So, you want to buy your first car and have no idea where to start from…

Maybe you aren’t even sure whether you should go for a new one or not.

Well, these are a few of the many questions and thoughts that usually go through the minds of not just first car owners, but every time one wishes to acquire a car.

But as exciting as it may all sound, you need to adequately prepare for this purchase to ensure that you don’t get ripped off your hard-earned money by one of those many dubious car dealers out there.

So, how exactly can you ensure that you make your first-time car buying experience not be your biggest life regret?

Simply – follow everything I intend to share with you in this guide plus other resources.

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In this car buying guide for Canada, I will share with you some sure tips for buying your first car (both new and used), as well as the process involved in making a successful purchase.

Are you still with me?

Let’s dive right in!

What to Consider When Looking to Buy Your First Car

I thought I should commence this guide by pouring out to you some key tips for getting your first car; be sure to note each and every one of these as they are meant to save you tons of money and regrets.

Tip#1. Research

Sounds obvious, right? But surprisingly, it’s almost not obvious for anyone to take their time to talk to motorists with car models that you aspire to have or to visit a reputable car dealership way before making a purchase just to get a tip or two about a certain car.

As a matter, the most anyone might tell you they’ve done in terms of research is through watching online YouTube videos or asking a friend’s friend. Sadly, most online car reviews are only after striking a sale and do not tell you the plain truth, and the few that do may actually be trying to sell a rival car.

My point is to explore every available window for learning everything about a car you aspire to have in terms of maintenance, gas consumption, typical lifespan, and more.

Understand that it’s okay to test and not buy and not test and buy!

Tip#2. Avoid Cars That Need Lot’s Repairs

The technical car guys might differ with me in this but trust me, probably 2 out of 10 car deals requiring massive repairs end up being bargains.

Take, for instance, someone buying a 2000 car model with the hope that a few repairs later, they will be on the road with a ton of savings. Well, as I said, you might get away with that, but honestly speaking, what are the chances?

Are you really willing to bank on a 2/10 with your hard-earned bucks?

Most old car models have discontinuation in production, meaning as the years pass by, the car parts become rarer.

But understand this, I’m not against anyone willing to buy a second-hand car; I’m against going for deals that are outright gambles.

Tip#3. Get the Paperwork Right

Once you’ve identified the right car, you’ll be faced with related paperwork, including vehicle registration status, duty, and related taxes, among other things.

This stage is as important as identifying the right car, and if you think of it crucially, it might just be what stands between you and a corruption court or, worse still, jail.

Make sure that you evaluate all the paperwork relating to the vehicle you wish to purchase; if you’re not so sure what to look out for, be honest enough to ask knowledgeable individuals in the sector.

Do not sign anything you’re not certain of; ask as many questions as your gut needs you to; after all, any car dealer owes you that much if you’re going to stash their bank account with a few thousands of dollars.

Tip#4. Don’t Settle for Anything Less Than You Deserve

This is where the value for your money comes in.

Every car dealer, whether for new or used cars, hopes to squeeze a better bargain off you just to pocket a little more than they probably deserve. But this does not mean that they are dishonest business people; no, it doesn’t. It simply means that they are better business people than you probably are.

This is where Tip#1 plays an important role because if you do your research well, you’ll be able to establish how much a car of your choice is worth, whether in a used or new state. Besides that, you will also be able to have a bargaining chip since you already know a thing or two about it from the research, which should have revealed the downside of that particular vehicle type. This will allow you to poke holes into the price of the car and, who knows, if you do it right, you just might end up with a few hundred off of your initial budget.

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Tip#5. For Goodness Sakes, Stick to Your Budget!

Have you seen how some people own one of those well-detailed cars with everything there is to imagine in a car but are quite miserable a few weeks later? Well, not sticking to your budget is a core reason for their frowned faces, but deep down, it just could have contributed to 25% of their misery.

I’ve seen individuals who left home with $30,000 to purchase an SUV but ended up coming back with something worth an extra 10% or more. Yup, that’s a whole $3,000 in unplanned spending. If you’re not so sure about your shopping habits, carry with you the exact amount you need to make the purchase and avoid carrying your chequebook or credit card.

Also, avoid going for extra trimmings that are not of much use to you. Going for a car with expensive leather seats or sporty-like stripes on the exterior might not be a good idea when on a tight budget. Only go for what you deem necessary and not the desire to have what’s trending at the time. Of course, later on, when you have some extra money, you can introduce all the bells and whistles you desire.  

This may limit you from exceeding what you may have and can afford at that particular time.

Purchasing a Used Car

buying first car

The truth is, good used cars are in demand, and it’s because of their relatively lower prices. The numerous car auctions worldwide have made it easy for almost everyone with a few thousand dollars to own a car.

But remember what we said earlier about used cars? Not all are good and certainly not all bad.

Unlike buying a new car, getting a used one requires more than simply checking it out for the right paperwork, doing your research, and so on. Here, a lot of groundwork goes to evaluating the state of the car, both mechanically and electronically.

So, where should you start the process of buying a used car in Canada?

Identify the Vehicle You Wish to Purchase

This is perhaps the easiest of this process because, in Canada, you should be able to find used car dealers both online and offline. Identifying the car, you wish to buy requires minimal research and more of a personal preference.

If you have an eye for a Subaru, for instance, you’re unlikely to change your mind unless there’s a really good reason for it. Therefore, the first step to getting it right is to go to a reputable dealership. If you’re conducting your search online, watch out for client reviews, ratings, and related things to gauge the suitability of a dealer. Once you find a good dealer, you’ll be one step closer to identifying the right used car since reputable car sellers strive to uphold their good name, and they’re unlikely to ruin it with one terrible sale.


  • Making internet transactions: In this era of increased internet-related scams, try as much as possible to make a physical visit to your car dealership of choice. Things such as upfront payment of reservation fee, paying for a test drive, and so on should be red flags for potential scams. Any business that involves you sending money to someone you haven’t met is an unforgivable internet ignorance in this day and age.
  • Trusting private sellers: I know…I know…you probably imagine how this person can’t possibly swindle me this 10% deposit she’s asking prior to being able to secure the car as you process this or that paperwork. Today, scammers come in all manner of shapes and sizes, and they will sweet talk you to doing some of the dumbest things you could never have imagined in your wildest dreams.

Inspect and Test Drive the Car

When inspecting a vehicle you wish to purchase, always tag a professional with you, possibly one that understands both the electronic and mechanical aspects of cars. The last thing you want to do is to buy a mechanically sound car with electrical faults.

Also, make sure that you conduct the inspection in broad daylight.

After that, take the vehicle for a test drive, and ensure that you drive long enough to be able to detect any underlying problems with the car. You should be worried if a dealer asks you to go for a test drive for less than a few tens of miles.

Make sure that the car is given a clean report mechanically unless the dealer has stated otherwise before the start of the negotiations.

Obtain an Accident and Registration Report

You should have the car checked by CarProof or your provincial driver services provider to obtain the car registration details and an accident report. If the car was involved in an accident in the past, the report should clearly indicate so.

Again, if the dealer had not expressly informed you of any past accidents, then you may be dealing with a dishonest car seller, and who knows what other lies he may end up getting away with?

In addition to that, have the vehicle inspected and cleared for roadworthiness; the last thing you want to do is to make a car purchase only to realize that you require some extra money to behave it fixed to be allowed to drive it.

Seal the Deal

If you’re satisfied with all the above processes, you’re ready to negotiate and pay for your car. This is a perfect time to raise any concerns you may have about the car and possibly what it might cost you to have it fixed. All these may play a big role in obtaining a fair value of a used car.

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Buying a New Car

The process of buying a new and a used car may not be so different save for a few areas.

But generally, things to do with due diligence, negotiations, registration verification, and more are pretty much the same. For this reason, we might not delve deep into explaining what has already been discussed above.

To buy a new car in Canada, consider taking the following route:

  • Evaluate Your Options: They say no two people are alike, and the same applies to vehicle preference. If you want a sedan with a maximum speed of 300 km and drive well, even off-road, then consider narrowing down your tastes and preferences to the car that fits that description.
  • Do Your Homework: Consider spending a substantial amount of time on this process in the pre-buying stage. As I mentioned before, this might be the only thing that stops you from owning a car you actually paid for. Here, things like vehicle registration, chassis number verification, and more should be keenly examined to cushion you against any wrong deals.
  • Make Your Purchase: When you’re satisfied with the legal status and the condition of the car, it’s time to make the payment. Ensure that the payment is made to the dealership’s bank account and not in cash or through a third party. Obtain all the relevant paperwork, including associated receipts, agreements, and certifications, before finally driving off in your car. This is just to ensure the transaction is legitimate and traceable in case the deal goes south.

The best thing about new car purchases is that they come with a warranty that ensures your vehicle is covered for a certain period of time. Well, at the end of the day, all cars turn out to be used ones, and it might sometimes not matter so much as to whether you get a new or a used one as long as you get a fair deal.

In conclusion, I hope you can now make your first car purchase without much trouble. And in case you feel anything was not clear in this post, don’t hesitate to drop us a comment or a direct message, and we’ll be glad to offer assistance.