5 Things You Should Look for When Buying a Vehicle

Buying Tips & Tricks November 04, 2019

Buying a vehicle is an exciting time for most people. It can even be related to different life events - like a new job, new family member or moving to a new province or country. You’ll also likely be spending quite a bit of money, so you want to make sure to do it right. Here are some tips for when you’re in the search for a new (or new-to-you) vehicle.

1. Get it inspected

Anytime you’re considering a new-to-you vehicle, you want to make sure that it’s mechanically sound. While you may be able to bring along a trusted family member or friend, it often makes sense to get it properly inspected, since there are certain things that you just can’t see properly without bringing the vehicle up on a hoist. If you’re buying privately, you can often ask the buyer if it’s alright for you to take it to an inspection station. Depending on your province, you may have a standard certification to look for in a mechanic. In Saskatchewan, any SGI certified inspector should be good.

You can also go through a dealer, as most of them include a 90- or 150-point inspection. At Curbie, we provide a 240-point inspection on all our vehicles and include a 3-month warranty for extra peace of mind after your purchase date. Learn about how Curbie works.

2. Find out the vehicle’s history

Vehicles that have been in accidents, have had multiple owners, or have been smoked in can greatly affect the value of your vehicle. Checking the CARFAX report on a vehicle is a great way to verify if there have been any reported accidents, how many registered owners there have been, as well as any outstanding recalls on the vehicle. A CARFAX report typically runs between $30-$50 depending on the level of report you get. This is something that Curbie includes on each of our vehicle profile pages upfront.

You’ll also want to confirm that the vehicle you are buying is free of any liens (money owing on the vehicle to a lender). Each province has different lien registries and it usually costs a small amount to get this search done as well, but is well worth it to make sure you don’t get stuck with a vehicle that belongs to the bank.

Buying through a dealer will remove the onus of getting a lien search done, since it’s illegal for dealerships to sell vehicles with an existing lien. However, you may still need to get the CARFAX report done to make sure the vehicle hasn’t been in any major accidents. Some dealers include this at no charge as well, and if they don’t provide it upfront, you should ask them to provide it. 

With Curbie, we only stock vehicles that have had zero accidents, and two owners or less to help you skip this part of the process. We also provide the CARFAX report on every vehicle upfront on our website, as well as do our standard checks to make sure there are no liens against the vehicle.

3. Make sure you’re getting a good price

This one’s tricky. Each vehicle is completely unique. Even two vehicles of the same make and model will vary - different mileage, different condition, different extra features. However, you can still get a good idea of the pricing of a vehicle by checking on sites such as CarGurus or AutoTrader. They typically include a “Fair Deal”, “Good Deal” or “Great Deal” sticker for any vehicle listed on their site. All of Curbie’s vehicles listed on these sites will be measured against this, for example. (And we don’t want to brag, but we usually sit around the Good to Great Deal zone.) One word of caution, though, these prices don’t include dealer fees which are usually tacked on after and they are often not accurate for trucks, since trucks have such a wide variance in options and packages to add, making them even more unique and tricky to price out.

4. Understand your bill of sale

This is usually where most people start getting that panicky sensation during the car-buying process. You were just looking, but now you’re ready to commit. If you’re buying privately and paying cash, the process is fairly simple. Most provinces have a template Bill of Sale that you can print out and use. Just make sure to copy the VIN correctly or you could end up buying and registering the wrong vehicle. Here’s a template Bill of Sale from SGI (for Saskatchewan): SGI Bill of Sale

If you’re buying from a dealer, this can be the most intimidating part of the whole process. You’ll likely get brought to a small office in the back to finalize your financing and the car deal. While this process is often designed to make you feel shy to ask questions, don’t be afraid to ask away. You’re likely spending between $15,000 and $100,000 on a vehicle purchase - make sure you understand it! It’s not uncommon for the dealer to tack on some extra fees, or add some upsells that you didn’t ask for or don’t need. While some of these fees can come from the lender if you’re financing (usually called a “Finance Fee” or “Doc Fee”), there are often other fees that the dealer adds on to the final price. These might be:

  • Delivery/destination fee
  • Admin fee
  • Dealer Advantage fee
  • Dealer Doc fee

Since this is one of the areas that stands to be greatly improved in the car-buying process, Curbie doesn’t tack on any dealer fees besides what’s required from our lenders if you’re financing (and in the odd case, a delivery fee if you’re outside of our delivery zone, but that’s rare!).

5. Check the return policy

In most cases, this isn’t really a question. If you’re buying privately, there is no return policy, except under some provinces’ lemon law - but most don’t even include that and it’s only for exceptional circumstances.

If you’re buying from a dealer, it’s usually the same answer. In most cases, there is no going back on the vehicle that you’ve decided on. Some include an exchange period, where you can exchange for another vehicle, but if they don’t have another vehicle you like, then that’s a problem.

Curbie is one of the few dealers that includes a genuine no-questions-asked 7-day/500km return policy. As long as you contact us within that time, and the vehicle is in the same condition it was when we delivered it to you, we’ll refund your entire purchase back to you. The only cost for you is registering and insuring the vehicle for the week as we aren’t able to cover that under Curbie’s insurance.

Interested to learn more about Curbie? Check out How Curbie Works or search our cars on our inventory page.

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