The Ontario Safety Standards Certificate

Is the Ontario Safety Standards Certificate also a warranty?
In a word, no. When it comes to buying a used vehicle, the Safety Standards Certificate (SSC) is an essential part of the process; yet it can also be misunderstood. Let’s take a close look at the Certificate, including what it covers – what it does not – and what you, the car buyer, must know before purchasing.

MTO Definition
According to the Ontario Ministry of Transportation, “A Safety Standards Certificate is a document that certifies a vehicle’s fitness.”
A Safety Standards Certificate is valid for 36 days after the inspection. However, the certificate is not a guarantee or warranty that the vehicle will stay fit for any period. The Certificate process was designed to ensure that any car changing hands must possess the minimum safety requirements to drive on the road.

What is covered in the Safety inspection?
The inspection covers numerous components of the vehicle, each related to safe operation. For example:

  • Brakes
  • Tires
  • Lights
  • Signals
  • Wipers
  • Exhaust
  • Linkage

You can see a detailed list of the components covered in the inspection here.

When is the SSC needed?
A Safety Standards Certificate is required in the case of any vehicle changing hands to a new owner. This step is required before the new owner’s licence plate can be attached. The car must receive a Certificate before it can be “plated” (receive new plates from the Ministry of Transportation).

Who performs the safety inspection?
A licensed mechanic must carry out all SSC inspections.

What is the 36-day limit all about?
As soon as the vehicle passes the SSC inspection, there are 36 days in which it can be sold and plated to the new owner. If 36 days have passed and the car has not been plated, it must be re-inspected.

Does the SSC mean the car has a 36-day warranty?
Absolutely not. Many people are confused on this point. Even though the vehicle has successfully passed the inspection, things can still happen. A tire could go flat. A bulb could burn out.

Does the Certificate cover anything beyond safety items?
No. The MTO states, “An SSC is not a warranty or guarantee on the general condition of the vehicle. The SSC only certifies that on the date it was issued, the vehicle met the minimum safety standards as set down by Regulation 611 of Ontario’s Highway Traffic Act (HTA).”

Some manufacturers offer “Pre-Owned Certified” cars … Are they already legal to drive?
“Pre-Owned Certified” is a term that usually refers to an additional service provided by the manufacturer or dealer. It’s a separate topic, which we’ll cover in a future post.

What about the Emissions (Drive Clean) Test?
This is also a completely distinct issue, which we’ll discuss in an upcoming article.

What if I believe my SSC inspection was not done properly?
Go back to your dealer and discuss the problem. Chances are they’ll be eager to help settle it. If you’re still concerned, you can contact the UCDA. We provide a free mediation service designed to resolve issues between the consumer and used car dealer.