Buying a used car can be a daunting prospect… And we’ve all either heard the story of the fabled “lemon”. Some of us have experienced it first-hand. How do you avoid becoming the character in your own cautionary tale and end up with a fantastic new ride?
Determine Your “Needs” and “Wants”
First, you should determine what you will be using your vehicle for. A city commute? Hauling materials? Hauling kids…? This should help you determine the type of vehicle you need.
Then look at your wants; if you’d like a high-tech vehicle, you’ll be searching for vehicles made within the past couple of years. If you’re not picky about heated seats or smart-phone sync option then you can look at something a bit older.
Count Your Cash
Your available budget will obviously make a huge difference as to what you can afford to look at. Be realistic about how much financing you can get, or how much cash you have available. And remember that tax and fees will eat part of your budget as well.
Start Your Search
Performing an online search is the easiest way to get started. Most dealerships update their sites daily (at least) with the newest arrivals and available stock. You can also look on sites like autotrader.ca or buy directly from a previous owner through sites like kijiji.ca. These sites have great search filters so you can really narrow your choices down.
Ask the Important Questions
When you physically go to look at the vehicle, make sure you have a checklist prepared of pertinent questions:
- What is the car’s condition?
- What is the accident history?
- Has it ever been involved in a flood?
- Where has it been stored? (Garage? Driveway?)
- What is the mileage?
- What is the maintenance history? Do you have receipts?
- Where was it driven: city or highway? And how often?
Take a Look
Inspect the vehicle for outer and inner damage. Check the upholstery, the vents and everything in between. New tires will usually add to the value of a vehicle if they were purchased within the last year.
Take Her for a Spin
If you’re satisfied with the responses you get, it’s time for a test drive to see if you like how the car drives. You may be surprised by how much that would affect your decision.
Get the Car Inspected
If you’re buying from a dealership, you will have access to the vehicle’s ost recent inspection report. If you’re buying directly from the owner, you may need to take it in to a trusted mechanic (on your own dime) to have a look it before you make your final decision.
The final step is to contact your trusty insurance broker and get the right coverage for your lifestyle!