Used vehicles offer drivers an affordable and practical alternative to purchasing a new car. Some experts even contend that buying used makes fundamentally better financial sense, given that a new car depreciates by anywhere from 10 to 30 per cent the minute you drive it off the lot.
Even so, you need to use caution when buying a used car. It’s vital to perform a comprehensive evaluation of any second-hand vehicle you’re considering, and used vehicles can also have surprising effects on your Alberta insurance rates if you haven’t done your research. If you’ve decided to retire your current vehicle and you’re in the market for a used car, use this guide to find a reliable, affordable ride.
Alberta Insurance: General Principles of Buying Used
One practical piece of advice that many people overlook is this: if you’re not a car expert and you don’t have much experience shopping for used vehicles, enlist the help of someone who is. Their knowledge may well prove invaluable and help you avoid making a mistake.
Used vehicle prices depend on many factors, including:
- The vehicle’s make, model and year
- The overall condition of the vehicle’s interior and exterior
- The vehicle’s current mileage
- Whether or not the vehicle is still covered under the original manufacturer’s warranty
- Whether or not the vehicle is certified
- Whether you’re buying from a dealer or through a private party
Canadian motorists should also take advantage of two important resources that can help them accurately assess the market value of a used vehicle: the Canadian Red Book and the Gold Book of Used Car Prices. Both offer comprehensive information to help you determine a value range for vehicles of just about any make, model or year.
At this stage, you should also inquire about the history of the vehicle. Does the owner have service records? Has the vehicle ever been involved in a collision? Have major repairs been done? Where has the vehicle spent its lifespan to this point? All these factors influence the vehicle’s value, and you shouldn’t necessarily take the seller’s word for it. Get things in writing whenever possible.
Alberta Insurance: The Importance of Formal Inspections
If you’re interested in a particular used vehicle, your next step should be to do a test drive and an informal inspection. During your inspection, carefully check over the vehicle’s exterior as well as its interior, noting any damage, discoloration, or rust. Check the headlights, taillights, all signal lights, and test the vehicle’s air conditioning, heating and ventilation systems.
During the test drive, pay close attention to how the vehicle changes gears. Shifts should be smooth and timed so the engine never reaches higher RPMs. Check the alignment, and listen for any unusual sounds.
As a final step, experts recommend that you take the vehicle to a third-party professional who has no stake in the transaction. Have that mechanic inspect the car to see if there are any problems that you weren’t able to detect.
The Final Steps
Before completing the purchase, you should order a vehicle information report (VIR) from Service Alberta. If everything checks out, you can then make an offer.
When negotiating, mentally set an upper limit for the price you’re willing to pay and do not exceed it. If the car has any history of problems, or if your inspection uncovered issues that will require repair, use this as leverage to negotiate a lower price if you still want to buy the car or truck.
Finally, keep these important provincial regulations in mind:
- All vehicles that are being registered in Alberta for the first time are subject to an Out of Province Vehicle inspection.
- Any vehicle that has been written off by an insurance company must pass a Salvage Vehicle Inspection, which must be conducted by a licensed technician.
- Any vehicle which does not pass a Salvage Vehicle Inspection can only be sold for scrap metal or spare parts; it cannot be put back on the road.
Alberta Insurance: Factors to Consider for Used Vehicle Coverage
Finally, here are some tips for getting the best Alberta insurance rates:
- Consider buying a smart car. Many insurers offer discounts to drivers of low-emission vehicles.
- Research insurance rates before you buy, not after.
- Check to see if the vehicle is a common target of thieves, as this could also impact your insurance premiums.