Concerned about your vehicle’s safety? Transport Canada can investigate your safety concerns

When something goes wrong with your car, you likely tell your mechanic or dealership, but you may also want to tell Transport Canada— and here’s why.

In early 2015, Transport Canada received a defect complaint from the owner of a Kia Soul. The owner complained about receiving burns from the heated driver’s seat. Transport Canada’s defect investigations team looked into it and verified there was a safety problem. The department then notified Kia, which in turn issued a defect notice and offered to correct the problem.

“Some defect investigations can be long and difficult. They include gathering and analyzing data as well as conducting tests to determine if a safety defect exists,” said Karine Sirois, Defect Investigator for Transport Canada. “In the case of the Kia Soul, we confirmed there was a problem and identified its root cause. If that owner hadn’t notified Transport Canada, it’s possible the defect could have gone unnoticed, and others injured.”

A Transport Canada investigator measures the seat temperature in a Kia Soul.

Transport Canada plays an important role in recalls. Last year, 662 recalls affected nearly 5.5 million vehicles, tires, and child car seats in Canada; 1.1 million of these were influenced directly by Transport Canada’s defect investigations team.

Transport Canada also plays a role in getting the word out about recalls. While manufacturers are responsible for notifying owners of safety defects affecting their products, we spread the word by posting recalls online. This year alone, Transport Canada has posted 84 recalls and vehicle safety messages on Facebook and Twitter. Re-tweeting these messages has reached nearly 3.5 million accounts!

The department also maintains the Motor Vehicle Safety Recalls Database, where Canadians can see if any recalls affect their vehicles. The detailed database goes back to 1975, and covers many makes and models.

While Transport Canada is responsible for regulating the safety of new vehicles, child seats, and tires, it is the owners’ responsibility to act on a recall and have the repair work done.

A Transport Canada investigator documents damage to the driver’s seat in a Kia Soul.

“If there is a recall on something you own, get the recall work done as soon as possible,” says Louis-Philippe Lussier, Chief of Defects Investigations and Recalls at Transport Canada. “Never ignore a recall notice. We often see cases where someone has a safety scare because they didn’t bring their car to the dealership to get the recall work done.”

We recommend checking the Transport Canada Defect Investigations and Recalls web page to see what recalls might affect your vehicle, tires or child car seats. Anyone who experiences a vehicle safety issue should tell Transport Canada.

“No one likes having a safety issue with something they own. If you tell us your story, it could help others from experiencing that same problem,” says Mr. Lussier. “Recalls prevent injuries and save lives, so if you’ve experienced something you think may be unsafe, let us know so we can investigate it.”