Overall retail sales were up one per cent for the month, well ahead of the 0.3 per cent that had been expected by economists, but would have been relatively flat without motor vehicles and parts.
The September results came as sales at new car dealers climbed five per cent, the largest monthly gain since January 2009, and sales at parts dealers rose 4.1 per cent.
"Strong employment gains, rising consumer confidence and a bustling housing resale activity have stoked the appetite for big-ticket purchases, giving a boost to retail sales in recent months," CIBC economist Emanuella Enenajor said.
"But with many of those factors set to downshift, retail sales could slow, with consumers making a less meaningful contribution to GDP in the quarters ahead."
Gains were reported in six of the 11 subsectors, accounting for 55 per cent of retail trade.
Sales at building materials and garden equipment and supplies dealers were up 0.8 per cent, while health and personal care stores were up 0.2 per cent. Gasoline station sales rose 0.8 per cent.
Meanwhile, sales at food and beverage stores fell 0.3 per cent on lower grocery and supermarket sales.
Clothing and clothing accessories sales were down 0.6 per cent and electronics and appliance stores saw sales fall 1.1 per cent.
Retail sales rose in nine provinces in September, with Ontario up one per cent, Alberta up two per cent and Quebec up 0.7 per cent.
Prince Edward Island, which saw sales fall 0.3 per cent, was the only province to post a drop.