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Results: Used Car Dealers - Franchised New Car Dealers - Curbsiders


APA’s Investigation of Used Car Retailing in Greater Toronto

April, 2014.

Mystery shoppers for the Automobile Protection Association visited 16 car dealers and five people pretending to be individuals selling their private vehicles in the classified ads. The APA shoppers were accompanied by an expert car inspector and their visits were recorded on W5’s cameras. For this investigation, the APA relied on car ads placed by sellers on Kijiji, the popular online website, and in Car and Truck.ca, a print publication used by car dealers. The distribution of sellers breaks out as follows:

New Car Dealers: 5
Used Car Dealers: 11
Curbsiders: 5

Overall, only two of 21 visits resulted in a pass.

Used Car Dealers

The 11 used car dealers included the two that passed. Overall, despite a poor numerical showing, the used car dealers performed better than the two other retailing channels. With the exception of two dealers specializing in selling badly hit cars, most of the failures were related to extra fees added on top of the advertised price.

Two used car dealers, S & S Auto Clinic and Toronto Used Cars Ltd., specialise in selling badly repaired insurance write-offs with deceptive representations. The Mazda 3 from Toronto Used Cars was not in a condition to pass structural and mechanical safety inspections for a variety of reasons. S & S Auto Clinic was selling a 2013 Toyota Corolla with just 1,486 km on the odometer; damage to the car grossly in exceeded the seller’s representations.

The sales performances at Auto Select (two locations in Scarborough) and Good Fellow's Auto stand apart from the rest of the pack. At those locations, the APA shoppers found vehicles in good overall condition, a knowledgeable salesperson, and genuine all-in pricing.

New Car Dealers

The small sample of new car dealers performed poorly with five failures out of five visits. Most of the used vehicles offered for sale at the new car dealers APA visited appeared to be in good condition, but failures resulted from a variety of advertising violations and deceptions regarding extra fees.

Old Mill Chevrolet had a substantially higher price at the lot than advertised in Car & Truck.ca for the vehicle shopped by the APA. Thorncrest Ford misrepresented an extra charge of $300 as payable to OMVIC – OMVIC charges $5. Addison Chevrolet had two extra charges of $229 and $399, which were not included in its advertised price. The salesperson at Heritage Ford offered a courteous, no-pressure shopping experience, but the visit earned a fail rating because of extra charges of $399 and $70 for fuel, not specified in the dealer’s advertising.


A curbsider is a professional who uses free on-line websites to pose as a private individual selling their personal vehicle. The APA shopped five curbsiders. Two were driving cars with a dealer or garage license plate, which means they were more than likely acting as fronts for a licensed dealer or a collision repair shop. According to the Ministry of Transportation, a dealer plate cannot be used on a vehicle that is owned privately. These two curbsiders were selling badly hit cars. In one case, the APA learned that the car it shopped, a structurally damaged 2012 Honda Civic offered for sale by a curbsider called “Jacob”, was later reclassified in the Ontario Ministry of Transportation records – its salvage status was erased and it became just an ordinary used car.

One curbsider said he was a dealer selling his personal vehicles. He provided a business card with the name of a dealership on it, operating at a different address. The license plate on the vehicles was from a third business at yet another address. He neglected to disclose a structural damage declaration on one vehicle, and that both vehicles were from Quebec.

All-In Pricing

Accurate all-in pricing is very important consumer information. It’s also not a reality in advertising placed by most dealers in the Toronto market. Of the 16 dealers shopped, only four offered an all-inclusive price, and not one of them was a franchised dealer. Extra charges at the 12 other dealers ranged from $299 at Toronto Used Cars to $695 at Canadian Fine Motors and Toronto Auto Group. At Toronto Quality Motors, the $495 extra charge for Certification and E-testing in the fine print of the ad, increased to $695 at the dealership.

Addison Chevrolet had the highest extra fees of $698, composed of two charges -- one for a basket of warranty protections and a second administration fee. Neither fee was listed in the dealer ad shopped by the APA, which stated only “HST and licensing will be extra”. When the APA shipper challenged the salesperson, he offered to see his manager to offer a discount on the car or waive the extra fees.

Part of the difficulty surrounding All-In vehicle pricing in Ontario is caused by confusing rules that are subject to loopholes and exceptions:

  • A dealer is not allowed to charge an “administration fee” unless it’s included in the advertised price. They can charge an administration fee on the sales agreement, but only if the total price is not higher than the price in the ad.
  • A dealer is allowed to charge extra for the safety and emissions certifications. The dealer pays about $80 for these certifications ($50 for the mechanical safety inspection, and $30 for the emissions test). However, in Ontario, dealers can mark up these certifications with no apparent limitation. The highest charge observed in this year’s APA investigation was $695. Dealers sometimes misrepresent these charges as payments to a third party, but most of the money goes straight to their bottom line or is spent to prepare the vehicle for sale.
  • Ontario rules permit a dealer to advertise a vehicle for sale to a retail customer, with a mention in the fine print that it is “not certified, not driveable, and not e-tested. Certification and e-testing are available for $$$” (any amount the dealer wants to charge). “All-in” pricing becomes meaningless if it can be applied to a broken vehicle that may need expensive repairs at the customer’s expense.
  • Extra charges are frequently misrepresented as remittances to a third party under the authority of the law for emissions testing, safety certification or OMVIC (the dealer regulator). Dealers claiming to make these remittances applied exorbitant mark ups. Thorncrest Ford quoted a $300 OMVIC fee, when the actual amount collected by OMVIC is $5.
  • Jacob is the first curbsider ever shopped by the APA to charge extra fees on top of the selling price. He requested a $300 deposit from the APA shoppers to cover the safety and emissions inspections; he subsequently disappeared with the deposit and did not return calls from the APA.

Salvage and Rebuilt Vehicles

The APA’s sample of insurance write-offs came from two dealers (Toronto Used Cars Ltd. and S&S Auto Clinic) and the curbsiders. Curbsiders were much more likely to be selling rebuilt wrecks than dealers. The APA found serious flaws in the Salvage/Rebuild process including:

  • Structural rebuild work not equivalent to original vehicle condition – damaged high strength steel components heated, stretched, spliced and/or hammered into position (occupant protection may be compromised in a subsequent impact to the same area of the vehicle).
  • Numerous wiring and electrical issues, including lit air bag warnings, and improvised wiring to the engine cooling fan.
  • Basic safety issues: one vehicle missing a wheel nut on each wheel, another had one wheel with a different offset from the others.
  • One vehicle seen by the APA shoppers had a missing airbag, extensive structural repairs, and was branded “salvage”. A few weeks later, it was reclassified in the Ministry of Transportation database; the salvage brand was cancelled and it reappeared as an ordinary used car!
  • Some curbsiders were working with either a dealer or a collision repair shop. One wreck transited through Stark Iron and Metal Company, a recycler of insurance write-offs that appeared prominently in a previous APA investigation of curbsiders.

For a consumer contemplating the purchase of a vehicle that was written-off by an insurance company, the salvage and rebuilding process, called the “Mandatory Vehicle Branding Program”, in Ontario is an unreliable guarantee that they are buying a safe and properly repaired vehicle. As currently operating, the system is in need of much more robust enforcement and higher inspection standards for the rebuilding of insurance write-offs.

For the buyer, having an insurance write-off properly inspected before the purchase is difficult. Very few general repair shops are competent to inspect a rebuilt vehicle – this includes shops that actually agree to perform an inspection. The APA discovered that the franchised Toyota dealer recommended by a used car dealer who was selling a wrecked Corolla will not check for collision damage during pre-purchase inspections, even though they have a body shop.

Daily rentals

Dealers in Ontario are required to disclose when a vehicle is a former daily rental, and most now appear to do so. However, obtaining accurate information on the collision history of a daily rental is difficult, as most rental companies do not report collision information to the publicly available databases. This is partly due to a loophole in Ontario’s reporting requirements for fleets and rental companies. Since most dealers disclose only the damage listed in CarProof reports, and CarProof does not collect collision records for daily rentals, the collision information provided by dealers was frequently incorrect. At Canadian Fine Motors in Scarborough, the salesperson said, “If there was an accident, it should’ve been declared no matter what.” In fact, the collision report on his 2012 Nissan Altima, a former daily rental involved in a rear impact, was incomplete. Car dealers know that when they use a vehicle history report to represent a used daily rental as collision-free, they are misrepresenting the report.

What you can do to protect yourself when shopping for a used vehicle

Don’t be a price junkie. No two used cars are identical, and sellers generally have a lot more information than the buyer about the vehicle. This means that a low, below-market price from a curbsider or auto dealer virtually guarantees there is a story behind the vehicle. A better strategy is to focus on higher priced examples of the vehicle you are looking for, and then use the lower-priced ad from a competitor as a bargaining tool to encourage the seller to drop their price.

Shop with an ad for the vehicle in hand. The APA learned that many dealers advertise a lower web price than is actually marked on the vehicle at their location. The advertised price can be $500 to $1,000 lower than the one at the dealership.

Try to have the vehicle inspected before you buy it. This year, almost all the dealers permitted the APA shoppers to have the vehicle inspected before buying it. Finding a reliable inspection service can be difficult. Most mechanical repair shops will not check for collision damage, and some will focus the inspection only on services they may be able to sell you, like new tires, brakes, or fluid changes.

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Results: Used Car Dealers - Franchised New Car Dealers - Curbsiders



Used Car Dealers

1) Auto Link Motors
6143 Kingston Road


2007 Cobalt VIN 1G1AM15B577386157
Chevrolet Cobalt black 2008 VIN 1G1AJ55F887193683
Cobalt Silver 2008 VIN 1G1Al58F387126768 

Extra fees of $499/$599

The seller says he specialises in the Chevrolet Cobalt, with eight in inventory and five more coming in the following week. He says they are all Toronto vehicles. The APA expert identifies several hit cars not consistent with the dealer's representations. The CarProof history searches reveal a multitude of material facts that the seller failed to disclose: The Cobalt SS could be waiting for paperwork to determine the actual brand which would be Salvage or Rebult. The silver 2008 Cobalt is from the U.S. and was involved in a collision; it has a former rental car registration and its importation paperwork was not completed. The black 2008 Cobalt was hit three times. High extra fees are buried in the almost unreadable advertising fine print. 

2) Auto Select
2115 Lawrence Ave. E.
1971 Eglinton Ave. E.



2013 Corolla white VIN 2T1BU4EE2DC062018IN

No Extra Fees


Good selection of well-priced cars. The APA expert confirms that all vehicles at the Lawrence Avenue location are very clean. Some cars at the Eglinton location have paintwork or minor bodywork. Prices are all-in plus taxes. The dealer permits a pre-purchase inspection by the buyer. The history search determines the Corolla is a regular used car originally retailed by a Toyota dealer (the dealer had said it was driven by a Toyota executive). There are no claims against it.

3) The Auto Show
3569 St. Clair Ave. E.


2004 Golf GTI with 179,000 km for $8,775; VIN 9BWDE21J744036486

Extra fees $495 (included in the price during dealer promotion)


The seller states the 2004 VW Golf GTI is very clean -- just a minor fender bender with a claim of $1,900. The APA inspection reveals the right-side fender and hood have been replaced, and the whole right side has been repaired, including the rear quarter. The back bumper has been repainted. The APA expert suspects the car was involved in two collisions. The air bag and engine service lights are on. The power steering reservoir is empty and the pump noisy, the engine oil is black. The tires are bald on the inside shoulders and feathering. The dealer offers a 30 day exchange guarantee. This is a written policy and the seller says “If you're not happy, we will switch you into another vehicle” (interesting warranty). An inspection is permitted. The CarProof report obtained after the visit confirms the seller’s declaration; there is a small frontal impact recorded for $1,976. The dealer should have known that damage in the vehicle history report was not consistent with the actual damage on the vehicle.

4) Canadian Fine Motors
1882 Lawrence Ave. E.


2012 Altima 2.5S silver; VIN 1N4AL2AP5CN518086

Extra fees $695 in ad, $495 verbally at the dealership.


The seller discloses that his 2012 models are former daily rentals with a balance of warranty from Nissan to 5 years. The dealer says the silver Altima has some paintwork but was not in an accident. "If there was an accident, it should've been declared no matter what.". The APA inspecition shows it was hit on the side and the trunk was displaced; the right side quarter panel has body filler. According to the CarProof history report obtained by W5, structural damage was reported at auction. The dealer permits a pre-purchase inspection. There is a $495 Safety and Emissions charge, which is $200 lower than in the ad. The dealer will sell as-is without the charge. At the end of the visit, the seller says they got the letter from OMVIC today. "It should have been declared in our ad that this was a former daily rental. In the print ad today, it should have been disclosed, on the Internet it's indicated."

5) Coliseum Auto Sales Ltd.
16 Milford Ave,


2006 Lexus RX 400 VIN JTJHW31U560032596

2008 ACURA RL VIN JH4KB16368C800093

Extra fees: $0


The seller says the Acura RL with 65,000 km is a clean vehicle that came in on a trade. He discloses a small claim of $2,700 on it, at the front right – “nothing major.” The vehicle spent two years in Newfoundland. It has new tires. The APA inspection reveals a significant impact on the front and side, including the doors and rear quarter panel, down to the dog leg and up to the roof. Body filler is present in all panels on one side and on the opposite front fender. The tires are Chinese make off-brand that may not be appropriate for an RL There is a lot of wear on the door panel, steering wheel and carpet for the indicated 65,000 km. A subsequent CarProof history search reveals TWO claims on the Acura; the small one disclosed by the seller, and a much larger one for $10,489 that he did not disclose. Several vehicles outside at the front of the lot have sustained collision damage, but the APA did not obtain representations on them. E-test, safety and a one-year warranty are included in the advertised price.

6) District One Auto Inc.
2806 Dufferin Street


2006 Jetta, 240,817km for $5,888 AS-IS; VIN 3VWDT31K36M699427

2010 Corolla, 84,000 km, asking $10,888 (online price $10,250); 2T1BU4EE7AC393737

Extra fees from $495 (includes 1 year power train warranty)


Full disclosure from the salesperson. About the Jetta, advertised as accident-free, the seller says, “You can buy the car as-is, then get it certified and E-tested. The Jetta will need work, you’ll have to send it to a garage as soon as you buy it.” (good disclosure) He recommends they pay more for a different 2006 Jetta with lower mileage and no accidents. (good advice).The APA expert identifies a right front impact with some structural damage. The fenders and hood have been replaced with aftermarket (Gordon) parts, and the doors on one side have been repainted. A light box has been repaired with urethane and tape. The engine, traction control, and low fuel lights are on (the fuel gauge needle is not low), and the turbocharger is wet. The APA expert determines the Corolla has been in front and rear impacts. The hood has been replaced. There is a small kink at the rear door and the rear quarter panels have bodywork. The seller discloses two insurance claims on the Corolla, for $4,218 and $2,800, and says OMVIC “is always on your side." Despite the good disclosure, a failure was awarded due to the extra fees, ad misrepresentation, and as-is disclaimer applicable to most of the inventory in the fine print.

7) Good Fellow's Auto Wholesalers
Goodfellows Finance Centre

3675 Keele St., Toronto

Seller: Matt (good seller)


2009 Nissan Rogue VIN JN8AS58V09W169655

2012 Sonata VIN 5NPEB4AC4CH455733

Extra fees: $0


Knowledgeable seller correctly recommends his 2011 and 2012 Sonatas as the best value among the sedans in the range the buyer is looking for. He says the 2011 and 2012 vehicles are former company fleet vehicles and daily rentals. The APA expert confirms the 2012 Sonata is a former daily rental and accident-free, as represented. The APA expert determines the 2009 Rogue has been involved in a non-structural left-side impact. The quarter panel and door do not line up perfectly, and there is some body filler in the rear quarter and doors.The seller gets the CarProof report, a two page version which is in the glove box of many of the vehicles at this dealership; he discloses a collision on the left side of the Rogue and shows the shoppers the approximate location of the repairs. A prepurchase inspection is permitted with a $500 deposit.The price is all-in including the safety and emissions test. (After the visit the APA learned that in 2012, Good Fellow's Auto Wholesaler was found in breach of the OMVIC Dealer Code of Ethics for adding extra charges of $399 for certification not included in its advertising. The sales staff was required to take the OMVIC course and the dealer paid a fine of $2,500.)

8) S & S Auto Clinic
3220 Kingston Rd. Unit 4



2013 Corolla with 1,486 km; VIN 2T1BU4EE0DC939153

Extra fees: $0


The dealer says he replaced the door handles, two headlights and the hood and bumper cover. He claims to have used new 2013 parts throughout. He bought the car at an auction, and it was missing some parts that were stolen. “It has no brand, no title, nothing.” When the shoppers ask to see the vehicle history report, he tells them it takes time to order, and he doesn’t have one on hand. “The CarProof I don’t have right now." The dealer says they don't buy their parts from a Toyota dealer: If they put $20,000 in CarProof, I can fix it for $2,000 because I don’t pay labour. I do the job myself.” The APA inspection revealed the Corolla sustained a right front impact with some structural damage. The fenders, hood, and grill have been replaced. The windshield has been replaced. The entire car has been repainted. The apron was crunched. A bumper support has been welded to the subframe on one side, and the bumper cover is partially broken and fastened with tie wraps. The outside rear-view mirrors and front bumper cover are from a different vehicle and repainted a slightly different red color. The plastic mirror housings were repainted over the stone chips that were in the original finish. The engine service and air bag lights are on. The air conditioner is not working, likely because the condenser or lines were damaged during the impact. The dealer permits an inspection at the local Toyota dealer, or on site. (The APA called the closest Toyota dealer, who said they would not check for collision damage during a pre-purchase inspection.) Inside this location, five sectioned Honda Civics are in evidence, some are missing fronts, and others are missing rears. After the visit, one of the APA shoppers realised the dealer is connected to a previous APA investigation undertaken in 2010: (From the APA website regarding the 2010 investigation: S&S Auto Clinic, 3360 Kingston Road in Scarborough, was the worst dealer visit of the investigation. The seller declared that a 2004 Toyota Corolla had sustained a prior collision to the rear fender. The APA determined the Corolla actually consisted of two half cars, badly cut and welded together, and reported to have passed a Ministry of Transportation inspection.)

9) Toronto Auto Group
2380 Lawrence Ave. E.



2007 Elantra; VIN KMHDU45D17U016196

Extra fees of $695 for Certification and E-Test


The seller says there's no accident on the Elantra. There is "a miscellaneous claim for $4170. It could be a camera, a laptop anything, but not an accident. If it was an accident the report would tell you exactly where it happened: Something was stolen from the car."The APA expert says the Elantra has sustained two collisions, or an impact that pushed into something on the opposite side of the vehicle, and most of it is repainted. The left front fender has been replaced; four panels have body filler. Regarding extra fees, the seller says it's $695 for licensing and safety. Earlier, he seemed to say it was included in the price. Then he says it's because of the Ministry of Transportation, "We have to charge this, it has to be $695." When challenged by one of the shoppers he says, "I can go talk to the manager and he'll take care of you.".

10) Toronto Quality Motors

3293 Lawrence Ave. E.



2008 Rogue AWD bronze VIN JN8AS58V38W147860

2010 Rogue FWD VIN JN8AS5MT4AW009724

Extra fees: $495 in ad/$695 at dealer


About the bronze Rogue, the seller says “I have to see if there's an accident.” He later says “there might be a minor fender bender -- I believe on the ‘08 the back bumper was changed, nothing to worry about, no frame damage. The silver one is okay.” The APA expert says the 2008 bronze Rogue is a front hit. The fenders, bumper, lights windshield and hood have been replaced. It is missing a rearview mirror. The two front doors have some bodywork. The tires are worn. The APA expert reports the silver 2010 front-wheel-drive Rogue is from Montreal; the hood and grille have been replaced, there is body filler in the front fenders, the front doors, and a rear quarter panel. The tires are worn, reading 1-4/32". The seller says “no accident.” Extra fees are higher on-site than in the ad. The fine print in the ad in Car and Truck.ca November 23 reads “Vehicle is not drivable not certified not e-tested. Certification and e-testing available from $495.” The seller says they cost $695 ($200 higher than in the ad). “If you do it yourself, it's okay” (the dealer will waive the charge). An inspection is permitted at a repair shop chosen by the buyer.

11) Toronto Used Cars Ltd.
46 Old Kennedy Rd.



2012 Mazda 5 GT for $14,999 VIN JM1CW2DL3C0131374
2012 Nissan Sentra for $11,499 VIN 3N1AB6AP3CL636239 

2012 Mazda 3 sedan, with 44,044 km VIN: JM1BL1V73C1585036

Extra fees: $299 licensing fee (amount not in ad)


Misrepresented damage to several vehicles, and deceptive use of collision photos. About the Mazda 5, the dealer says, “I’ve been driving it for a couple of days. It’s a one-owner car. There was an accident, no frame damage, I have the history.” The APA expert reports that the price is a few thousand dollars below market. The vehicle was involved in a severe frontal collision: The hood, grill, bumper and both fenders have been replaced with aftermarket parts. The headlight boxes and radiator assembly are aftermarket parts, made in Taiwan. One hood hinge is new and welded instead of bolted to the firewall. There is evidence of frame damage; part of a subframe rail is bent and there is a separation at the strut tower – a welded gap that opened up after the collision was not closed. The windshield has been replaced and the expert believes an airbag likely deployed. The rear of the vehicle does not appear to have been impacted. The APA expert reports that the Mazda 3 was invvolved in a severe collision with structural damage: The right fender has been replaced. A rear quarter panel has been repaired. The engine and airbag lights are on. Aftermarket Gordon parts include both light boxes and the hood. The A-pillar was damaged. It looks like they welded the door hinge to the A-pillar. Not the original windshield – there is excess urethane between the strut tower and glass. The subframe rail was hammered into position. The front bumper has been replaced. Aftermarket Made in Taiwan light boxes. The radiator support has been changed. The fenders and hood are not the originals. Yellow wrecking yard writing indicates that an entire axle shaft may have been replaced with one from another car. The rear quarter panel has been redone. The right-side doors are from a different car. The left side A-pillar has no reading at the top because so much body filler was used. The left front fender is from another vehicle. The bumper and reinforcement face bar have been replaced. The radiator and condenser assembly have been changed.The oil pan is badly dented and there is an active power sterring fluid leak. The subframe rail on the right side is from a red car. It appears the repair facility chopped the front off the red car and welded it to this car -- a bad repair, according to the APA expert.The shoppers returned to the dealer’s trailer for some representations. The seller says he just bought the Mazda 3 at a dealer auction and shows images after their collisions and before the repair. One of the shoppers determines the images for the Mazda 3 are from a different vehicle. The shoppers take copies of the images. After the visit W5 discovered the Sentra test driven by the shoppers was still branded salvage -- a wreck that appears not to have been inspected prior to being sent on test drives by the seller.


Franchised New Car Dealers

12) Old Mill Chevrolet
2595 St. Clair Ave. W.



2012 Toyota Matrix for $10,900, $14,900 and $15,900 VIN 2T1KU4EE8CC819518

Extra charges not determined


The salesperson says the advertised price of $10,900 for the Matrix is incorrect, the price is $15,900. He gets the manager who explains that there is an error in the ad. He says the error is the publication’s fault, “It’s an error on their part. We get retractions all the time; they (Car & Truck.ca) probably switched up a price, it happens all the time, they crossed up." The manager states the real price is $14,900, and goes back inside the dealership. When the original salesperson returns, the shoppers point out that the price from his manager was lower ($14,900 instead of $15,900). He answers "I wasn't part of that conversation" and maintains his higher price. The APA expert confirms that the vehicle is a former daily rental in very good condition. After the visit, W5 finds three ads for the Matrix on different sites at different prices of $10,900, $14,900, and $15,900, all running in the same week.

13) Addison Chevrolet
1220 Eglinton Ave E,


Seller: Ahmed (good seller)


2010 Toyota RAV4 VIN 2T3DK4DVXAW017975

$229 admin.fee and $399 security package


There is a small inventory of used vehicles on the lot which are in good condition. The seller says the RAV4 is a private vehicle that was traded in by an Ontario customer. The APA inspection and a subsequent history search confirm that it is a clean collision-free Ontario vehicle. The dealer has extra charges of $229 for administraiton and $399 for a security package on top of the vehicle price, not mentioned in their advertising. When challenged by the shoppers, the seller says "we've always had an administration fee " but he will see with his manager about a discount on the vehicle or waiving the fee. Courteous, professional salesperson who consulted the paperwork on the vehicle before providing answers. Failure awarded due to the fees.

14) Dean Myers Chevrolet
3180 Dufferin Street



2007 Mercedes-Benz E 350; VIN WDBUF87X67X220941

No extra fees safety & emissions included in the price


There is a small inventory of used cars at the front of the dealership that appear to be in good general condition. The seller says the Mercedes E350 is a collision-free 2009 model: "We cannot sell you a car that was in a collision.” He repeats that the car was never in an accident a few times.The APA expert determines it is a 2007 model (stated correctly in the ad) and it has been hit on the right side, with bodywork on every right-side panel. There is an oil leak at the top of the engine and the brakes are rusty. The seller pressures the APA shoppers to sign an offer, even though they could not drive the vehicle because it had a flat tire and did not appear to have been reconditioned for sale. When the shoppers ask the seller to write into the offer that the vehicle is accident-free with original paint, he is prepared to write only that CarProof says no accident. According to the seller, the dealership does not permit an off-site inspection by the buyer..

15) Heritage Ford
2660 Kingston Road,


Seller: Don Grant (good seller)


2005 Ford Focus for $5,988 VIN 1FAFP34NX5W309384

$399 admin. fee $70 gas


Courteous low-pressure seller. He recommended a newer Focus with less mileage for a little more money (good advice). The seller checked the vehicle history and disclosed an incident at the left front, confirmed by the APA inspection which determined the left-front fender was hit. Fail awarded for extra fees not disclosed in dealer advertising: $399 administration fee plus $70 for gas, neither indicated in the ad.

16) Thorncrest Ford
1575 The Queensway,



2007 Audi A4 Quattro VIN WAUDF78607A139037

$295 admin. fee


Small inventory of used vehicles in very good condition -- only the Audi has significant collision damage. The APA inspection reveals the turbo is wet, and the coolant and power steering fluid levels are low. The engine has excessive blow-by and the valve lifters are noisy. The seller warns the shoppers to expect repair bills with an older Audi (nice touch). He misrepresented a dealer charge of $295 or $300 as a fee payable to OMVIC (OMVIC charges $5). Over the phone, after the visit he called it an Admin fee. No charges are mentioned in the dealer's ad.



17) Curbsider: Jacob
80 Raleigh St.



2012 Honda Civic VIN 2HGFB2E45CH013971

Extra fees: $300 deposit for safety and emissions inspections


The seller meets the APA shoppers at a body shop where he appears to have a relationship. The Civic is his personal vehicle. He says, "A guy changed the door" on the driver side. “For sure, nothing else, the car is how it’s supposed to be.” The APA inspection reveals the Civic was rebuilt after a major impact on the left side, roughly at the front wheel, with structural damage to the driver-side A-pillar and rocker rail. The A-pillar was pulled back at the lower rocker rail, and also at the base of the windshield for the repair, and excessive amounts of body filler were used to mask damage on the left side of the car.The left front fender was replaced (a Gordon part). The windshield was replaced. The headlight on the left side is still damaged; the apron has been restretched from the light box down. The condenser is damaged. The battery appears to have been displaced by the force of the impact. There is a new stabilizer link. The left front strut is a used part from another vehicle. The left front wheel from a different vehicle has the wrong offset for this car. Damage to the rocker rail is still evident; it was displaced in the impact. There is water in the trunk and inside the car. The rear seat release levers inside the trunk are broken. During the road test, a large air bag warning on the radio display was lit and the car was pulled hard to the left. The seller requested a $300 deposit from the APA shoppers prior to their inspection; soon after, he stopped answering their phone calls. Research on the license plate after the visit revealed that it belongs to a car dealer, Magic Auto, who were previously registered as the owner of the Civic. Jacob's name appears nowhere in the ownership history.

18) Possible Curbsider: Joseph/Yousef
10 Teesdale,



2012 Mazda 3 VIN JM1BL1V78C1609069 

No extra fees


The seller said the Mazda 3 was his personal vehicle, purchased used from "a lady". He has owned it for about a year. He did not know about the Mazda warranty because he is too busy (he did not disclose Mazda had cancelled it). Failure to disclose extensive structural damage to the front and side. The history search after the visit indicates that the car was written off in early 2013 and branded salvage, with a rebuilt title in Fecbruary 2013 and the same owner since.

19) Curbsider - No Name
11753 Sheppard Ave. E.,

Port Union



2012 Honda Civic VIN 2HGFB2F55CH029062

No extra fees


The seller has his wife and two young children show the Civic. The family has traded up to an SUV. It's her personal vehicle, bought used and owned for a while. She says the driver’s door was changed, and that's it. No road test is possible as they cancelled their insurance because they are not using the car. The APA inspection reveals the car was involved in a heavy side impact with structural damage from the roof to the rocker rail. The left front fender has been replaced (Gordon part). Both left side doors have been replaced. Damage to the B-pillar and rocker rail is still visible. The roof has a kink on the left side. The license plate on the back is loose and appears to have been attached very casually; there is no front plate. After the visit, W5 learns the license plate is inactive, and last belonged to a 2003 Mazda.

20) Curbsiders: Alex and Sergio
647-339 0268


2010 Mazda VIN 3JM1BL1HF6A1317064

No extra fees


The home address given by Alex over the phone, 2600 Finch Avenue West, turns out to be a shopping center. Sergio showed up with the Mazda, which he said was his personal vehicle owned for about a year. Sergio says he will take care of the emissions and safety certifications for the shoppers. At different times he said "no accidents", "just scratches", "a small dent", and finally "a little accident". The APA expert determines the car was in a severe frontal collision on the left side. The hood and fenders have been replaced with aftermarket parts, the left front door is from another Mazda 3, and the hatch may also be from a different vehicle. The left front subframe rail is still collapsed and has been camouflaged with a tarlike substance. The hood and fenders do not line up correctly. The air conditioner condenser and radiator are bent. The air conditioner is not working. Under the hood, the air intake box is broken and the plastic engine cover is missing a chunk, both likely damaged during the impact. There is loose wiring underhood. The tires are new and of a good brand. After the visit, W5 discovered that the license plate on the car belongs to Monterey Auto Repair. The history report reveals the car was written off after a claim for $15,581 and rebuilt after being sold by the Stark Iron and Metal Company..

21) Vladimir - Kitchen Design Store
off-licence dealer or curbsider

4267 Steeles Avenue

416-219-5350, Office: 905-761- 5770 Seller: Vladimir (his business card reads Igor)

Seller also provided a business card for:

MPW Trading

637 Petrolia Road, Toronto



2008 Toyota Camry hybrid VIN 4T1BB46K58U032431

2006 Jetta VIN 3VWST71K46M794299

No extra fees


The seller identified himself as a dealer, but said the two cars APA shopped were his personal vehicles. There was no dealership signage at his location. APA believes there are two possibilities: i) The seller is affiliated with a dealer working from another location which is prohibited, or ii) The seller is a curbsider. The seller said he bought the Camry at an auto dealer auction two years ago. He could sell it with a warranty at extra cost. He failed to disclose that the Camry’s history report showed structural damage when it was sold at auction.The APA expert determined the Camry sustained a moderate impact on the right rear. The seller says he bought the Jetta at an auction in July and used it as his daily driver. It was “not in any accident”. Later he says “minor damage”, and the front bumper was replaced. The seller says he undertook extensive repairs to prepare the Jetta for sale, including replacing the windshield, an emissions sensor, and the front pads and rotors. He changed the oil a month ago. The APA expert determined the Jetta was involved in a front-centre impact with both fenders and the hood replaced. The windshield has been replaced. There is bodywork in the doors and rear quarter panels. The brakes are worn and pulsing; the car is pulling to the right. The drive belt tensioner is worn. The oil is dirty.The seller failed to disclose the Jetta is a Quebec vehicle, confirmed by the history search.


Read the report | Watch the show | See Consumer Comments
Results: Used Car Dealers - Franchised New Car Dealers - Curbsiders

Consumer Q&A, Comments, and Complaints

Have a question, comment, or complaint that you feel needs to be addressed? Send your feedback in an email to APA Toronto.

Comment: "Canadian tire - I wish you would do an investigation on the above mentioned. They told me I flooded my engine and therefore I blew the motor. I have witnesses to this BS. I got a second opinion at the kia dealership and they changed the timing belt. I told Canadian tire I was going to contact APA and they laughed. There is alot more to this story." 

Response: APA and W5 have investigated various Canadian Tire locations in the past, as recently as 2011 in Toronto and Calgary. You can find the report for that investigation here, and the full results here. We wholeheartedly agree with your concerns as not a single province is currently investigating auto repair practices. Hopefully with enough concern from the general public the situation will change quickly.

Comment: "What is the likelyhood that OMVIC will take action against the dealers who failed the test so-to-speak? I am particularly interested in following the Toronto Auto Group situation. What resources are available to follow this?"

Response: Thank you for your interest in the APA investigation. Incredibly, OMVIC has already taken action, and not only over the fees, but also over the deceptive practices we saw, which are harder to prosecute because they are verbal.

Comment: "Hi,
Last Oct I bought a car at auction. I immediately took it to a dealer to have them assess it as I only paid $4,500 for a 2007 Hyundai Tuscon. They itemized $4,800 worth of repairs needed to make the vehicle roadworthy. That was OK because I can do (and prefer) to do the work myself.
BUT... during this examination another mechanic who is their "Out Of Province" Certified Inspector took a look and noticed that this vehicle had actually been brought in from B.C. and had been inspected (and was issued a certificate) within the previous 3 months. He spelled out mutliple reasins why it could NEVER have passed! There was no certificate with the vehicle (illegal) and the vendor did not notify the auctioneer.
THAT'S FRAUD! So although it wasn't really going to affect me, I was pissed!
I went back to the auctioneer (Michener Allen - biggest around and usually very reputable) and asked who the vendor was - they would only tell me that it was a local dealer who dealt with them regularly. I asked them to call the dealer and ask for the certificate. Of course the dealer denied any knowledge. The auctioneer asked what I wanted to do so I suggested that the vendor should pay for at least the repairs required to pass the test. The vendor replied that he would pay me $100. So I went away.
Calls to the media get no response - guess where their ad. revenue comes from!
So I called the Alberta agency in charge of O.O.P. testing. They were insterested BUT ONLY IN "REG TAGGING" MY VEHICLE. This meant that I would have to have the repairs done at dealer prices and could not drive the car untill it was re-certified! (at my expense). Adding insult to injury they showed no interest in going after the fraudulent dealer.
Fortunately I am older and wise enough that I hadn't given them my name or vehicle details. So flipped them the verbal bird and hung up!
Understand that vehicles from O.O.P. usually go for half their value at auction because of the cost and delay in getting them on the road. Most vendors bring cars into Alberta, certify them and then get a temp. registration before sending them to auction. So they don't need to be declared as O.O.P. by the aucioneer. We are (I am) aware of that and don't see it as a problem at auction prices.
Now, as I said, I was OK because it was a very "light day" at the auction and I estimate that I would only have gained about $1,000 if it had been declared O.O.P. - BUT WHAT ABOUT THE OTHER POOR SUCKERS???
Make no mistake ... THIS IS FRAUD!"
-K Franks

Response: I am very surprised to learn that an auction house will not let you know who the previous owner of your vehicle is. I assume this information is readily available to you from the provincial vehicle registry -- correct?
The APA has been led to believe that the provincial safety certification in Alberta is more serious than in British Columbia and certainly more rigorous than in Ontario. Consumers moving to Alberta have reported to us that vehicle inspectors can be picky, with failures for minor items like wiper blades.
The APA has seen badly rebuilt wrecks originally from Alberta for retail sale at dealers in British Columbia --- our understanding is that the vehicles inspection process in Alberta is more rigorous and these vehicles would not have passed an Alberta inspection.
Like the police (when a stolen vehicle is involved) provincial transportation ministry officials are interested primarily in their own agenda, and not the car owner's. Vehicle or license plate confiscation is always a concern when you report an irregularity to them. I suspect if your vehicle were seized or ordered off the road, you would have a legal recourse against the vendor or auctioneer, but you would be tied up in red tape for a while, with no vehicle or refund for a good, long time.

Comment: "I am writing this e-mail as a result of watching the TV program "W5" dealing with a rebuilt Mazda 3. This program aired on April 12, 2014.
I recently bought a used car from a used car dealer in Toronto. My experience was exactly what you would expect from a "used car dealer" !
In the OMVIC Complaint Process I found the following words: "Under the Act all motor vehicle dealers and salespeople must be registered with OMVIC and are required to conduct themselves with honesty, integrity and within the law. " I did not see any honesty or integrity in my used car buying experience.
I take responsibility for most of the process but my main complaint deals with the mis-representations and lack of disclosure surrounding the power train warranty offered by the dealer.
One year power train warranty; un-limited mileage, was being offered readily. It was also expanded to 3 years without providing details of its limitations. Details of the warranty were not provided (even after several requests) until after the deal was signed. All of this only to find out later the "per claim" amount of such a warranty could be $ 600 or $ 750 with a deductible.
As you know, $ 600-700 does not go far toward the repairs of a power train problem. Most companies use "authorized repair shops" which stack the deck against the consumer. A quick Google search of warranty providers will reveal the horror stories consumers face when they try to make a claim.
I believe there in absolutely no value in the power train warranties offered by dealers. They are used only as a ploy to help the dealer make the sale AND the warranty company to sell something they will never deliver. It would be interesting for someone to do a review of warranty companies to see the statistics on "claims filed" versus "claims paid out" and "dollars paid out" "

Response: I agree some warranties are almost worthless and they are used to make the sale by making the buyer feel protected. However, as far as I know this type of behaviour is not illegal. What is your particular situation? I find a lot of times certain dealers sell cars with pre-existent problems. If you had a lot of unusual expenses, maybe you can take the dealer to small claims court. If you didn't get help from OMVIC you can try UCDA. They have a consumer conflict resolution program. But, the ultimate lesson is "buyer beware" and never buy w/o and independent inspection.

Comment: "I just finished watching Tue W5 April 2014 episode on bad safeties but it only touched the surface when it comes to the jeep compass I bought September 12 2013.
I bought my jeep from the Mazda Clearance Centre lot in Orillia Ontario onSSeptember 12 2013 and it came with a safety done on September 9 2013. January 21 2014 I brought the jeep into a Quebec mechanic for a safety as I had moved to Quebec and was following steps to have my plates transferred to Quebec. When the safety was done I was shocked to learn that my sb frame was so rotten the motor was going to fall out and my steering was no good! I'm a single mom driving around with my three kids! Ages six, four and 20 months!
After much digging and many many phone calls I finally got in touch with the Aurora MTO enforcement office.
I also contacted OMVIC.
After I brought the jeep to the Aurora office I was told that yes Tue safety done was no good my vehicle was severely unsafe but that my time had run out there was a statute of limitations on the problem of 6 months which I wasnever informed of. Even though the MTO did an audit of the company they neglected to push forward. Now I am making payments on a vehicle that is not in my possession. In fact I have no idea where the jeep is or what is going to happen, just that I have to pay for it.
I have attached photos of my sub frame taken by a mechanic January 24 2014.
I of course have much more to add such as how my rear tires blew on the jeep November 16 2013, my faulty vapour cap and the fake work order they gave me and so forth.
Apparently the MTO and consumer lawsd not protect consumers but rather protect cons putting children in danger! The cons know the loop holes in Tue laws to continue making money while consumers are driving in vehicles that could snap at any moment causing fatalities!!!"

Response: A 2007 or 2008 Compass that is so rotten should be reported to Transport Canada. Their phone number is 1-800-333-0510. Be sure to have the VIN number and information from your inspections on hand. They will want photos as well.
Your report will not help you with your case, but it will help them. In the event that more reports are received they may pressure FiatChrysler to recall the vehicles. Do you know if the Compass and similar vehicles like the Patriot are rustprone to the extent yours is?
APA's lawyer may be able to help you with your claim against the Ontario dealer. The delay is more than 6 months is an issue for recession of the contract, but you may have other options.

Read the report | Watch the show | See Consumer Comments
Results: Used Car Dealers - Franchised New Car Dealers - Curbsiders