Skip to main content

Can I get out of my car’s multiple protection plans?

I bought a Honda Civic a year ago. I also bought anti-theft protection ($595), rust protection ($1,595), paint protection ($595) and fabric protection ($595) and now regret it. Is there any way to cancel all these plans? I know that it says "final sale" in the purchase agreement. But isn't there a way to cancel if you are not satisfied, like all other products and services with return policies? – Yash

As long as the salesperson didn't lie to you or break a condition in the contract, there's likely no way to subtract those add-ons.

"Every retail contract or bill of sale requires, in 14-point bold font next to the consumer's signature, the words: SALES FINAL," said Terry O'Keefe, spokesman for the Ontario Motor Vehicle Industry Council (OMVIC), which regulates dealerships in the province. "In other words, there's no cooling-off period, period."

Story continues below advertisement

While most provinces, including Ontario, have cooling-off periods for certain types of contracts, such as for products or services sold by salespeople going door-to-door – these typically don't apply to car sales.

Under Ontario's Motor Vehicle Dealer's Act, you can request to cancel a sales contract with a dealership if it hasn't met a written condition, O'Keefe said. Or, if it didn't tell you certain information about the car, such as the accurate mileage or that it had been a police car, taxi, limo or rental. But, even then, you have to make the request within 90 days of the sale.

Lying in wait?

That doesn't really apply to dealer add-ons, but here's something that potentially could: Under Ontario's Consumer Protection Act, it's illegal to make false, misleading, deceptive or unconscionable representations about a product.

So, if the dealer falsely told you that your warranty would be voided if you didn't buy rust protection, for instance, you have up to a year to request that the contract be cancelled – if you can prove it.

"Proving a misrepresentation is not so easy unless you have some evidence of a misrepresentation or deceptive practice, like a voice or video recording of the sales pitch," George Iny, president of the Automobile Protection Association (APA), said in an e-mail.

When the APA has sent out secret shoppers with hidden cameras to dealerships, "misrepresentations about dealer extras were frequent."

Story continues below advertisement

The most common misrepresentation it found?

"[The] claim that there is no factory corrosion protection warranty for perforation of the body," Iny said. "It's five to 12 years, depending on the auto maker."

In 2016, OMVIC sent mystery shoppers to 20 dealerships in the Greater Toronto Area and found that five falsely claimed the manufacturer's warranty did not include corrosion protection.

If you think the dealer is lying to you, report it to OMVIC and go shop somewhere else, O'Keefe said.

There are similar protections in other provinces. In British Columbia, for example, you could likely still file a complaint about misrepresentation even after a year, said Doug Longhurst, spokesman with the Vehicle Sales Authority of British Columbia.

Are dealer extras a bad deal?

Story continues below advertisement

Consumer Reports says dealer extras such as rustproofing, fabric protection and paint protection are usually unnecessary – or, for something such as an alarm system, can usually be bought somewhere else for cheaper.

"Rust problems have almost vanished in modern vehicles," it said.

And, instead of getting the dealer to apply paint sealant ("vastly overpriced wax") or fabric protection ("the most expensive Scotchgard your upholstery will ever see"), get the products for a few bucks at an auto parts store and apply them yourself, it said.

"I believe the Civic comes with stain protection from the factory," Iny said. "The cost to the dealer for aftermarket fabric protection is $15 to $60, the latter with a warranty."

These extras make money for dealerships – and for the person who's selling them, Iny said.

"The person in the 'business office' who offers them typically receives a 20- to 25-per-cent commission on each item," Iny said.

Story continues below advertisement

When you're stuck in that room, there's a lot of pressure to protect your investment (their words) – but you can't be forced to decide on extras on the spot, O'Keefe said.

"If a consumer is unsure they want to purchase an optional product or service, don't sign; take a day or two to do the research, and only then put pen to paper," O'Keefe said. "Buying a car can be a highly emotional and exciting event, but it's important consumers don't get caught up in the moment and that they make informed decisions."

Have a driving question? Send it to globedrive@globeandmail.com. Canada's a big place, so let us know where you are so we can find the answer for your city and province.

Shopping for a new car? Check out the new Globe Drive Build and Price Tool to see the latest discounts, rebates and rates on new cars, trucks and SUVs. Click here to get your price.

Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

Cannabis pro newsletter