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Car Buying Guide for Ontarians from the OMVIC

Buying a car, new or used, in Ontario can be a tricky process. This is especially true for first-time buyers, Canadian newcomers, and anyone who fears getting stuck with a clunker. Thankfully, the Ontario Motor Vehicle Industry Council (OMVIC) has a handy car buying guide that makes the auto shopping process easier for Ontarians.

The OMVIC is the province's vehicle sales regulator. Their car buying guide, "The Road to Buying a Car in Ontario," helps consumers along the path to purchasing a vehicle in a fun and interactive way.

The three-step guide helps consumers ask the right questions and get the right information to make an informed purchase while making sure they are protected along the way. You can face the number of decisions that come with purchasing a vehicle with confidence using OMVIC's car buying guide.

Step 1: Doing Your Homework

Perhaps the most critical and important of the three steps is preparing yourself for the purchase. Start by determining your vehicle buying budget. Make sure that you are considering all the expenses that come with vehicle ownership and not just the sticker price. These include insurance, maintenance, fuel, options, accessories, and the total cost of the loan after interest is factored in.

Next, you need to figure out your financing. Are you going to buy or lease? Are you going to pay cash or get an auto loan? Research these options to determine what is best for you.

Finally, you need to start researching vehicle types and models to figure out what you want. Consider your short and long-term needs to prioritize features you are looking for. After identifying some cars that fit your driving needs and budget, it's time to research. You can consult expert and owner reviews, vehicle pricing and values, depreciation rates, reliability studies, etc. There's no end to what you can research online.

Step 2: Shopping Around

This step in OMVIC's car buying guide revolves around answering two questions: Are you going to buy a new car or a used one? And, if you select used, are you going to buy from a private seller or a dealership?

car buying guide

Keep your budget and vehicle needs in mind when weighing the pros and cons of new vehicles compared to used ones. And as for the private sale vs. dealership debate, OMVIC wants you to remember all of the legislation protecting consumers who buy from registered dealerships.

All dealerships in Ontario have to join OMVIC in order to legally do business in the province. The regulator enforces a number of laws that dealers must follow that protect consumers and give them certain rights. Examples include the Motor Vehicle Dealers Act, the Dealers Compensation Fund and Ontario's Consumer Protection Act.

Dealers are required to make the proper disclosures about the vehicle's history, true mileage, make/model/year and more. In all, OMVIC-registered dealers must disclose 22 pieces of information, and you can ask your salesperson to include all of them in the contract.

Unfortunately, these benefits do not exist when buying privately. You aren't protected should something go wrong, so buyers who choose this path need to take extra care. OMVIC also tells consumers to be wary of curbsiders.

Curbsiders are unlicensed dealers that frequently post cars for sale in private classified ads and on websites. They often operate unscrupulously, using tactics like selling badly damaged cars from salvage auctions, selling vehicles that aren't in their name, and rolling back odometers.

Step 3: Dealing with the Seller

If you have found a vehicle you are interested in buying, it's time to get serious about purchasing it. Take these steps if you are buying from a private seller:

  • Ask for the vehicle's required Used Vehicle Information Package (UVIP). Also see if a vehicle history report from CARPROOF or CarFax is provided. If the seller doesn't have one, you can get one for a small fee with Service Ontario.
  • Take a thorough test drive under your usual driving conditions.
  • Ask if you can take the car in for an inspection by your mechanic.
  • If you are willing to move forward, ask the seller for proof of ownership and proof of ID.

Two of the biggest red flags that signal something is up: if the car isn't in the seller's name or if it has only been owned for a short period of time. Knowing this will ensure that you have taken extra care and should help you avoid curbsiders.

If you choose to buy from a registered dealership, follow these steps:

  • Still take a test drive, review the UVIP and vehicle history report, and get the vehicle inspected (if buying used).
  • Inquire to make sure that you are given the vehicle's all-in price. Dealers are obligated by law to provide this so you aren't surprised by any additional fees or charges. Only the HST licence plate cost and the price of additional options can increase the price.
  • Make sure that all of the disclosures about the vehicle have been made in writing.
  • Verify that all disclosures, promises, and terms are written into the contract clearly. Take the time to read everything and make sure that you understand it. Remember, the contract is final and legally binding once signed.

Finding Auto Financing when You Have Bad Credit

OMVIC's car buying guide is a very helpful tool that consumers can use to their advantage when it is time to purchase their next vehicle. If, however, you need to get approved for an auto loan but your credit is holding you back, Canada Auto Loan is here to help.

We work with a vast network of registered dealers that can help you get financed even if you are dealing with damaged credit. Our service has helped Canadian residents throughout Ontario and the other provinces and territories. Get the process started by completing our free and easy online application today.