How to Buy a Used Car in Canada

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Used cars can represent a significant cost saving for car buyers. Often, used cars are sold at a significantly lower price than the sticker price of a new model. Various auto dealers and individuals sell used cars in Canada. However, every Canadian province has different laws and regulations regarding the buying and selling of a used car in Canada. Learn how to find and buy a used Canadian car to save money on your auto expenses.

  • Choose the make and model of the car that you wish to purchase. Research various car models and safety ratings from consumer advocacy and review groups such as the Consumer Union (publishers of the Consumer Reports magazine). Understand that an older car may be cheaper upfront, but may incur higher maintenance fees due to its age.

  • Visit your provincial or territorial government's website. The federal government of Canada has a complete list of provincial websites on its Province and Territories webpage (link in the Resources section). Search for the auto regulations for your province or territory.

  • Collect the data and records that you need to buy a used car in your Canadian province or territory. This information is listed in the auto regulations that you procured in Step 2. Each province has differing regulations regarding what you need to provide when trying to buy a used car in Canada. For example, the province of British Columbia requires that you posses the appropriate level of driver's license (e.g., not an L license) for driving a car on your own before purchasing a used vehicle. Most provinces also require that you have car insurance if obtaining ownership of another individual's car.

  • Search your local newspaper's classified ads for used car listings. Also, note any posters or fliers posted around your city that may be advertising a used car. Contact the seller to schedule an appointment to see the used car. Prepare a list of questions that you would like to ask the owner, regarding such things as the age of the car and why the owner is trying to sell it.

  • Ask the seller for a Used Vehicle Information Package (UVIP). Most provinces, such as Ontario, require the seller to provide a UVIP to potential buyers. This package contains everything you need to know about the car. Records and details include the vehicle registration history, any outstanding loans or debts on the used car, and the wholesale and retail value of the used car. Review the UVIP carefully to determine whether buying this used car will be a good investment.

  • Complete an Application for Transfer to a Driver if you choose to purchase the used car, and turn this form into your Canadian province's Vehicle Issuing Office. You will also need to pay all retail fees and taxes, obtain a Safety Standards certificate from the province, and register the car under your name.

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