Drivers now have more protection if their vehicles are under recall and can’t be repaired. On March 12, the federal government passed the Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians Act, which will help consumers when their vehicles have recalls.

Recalls are generally issued when vehicles are found to have safety-related issues due to their design or manufacturing. The problem must interfere with the safe functioning of the vehicle, be evident over a number of similar vehicles, and not be due to everyday wear-and-tear, or lack of maintenance. In addition to vehicles, recalls can also affect tires and child car seats.

Under the act, the Minister of Transport and Transport Canada now have the ability to order an auto manufacturer or importer to repair a recalled vehicle at no cost to the consumer, and can order vehicles with recalls repaired before they are sold.

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If a safety defect is discovered and an automaker refuses to carry out a recall, the government can now set monetary fines that “are expected to reflect the degree or nature of the violation,” Transport Canada said in a statement to Autofocus.ca.

New consumer protection under the law includes if an automaker does not correct a safety defect on an owner’s vehicle or does not pay for the repair, or if a new vehicle is sold with an outstanding recall. Should this happen, automakers may be required to repair the vehicle, replace the vehicle with a reasonable equivalent, or reimburse the customer for the purchase price of the vehicle, less reasonable depreciation.

If a customer pays for a repair that is subsequently covered by a recall, the automaker must reimburse for the repair.

The law would not have applied to consumers affected by Volkswagen’s “Dieselgate” emissions scandal, as emissions are regulated by Environment and Climate Change Canada, and are not considered a safety defect.

The new bill brings Canada in line with similar laws and protections as the U.S. Secretary of Transportation.

To find out if your vehicle is subject to a recall, visit Transport Canada’s database. You can also call a dealer who carries your vehicle’s brand. You will need your 17-digit Vehicle Information Number (VIN), found on the ownership, or on a plate visible through the driver’s side of the windshield.

If you believe your vehicle has a safety-related defect, and is not under recall, you can report it to Transport Canada for possible investigation.