From the Readers

Reader Question: Tips For Buying A New Vehicle In Canada

Every Monday I have a look in the mail bag to see what the readers want to learn about. In the past week we received many questions but this question is one of those questions that need to be answered. Vehicles can be a source of pleasure, security and optimal for all sorts of trips and destinations depending on what you get. It can also be a money pit and it’s important to know your stuff before you set out looking for a new vehicle.

Here is the Reader Question:

Dear Mr.CBB,

We’re just starting to think about buying a new vehicle. Do you have any advice or tips in this department?

First off, don’t be afraid of sales people as they are harmless. They have a job to do and are out to make money, it’s no secret. They know it, and you know it. The name of the game is who’s going to crack first or can we meet in the middle. You have to realize they need to make money that’s why they do what they do. You can’t walk away with all for nothing and shouldn’t expect that. Salespeople need to put food on the table just as much as the next guy/gal.
Here are some tips I’ve learned since moving to Canada and buying my first Truck!
  • Pick a style/size of car/truck depending on what your needs/wants are. Getting a Cadillac Escalade to drop the kids off at school may look bling but you’ll never be able to buy the kids shoes and clothes for the rest of the school year. Never buy the bog standard base model, it will always have less resale value further down the road.
  • What kind of warranty do you want? Some companies such as Ford run a standard 3 year warranty across the entire vehicle with an extra 2 years on the powertrain, other companies go a little further. Dodge (Chrysler) give out 7 years warranty on the drivetrain, Mitsubishi have a 10 year warranty on their drivetrain. All warranties will have a list of things that are and are not covered, read it. It will also tell you if you need to keep your end of the bargain and pay for certain service work to be completed to keep the warranty valid. If I’ve lost you a little, powertrain is the same as the drivetrain and includes engine, transmission, driveshaft/s, wheel ends, but not tires.
  • Fuel efficiency is big news lately, back in the UK every model of car has a range of engines just like here but there’s always a diesel option too. Make no mistake Diesel will get you further for less as will smaller rather a larger vehicle, but as in the case of just about everything there’s always draw backs. Diesel vehicles don’t like the cold at start-up as they are “heat engines” so you’ll be plugging in the block heater or relying on the intake heater to start it in the morning. Small cars are great to blast round town in but completely useless if you want to go on a family camping vacation.
  • Manual vs Automatic- take your pick, personally I’ve always driven manual transmissions, you’ve got far more control over the vehicle. As for the fuel efficiency, not a lot in it, these days most automatic vehicles will make no more of a dent in your wallet than a standard. All Wheel Drive (AWD) will however crucify your fuel as will 4×4, so if you don’t need 4×4 switch it off. As a side note 4×4 is not the same as Traction Control.  If you’re driving down the 401 in the middle of winter at 120kph 4×4 will not save you in icy conditions. Front wheel drive cars tend to be easier to control in snow than rear wheel drive.
  • Take it for a test drive, is it comfortable? Does it handle well? Do switches and everyday essential controls make sense? Think of it as trying on a pair of shoes, if they don’t fit properly you try on a different pair. Take someone with you who’s not biased on the car buying experience. They’ll be able to point out things you probably won’t notice. Is the engine struggling to propel the weight of the car? Some models will have a base engine that struggles under the weight of the vehicle it sits in.

An example of an under powered vehicle is the Ford Ranger Pick-up with the base 2.3L 4 cylinder engine. It’s not that everyone needs more power, it’s the fact that an engine always run on its limit isn’t going to do it much good over time. There are forums on-line that discuss makes, models and engine performance that usually have contributions made by the mechanics/technicians that work on them on a regular basis.

  • Want to protect yourself or your loved ones, check the crash rating on it….better to be safe then sorry.
  • Undercoating/Oil spraying for those months of salting the roads is always a good idea. It’s not just the underneath of the floor pan that’s going to get salt thrown at it, there’s a spaghetti factory of wiring that gets hit as well. My advice…don’t get the supposedly “$500 worth” of spray they use at some dealerships. Do yourself a favour and get it sprayed by Krown. It will set you back approx $130 a year and they spray inside the doors, the wiring, the engine compartment the Full Monty. It will drip and migrate across the car so watch your driveway or garage floor. The idea being that it fills in the spots that get worn off over the winter months.
  • Fluff- See what you can get them to throw in to beat the competitor or to make it a solid deal. ie- gas discounts for a year, snazzy rims, nitrogen filled tires other odds and ends like accessories for the vehicle. If you can get a set of winter tires on steel rims in the price you’ll be laughing.
  • Go to dealerships on a slow day, don’t be afraid to go to dealerships out-of-town either.
  • You can also contact dealers via the internet for quotes on vehicles or use the telephone. Some manufacturer websites will allow you to virtually build you a car on-line by choosing all the different options and then giving you a purchase price at the end.
  • Know all the current discounts by visiting the dealership website so you’re informed before you go.
  • How much are you willing to spend on a payment each month including interest, maintenance, gas etc- How much does an oil change cost? What happens if parts need replacing after the warranty runs out, are they costly? What is your budget?
  • Check with your insurance company and let them know the make, model and colour you are looking for so they can give you an estimate rate. You don’t want to buy your vehicle then find out your insurance is more than your monthly car payment.
  • If you really want to do your homework Car Cost Canada will share with you for only $39.95 Dealer Invoice cost and a tonne of other useful information that you will want to have. You will find out what the dealers don’t want you to know and what incentives you might be missing because they aren’t telling you. It’s one of the best ways I’ve seen to make a fair market decision when you have the real numbers. Don’t forget to take the report with you so you have solid numbers to negotiate with.
Finally, negotiate all aspects the price of the vehicle. Never tell them what your top dollar is so you have wiggle room. Let the sales person do the talking and think before you answer. Why do they want to know the information they are asking me? Make sure you have questions ready to ask them as well. You want to come to an agreement that is fair for both the salesperson and yourself.
Some examples might be….
  1. What will you get if you trade in a used vehicle? This way you will have an idea whether it make more financial sense for you to sell your current vehicle privately or use as a trade in?
  2. What are the financing charges (if any) even better is 0% financing?
Look at the overall picture, not only the initial cost but also the cost of ownership. Just because you can afford to buy a gas guzzling V8 muscle car doesn’t mean you can afford to run it on a daily basis. Take a day or so to think about whether you are making the right purchase. There’s no rush to buy a vehicle unless you are in a rush. Don’t let anyone push you around or tell you they can’t hold a deal for you. If that’s the case, walk away. There’s more than one dealer willing to open up the lines of negotiation to sell you a new vehicle.
What other tips do you have for our Reader Question of the Week?

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