General Information


The Defect Investigations group has a mandate under the Motor Vehicle Safety Act to investigate complaints relating to alleged manufacturing safety defects.

A safety-related defect is generally one that is common to a group of vehicles, tires or child restraints of the same design or manufacturer. These are typically issues that without warning may influence the safety of road users.  For example, if the steering wheel of your vehicle was to suddenly detach, you would no longer be able to steer your vehicle and a collision could result.

Complaints are documented in a database and then reviewed by an experienced analyst. When warranted an investigation will be initiated to further research the problem.  During the investigation process we work closely with consumers, dealers, forensic scientists, manufacturers and others to obtain a clear understanding of the problem and the potential risk to safety.  At times the investigations may lead to safety recall campaigns or safety advisory publications.  

Examples of safety related defects:

  • Steering components that may fail suddenly, causing loss of vehicle control
  • Problems with fuel system components that may cause vehicle fires
  • Electronic Stability Control (ESC) systems that activate when not required resulting in a loss of vehicle control
  • Wiring problems that may lead to a fire or a sudden loss of lighting
  • Air bags that deploy when they should not
  • Child restraints / Car Seats with defective harness systems, buckles or components
  • Improperly designed or constructed tires that may fail unexpectedly
  • Critical vehicle components that may fail causing loss of vehicle control, or injury to people inside or outside the vehicle

Examples of NON-safety related defects:

  • Quality of paint or cosmetic blemishes
  • Engine or other power train operational problems
  • Squeaks, rattles and noises that indicate prior warning to the operator prior to component failure
  • Non-structural or body panel rust.
  • Air conditioners and radios that do not operate properly.
  • Air bags that DO NOT deploy in low severity non-injury collisions
  • Ordinary wear of equipment that has to be inspected, maintained and replaced periodically by the consumer. Such equipment includes shock absorbers, batteries, brake pads and shoes, and exhaust systems.

Consumers can contact us via our phone line at 1-800-333-0510 or via our online public complaint form.

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