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Behind the Wheel - Buyer Beware

"If this is illegal, how come they are selling it at the store?" This question is common in response to corrective action taken after inspecting an illegally equipped vehicle at the roadside. In some cases the question is asked in an attempt to deflect responsibility, and in others it is asked out of genuine good faith.

About two thirds of a page was devoted to vehicle dress up items in the sale flyer of one of our local automotive businesses last week. A number of items shown are not legal to install or use on vehicles operated on B.C. highways. Nowhere in the advertising was any indication that these items were for off road use only or that the purchaser should check the law before making the purchase.

Section 222 of the Motor Vehicle Act is meant to provide some protection for the consumer. It is an offence for the business to sell or offer to sell equipment for a motor vehicle or trailer that is contrary to the law. By doing so, the business opens itself up to the possibility of charges and to civil liability should the equipment cause a problem.

Whenever I hear the question asked at the start of this column, I always suggest to the person that they go back to the business with a copy of this section. They may try to return the item and demand that their money be returned to them. If they were truly ignorant of the legality of the equipment, they may also consider civil action against the vendor to recover damages.

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