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Buying a new (to me) Used Car (Edmonton, Canada)

Gilbert0Gilbert0 North of SeattleRegistered User regular
edited May 2009 in Help / Advice Forum
My g/f will be needing a car soon to commute to work and she'll need a car. Any advice on picking up a used car? I know that new cars are cheap now but my g/f can't drive manual and if we were getting a new car, we'd get manual. No use buying it if she can't drive it. There is most likely not enough time for her to get comfortable driving manual by herself alone.

I plan to shop around as best as I can (lowest price, low km's, best features, etc possible).

-If a dealer offers a 'inspection' should I trust it or get a second opionion? how much does an inspection cost?
-Do sites like carfax tell you anything for Canadian cars?
-Is somewhere like trustworthy?
-If I do a private sale, what do I need to remember to ask?
-Anyone know of any good local dealers in Edmonton?

TL;DR - Never bought a car before, what do I need to check / do? (Canada)

Gilbert0 on


  • PhistiPhisti Registered User regular
    edited May 2009
    I'm shopping for my first car right now, it's going to be used and I'll let you know a few things I've done.

    - I've looked up cars online, found ones I'm interested in and test driven them all. Even if it's 2 cars of the same model, drive them both... you'll notice different things.

    - Take a test drive without a dealer if you can, take the car to a parking lot and check it out visually, tap the panels to see where they have been filled (if it's metal body have a magnet to check)

    - Look, listen, feel, smell everything

    - Dealers should have Carfax available based on the VIN number, take a read of that to see what major work the car has had done to it, when it was sold, and where... I'm a bit suspicious of cars that have moved around a lot but have low kilometers

    - When you pick a car, set a price to yourself and don't be afraid to walk away if the deals don't go your way, there are other cars out there...

    - Try to pick features you want / need, cars come with all sorts of stuff you may not want that you will be expected to pay for, try to wheel and deal a bit, or be ready to keep looking

    - Don't let the dealer sway you with monthly payments rather than overall price, give yourself a dollar figure, calculate a down payment you can make, and then set a monthly payment you can make over X months, Eg plan something like this: 12,000$ put 5,000$ down, pay 194$ a month for 36 months - the dealer will tend to want you to put down less, and pay the same for a longer period (used cars are rarely financed at 0%)

    I know it's not a lot of information but there are some things you need to go with your gut on - think about how much a vehicle is worth to you and what you are going to use it for. I'm going to try to barter tonight on a used car, will let you know what does (and doesn't) work tomorrow.

    Phisti on
  • TopiaTopia Registered User regular
    edited May 2009
    Gilbert0 wrote: »

    -If a dealer offers a 'inspection' should I trust it or get a second opionion? how much does an inspection cost?
    -If I do a private sale, what do I need to remember to ask?

    One thing I always do is, from a dealer, say sale is ALWAYS subject to MY satisfaction with an inspection report (make sure this is written on any sort of agreement in clear writing, with the salesman's signature). Also, YES, do trust them, they have to be honest. If they say "this is good" then you get the car and there is a problem? Lawsuit.

    Private sales, similar, I say "take it for an inspection, at a PLACE OF MY CHOOSING, and if I am happy with it, I will purchase the car and reimburse you for the inspection."

    That's all I can offer you, hope it helps.

    edit: dealer should pay for their own inspection, too, by the way. The only time you should be paying for the inspection is if you buy from a private buyer, but get the inspection first.

    edit2: Oh, and always always always bargain the price down. Take every single little issue (scratches, dents, cracks in the dash, cuts on the seat, if the previous owner smokes, ect) and make them clearly apparent to the seller, and let them know this is hurting the price. And start low. Like ridiculously low. You'd be surprised.

    Topia on
  • Angel177Angel177 Registered User regular
    edited May 2009
    Woohoo Edmonton...

    Now we got that out of the way...There are Car auctions held at the impound lot on the Northside every other week by Fenske Auctions

    2009 Auction Dates:

    * January 14, 2009
    * February 11, 2009
    * March 11, 2009
    * April 8, 2009
    * May 13, 2009
    * Jun 10, 2009
    * July 8, 2009
    * August 12, 2009
    * September 9, 2009
    * October 14, 2009
    * November 4, 2009
    * December 9, 2009

    Auction lists are posted on the Friday prior to the auction. No paper copies will be handed out at the Impound until noon on auction day.

    So if you can learn a little before then you could get a good deal...

    Angel177 on
  • eternalbleternalbl Registered User
    edited May 2009
    In addition to the above, do your research. Unless you know what the true value of a car is you'll either look retarded for way low balling or end up ripping yourself off.

    eternalbl on
  • DoctorArchDoctorArch Curmudgeon Registered User regular
    edited May 2009
    Craigslist is both an excellent and an abhorrent place to shop for a used car. I picked up my used car through it at an excellent price, non-salvage, original owner. But that was after about a month of looking, dealing with people who <cough> neglect <cough> to mention that the car is a salvage title as though it is a small thing, or have extraordinary expectations for how much their car should sell for.

    Like all things worth working for, I love my car, and in the end going through the process helped me to garner a better understanding of both the intricacies involved, and the sheer depths of idiocy.

    DoctorArch on
    Switch Friend Code: SW-6732-9515-9697
  • SmurphSmurph Registered User regular
    edited May 2009
    I pretty much agree with Archgarth. I went though a couple shady guys trying to sell me salvaged cars for too much money before I found one guy who had just gotten a job abroad and needed to sell his car fast. Original owner, perfect title, great price. Craigslist is worth a shot if you can weed through the morons.

    Smurph on
  • PhistiPhisti Registered User regular
    edited May 2009
    Well I just did the deed... bought a car that is.

    We got our price by the usual barter method, started at about 80% of car value and worked up, held fast at the limit and they eventually agreed. Granted I'm sure it was still a win for the dealer in the end, but I feel reasonably good about the purchase.

    If you can get something from an individual buyer you'll get it cheaper than you will from a dealer - they have no overhead to pay for. On the other hand dealers can and will add incentives such as warranties and other goodies that may have expired.

    Do what your gut tells you, if it's too much it's too much!

    Good luck

    Edit: Thought I'd mention there are always additional costs beyond the flat $$$ value someone is asking for a car. In the case of any purchase there is the % interest on a loan (if you need to finance in any way) there are the costs of securing a loan, costs of safety inspections (if not at a dealer), costs of emissions testing (if not at a dealer), cost of any repairs to make the vehicle roadworthy, etc... heck, you even may need to buy an owner's manual. These things add up pretty quickly, so lowball the price you can pay, it will be inflated when you finally sign the paperwork.

    Phisti on
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