Without the lemon laws in Canada, what happens if the dealer can’t fix my car?

We’re having issues with our 2020 car. Last June, all the screens, including the one with the speedometer, went black. After that, the dealer had for repairs for several months – we’re making payments on a car we can’t drive. The automaker refused to buy it back, so we went to the Canadian Auto Arbitration Scheme (Camvap). During the video arbitration meeting, the head of the merchant store said the issue had been resolved and so the arbitrator closed the case. But when we picked up our car, it soon happened again. Can we go back to CAMVAP? Are there other options? – T. Toronto

If you take your dispute with an automaker to an arbitrator, you have one chance to bring your case. If they make a decision against you, don’t worry.

“The decision is final,” said George Ene, president of the Auto Protection Association, a national consumer advocacy group with offices in Toronto and Montreal. “[There’s] There is a high risk of not doing the preparations properly before the hearing,” he cautioned, and cautioned that there was no way to support your case after the fact.

Unlike the United States, Canada does not have so-called lemon laws that require an automaker to buy back your car if it has problems that dealers cannot solve.

Instead, we have the Canadian Auto Arbitration Scheme (Camvap), a non-profit organization backed by the auto industry. Its membership includes automakers, associations, and provincial and territorial government representatives.

As an alternative to suing an automaker, Camvap mediates disputes between consumers and manufacturers over defective vehicles and new vehicle warranties, and its independent arbitrators can order the automaker to repair or buy back the vehicle. The decision is binding on both the automaker and the consumer.

Automakers are not required to join Camvap, although most do. In 2019, Fiat Chrysler (FCA) – now Stellantis – pulled out after decisions weren’t going its way, Iny said.

Funded by car makers

Campvap does not charge consumers; Instead, it is financed by automakers. While Camvap does not disclose how much each manufacturer contributes, the annual amount is based on how many cases each automaker had in the previous year.

“Camvap is neither ‘friendly’ nor ‘free’ as their website says,” Eni said. “The hearing is hostile, with the other side having the advantage of experience – and they are more likely to be seen as authoritative than consumers without an expert.”

According to Camvap’s 2020 annual report, 124 cases were referred to arbitration that year. There were 36 buy-backs, seven cases in which the automaker had to reimburse the consumer for repairs, and 37 cases in which the automaker was required to complete repairs.

But many consumers may not agree with Camvap’s definition of winning, Eni said.

“Other ‘winners’ were often asked to return to the dealer for another repair,” Eni said. “For Camvap, this is a customer win, but not for the many customers who wanted to get rid of their cars.”

Moody said again, the decision is binding. If you do not agree with the decision or the same problem recurs, you cannot return to Camvap and cannot then bring the automaker to court.

“Consumers are making a decision to come to Camvap or go to court,” Modi said.

But if your car is under warranty, you can go back to the automaker to get the problem fixed, Moody said.

Preparation is the key

While the decision is binding, if the automaker doesn’t respect it, you can take them to court.

“If an automaker doesn’t follow through with something, [the consumer] Camvap’s Modi said. “We have a legal aid program and will cover the cost of a consumer attorney to enforce the order.”

Modi said this usually happens once “every two years”.

If you succeed, you will not get anything beyond what was in the original Camvap decision.

That’s why it’s important to prepare for a Camvap session, Ene said. Because hearings can be technical, either use the CAMVAP expert that experts provide for free – or better yet, bring your own expert who has diagnosed and documented the problem.

“In a technical case, it is much better to bring your own expert,” he said.

While Camvap is much faster than the courts, what Canada really needs are lemon laws for vehicles that encounter frequent repairs that don’t solve the problem, Iny said.

“These laws will allow the privilege to return goods with serious and irreparable defects,” Eni said.

Do you have a driving question? send it to me [email protected] And put “driving concerns” in the subject line. Emails that do not contain the correct subject line may not be answered. Canada is a big place, so tell us where you are so we can find an answer for your city and province.

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