6 First Car Purchasing Tips
Buying a car feels like freedom. It’s an unforgettable rite of passage.
Follow these 6 tips to get your motor running.
1. What’s my budget?
Affording a car amounts to much more than the sticker price and monthly payments!
A car comes with recurring expenses:
- Repairs and maintenance
- Car insurance
As well as a few seasonal ones too:
- Buying and changing winter and summer tires
- Oil changes
- Wheel balancing
- Antirust treatment
Not to mention the yearly licence and registration renewal fees!
2. What are my needs?
Before signing the dotted line on the latest sportscar, assess your needs and how you plan to use your car.
Ask yourself these questions:
- How often will I be using my car (once in a while or every day)?
- What will I be using my car for (daily commute, to carry my sports gear or for weekend getaways)?
- How much will I be driving (annual mileage)?
- Where will I be doing most of my driving (downtown or in the country)?
- How long do I plan to keep my car?
- Where will I park? If you plan on parking in the street, then consider a compact.
3. New or used?
Choosing between new and used comes down to more than just money.
Both have their advantages and disadvantages.
You can expect:
- New parts that won’t need repairs for some time
- The latest features, especially in terms of gas consumption and eco-friendliness
- Defined expenses (you know exactly how much you will be paying and when)
Unfortunately, you can also expect a loss of 50% in market value after 3 years, and 8-10% loss each year thereafter.
Thanks to depreciation, you can get a good deal on a used car.
You can also expect to pay less in insurance and taxes.
Unless you know your way around an engine, have the vehicle inspected by a certified, independent garage—you’ll avoid ending up with a lemon.
The garage will conduct a multi-point inspection and provide you with a list of upcoming repairs. This information should help you decide to buy the vehicle... or not.
Buying from a dealership or individual?
Before buying from an individual, check the following:
- The vehicle actually belongs to that person by checking the Registre des droits personnels et réels immobiliers (Quebec only)
- The vehicle was not reported stolen
- The list of previous owners and how it was used (commercial or private) (PDF, 231 Ko)
This is not required when buying from dealerships because they are required by law to offer some sort of warranty. On the upside, this comes in handy in the event of a legal dispute.
You won’t have this option when buying from an individual. In the event of a hidden defect, you’ll have to see if the manufacturer’s warranty still applies. If the warranty is expired, you may consider bringing the case to court.
4. What is the best price?
The best way to know that you’re getting a good deal is to know the average market price of the vehicle.
Where to look?
Consult reference guides and specialized websites. They will be able tell you what the fair price is based on make, model, year and mileage:
- Canadian Red Book
- Guide de l’auto (Québec)
- There are also plenty of other new and used car buyer’s guides.
Check out the local want ads to find out what is available in your area.
5. How to finance?
Paying a new car off in full is the best way to avoid paying interest.
For those of us who aren’t made of money, financing is the only option.
You can finance your vehicle, whether new or used, or leased or purchased, with a bank, financial institution or directly at the dealership.
Always read the terms and conditions before signing any contract. Be sure to take into account your capacity to pay and how long you will be paying.
6. How much does insurance cost?
First car means first car insurance policy ever!
Several factors are used to calculate an insurance premium:
- The vehicle and how likely it is to be stolen
- Civil status
It is recommended to request at least 3 car insurance quotes to make sure you are getting the best coverage for your needs.
Just know that before you can leave the dealership with your new car, it has to be insured!
Once you get the keys?
Take care of your vehicle and drive safely.