Insider Guide to Buying a Car in Canada

By John Hayden

An irresistible invitation to get out of town and explore its breathtaking landscapes, these huge open spaces make buying a car in Canada a must. This is why Hayden Auto makes sure you get the vehicle that best meets your needs, after a thorough reconditioning process. Although suburban neighbourhoods and city centres are well served by public transit, having your own wheels saves time and energy when commuting. It also opens up a wondrous world outside the city limits, for weekend trips.

In Canada, drivers must be insured before getting behind the wheel. So before buying a car, make sure you’re eligible for a policy. You need a valid driver’s license (either Canadian or foreign) and your driving history in Canada will factor into your acceptance for auto insurance. This may well affect your premiums, as well as the terms of your auto loan.

Vehicle Purchase Possibilities 

There are basically three ways of buying a car in Canada:

  • new, from a dealership or the manufacturer (for some innovative marques), paid in cash or through an auto loan;
  • used, from a private seller who owns the vehicle, and will probably want payment in cash before handing over the keys;
  • used, from a dealership, which will probably offer a broad range of vehicle financing options.

Browse the Internet

The biggest marketplace of them all, the Internet is the best way to find out what kind of cars are available (makes, models, years, fuel type, automatic or manual gear shifts), how much they cost, and where to find the best auto loans in Halifax and Atlantic Canada.

Draw up a shortlist, making sure you distinguish between what you really need and what you merely want. For added confidence, check your list against the Canadian Black Book, to make sure that the prices you are looking at are accurate.

Get a Detailed Vehicle History 

Before closing a deal, it is well worthwhile getting a detailed report from websites such as AutoCheck and Carfax. This includes information on accidents, services, and maintenance, as well as the previous owners.

A pre-purchase inspection report is also a smart move. It should cover aspects such as the appearance, the mechanical conditions, and the safety status of the car. This information is a useful bargaining tool, with negotiating the final purchase price, or the terms of your car loan.

For even greater assurance, request a garage or mobile mechanic inspection, as many collisions are not reported. This should cost around $100, and can save you thousands in unexpected repairs. In many provinces, pre-sale safety checks are mandatory as well.

Run a VIN check, particularly if buying from a private seller. The Vehicle Identification Number is linked to vital details on the individual vehicle, including its year, model, and place of manufacture. The VIN number is usually located on the inside of the driver’s door jamb. If it’s not easily visible, then walk firmly away from the deal.

Time for a Test Drive

Once you’ve made your choice, it’s time to take your potential ride out for a spin around the neighbourhood. Points to bear in mind are engine performance, electronic dashboard items, braking efficiency, smooth suspension, and responsive steering on the mechanical side.

In terms of appearance, look for rusty patches, scratches and dents, bald tyres, defective lights and wipers, tricky windows and door locks, and torn or stained upholstery.

This is the perfect time to ask probing questions about warranties, services, and the reasons for sale. Buying a car is a major investment, so don’t feel embarrassed about pressing for all the information you need to feel about the deal.

Hot Tip

Invite a gearhead friend to join you when test-driving a Hayden Auto vehicle, or pay a trustworthy local mechanic to and check your chosen car out for added security.

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