5 points to consider when buying a car

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Despite having an efficient public transportation system in Manitoba, you may feel the need to have your own vehicle. Factors such as the weather (especially during winter), varying schedules, or the vast distance you need to travel for work, school, or recreation, may make it necessary for you to buy your own car. Especially when you have young kids, their comfort and safety are always at the top of parents’ minds.

So what do you need to consider when buying a car? Here are few points:

  1. Your budget

    You may have done preliminary research on car costs in Manitoba and have figured out how much of your savings or income you can spare. Remember to factor in parking, insurance, fuel and maintenance costs in the equation. Budget is a major factor in deciding what type and model of car you can buy and whether you’re buying a brand new car or second hand. The following video from Financial Consumer Agency of Canada (FCAC) entitled How much car can you truly afford? points out great considerations when setting a budget:

    The 20/4/10 rule
    Another way to set your budget is to use the 20/4/10 rule. Financial experts advise that you should make at least a 20% down payment, take out a loan for no more than four years and not pay more than 10% of your gross income towards auto expenses like your car payment, gas, maintenance and insurance. Read an explanation of this rule from How much should you spend on a car? by Andrew Rombach (LendEDU.com).

    Payment options
    You should also consider the options for paying for your vehicle. Generally, there are three: in cash, by financing, or leasing. The following video from McPhillips Toyota explains clearly how these options work:

    Brand new or second hand?
    This next video, also from McPhillips Toyota, explains the considerations when deciding whether to buy brand new or second hand:

    (Note: These videos are for information purposes only. English Online does not promote, endorse or have any affiliation with McPhillips Toyota).

    Once you have set your budget, resolve to stick to it when you go searching for a car.

  2. Your preferred car model

    If you are totally clueless about cars, it would be good to consult a friend or an expert about types of vehicles that would fit your requirements. These include your usage (long distance driving, city driving, space for cargo, load, efficiency, etc.), your passengers (the size of your family), and your budget. Interview someone who has more or less the same circumstances as you and has experience in driving. Ask what they recommend. You can also read this article from Consumer Reports entitled How to find the right vehicle for you to know what questions to ask when deciding what type or model of car to buy.

    Once you have an idea, you can go online to compare prices, features, service, warranties and consumer ratings on the model/year of the car you are looking for.

  3. Registered dealers vs. private sellers

    Dealers need to be licensed in Manitoba. They must observe standards and follow consumer protection laws. They are mandated to disclose all the necessary information about the car you are buying. Take time to check out several dealers and compare their offerings and deals. Always be aware of high-pressure selling tactics. Some dealers may sweet-talk you into a deal you may not understand or you cannot afford. This is why it is important to do your research and prepare before you approach car sellers. Stay firm, stick to your budget and take your time.

    If you prefer to buy privately, take these steps to protect yourself:

    • Ask to see the seller’s licence and proof of ownership
    • Check the vehicle’s registration to confirm that it is registered to the name of the seller. The Vehicle Information Number (VIN) on the registration should match the VIN on the vehicle. This is usually found at the bottom of the driver’s side of the windshield, by the wipers
    • Get a commercially available vehicle history report. Google “vehicle history report Canada” to know the facts of the vehicle’s history (private sellers are not required to provide this). These reports have a cost –check and comparison.
    • Check for liens on the vehicle. Check the Personal Property Registry at 204-945-3123 or email ppr@gov.mb.ca. There is a cost for the liens check.
    • Get the vehicle inspected before you buy. Hire a trusted mechanic
  4. Your contract

    Anything promised to you about the sale should be in writing. For instance, if the dealer says that the deposit will be returned to you, the terms and conditions for this should be clear and written in a document. Before you sign the contract, read it thoroughly and understand all details.

  5. Consumer rights

    If the service of a dealership does not meet your standards, you are always free to walk away and find another one. Never be pressured into signing a contract or buying if you are not clear of the terms of the sale. If you have concerns about the purchase of a vehicle from a business, call the Consumer Protection Office at 204-945-3800 or toll free 1-800-782-0067.

Sources: Manitoba. ca Consumer Protection, Manitoba Public Insurance Tips for buying your vehicle, and the Canadian Consumer Handbook.

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Community Resources

The CAA Driving Costs Calculator is a handy tool to better understand the complete cost of operating a vehicle. It can give you estimates of fuel, insurance, licence and registration, and depreciation and maintenance costs for a year, depending on the type of vehicle you own.

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