Buying Your First Car in Canada: Eight Tips on Doing It Right

By John Hayden

First-time car buyers are usually on tight budgets. But that’s no problem at Hayden Auto, which offers the most driver-friendly auto loans in the Maritimes. With a little expert guidance on the many recurring and once-off costs that arise with car ownership, you can get exactly the right wheels you need, without breaking your budget. Here is how to make sure you are getting the best possible deal  when buying your first car.

What Do You Need Vs What Do You Want

Draw up a car ownership budget with monthly provisions for annual expenses and a cushion for unforeseen expenditures. The items you should take into account here are:

  • Sales tax: usually added to the vehicle price at purchase, the tax varies by seller (private or dealer) and depends on the cost of the car;
  • Annual Registration Fee: varying by weight and region, this fee must be paid every year;
  • Insurance: some vehicles (particularly the sportier models) have higher insurance premiums, so get quotes from at least three different insurance providers for every model on your shortlist. Remember, younger drivers may also pay higher premiums;
  • Fuel: although often more expensive, a model with low fuel consumption will save you money over the long run;
  • Maintenance: newer models are generally less expensive to maintain, particularly as some of them may be covered by carry-over warranties;
  • Parking: in Canada’s harsh climate, covered parking is an investment that preserves the value of your second-largest asset (only your home will cost you more).

Explore Auto Loan Options When Buying Your First Car

Even if you have enough to pay cash for your car, vehicle financing may offer you more flexibility. A solid down payment (of 20% or more) leaves you with money in the bank for investment and unexpected emergencies. Don’t forget to check out hidden fees and extra costs in a deal that you consider.

Look for the Lowest Interest Rate

The main factor in finding the best auto loans in Halifax is your credit score. Other points to bear in mind here are the age of the vehicle, as newer cars have lower interest rates. A certified used vehicle offered under a dealership programme may be slightly more expensive to buy, but offer a broad range of benefits, including comprehensive reconditioning, extended warranties and a lower interest rate.

Never Buy Your First Car without a Test Drive 

Even if a car looks absolutely flawless, always take it out for a test run before signing anything. Choose a familiar route, and try out the actions that you normally perform when driving at different speeds. Check the brakes when safe to do so, see how easy it is to park, test all the accessories, and check out the trunk for the spare tyre and emergency kit.

Check Make and Model Prices for the Exact Year

Even if it is your dream ride, hold back a little and research the market value before making an offer. Two trustworthy websites with up-to-the-minute information on car prices are the Canadian Black Book and Kelly Blue Book. Even if the price is fixed, many dealerships will sweeten the pot with useful add-ons, like winter tyres or rustproofing.

Closing the Deal

This is the most frustrating part of your car purchase journey. You enjoyed browsing, proving the options into a shortlist was fun, finding the best deal was a challenge – and now it’s time for the paperwork. Most dealerships have vehicle financing departments that will handle all the formalities, and ensure compliance with provincial guidelines.

Hot Tip

If a private  deal seems too good to be true, it probably is. Weigh up the risks involved, and check out all your other options with a Hayden Auto vehicle financing expert.


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