Buying a car in Canada? There’s a lot to consider, and a seemingly endless amount of options to sort through. We’ve broken down the process into seven simple steps to help get you from the starting line to the driver’s seat.
How to Buy in Car in Canada
Step 1: Determine your budget.
When you know exactly how much you can spend, it will make starting your search that much easier. Experts recommend that your total vehicle expenses (including payments, insurance, and fuel) should make up no more than 20% of your monthly income.
Step 2: Do you currently have a car?
If you already have a car and are looking to upgrade, consider these options:
Trade-In: Do your homework to see what your car is worth before going to a dealer to negotiate a trade-in.
Step 3: Begin by looking at at least a few options.
Don’t just zero in on one kind of car – always start with at least 2 makes in mind. This will allow you to compare important factors across the automotive spectrum
List your most important criteria to check each option against. This can include
- Safety Ratings
- Fuel Economy
- Seasonal Performance
If you’re looking at a used car, also consider
- Model Year
Step 4: Research, research, research.
Once you’ve narrowed your search to a few options, collect as much information as you can. Try:
- Crowdsourcing on social media
- Asking friends and family for opinions and relevant experiences
- Reading online reviews
- Checking out as many different dealerships and online listings as possible to get an idea of median price
Arming yourself with pricing knowledge and other background information will make you a force to be reckoned with once you’re sitting across from a salesperson.
TIP: For a shortlist of helpful websites, check out our article on the best car buying sites in Canada.
Step 5: Take a smart test drive.
When you’re test driving a potential car, don’t let yourself get distracted by shiny features and extras. Evaluate the components that you’ll rely on regularly. For example:
- Do you need a backup camera?
- Will you use cruise control very often?
- Does the trunk have adequate space for your needs?
- Can you parallel park easily?
It’s recommended to test drive a car for at least 20 minutes. If you can, bring the rest of your family with you to try it out.
TIP: For an even better test drive experience, check to see if a car rental company has the model you’re interested in, and drive it around for a day or two.
Step 6: Take a deeper look at a used car.
If the vehicle you’re considering is used, there are a few ways to get a glimpse at its background and any potential issues right up front.
Always get a CarProof Report: This will give you detailed information on the vehicle’s history, including:
- Number of Owners
- Insurance Claims
Take it to Your Mechanic for a Pre-Purchase Inspection: They will be able to warn you of any glaring or ominous factors that would make the car a risky purchase.
Step 7: When you’re happy, seal the deal.
When you finally have the perfect car and a fair price in your sights, and have carefully inspected the fine print on your deal, it’s time to make things official.
Give the car a final once-over to ensure there have been no damages since you last saw it.
Have the salesperson explain any special features, especially if it’s a new car with the latest technology.
Then get ready to ride into the sunset in your new vehicle!