Finding, Comparing and Buying a Used Car in Ontario

finding-comparing-buying-used-car-ontarioI recently went through an intense period of my life where I had to find a new place and a new car at the same time. Hectic, for sure, but I learned a lot. Below is (what I hope will be) your complete guide to finding a good used car.

My new (used) car on the right

The Ontario Ministry of Transportation offers a great guide that goes into detail the principles I will be describing in this article.

Finding the Perfect Used Car

The two best places to start looking for a car are Kijiji and Auto Trader. Each of these sites will list both dealership sales as well as private sales so be sure to identify which is which. Each has its benefits and drawbacks:

With private sales you will likely doing more work to get the car on the road but will get a better price. Also, you have to be sure to have the car inspected to ensure you aren’t getting a lemon – be sure to do your research.

Buying through a dealership is usually easier and should include everything you need to get the car on the road immediately. Also, good dealerships will include some sort of warranty. However, you will have to pay up for these conveniences.

The best way to decide between private and dealership is to compare the two. Look at pricing and evaluate whether or not it is worth the extra $$$ to go dealership. For example, if a dealer car is only a couple hundred dollars more, perhaps you will decide to go that route. In my case, I was able to save approx. $1,500 going private so I went that route.

Comparing Used Cars

Obviously you want to find a deal but do not simply make decisions based on price. Inspect the car thoroughly for damage, ensure you are comfortable with the number of KMs on the vehicle. Look carefully for rust and at the tires as these are some of the best indicators of a car that will have problems.

Try not to fall into the habit of believing everything you hear about particularly brands. While it is true that some brands are statistically more reliable than others, many of these claims are widely exaggerated and often based on one person’s personal experience (just because your Dad had a problem with his Hyundai back in 1996 does not mean you should avoid Hyundai altogether, for example). The being said, be prepared to pay a premium for vehicles considered to be more reliable such as Volkswagen’s, Toyota’s etc.

Getting Your New Car on the Road

Okay, so you have found your dream vehicle – okay, maybe not your dream vehicle, but hopefully something you are happy with – now you need to get it from the seller and get it on the road. Follow these steps:

  1. Get the Used Vehicle Information Package (UVIP), containing all the car’s details, from the seller. This is required for registration.
  2. Pay taxes on it. Feel the hit on your wallet. Be upset. Then remember that we have free healthcare and feel a little better. With the introduction of HST, taxes on used vehicles has gone up to try and make dealership sales and new vehicle sales more competitive.

    Note: you will pay taxes on the price the vehicle was sold to you or the wholesale value, whichever is more. To potentially save money, get the seller to write a lower value on the bill of sale. That way, you may save money if the wholesale value is less than what you would have initially paid.

  3. Pay registration fees & new plate fees if you don’t already have plates
  4. Present proof of insurance (if it isn’t obvious, this means you need to get insurance before you try to register your car)
  5. Present your Safety Standards Certificate (dealerships will usually “safety” the car for you. With private sales, you may be on your own)
  6. Present your Drive Clean emissions test

After doing that you should be free to drive off in your new (used) car! The process is fairly intensive and may take several weeks to complete all the necessary steps so try not to set out to find a new car a couple days before you need it. Good luck and if you have any questions, feel free to post below and I will respond.

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