Christine Woodington and her boyfriend were ecstatic when they purchased a brand new 2011 Ford Escape last summer, but their enthusiasm has been tempered every time it has to go back to the shop.

In less than a year it has been in for major repairs four times, for brake work, door seals and transmission problems. The couple has driven it less than 12,000 kilometres.

"It is so disappointing to make such a big purchase and to constantly worry about the next thing that will go wrong with it," she said.

Woodington wrote Steele on Your Side to ask if there are any lemon laws in Canada. In the U.S., state laws provide a remedy for car purchasers to compensate for new vehicles that repeatedly fail to meet standards of quality and performance.

Canada doesn't have a national lemon law, but it does have the Canadian Motor Vehicle Arbitration Plan, an arbitration program for consumers who have problems with their new vehicle – or how the manufacturer implements the warranty.

The program acts as a neutral third-party arbitrator between consumers and vehicle manufacturers when it comes to alleged defects and warranty problems.

The plan applies to cars newer than four years old, with mileage under 120,000 kilometres.

The Motor Vehicle Sales Authority of BC provides some good videos for consumers about how to buy new cars.

Consumer Protection BC also offers the following tips to consumers looking to purchase a new vehicle:

  • Do your research beforehand, not only about the car but about where/how you want to purchase it.
  • If buying a new car, use a licensed dealer.
  • Ask about warranty handling before your purchase a vehicle.
  • Make yourself aware of the return/exchange policy for your vehicle
  • Read your purchase agreement before you agree to it so you aren't blindsided when it's too late.

For questions about buying a vehicle, contact the Motor Vehicle Sales Authority of BC.

Every Friday Lynda Steele dips into the viewer mailbag and answers a handful of questions. Watch tonight for more…