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OMVIC Blog: Car Buying Tips

Five Questions to Ask Before you Commit to Buying a Used Car

Jun 29

Friday, June 29, 2018  RssIcon

car salesman illustration

You’ve found the used car of your dreams at a dealership at a price you can afford.  In fact, you’ve been circling the dealership for a few days to check that “The Cruisin' Canary” (the perfect name for your car) hasn’t left the lot with the wrong owner.

Today is the day you’ve decided to take the plunge and move towards committing to your four-wheeled partner.

Well, all right then.

You can do this. You’ve got a plan.

You’ll saunter in, talk to the dealer, see how The Cruisin Canary handles on a test drive and take things a step further.

You’re a smart consumer, you’ve done your research, you know your rights and have the OMVIC consumer inquiries phone number (1-800-943-6002 ext. 3942) on speed dial. You’ve got your wallet, phone, those pesky prescription glasses and mostly importantly, your power socks on, there’s just one more thing you need to take with you: the right questions!

We’ve got you covered.

By all means, ask questions about what is important to you, but don’t forget about the fundamentals! Here are five essential questions that will help ensure that this is a purchase you won’t regret.

Has the vehicle ever been involved in a collision?

Dealers are required to disclose collision or damage greater than $3,000, but if the vehicle has been involved in three or more crashes and each of them was only $2800, legally the dealer could argue that they didn’t have to disclose it. However, when you ask if it has ever been involved in an accident and the dealer knows that the answer is yes, the dealer MUST disclose it. You’re telling the dealer that the collision history is a material fact to you—information that might affect your decision to purchase or lease the vehicle if he or she knew about it— and dealers must disclose all material facts. For more information, visit:

May I have it inspected by my own mechanic?

It is not a requirement that dealers allow you to take the vehicle for an inspection. Most dealers will want to do that if they know their vehicles are in good condition and they’re already finished reconditioning them. If the dealer’s answer is “No, you can’t have it inspected,” remember, that is not illegal. However, it should make you ask yourself, “Do I want to buy a vehicle that I can’t have inspected?” You are obviously taking a risk.

Can I see a vehicle history report?

A vehicle history report will give you the information you need to know about accident history, liens and where the car has been registered. Don’t be afraid to ask for it upfront. If the dealer has run a vehicle history report; they’re trying to provide disclosure and that is a good thing. If they can’t provide one, you can buy your own. Get the car’s VIN and go to the CARFAX website

Will you include my conditions on the Bill of Sale?

If you have stipulations such as securing affordable insurance or getting your partner’s approval—yellow isn’t his colour; he’s more of a teal man— ask for these to be written into the contract. The dealer does not have to include them, but if they won’t, why would you want to buy a vehicle from them? If the dealer has made promises (e.g. to have something repaired, make sure that is also written on the Bill of Sale)


What reconditioning have you done to this vehicle?

Reconditioning may increase the value of the vehicle and will help you gage how much money you can expect to spend on our vehicle in the future. Dealers are usually quite happy to share repairs and improvements made to the car. So ask to see the reconditioning records to verify the work.


These questions should start off, what in essence, is a conversation between you and the dealer. And a good conversation requires that each party listens to each other. So, if you’re not being listened to, pull up those power socks, and walk away. There’s another Cruisin' Canary out there. Trust us.


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