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OMVIC Blog: Car Buying Tips

7 Car Buying Tips for Newbies…by a Newbie

Dec 8

Friday, December 8, 2017  RssIcon

 Carbuying for newbies

Many car enthusiasts will tell you there are two types of people in the world: people who love cars; and, people who are wrong. The former, people who love cars, enjoy going to dealerships and taking the latest models for a test drive. They litter their conversation with terms like, “torque, turbo lag, dual-clutch automatic and direct injection”, while those of us in the latter group, the ones who are ‘wrong’, stare blankly whilst listening to these aficionados.

But let’s face it, love it or hate it, someday – many of us will need to buy a car. And the process can be an intimidating experience for even the most diehard car enthusiast. There’s a lot of information out there for us first-time car buyers, but where to start? OMVIC, Ontario’s vehicle sales regulator, has seven great tips to get the process in gear:

1. Ask questions then do research

What’s the vehicle’s reliability? Check online reviews about the vehicle. Do current/past owners like it? What does the Black Book say about depreciation—does the car hold its value? What kind of gas mileage does it get? Does it require more expensive mid or high grade fuel? Does it require special (and often expensive) service? What’s the warranty coverage (if any?)And research the dealership too! Does the dealership/dealer have a good reputation? What finance options and rates are available to you (at the bank and dealership)?

2.Take a thorough test drive

This is the chance to try the vehicle on. Does it fit? Is it comfortable? So put the ‘test’ in the test drive. That means not just going around the block, but taking it out on the highway as well. Test all systems and accessories like the air conditioning and heat, radio, blue tooth, power windows and locks; and if the vehicle is used, it’s a good time to ask how many remotes (for locks/starter) the seller has – they can be pricey to replace. If possible, bring a friend or family member; they may notice something you don’t. If you are going alone let someone know the details of your meeting (especially when purchasing privately) and take a cell phone.

3. Get a history report and a mechanical inspection

If the vehicle is used, ask if it’s been in an accident. Request a copy of a vehicle history report (e.g. CarProof or AutoCheck). If the car is out warranty, have a mechanic inspect it! If you don’t have a trusted mechanic, ask a friend, family member or consumer advocacy group like Car Help Canada (CHC) or the Automobile Protection Association (APA) for a recommendation.

4.  Understand your rights

Make sure you understand  all-in price advertising. With the exception of HST (Tax) and licensing, there shouldn’t be any additional fees on top of the advertised price.

5. Get ALL promises in writing!

If you ask for something extra, or the dealer promises to fix something, or the purchase is conditional on your spouse/partner/parent’s approval, get this IN WRITING on your Bill of Sale. And familiarize yourself with “car lingo”, terms that will likely turn up on a Bill of Sale, such as: Liens, Freight, PDI and APR.

6.The cost

An often forgotten question during this highly emotional, exciting, even scary transaction is simply this: “Can I afford this?” How much will insurance cost? Parking? Maintenance? Fuel? And regarding financing, few of us can afford to buy a car outright, so educate yourself about financing .
 Remember: Shop for a car, not a car payment.

7. Don’t sign the contract unless you’re certain you want to buy the vehicle!

Despite a common misconception, there is NO cooling-off period once you have signed a contract. So don’t sign a contract and then shop at another dealership to see if they can cut a better deal. It’s unfair, and you could find yourself in a world of financial hurt.

Buying a vehicle is a serious undertaking requiring research and knowledge, but car buyers, especially newbies, should never feel alone – there are great resources out there to help make the experience easier. The APA and Car Help Canada offer members a range of services including personalized car buying counselling and lease appraisal at affordable prices. And of course OMVIC’s consumer inquiries department can answer car buying questions, free of charge! Contact them at 1-800-943-6002 X3942 or



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