Canada: Car Accident Prevention Tips: Five Inspections To Keep Your Vehicle Road Ready

Last Updated: December 12 2016
Article by James R. Howie

Until you're a mechanic or a serious motor vehicle enthusiast, you probably don't spend a lot of time thinking about your car's general condition unless you notice something seriously wrong. But when a 'check engine' light starts flashing or a strange sound rumbles beneath the hood, we all know it's time to bring it to a garage for servicing. From both a legal and safety perspective, however, regular inspections should not be something left solely to these professionals. As a vehicle owner and/or driver, you should ensure your car is always in appropriate condition for safe operation on the road. In this blog post, we review the law and offer some tips for performing your own regular inspections.

The Law

In general, all of the components and equipment that comprise your car must comply with the standards set out in the Motor Vehicle Safety Act, and Motor Vehicle Safety Regulations. To enforce these laws, the Highway Traffic Act permits police officers to require a driver of a car to stop, move to a safe location, and submit the car (including any equipment or trailer attached to it) to undergo tests and examinations.

If a car is found to have a defect or be in a dangerous condition, a police officer may require the driver to repair the defect, order the car removed from the road, prohibit operation of the car on the road until the defect is repaired, and even seize the car's license plates. Any driver who refuses to comply with such requirements can be fined up to $1,000.00.

Safety Considerations

While not always convenient, it is important that you inspect your vehicle as frequently as possible before driving it. Such an inspection may alert you to defects or deficiencies and ultimately prevent a car accident.

Exterior Inspection

The owner's manual is a good starting point for specific components of your car, but when undertaking an exterior inspection, you should generally look for:

  • New damage to the body (cracks, paint chips, rust, rough spots), frame, windshield (scratches, chips, cracks), windows, and structure of the car;
  • Broken or fractured headlights, tail lights, hazard lights, and/or turn signals;
  • Flat or under-inflated tires;
  • Working doors, hood, trunk, and fuel door/cap;
  • Fluid or liquid spills and leaks under the car;
  • Improperly secured items (e.g. bicycles, skis, cargo);
  • Debris, dirt, ice, or snow that may impede steering, lighting, visibility or potentially fall from the car and create a hazard for other drivers;
  • Proper suspension (ensure that the car sits level and does not sag to one side)

A Note on Tire Inspection

With the passage of time (and kilometres), and exposure to the elements, tires deteriorate, crack, and have less traction. However, tires must always meet the standards prescribed by the Motor Vehicle Safety Act. The Ministry of Transportation states tires should not be more than 10 years old [1]. We recommend that you check with your car and tire manufacturer for guidance as some tires should be replaced after six years. Additional requirements include:

  • Replacing tires that have bulges, bumps, deep cuts, exposed tread, and/or tread that has a depth of less than 1.5 millimetres.
  • Proper sizing – no tire can be smaller than the manufacturer's required minimum size. Similarly, a tire cannot be so large that it interferes with or impedes the safe operation of the car.
  • Using similar tires on all four wheels (with the exception of the emergency spare tire) which are intended for road use. Any tire that is specified as "not for highway use" or "farm use only" cannot be used on a car that travels on the road.

Ensure proper air pressure in whichever tires are installed on your car, and regularly inspect the tires on your car for tread-wear. And remember, Transport Canada recommends that you install winter tires or "all-season" tires during months when the temperature is near or below freezing or when there is likely to snow or ice on the ground.

Interior Inspection

When you sit in the driver's seat, look to see whether you have an unobstructed view around your entire car. Leaving aside blind spots, you should be able to turn and see 360-degrees from within the car. Also, be sure to look for warning lights on the dashboard, improperly secured items, and whether the headlights are providing adequate illumination. You should also spend time examining:

  • Seats – adjust the headrest, incline, and distance from the steering wheel/pedals;
  • Seatbelts – ensure proper functioning (securing and release), height, and tension;
  • Interior lights, glovebox lights, and mirror lights; and
  • Controls and accessories – regularly test the emergency/hand brake, mirror adjustments, rear-window defrost, power windows, horn, steering wheel tilt, horn, and release switches for the hood, trunk, and gas cap.

In Transit

As you drive, be vigilant for unusual noises from the engine, brakes, and exhaust system, and be sure to note any warning lights which may come on during your journey.

If you plan to embark on a lengthy journey, it is critical for you undertake a detailed inspection of your car, which includes:

  • The engine (when cold) – check belts for defects, hoses for possible leaks or cracks, rust spots, and ensure that the oil, coolant, windshield washer fluid, and other essential fluids are at required levels.
  • Lights – headlights (high and low beams), brake lights, hazard lights, reversing lights, and turn signals.
  • Windshield wipers (front and rear, if applicable).
  • Tire condition – test for appropriate pressure levels on all tires and look for any wear, balding, cuts, or leaks (see above for additional aspects).
  • Spare tire and accompanying repair equipment.
  • Maintenance

There is no substitute for regular maintenance by a licensed mechanic. The schedule for such maintenance is prescribed by the manufacturer of your car and is typically based on mileage or time intervals. Regular maintenance includes:

  • Brake inspection;
  • Oil and other fluid changes;
  • Tire rotation; and
  • Fuel filter replacement.

With care, attention to detail, and vigilance, you can help to ensure that your car is in the best condition possible for operation on the road.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
In association with
Related Topics
Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
Related Articles
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Registration (you must scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of

To Use you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions