Tips on buying a used vehicle

It is not a secret, that when you get a new car, the car goes down in value the moment you buy it. In this article I spoke about buying cars from the Government Surplus Auctions (groovy!), and here I want to focus on passing on the knowledge I accumulated while buying and selling used vehicles.

1. Where to buy: The Dealer vs. The Owner.

Smooth-talking salespeople aside, dealerships impose ridiculous fees, such as “$395 Document Fee”, but also give you some sort of warranty, which you may be able to use if the car goes bad the next day you bought it. If you buy from a dealership, the chance of you getting a stolen vehicle is slim to none.

However, they will be less flexible on the car, and immune to the simple haggling techniques (human psychology works wonders; what you think is a very witty and smart trick, is what they encounter on the daily basis).

For private sales, without a doubt the most listings are presented on my favourite Craigslist. However, there are a lot of people who make a living off low-balling the sellers and finding the best deals, to restore (sometimes, not even) and re-sell, with an overhead, of course. However, due to the fact that there are a ton of options, most sellers will be more limber on the price. Safe to say, they expect you to bargain. The general rule of thumb, the seller should yield 10% on the price.

Proper way to look for a used vehicle

Proper way to look for a used vehicle; TIP: Use a “-” sign to eliminate unwanted models (as an example, I used the ones I would not want to buy – definitely not a guide);

How not to look for a car

How not to look for a car

2. Pre-purchase check.

Always, always and always check for the vehicle history. Rebuilt vehicles are not always bad, especially, if the damage was cosmetic (a buddy from work bought a rebuild Toyota Matrix, which got scraped on the left side by the previous owner). However, I definitely would stay away from rear-ended and T-boned cars, because they are often dis-balanced.

Note, that due to the climate, cars from Eastern provinces tend to have rust.

ICBC provides a free vehicle status check. All you need is a VIN number and the year the car was made in. For a $20 + 5% GST you can view ICBC Vehicle Claims History, and for $69.95 + 5% GST they will generate a complete CarProof report, including all ICBC claims, complete US and Canada history, odometer readings and etc.

3. What to know.

Whenever you are buying a car, you will need to pay tax on the purchase price. Government Tax (GST) is 5%, and PST portion depends on the purchase price:

7% - less than $55,000
8% - $55,000 to less than $56,000
9% - $56,000 to less than $57,000
10% - $57,000 and above;

If the price looks unrealistically low, you may be subject to an audit (I have not been there, but imagine it’s no fun).

Continue reading for links and comments! Good luck!

Free status check
ICBC Vehicle Claims History and CarProof report

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