Buying a Used Car or Motorcycle from a Merchant: What You Should Know

This article is under review to reflect the changes brought by the Act to protect consumers from planned obsolescence and to promote the durability, repairability and maintenance of goods.


You’re thinking of buying a used car or motorcycle from a dealer or other professional seller? It is a good idea to be cautious. But you should know that the law gives you more protection when you buy a used car or motorcycle from a merchant than when you buy one from an individual.

This article explains some things you should check.

1. Read the Label

By law, merchants must put a label on used cars and motorcycles. You must be able to read the whole label from outside of the car or motorcycle. The label has information useful to careful buyers.

The label on the used car or motorcycle must have this information:

  • price of the used car or motorcycle
  • miles or kilometres the vehicle has travelled
  • model year, serial number, make, and model and cubic capacity of the engine
  • whether the car was ever used as a taxi cab, demo, drivers’ school car, police car, courtesy car for customers, rental car or an ambulance
  • the name of all merchants or public organizations that have been owners or long-term renters of the car or motorcycle
  • repairs that done while the car or motorcycle has been at the merchant’s
  • class of the car or motorcycle and its warranty features
  • mention that a certificate of mechanical inspection will be given to you if you buy the vehicle (This obligation doesn’t apply to certain classes of cars, such as taxi cabs and used cars from outside Quebec.)
  • the fact that the name and phone number of the previous owner will be given to you if you ask for them (The previous owner can tell you if the used car or motorcycle drives well in the winter, if it has ever been in an accident, etc. )

2. Have the Vehicle Inspected

Having a used car or motorcycle inspected by a mechanic will let you judge its condition. If you are thinking of buying a used car, you have the right to have the vehicle inspected by a mechanic, at your expense. The mechanic you choose must be located at a reasonable distance from the place of sale.

3. Consult the RDPRM

The RDPRM is a computerized list that anyone can access to check if there are debts or other charges on property.

It’s crucial to make sure that there are no debts or other charges on the used car or motorcycle that you want to buy.


Because if there are debts or charges, the creditor will have the right to take back the vehicle even if you’ve bought it and you don’t have any debts.

To check if there are charges or other debts on a used car or motorcycle that you want to buy, you must consult the Register of Personal and Movable Real Rights (RDPRM). You have to pay a fee to do this.

You can consult the register from the comfort of your home because it is online. You can also get information by phone, mail or fax.

4. Read and Understand the Contract

Once you’ve chosen the used car or motorcycle you want to buy, the law obliges the merchant to make a contract of sale in writing.

Read the contract carefully before signing it. Make sure that you understand everything. Don’t be shy about asking the merchant or a legal professional questions.

5. Make Sure the Contract is Complete

By law, the contract must include this information:

  • number of the permit issued to the merchant
  • place and date that the contract was signed
  • your name and address
  • merchant’s name and address
  • price of the used car or motorcycle
  • amount of each tax
  • total amount to be paid
  • features of the warranty

The label that was on the car or motorcycle must be attached to the contract. This means that the information on the label is part of the contract. Only the price and the features of the warranty can be changed according to what you have agreed on with the merchant.

If your contract does not have all of this information and you suffer harm because the information is missing, there are steps that you can take to have it cancelled by a court.

6. Get Information About the Manufacturer or Dealer Warranty

When you buy a used car or a motorcycle, you should find out if the original manufacturer or dealer’s warranty is still valid.