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Cost to inspect a car in Quebec and Ontario

So, by now you know that buying a car without a car inspection isn’t for you! You’re here to find out what it costs to inspect a car. We’ll walk you through the various options for car inspections on the cost in general of each. Your local market may differ slightly from our guidelines, but what we want you to know is that the cost NOT to inspect a car is far greater than any difference you might find.

As a good rule of thumb these days, a proper vehicle inspection will take a trained technician 1-3 hours. Competent mechanics and technicians are in high demand and their time is valued accordingly. It’s not uncommon in small communities for mechanics hourly rates to run between $90-$110 and in larger centers or for luxury brands, $150-$220 an hour. Remember, it’s not just the time, experience, and expertise. You’re also paying for traditional mechanics tools, specialty automotive tools, large service bays with hoists or lifts, and the fact that it’s a dirty and dangerous job. 

Next, understand one of the main challenges with vehicle inspections, impartiality or bias. This is why we recommend a third party that is not connected with the seller in any way to help protect your interests when it comes to your vehicle inspection. The cost of a biased inspection is simply too high at any price, especially if it’s free with the purchase. 

Just remember, all used cars (that aren’t in a museum) will have some issues, defects, imperfections, and there is no need to get too excited about them or rule a car out that has a blemish or two. Trust the experts’ feedback, that’s why we’re paying them!

Before detailing the different inspection options in Quebec and Ontario, it is important to understand the major difference between these two provinces.

  • Unlike Ontario, Quebec does not impose a mandatory inspection on the sale of used vehicles, unless they are imported into Quebec or are used for professional passenger transportation.
  • The inspection imposed in Ontario is not a guarantee of long-term reliability, but rather a safety check at a specific time.

1. Cost to inspect a car in Quebec

Despite the lack of regulations, the CAA, the APA (Automobile Protection Association) and the SAAQ strongly recommend having the car inspected before buying it.

There are different types of inspections:

 Inspection at the SAAQ :

  • Mandatory to register a vehicle from another province 
  • Mandatory each year for vehicles for professional use such as passenger transport (Taxi, Uber, ambulances, etc.)


The SAAQ inspection is about safety and not the general good condition of the vehicle.

This is why this inspection is aimed at professionals and not at individuals like you and me.

You should budget around 110$ for this inspection.


a. Inspection by the seller/Inspection by the dealer

In-dealership inspection:

It is difficult to be sure that the inspection is neutral when it is carried out by the seller. Even at a branded dealership, it is very common for the inspection to be (too) optimistic and overestimate the condition of the car.

The mention “certified vehicle” does not demonstrate the proper functioning in the medium term either. And yes… this “certification” does not guarantee problems due to normal wear and tear. In other words, if a mechanical problem occurs the day after your purchase and requires the clutch to be changed, for example, it’s up to you to pay!

b. Inspection between individuals:

Sometimes the seller offers an inspection report.

The problem ? The inspection comes from the garage in which he had his car serviced… And it is unlikely that the mechanic will question his work. 

On the other hand, you can use this report for comparison with an inspection elsewhere at your own expense.  

c. Inspection by a third-party garage :

There are garages and dealerships that offer full inspections.

Unfortunately, many garages/dealers are lacking in rigor and use the word “inspection” indiscriminately. 

The CAA carried out a test: 5 inspections in Montreal in 4 garages (2 independent & 2 franchised) and in a dealership.

Catastrophic result! No inspection is complete: “the inspection does not identify the [defective] security elements. Two garages [out of the 5 tested] therefore stood out for having seen these security elements, but none obtained a perfect score”.

Another difficulty is to get an appointment quickly because the car could be sold in the meantime. Buying a car requires being responsive. Suffice to say that when it’s changing tires season, it’s mission impossible!


d. Mission a mobile inspector:

The APA recommends this solution. It remains to find a trusted inspector, ready to move.

This is exactly the mission of CarInspect

  • A network of certified and neutral experts towards the vehicle inspected
  • A complete and rigorous inspection
  • Within 48 hours
  • Vehicle warrantied for 90 days

2. Price of a car inspection in Ontario

Here are some types of pre-purchase inspections available in Ontario.

a. The Safety Inspection

Unlike in Quebec, in Ontario, there is a standard Safety check for a vehicle when a vehicle changes hands and it’s to be put on the road. This safety doesn’t guarantee the mechanical fitness of a vehicle and is only a statement at the time it is signed that various safely related items are in good order. These items could break or wear out in weeks or months after the check leaving you with further expenses a short time after your purchase. They also don’t check a number of convenience items like Air conditioning and the stereo, both items that could cost more than a thousand dollars to repair. It is required by the government before the registration.

Provincial Inspection cost on average $150. 

Auto Ontario

b. The Seller’s Safety Inspection


A Provincial Safety Check, but arranged by the seller at their ally or preferred mechanic.

As we mentioned in our Car Inspection blog post, the seller of a vehicle has an interest in minimizing their expenses when selling a vehicle and passing on any costs or repairs to the buyer. This might mean they use the lowest cost option when it comes to safeties or one that is biased in their favor. If it’s a dealership who sells many cars a month, this mechanic may rely on the steady stream of business to keep food on their table. Without questioning their character, some items are open to interpretation or are a judgment call that could go either way depending on their mood. Seller Safety inspection cost $So Cheap You Can’t Afford to rely on it. 

So, make sure you book the safety inspection by yourself, and not by the seller.


c. The Third-Party Pre-Purchase Inspection

This inspection may be the gold standard but it doesn’t come fast or cheap. This Third-Party inspection will likely require booking in advance with a competent mechanic that you trust, and not with the first one the sales person recommends.



d. The Third-Party Inspection at a branded dealership

You might take it to the original selling dealer or branded dealership. The technician servicing their own brand will check not only all of the items we cover in the What Goes into an Inspection blog post, but also the common problem areas for that particular brand. This could save you thousands when it comes to slow oil leaks, wearing rubber bushings, or the beginning of rust and corrosion. 

Here, it costs about $199-$300


e. The CarInspect mobile pre-purchase inspection

Ok, we’re a little biased too about the work that we’re doing.

  • The CarInspect mobile-and-certified inspector network is not affiliated with any seller.
  • We partner with a great warranty company that offers a 90-day to our customers. And we are proud to be the only company in North-America to offer this type of product!  
  • Our inspection report is more complete than everywhere else. You’ll get: a road test, a mechanical, functionnal and aesthetic check + photos and repairs that are needed on the vehicle.
  • You don’t need to decide which mechanic to try to go to in a city you’re unfamiliar with.
    CarInspect handles all of that by dispatching an inspector directly to the vehicle.
  • We’ve performed thousands of inspections and our clients are really happy (4.9-star reviews)

    Our inspectors work in cities across Quebec and Ontario (and elsewhere in Canada) to get you a fast and affordable inspection that is far more detailed than the provincial safety check, free of bias like the seller’s inspection, and much quicker than the Factory Store Third-Party Pre-Purchase Inspection.

     CarInspect Inspection Cost: $189.


Mechanical pre-purchase inspection price: from simple to triple

  • Independant garages start their price from $80.
  • Franchise like Point-S or Canadian Tire offers its inspection usually starting form $120.
  • Mobile inspection services range from $149 to more than $300.
  • And finally, you have to pay around $220 in a dealership (example: Audi)



Which inspection to choose?

First, you must list the garages and within a radius of 5 to 10 kilometers around the seller. Then comes the time to determine which ones offer a full inspection.

To be sure to have a complete inspection, it is recommended to consult the customer reviews of garages, dealerships or mobile inspection companies. When they are positive, it is important to call the company and ask for a sample inspection report (if not shown on the website).

Some reports are complete but little popularized. It’s still useful to understand the report!

COVID has resulted in a lack of automotive inventory. Without going into details, supply has fallen sharply in the face of constant demand. This is why it is more and more common for the seller to have several buyers for the same car. Obviously, he will favour the one that does not require an inspection. It’s easier, but you know…that’s not a great decision if you don’t want to buy a lemon!

Certified Mechanics
You stay at home
Unbiased opinion
(no repair sales)
Service under 24h
(48h if not possible)
90-day warranty
see conditions*
Repairs to plan
and their costs
Canadian Tire
Local repair shops
Other mobile companies

Mechanical inspection price: finally, how much to pay?

There is therefore no black or white answer as to the price of a mechanical inspection in Quebec and Ontario.

Indeed, it is up to you to determine what quality of inspection you want, and to guess it through the opinions left by Internet users for example…

Of course, the price does not mean everything but below $80, chances are that all points will not be inspected!

We hope we’ve helped you 😊

See you soon!