Buying a car is a pretty big deal. Not only do you have to factor in what will best suit your lifestyle, but it’s going to put a serious dent in your wallet. However, if done correctly, this purchase can last for many years.
There are many things you have to consider when buying a car, especially if this is your first time doing so. While some people choose to buy new, it can be a wise financial decision to buy used. You can often find great used vehicles for thousands of dollars less than new. In this article, we’ll go over some of the things you may want to consider before buying your next vehicle.
Write down what you want in a vehicle
What are you looking for in a car? Consider what factors mean the most to you versus your deal breakers.
For example, do you need something that can pull camping equipment or do you just want something for city driving? You may want something reliable with low kilometres, or how about something with a specific look that goes fast and takes premium fuel?
There are numerous models available in the market, so narrow that selection down by choosing one that fits your needs.
In addition, as cars age, they require more maintenance, which can really add up. If you’re buying an older used car, try to determine how fast the money you’re saving up front is going to be spent on repairs down the road. A reliable mechanic may be able to help you with this exercise.
All of these factors and more are things to think about in your search.
Set a budget and decide your payment options
How much are you willing to spend on a car? While there are a variety of payment plans to choose from when you buy a new car, buying used may not have as many. Banks may not want to loan you money if the car is over 10 years old, so you’ll need to have that cash available to purchase a car outright. However, there may be payment plans if you’re going to buy through a dealership.
In the long run buying a used car may save you money compared to buying a new one. You’ll want to save enough money to get something decent. If you are going to have a loan of any kind, make sure you don’t overspend so you’re not financially strapped and struggling to make payments. Figure out what your price range is and don’t consider or look at vehicles outside of that.
Get a vehicle history report
Getting a detailed history of the car is crucial. You should know about the car’s history, including:
- Services and/or maintenance (cosmetic, mechanical and safety conditions)
- Number of previous owners
Remember, you don’t want to end up paying costly repair bills regularly.
Before you buy a car, a pre-inspection report is also useful to have. You should check the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) as well. Think of the VIN number as your car’s birth certificate. By checking the VIN, you’ll have access to the year and location the car was built, make, model and a number of other items.
How to reduce used car costs
Save on maintenance
- Find a reputable mechanic
- Plan repairs, maintenance and replacements ahead of time
- Stay on schedule
Save on gas
- Compare gas prices (most places have a membership where you can earn points at the same time or certain credit cards may offer points at specific stations as well)
- Drive smart (don’t accelerate hard or brake late)
- Check your tires for tread life and proper inflation
Save with creative thinking
- Finance your car through the bank or the dealership (review different payment plans and interest rates)
- Consider carpooling or if you can, adjust your work hours to avoid the heavy traffic (i.e. start earlier or later in the day)
Get the best insurance for your used car
It doesn’t matter if you buy new or used, insurance is essential either way. While rates vary according to vehicle type and other factors, BrokerLink works with several well-established insurance companies and will find insurance coverage that fits your needs best.
Our brokers will take the time to get to know you because we want to make sure you walk away with a solution that is unique to you. Contact one of our local insurance brokers today!
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Buying used cars FAQs
How do I protect myself when buying a used car?
It depends how you’re buying a used car. Is it through a dealership or privately? A dealership purchase is typically easier since their mechanics look and inspect the vehicle before putting it on the market where as a private sale relies more on your knowledge of vehicles and how open the seller is. Be sure to have a conversation with the seller before meeting up as that will give you a better indication if the situation and price feels right to you. You may also insist that a trusted mechanic looks at the vehicle for you before you purchase it from a private seller.
How many kilometres is too much when buying a used car?
If properly cared for, vehicles can have a lifespan of roughly 300,000 kilometres or more. Brand, model and history can all play a role in the reliability of your vehicle. Buying used also gives you the opportunity to do your own research into other peoples experiences with that car. With that being said, it’s typically better if you purchase a car that is below 100,000 kilometres (if it’s in your budget).
Do all accidents show up on online vehicle history reports like Carfax?
Yes, but only accidents that have been reported. Legally, people are required to file reports if damage is over certain amounts (check your provincial rules) so some minor accidents may not be accounted for.