Be very careful with add-on parts on your vehicle

Buyer beware with add-ons

"If it is illegal for me to have on my vehicle, how come they are selling it to me at the store?"

That 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 simply because the driver trusted the retailer.

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.

A visit to on-line retailers finds a wealth of items for sale intended for automotive use. Worse still, some of these items are products that conform to standards that have been modified so that they no longer conform or bear counterfeit approval markings.

Section 222 of the Motor Vehicle Act is meant to provide some protection for the consumer. It says a person must not sell, offer for sale, expose or display for sale or deliver over to a purchaser for use a motor vehicle, trailer or equipment for them that is not in accordance with the act and the regulations.

The legislation is very broad and is limited only by the phase "for use." As long as the vehicle or trailer is being sold for parts or rebuilding, and the equipment items are meant to install on a vehicle not used on roads, it's legal to sell them.

Division 8 of the Motor Vehicle Act Regulations adds a few more detailed restrictions on some equipment kept for sale. Vendors of new or used motor vehicles and trailers must not sell vehicles that are not properly equipped. Light bulbs and turn signals must also be approved types.

At best, the purchaser of parts at the retail level may find a warning similar to "check with local laws prior to use." This is often on instructions, in tiny print, sealed inside the packaging or somewhere on the website not directly referred to in the item listing.

Do not rely on sales people for advice about legality, as they generally do not have the necessary knowledge to answer your questions reliably.

Confused about how to choose? I'm not surprised. The easy way to decide on a replacement is to insist on the equivalent of the original equipment manufacturer's (OEM) part. When the salesperson tells you that it is, you have some legal recourse if it turns out not to be.

If you want anything else, it's up to you do research carefully before you use it.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

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About the Author

Tim Schewe is a retired constable with many years of traffic law enforcement experience. He has been writing his column for most of the 20 years of his service in the RCMP.

The column was 'The Beat Goes On' in Fort St. John, 'Traffic Tips' in the South Okanagan and now 'Behind the Wheel' on Vancouver Island and here on Castanet.net.

Schewe retired from the force in January of 2006, but the column has become a habit, and continues.

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The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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