thursday: “I bought a used newer truck from a dealership and was told prior to signing the final documents that the truck had gone through a full safety inspection. Less than two weeks later I was pulled over and issued a ticket for improperly equipped motor vehicle and issued a box 2 inspection order for my 2017 Dodge Ram 3500.”

The person goes on to say that the notice order is vague. He was not sure what to do next, but made an appointment for an inspection at the dealership where he purchased the truck.

Actually, the notice is not vague, it simply says that you must take the vehicle to a designated inspection facility, undergo inspection and make the identified repairs with a pass required within 30 days. The officer will not list what needs to be repaired, the facility will determine that.

There could be a significant difference between what the dealership calls a “safety inspection” and what the inspection facility does. Simply checking that all the lights work, that the tires have sufficient tread and that the brakes are not worn out could be considered a safety inspection. The designated inspection facility is required to check all items in a comprehensive set of standards (that you may find in your local library) and make sure that those standards are met.

The only way to know is to ask the dealership what was checked when you are shopping for the vehicle.

That said, the dealership is not supposed to sell you a vehicle that is not roadworthy:

Sale of motor vehicle contrary to regulations

222 A person must not sell, offer for sale, expose or display for sale or deliver over to a purchaser for use a motor vehicle, trailer or equipment for them that is not in accordance with this Act and the regulations.

Probably the only way to escape this requirement is to specify that what is being sold is not meant for use on a highway on the bill of sale.

You may find this FAQ from the Vehicle Sales Authority of BC useful. It outlines your rights when you purchase a vehicle from a dealer and what to do if you have problems.

Of course, if you made the modifications that triggered the officer’s interest after you purchased the vehicle, you are on the hook for that yourself.

If you did not, then you may have some recourse against the dealership for the cost of the inspection and the changes necessary to make the vehicle roadworthy. The VSABC may assist you with that or you may have to conduct a small claims court action if the dealership refuses.

If you knew at the time of purchase that the vehicle was not roadworthy in all respects you may find that willful blindness can limit your options as well.

Finally, you can take advantage of lawyer referral for properly informed advice.

Tim Schewe is a retired constable with many years of traffic law enforcement. To comment or learn more, please visit DriveSmartBC.ca

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