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The Vehicle Safety Inspection

Before leaving on a trip, when buying or selling a motor vehicle, or if you are moving to certain provinces, a mechanical inspection of your vehicle may be required.

There is no getting around that the purchase of an automobile is a major expense. So vehicle maintenance is necessary to protect this investment. In fact, the most effective way to ensure the proper care of your vehicle is to adopt preventive maintenance practices. These essentially consist in the verification of the vital components of your vehicle. You need to know that vehicle mechanic professionals are capable of measuring the level of wear of the different parts of your car. This makes it possible for you to foresee a component failure and so avoid a breakdown that will leave you stranded by the side of road.  Not to mention that managing and sticking to your budget will be made all the more easier.

What’s more, keep in mind that more often than not the poor maintenance of an automobile component will adversely affect other vehicle parts! So a minor repair that you failed to make because you skipped doing preventive maintenance can cause a major vehicle breakdown and lead to the malfunction of other vehicle systems.

This will empty out your wallet, derail your budget and wreck your plans… In short, prevention is key to protect yourself from the unexpected.

It is recommended to have two preventive maintenance inspections each year.This is all the more important before you leave on a vacation. The trip may be quite long and that is when a minor mechanical failure can lead to a major breakdown. Give yourself peace of mind at the start of your vacation.

The simplest way to know when to have a vehicle maintenance done is to abide by the vehicle manufacturer’s maintenance interval recommendations. You need to know that failure to comply with the maintenance interval recommendations of the manufacturer is likely to invalidate the warranty of vehicle parts.


Should you decide to sell your vehicle, have preventive maintenance done beforehand to prevent any mechanical malfunction. This may not be mandatory but selling your vehicle with an underlying defect, even one you did not know about, can have serious consequences. For example, your buyer could sue you should he have a road accident that he believes was caused by your negligence. You could be required to compensate the buyer should you be found legally responsible.

Conversely, it is strongly recommended that you require a comprehensive preventive maintenance inspection before you purchase any used vehicle. This precaution will shed light on the condition of the vehicle and avoid all unpleasant surprises. 

In Montreal, following a quick survey, it was found that the average time required to carry out a vehicle inspection is one hour, for an average cost of $ 76.


  • Special requirements depending on vehicle type and different provincial registration obligations:


Safety inspections are mandatory in British Columbia and in Ontario. Such inspections include almost all vehicles on the road. Only all-terrain vehicles, scooters, trailers or used snowmobiles are exempted. It is not required to have a safety test done when a vehicle ownership transfer involves spouses.

Upon purchasing a used vehicle, take note that its safety certificate is valid for 36 calendar days following the inspection. Beyond this delay, you will be unable to register the vehicle unless you have the safety inspection redone.

In Quebec, this inspection is mandatory once a year for the following vehicles:

Taxis (not used for school transport), motorcycles and scooters used by driving school, including those registered for off-road use.  Emergency vehicles (except for buses and minibuses recognized by the SAAQ as emergency vehicles that are inspected twice a year), as well as all vehicles with a GVWR (gross vehicle weight rating) of 4,500 kg or more, as well as tow trucks with a GVWR of less than 4,500 kg.


In some cases vehicles must undergo a mechanical inspection every 6 months:

Vehicles used by driving schools (except for motorcycles and scooters), emergency vehicles recognized as such by the SAAQ, and vehicles used to transport school children, including taxis used for this purpose.

Many countries across the globe have implemented similar mandatory safety inspections. In Europe, for instance, vehicles that have been on the road for more than four years are submitted to a mandatory technical control every two years. This policy has been in effect in some countries since 1992 to reduce the number of road accident fatalities and has been so successful that restrictions were tightened further in 2018 to increase road safety. The mere fact that this system has been maintained so long speaks to its pertinence.


  • Objectives and Mandatory Mechanical Inspection Outline:


The mandatory mechanical inspections aim at recognizing the conformity of vehicles to security, emission and comfort standards defined by regulatory authorities at the local, national and international levels. Consequently, such mandatory inspections can only be carried out only in government approved centers.  


The mechanical inspection consists in a visual inspection of the different components of the vehicle in view of ensuring the security of the driver and his passengers. Take note that a visual inspection of some vehicle components is insufficient. A case in point is the proper functioning of the odometer.


In short, the preventive maintenance of your vehicle is essential to:


  1. 1. Ensure your safety and that of your passengers.
  2. 2. Avoid repairs that can sometimes prove costly.
  3. 3. Protect your investment.
  4. 4. Stay on budget.
  5. 5. Abide by the regulatory guidelines of your province.


Should you have any doubts concerning your vehicle safety inspection obligations, access the Canadian government site or call directly a center that offers mechanical inspection.

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