Ontario's mandatory vehicle branding program:
The mandatory vehicle branding program became effective March 31, 2003 and makes the province's roads safer. Branding is the process of assigning "brand" types that indicate whether a vehicle has been severely damaged in the past. The brand is then recorded in the Ministry of Transportation's Vehicle Registration System.
Brand types are:
Insurance companies, auto recyclers, salvagers, auctioneers, dealers and individual vehicle owners must assign a brand type to vehicles that have been damaged to the point of total loss and meet this branding criteria. These vehicles must be reported to the Ministry of Transportation (MTO).
Mandatory branding is also part of Ontario's ongoing efforts to prevent vehicle theft and registration fraud. It builds on the success of the province's voluntary branding program (operating since 1998) and similar programs in Canada and the U.S.
In the past, some written-off vehicles found their way back onto the road; some were safely rebuilt, while others were not and were sold to unsuspecting consumers.
The mandatory branding program helps to protect the consumer by providing important information about possible past damage to a vehicle.
As a consumer, you will have better information to help you determine if a vehicle you are about to buy is:
Check Vehicle Permit for Branding Information
The vehicle's brand will appear on Ontario's Vehicle Registration System database, on vehicle permits, in vehicle histories and in the Used Vehicle Information Packages (UVIPs) available from the Ministry of Transportation or the Ministry of Consumer and Business Services.
Every year, insurance companies write off about 90,000 vehicles as total losses in Ontario because of severe damage or theft.
Since 1991, the rate of vehicle thefts across Canada has increased by 10 per cent.
Stolen vehicles are often re-registered under the serial numbers of identical vehicles that have been written-off. The stolen vehicles can then be sold to unsuspecting buyers. Branding helps to identify these written off vehicles and serial numbers, which will deter most thieves from doing this.
Automobile theft costs Ontario drivers more than $216 million a year in additional insurance costs.
Used vehicles that have brands of "Rebuilt" or "None" are allowed to be driven on the road. Used vehicles with the brand of "Salvage" cannot be legally driven. Salvage vehicles are required to pass a structural inspection test before receiving the brand of rebuilt.
As a consumer, you should be aware that private sellers are required to provide used car buyers with a Used Vehicle Information Package (UVIP), which contains the vehicle's registration history in Ontario, and discloses any liens currently registered on the vehicle.
If you wish to obtain a UVIP on your own, you may do so at a Driver and Vehicle Licence Issuing Office or through the Ministry of Consumer and Business Services.
Motor vehicle dealers should tell you important facts about a vehicle and are required to guarantee that vehicles they sell are free of liens, roadworthy and are not stolen.
Check the vehicle's permit and/or UVIP carefully for the vehicle's brand type. It appears in the upper left hand corner of the permit as well as in the UVIP.
Unless you're buying the vehicle for parts or scrap metal, you should NEVER buy a vehicle with a brand of "Irreparable" on vehicle documents.
Finally, you may wish to ask the seller if you can take the vehicle for an inspection by an authorized mechanic you know and trust.
NOTE: Some vehicles are exempt from branding under the new program: trailers, traction engines, farm tractors, road-building machines, bicycles, motor-assisted bicycles, motorized snow vehicles, streetcars and motor vehicles with a model year of 1980 or earlier. For motorcycles, only the "Irreparable" brand will apply.
For more details:
Enquiries can also be made to the Toronto Call Centre at 416-246-7166 or 1-800-387-7736 or for French Enquiries call 1-800-461-4803.