Alberta Newcomers: Buying a Vehicle
You can purchase a brand new vehicle, buy a used one or you can lease a car.
But before you decide how you’re going to purchase your new car, you need to decide what type of vehicle you need. Your choice will be based on:
- Purpose of the vehicle – Is it for city driving, or will you use it for longer distances?
- Room required – Do you have a large family, or will you need to carry equipment in it?
- Cost – How much are you prepared to spend on a monthly car payment?
- Brand – What brand are you interested in? (For example, Toyota, Honda or Ford.)
- Mechanical knowledge – If you are comfortable working on a car’s engine, you may be interested in a used vehicle. If you are not, then a new or leased car with a warranty might make better sense.
Buying a new car
To buy a new car, you need to go to a car dealership where there are many vehicles to choose from. You can find hundreds of dealerships across Alberta. You will likely want to visit a number of them to find your new car. If you are interested in a certain brand of car, you want to make sure the dealership carries that particular brand.
Check the newspaper for car dealership ads and promotions as a start. You can also look online at dealership websites.
New vehicles can start at $12,000 Canadian dollars and higher. The majority of vehicles cost between $20,000 and $40,000 Canadian dollars. You can purchase a car right off the dealership’s lot, or order a new car with custom features.
You can buy a new vehicle for cash, but many buyers choose to finance in order to spread the cost of a new car out over a number of months. You can get financing through the car dealership.
Buying a used car
Some car dealerships also sell used vehicles that have been traded for new vehicles by other owners. Often, used vehicles from a dealership have been inspected and have their safety certification.
You can also buy a used vehicle from a private seller. Many people buy a used car this way, and are very satisfied with their purchase. But if you buy from a private seller, it is “buyer beware.” There is no recourse if you are dissatisfied. It’s important to do your research carefully.
Private sellers generally sell their vehicles through local publications like AutoTrader.ca, which let you look for used vehicles available through both dealerships and private sellers. You can specify:
- Make (Toyota, Buick, Ford)
- Model (Corolla, Regal, Escape)
- Model year
- Mileage – the number of kilometres the car has on it
Classified advertisements in local newspapers and online sites such as Craigslist.ca or Kijiji.ca also list used vehicles for sale by both private sellers and dealerships.
If you find a car you are interested in, and you’re not sure of a fair price to pay for it, check these Canadian online valuation sites.
Before you buy a used vehicle, it’s a good idea to have it inspected at a Vehicle Inspection Centre. Vehicle Inspection Centres across Alberta will point out any potential problems before you purchase.
Leasing a car
When you lease a car, you get a brand new vehicle to drive, but you don’t own it. A lease is a commitment to drive a vehicle for a specified amount of time during which you make monthly payments on it. When your lease expires, you can:
- Buy the vehicle at the “buy-out” fee determined by the leasing agency
- Start a new lease with a new vehicle
- Return the vehicle to the leasing agency
One benefit of leasing is that it usually means lower monthly payments than buying a new car. Another important benefit is that the vehicle is usually covered by a warranty for the duration of the lease. In addition, you don’t have to worry about selling it—you can simply return it when your lease is expired.
Once you have found your new car, and before get behind the wheel, you need to make sure you have an Alberta driver’s license and that your car is insured.