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ontario vehicle safety inspections important tips

Updated April 2024

I wanted to update the prior Blog to now include some new changes that are soon to come with the Ontario Ministry Safety Inspection.  This is the inspection required when transferring ownership, buying a car, required for classic cars for insurance or coming into the province of Ontario for vehicle import.

Frequently Asked Questions: 

What is the Drive On Safety Inspection Program? 

The Ontario Ministry of Transportation has implemented a new, integrated emissions and safety inspection program called DriveON to collect and manage all data electronically, and replace the
existing, paper-based inspection program. In the DriveON Program, all Vehicle Inspection Centres will use a Tablet to perform efficient and consistent vehicle inspections.

What is the price for a safety inspection ?

Fees are based on what the service facility is charging.  Fees include the inspection time being completed by a licensed, certified government approved  technician. The costs of certification forms, and operating costs like tooling to complete the inspection, and business overhead expenses.  The new program require an investment into tablets, printers and software like the old Drive Clean Program used to have.

Is the  Safety Inspection any different? 

The actual check list of items to be inspected was updated in 2015. See below for the link . There are no changes to that check list.   However, the use of digital process’s will now have photos taken, vehicle data verification and real time auditing of the technician if any issues arise during or after the inspection.  Similar to the former Drive Clean Program .

Why the changes? 

There are many reason for the Ontario Safety Inspection being updated and changed.  Here are a few reason:

  • Doing away with paper inspections, updating to a more modern process. Equality and Transparency.
  • Photos of vehicle to confirm authenticity, compliance labels, dashboard images, and items that have been repaired or failed.
  • Potential significant reduction in fraudulent activities with inspection being issued sight unseen, licensed technicians not performing the actual inspection, forms being signed off when techs aren’t even present  on site. Used car facilities  getting sign off when the car is not present.
  • Reduce the amount of passing vehicles where they should not have passed due to a lack of updated training on inspection criteria. Some techs still go from memory on the 1980″ regulations where in 2015 they were updated.
  • Reducing the number of properly failed vehicles that go elsewhere and get passed.
  • Reduce the number of filed complaints on vehicles sold under the pretense they passed a vehicle safety inspection only to find out soon after they failed

Are Technicians Trained?

Yes,  all licensed technicians performing the Ontario Safety Inspection need to have current standing licenses with the government, as well pass an exam for the Drive On program.

Is this only for Light Duty Vehicle or does it apply to Yellow Sticker, CVOR, Annual Safety or Semi Annual Safety? 

Applies to all of them .

If the Vehicle does not have an OBD ( computer plug in) ?

If the vehicle does not have this system it will be documented and noted during the test process.  It is still not clear if the vehicle communication system is not able to communicate with the Drive One Safety equipment what will be the result.  I have not found a answer as to what happens.  If it’s anything like the former Drive Clean Program, it was required to be diagnostic , fixed and the continue on with the inspection.


  • Safety inspection are not a warranty on the car. A car passes today, and in 15 days a light bulb burns out doesn’t means it’s warranty. As of that day the inspection was done it was OK
  • The forms is only valid for 36 days
  • Always get a Pre Purchase inspection or safety done before buying a vehicle.  See Below prior blog notes.  CAA Comprehensive Vehicle Inspection.


Carlo Sabucco 

Owner of  Sils Complete Auto Care Centre ( Oakville CAA Approved Auto Repair Centre) 


Some Basics on Purchasing a Vehicle or Selling from Sils Complete Auto Care, your  Mississauga and Oakville Auto Service Facility.

  1. Ensure to purchase a safety inspected vehicle from an OMVIC-certified dealer within Ontario. https://www.omvic.on.ca/portal/Consumers/ConsumerProtection/KnowYourRights.aspxMany are also members of the Used Car Dealers Association, which has a list of car-buying tips at ucda.ca, along with ways to identify ‘curbsiders,’ unregistered dealers masquerading as private sellers.
  2. Ensure to review the car during daylight hours in clear weather preferably.  At night it’s hard to see issues or concerns with the car. If it isn’t available for a second look on a dry day, walk away.
  3. Fresh undercoating or rust protection sprays. It can hide a multitude of sins. Sellers may state they just had it undercoated for my new buyer, meaning I just had my issues covered up, so you can’t tell. You might be purchasing problems beneath it. Common vehicle safety inspection coverups are heavy rust on brake lines, gas lines and general body. As well, spray foam filled holes in the body and then covered with black rubberized spray.
  4. Bumpers and panels that don’t line up. These can indicate a car that’s been in a collision. Look for possible signs of repair, including areas that are a different colour, trim pieces that look newer than the rest, paint overspray, or ripples in the body.
    Just because Carfax, Carproof shows no accidents on file that does not mean that an owner could have paid out of pocket cash for accident damage repairs. I have seen repairs upwards of $20,000.00 paid to avoid insurance claims in my auto repair ownership time.
  5. No road test. No buy.  You need to feel the vehicle and listen for issues. Handling and braking should be felt. Manufacturer features, functions, and accessories. Take time on the road test and try them out. Ask the seller about all the features.  See if they start commenting, “well this doesn’t work, and that doesn’t work”. Items like: heated seat(s), cooling seat(s), rear seat belts, fold-down seating, layaway seating, all positions movement of seats, All interior lighting, radio and all radio features, navigation system and blue tooth pairing system, fuel door, trunk and hood release functions. Auto sliding doors side and rear, remote control key fobs and all features work with fobs on the car. See if they are equipped with Wheel lock keys and have the owner show them to you and verify they fit. A government vehicle safety inspection does not cover many of these “accessory” features inside a vehicle.
  6. Puddles and smells.  Any leaks dripping during an Ontario Vehicle Safety Inspection fail on a vehicle. However, many people wash and clean engines of leaks before having a safety inspection performed. European cars have large under-vehicle covers that capture leaks and are not necessarily seen on the ground. A Technician should inspect this with the cover removed. A vehicle buyer should even pay extra to ensure these covers are removed if necessary; you need to see what’s under there.
  7. Missing or incorrect paperwork. If you’re buying the vehicle certified, examine the safety certificate. It cannot have any blank areas, and the vehicle information number (VIN) must match that of the car. TIP: request a copy of the actual inspection checklist from the auto repair facility from the seller.  By law, an auto service facility must document the inspection and provide a copy to the seller, or the shop must keep them on file.- Check the date of the safety. It expires after 36 days, weekends and holidays included. An unscrupulous seller might date it so it runs out shortly after you deliver the vehicle.
    – If it’s a private sale, the seller needs to provide a Used Vehicle Information Package obtained from the Ontario Ministry of Transportation, which you keep when you buy the car.
    – Make sure the seller’s name matches that in the package. If not, you may be dealing with a curbsider. See this link to https://www.omvic.on.ca/portal/Consumers/AvoidCurbsiders.aspx OMVIC for curbside.
    – The package will also tell you if the car was ever written off, if there are any outstanding liens against it, and if there is any reason why it can’t be licensed. An ownership branded “rebuilt” means it was written off, and after significant repairs and proper certification, it was approved on the road again.  In my personal opinion, walk away fast from these vehicles sales.
    – Check the mileage on the package with the car’s odometer to be sure it lines up.
    – Beware if the seller can’t provide the vehicle’s service records, including maintenance and repairs.
  8. The ‘death rattle.’ That’s any rapping, tapping or banging sound coming out of the engine when it’s running, especially when it’s cold. Check the tailpipe; the exhaust shouldn’t be blue or black, or smell of antifreeze. Pull out the oil dipstick, and pass on the car if the oil looks creamy-white, which can indicate an internal coolant leak.
  9. A vehicle with a  “Too” clean interior.  Either you have a person who is dedicated to having a spotless vehicle, or it just went to a detailing facility for the full makeover.  Beware of too-heavy air freshener smells that could be masking cigarette smoke or mildew from water leaks. Tip: remove the spare tire area covers and panels, get in there, and see if any water is pooling. Cars can leak inside and people never realize it.  Sunroof drains and door seals leak, causing water to enter the vehicle, hence the musty smell in the car.Here at our Oakville Auto Repair facility, we’ve seen floors wet from plugged sunroof drains and the constant wet, smelly sock smell in the car. This is much harder to notice in the wintertime.
  10. A rush job. Beware the car that you have to buy right away, whether it’s a private seller with a deadline such as moving away or selling it for a relative, or a dealer who says it’s ‘on special today’ or ‘it will be gone tomorrow.’ There could be issues like mechanical repairs needed and wants to unload fast, a dealer unloading a lemon they cant sell for a fair market price.
  11. Should I get a car inspected before I buy it? YES, Get a Pre purchase vehicle inspection.  It’s not a perfect guarantee. A certified technician in an automotive facility can assess the vehicle pre purchase and warn you against pending issues or provide advice on the condition of the vehicle.  Find a facility that is up to date with safety guidelines. Many shops have no manual, and perform safety from memory.  The guidelines have recently changed and allow for many more items to be inspected. As well inspecting non-safety items like maintenance issues is important.CAA Website  https://www.caasco.com/auto/caa-approved-auto-repair-services  We are CAA Oakville Auto Repair facility. We have been with the CAA for over 20 years.
  12. Air conditioning. This is a hard area. In winter, you can’t tell if it’s working. Add to the complexity that when many older cars have a failure, they are likely to find the cheapest solution to solve the problem. The automotive market is flooded with flammable-based refrigerant alternatives you can buy off the auto store shelf.  So once it fails, the seller fills it with this flammable based chemical, and voila, cold air again, ready for the sale.   The only way to avoid this is to fully test the a/c system pre-purchase or at least verification of a non-flammable refrigerant in the system. There will be a cost to do this in many cases, but it could save you a bad purchase deal if not hundreds in a/c repairs down the road.

You can’t expect to keep a seller waiting too long for your decision, but you should be able to give it some thought before you buy.

A safety inspection is NOT a warranty on the car. Effective the inspection date, a licensed government technician stated it passed all criteria to transfer the ownership; the certificate is valid for 36 calendar days.  If You fail the inspection you have 10 days to have it fixed to standards and re inspected by the original facility. The facility may have a fee to Re Inspect the vehicle as they need to verify those repairs were done properly and to specifications.

If you wish, you can sell a vehicle “ as is, “which means exactly that – you get what you buy, and the buyer assumes the risk of the safety inspection concerns.

Q: What do you inspect, Ontario Vehicle Safety Inspection?

A: It’s a long list

Here is the attached 2015 updated manual a certified, licensed technician will follow for an Ontario safety inspection checklist.


Common areas of dispute we see in our Oakville auto repair facility.

Rust: The amount of rust on brake lines and gas lines. If you can “flake” the rust off with your finger, it fails. Not scrubbing it with a tool and picking at it. Take your finger and flake the rust off means you fail a safety inspection

Warning lights: In 2015, we started failing vehicle safety inspections on ABS and SRS lights. Other lights like stability control, TPMS, and battery warning all need to be documented.

Serpentine belts, axle shafts, and fluid leaks dripping are all new issues neglected during safety inspection as they are part of the newer inspection process.

Have any issues or need an Ontario Safety Inspection for transfer, sale, or coming into the province we can help.

Sils Auto Care Centre, serving Mississauga and Oakville for car repair and maintenance services since 1976.

Carlo Sabucco

Owner – Sil’s Complete Auto Care Centre


Our Google Reviews

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Papa Daddz May 5, 2024

My recent experience with Carlo and his team at Sil's Auto Care Centre was exceptional. They expertly explained and fixed my car issues while offering a clear cost breakdown. What's also remarkable is their modern web platform providing detailed vehicle reports online. Their shuttle service adds convenience, ensuring a seamless experience. This mechanic and garage excel in both expertise and innovation, making them my top recommendation for automotive needs.

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The team at Sils Auto provide excellent services on my recent visit. My car got a Spring maintenance and it now drives like a charm. I am very happy to have found you through CAA authorized listing. Recommend to everyone who is looking for a trustworthy car repair shop.

Claire Roger May 5, 2024

Great experience at Sil's. Happy with the work and the cost. Appreciate the loaner vehicle and the turnaround time on my car. Would definitely recommend Sil's.

Elaine Sutton May 5, 2024

Always such excellent service, staff (especially Susan!), and work! Great job, again!

Rick Oughtred May 5, 2024

Superior Service from Susan. We where dealing with an untrustworthy autoshop before on Royal Windor Drive... aka Mike. Total crook. Dealing with Susan for all our cars with honesty and incredible prices on repairs and also all the staff are incredible as well . Triple AAA Auto Shop. Thank You From Charles Parsons Homelife Realty.

charles parsons May 5, 2024

Professional and prompt service - I've gone to Sils a handful of times for servicing my car and was happy with the overall communication and how they handled the maintenance. Not pushy and very matter of fact in their recommendations which I liked.

Chinmayee May 5, 2024

I’ve been going to Sil’s now for three years and have been servicing 6 different cars covering Japanese, European, and Korean makes from older vintages dating back to 1990 up to modern day still under factory warranty. Everything from routine maintenance to complex problem troubleshooting. They have never let me down and have provided a customer experience I can honestly say is the best I’ve found after 30 years of owning cars. I trust their staff completely and truly believe they always have my best interests at heart. If you care about your car and need an organization who will help you keep it running at its best, you should definitely try them out. I’m glad I did.

Steven Pontisso May 5, 2024

I found their advice and customer service to be excellent. Very open and informative and responded to my needs in a very efficient and effective manner. I would highly recommend them again.

Brent Wallace May 5, 2024

I switched to Sils in July 2016 and service at Sils has been consistently very good. Great customer service: smooth check-in, easy shuttle home, clear explanation of items on the invoice & answers to my questions.

Susan M Brown May 5, 2024
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