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Used Car Buying Guide

Everything you need to know about buying a used car:

What’s the right used car for you?

Deciding which vehicle you should buy will depend on your needs, your budget and personal preferences. Consider which features are necessities, and which are luxuries. Evaluate a car’s make/model, price, fuel economy, safety rating, size, driving experience and resale value.

Determine which used car is best for you.

Where to look for a pre-owned vehicle

To find a used car near you check out resources like online listings, consumer reports, your local newspaper’s classified section, print buying guides and public auctions. Don’t forget to visit your local dealership to check out their inventory, as they constantly get new stock.

Find out where to shop for a used car.

What’s the car worth?

If you want to be confident that you’re getting a fair price, you need a used car valuation that considers the numbers that actually matter. Most used car value calculators tell you how much similar cars are listed for, but the price they’re listed for and what they sell for are rarely the same amount. The CARFAX Canada True Value™ tells you what similar cars have actually sold for in your area, adjusted to consider that vehicle’s unique history which may include things like accident history.

Get the True Value.

How do you perform a proper test drive?

A 30-minute test drive is essential to evaluate how a car runs in a realistic setting. Plan a familiar route and test actions you would typically do; hit the brakes, put it in park, take a corner, accelerate, merge and change lanes. Get a feel for the car’s accessories and ensure they work.

Get the test drive checklist.

Why is a pre-purchase inspection so important?

A pre-purchase inspection is essential to determine the cosmetic, mechanical and safety condition of a car. A mechanic can help pinpoint any existing conditions as well as highlight potential future issues. This information is critical and can help provide negotiation leverage.

Where to get a pre-purchase inspection.

What is a VIN check and how do I get one?

A VIN check will tell you details about a specific car like year, make, model, and where it was made. When buying a used car, this information is important in order to make a decision with confidence. To decode a VIN, first find the VIN, typically found on the inside of the driver’s door jamb and windshield, and enter it into a free decoder tool, like this one below.

Get a free VIN decode.

How do you find out the history of a car?

A CARFAX Canada Vehicle History Report provides you with important information that’s critical to understand when buying a used car. Most importantly, it uncovers whether the vehicle you’re interested in has been in an accident and whether there’s a lien registered against the vehicle.

Get a vehicle history report.

What to ask before buying your next car

Take the intimidation factor out of buying a used car by asking the right questions. Ask why they are selling the car, if it’s had regular service and maintenance and if it’s still under warranty. Ask for a VIN check and request to take the car for an independent inspection.

10 questions to ask before buying a used car.

How to successfully negotiate a used vehicle purchase

Before you negotiate, make sure you know the vehicle’s True Value, and educate yourself on the other factors that impact a vehicle’s value. This will help you make a confident offer based on your research and budget. Keep your emotions in check and be prepared to walk away – a successful agreement will benefit both parties.

Top used car buying negotiation tips.

How to get the right car insurance

Upgrading your used car is a great time to reassess your insurance needs and make sure you’re getting the right coverage. You’ll need to update your insurance before finalizing the sale, so shop around and see what’s out there in terms of prices what your premiums will cover. There are lots of great discount programs out there too – you can get more information from our friends at Sonnet.

How do you finalize a used car sale?

Each province has different regulations for finalizing the sale of a used car. We’ve compiled the steps and information that you need to know, as well as provided links to the appropriate websites. When in doubt, contact your provincial government to ensure you and the seller have covered your bases.

Finalizing a car sale (by province).

Want to know more? Click below to download CARFAX Canada’s free Used Car Buying Guide.

Download Used Car Buying Guide