Pro Tips for Buying a Used Car

Two men shaking hands in car dealership

There can be many advantages to buying a used car, such as a lower price tag, but the process can be slightly different than buying a new car. There are some important factors that you will need to consider to avoid running into problems down the road. Read below for some handy tips that you should always do before buying a used vehicle.

Do a Test Drive

Doing a test drive before buying any vehicle is essential, but especially for a used vehicle, a 5-minute spin will not cut it. You need to be able to access whether you will be comfortable driving the car and be sure to plan your test drive so that it includes travelling on highways and streets filled with potholes to get an accurate sense of how the vehicle performs.

Before your start your test drive, make sure to:

  • Buckle and unbuckle all seat belts
  • Open and close all doors, windows and the trunk to make sure they are all working
  • Ask the owner to flash the headlights, tail light, high-beams and brake lights to ensure they are all working
  • Check the that tires are all the same and have consistent wear
  • Check the odometer – an older car with less kilometres may last you longer than a newer model with significant kilometres

During your test drive make sure to:

  • Turn up the stereo to ensure the speakers work
  • Check the heating and air conditioning systems
  • Adjust the seat, mirrors and steering wheel to your preferences
  • Listen for odd noises or vibrations and pay attention to any odd smells or sounds

Do Your Homework

It can be exciting finding the car that you think is right for you, but it is important to do your homework before you even take a test drive.

Research the vehicle model’s reputation and search for reviews from other drivers. Find out about overall performance, safety ratings and fuel efficiency. Also, find out if the vehicle has hands-free technology or driver assistance programs.

There are a number of service providers which can provide you with a reputable report about the vehicle’s history including details regarding previous theft reports, recall notices, collisions, insurance claims as well as outstanding money owed on the car.

Finally, visit Transport Canada’s Motor Vehicles Safety Recalls database. This helpful resource will prompt you to enter the car’s model, manufacturer and year to locate if there have been any recalls on that particular model. If you locate a recall, ensure that the seller is able to provide you with proof that the repairs have been completed.

Questions to Ask the Seller

After test driving the car and doing your homework, if you are seriously considering purchasing the vehicle, there are a number of important questions that you may need to ask.

  1. Can you get a lower price? This may not always be the case, but often sellers expect some sort of bargaining and may lower the cost for you.
  2. Were any modifications made? This is important information that you must know before you buy auto insurance and some modifications may actually increase your premium or compromise your eligibility for the coverage that you need.
  3. Is there still a valid manufacturer’s warranty and if so, will it be transferred to you once you become the owner of the vehicle?

Seek a Professional Opinion

Finally, before you sign the dotted line, take the vehicle to a mechanic you trust to ask for a detailed inspection. Your mechanic will know exactly what to look for and can alert you to any potential issues. There is usually a fee involved to have a professional inspection done, but it could save you thousands of dollars in the long run.

Before you make your final decision, contact an experienced professional at Bow Valley Insurance to find out how buying a used car can affect your car insurance coverage and costs. We will also compare rates and options so that you can get the proper coverage you need at the best price possible.