Published on December 8th, 2015 | by Guest Contributor

Ask CATS #2: Buying a Great Used Car

Our Consumer and Technical Services (CATS) team gets a lot of questions every year on topics like car care, buying a new or used vehicle, auto repairs, vehicle inspection services, driving costs and more. Our Ask CATS blog series aims to address some of the most common questions. If you have a question you would like to be answered by CATS, call 1-866-464-6448 or email them at

Ask CATS #2: How do I buy a used car that won’t be a problem down the road?

A car is one of the biggest purchases you’ll make in your life, so it’s understandable that you want it to last you a long time. Read on to find out the best tips for buying a used car that will last for many more kilometres to come!

Tip #1: Find the car that you want and set your budget

Before getting on an online message board or going down to a used car dealership to find your dream car, think about the type of vehicle that you want for your specific needs. Whether it’s an SUV for your growing family or a fuel-efficient compact car for your commute, you’ll need to know how much you should be looking to spend going in. The Canadian Red Book is a tool that you can use to find the approximate value of the car that you are interested in. This will give you a better idea of what to expect when it comes to prices.

Your budget should allow for sales tax, insurance, registration and other costs like mechanical inspection fees and extended warranties. If you are buying a vehicle “as is”, then you will also need to include potential repair costs.

Tip #2: Decide on where you will be purchasing your car from.

The majority of used cars are sold through private sale by individual. This can be completely safe, but there are individuals who will try to sell cars outside of the law and scam potential buyers. Our recommendation is to start with a used car dealership, but if you do choose to buy from an individual, ensure that all original vehicle paperwork and a Used Vehicle Information Package (UVIP) is provided at the time of sale.

It’s also prudent to ask for any repair paperwork so that you’re aware of the vehicle’s history. If the seller does not have this, you can get a CARPROOF vehicle history report in order to track any issues.

To learn more about CARPROOF, please visit

Tip #3: Arrange for a test drive and vehicle inspection

Once you have chosen your potential new vehicle, ask the seller for a test drive. Drive the vehicle how you usually would – take it on the highway if you’re a regular commuter, or through your usual driving routes. You’ll be able to tell fairly quickly if the car has any issues like pulling to the side, squeaky brakes, or more serious issues.

It’s always a good idea to get the vehicle inspected before you buy it. CAA Approved Auto Repair Service locations offer a 139-point vehicle inspection to ensure that the car you’re buying is sound. They can also identify any problem areas that you will need to address.

Tip #4: Make the purchase

If you are buying from a used car dealership, you will be given a Conditional Sale Agreement to sign. This will state all the conditions of the sale clearly. Before handing over any money, ensure that everything is clear, including terms for payment, any repairs agreed upon by both parties and any warranties or guarantees on the vehicle. Always ask for a copy for yourself.

If you are buying from a private seller, make sure that the seller’s name on the UVIP matches the name on their driver’s licence. Beware of “curbsiders” or sellers that aren’t sure about the vehicle’s history. This could be a scam. Also beware of sellers who don’t have all the required paperwork to sell the vehicle.

Tip #5: Transfer the vehicle insurance

After you’ve made your purchase, you’ll need to buy insurance for your new vehicle. CAA offers great discounts for Members and can help you find the best rates in your area. Get a quote now!

To find out more about how to buy a used car, call our CAA’s Consumer and Technical Services (CATS) team at 1-866-464-6448 or email them at

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