Smart Buying Starts at Home

Set your budget with all costs in mind

  • Taxes
    • New vehicles: charged 7% PST and 5% GST, and may include a luxury surtax depending on the vehicle
    • Used vehicles: charged 7% PST and 5% GST, but only on the difference between purchase price and trade-in value (tax advantage); luxury tax may also apply
    • Used vehicles bought privately: charged 12% PST
  • Tire levy
  • Negotiable dealer fees such as documentation, administration and finance placement fees. See this fact sheet on dealer fees.
  • Extras you may want or need
  • The cost of fuel and maintenance
  • Insurance
  • Licensing fees

Know your vehicle needs

  • Gas mileage
  • Seating capacity
  • Towing capacity
  • Cargo and trunk area
  • Snow or other traction needs
  • Parking height and size restrictions

Research the vehicles that meet your needs & budget

  • Visit a library or bookstore to read consumer and automobile magazines
  • Go online to consumer and automobile websites
  • Talk to your mechanic about which vehicles offer good value
  • Study ads to get an idea of prices
  • Use the Canadian Black Book to value your trade-in

J.D. Power reports that consumers spend an average of 17 hours researching vehicles before they buy.
Twelve hours, or 70%, of that research is done online.

Consider things other than price

  • Safety
  • Gas mileage
  • Reliability
  • Warranties
  • Vehicle features and options
  • Resale value & depreciation

Know the benefits of buying a used vehicle from a licensed dealer

  • Dealers must comply with strict standards
  • Dealers often have financing available
  • Dealers often offer a range of warranties
  • Many dealers have service departments
  • Dealers make an investment in their staff, operations, reputation and community
  • Dealers contribute to a customer compensation fund for eligible claims
  • The Vehicle Sales Authority can assist you only if you buy from a licensed dealer
  • There is a tax advantage if you use your vehicle as a trade-in at a dealer

 Know the strict standards dealers must follow

  • Dealers must disclose if a vehicle has been registered out of province
  • Dealers must disclose if a vehicle was used as a lease, rental, taxi or emergency vehicle
  • Dealers must disclose prior damage over certain limits
  • Dealers must disclose anything that would be material to your decision
  • Dealers must guarantee that their vehicles are free of liens
  • Dealers must comply with strict standards when leasing a vehicle
  • Dealers must offer used vehicles that meet minimum safety requirements, or
  • Dealers must declare vehicles as Not Suitable for Transportation and be towed from the dealership

Buying online or at a distance

Many dealerships offer the option to shop online.

  • The Sale of Goods Act says a person is not deemed to have accepted the goods until they have had a reasonable opportunity to inspect them on delivery and the seller must provide a reasonable time to inspect. In other words, the deal is not actually done until a reasonable opportunity to inspect has occurred.
    See the Right to Inspect

 Avoiding online scams

  • Check the VSA list of online scams
  • Is the business licensed in the state or province indicated?
  • Does the address on Google Maps Street View look like a dealership
  • Who controls the website? Paste the web address of the business into the “Who is” lookup to learn when the webpage was created and the registrant of the web domain. The person registering web domains may be a proxy or agent, but the address may still be of interest.

Fuel consumption ratings vs Actual fuel consumption

The Fuel Consumption Guide offers a comparison of vehicle fuel consumption ratings using the Federal Test Procedure. It does not predict what the actual fuel consumption of a particular vehicle will be. Actual fuel consumption depends on many variables, such as driving habits, the terrain, the weather conditions, and how much the vehicle is loaded.