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Buying a Car

Buying a New Car


Frequently Asked Questions

  1. I'm a first-time car buyer. What's the first thing I should do before shopping for a car?
  2. How can I decide which vehicle suits my lifestyle?
  3. What are the different types of vehicle on the market today?
  4. Should I buy or lease my next car?
  5. I've decided to go for a new car. Where should I start?

1. I'm a first-time car buyer. What's the first thing I should do before shopping for a car?

Establish your needs. Think about how you plan to use a car before you shop for one. Define which types of vehicle you'll be shopping for. Evaluate your priorities, and be sure you really need a car in the first place.

2. How can I decide on what vehicle suits my lifestyle?

Think about how you plan to use a car before you shop for one.

  • If you don't already own a car, here are some questions to get you started:
    • Will you be using the car mainly to commute to work or school or will you be using it mostly on weekends?
    • Will it be used mostly for city, rural or highway driving?
    • How many members of your household will be using it?
    • Will it be used for car pooling?
    • Will you be travelling with children, sports equipment, or pets?
    • Do you need front-wheel drive, rear-wheel drive, or four-wheel drive?
  • If you do already own a car, make a list of what you hope to achieve by getting a new one, any differences in the way you plan to use it, and any specific improvements you're looking for. If the car will be used by more than one member of your household, ask each one to do the same, then sit down together and compare notes.
  • Be sure you really need to buy. If you're a weekend traveller but don't drive much during the week, a quick calculation might prove that renting a car when you need one would be more cost-efficient for you than the expense of owning a car. This gives you the added flexibility of renting various vehicles to suit your different needs.

Evaluate Your Priorities

Before you look for a car, use the Priority Rating Worksheet to evaluate what's most important to you. You can print out as many copies of this comparative price chart as you need.

Rate the features that interest you on a scale of 1 (least important) to 10 (most important).

  • As an example, let's say you are a sales representative who spends a lot of time driving. Your comfort is essential, so features like air conditioning and a roomy driver's seat would be big priorities. You would probably give those features a score of 10. Cruise control would be a handy thing to have, but you happen to be a lot more interested in a good sound system. So you'd rate the sound system at 8 or 9 and the cruise control at 2 or 3. Heated seats would be really nice, but you wouldn't pay extra for them, so you would only give them a 1.

The scores you record on the Priority Rating Worksheet will be a big help to you when you start comparing various makes and models.

3. What are the different types of vehicle on the market today?

Here's some basic information on the categories that are currently available:
Sub-compacts Sub-compacts are best suited for short distances and light loads.
Compacts Compacts are good all-around cars for small families.
Mid-size Mid-size cars are more expensive to purchase and maintain than compacts or sub-compacts.
Full-size Full-size cars offer both power and comfort and are ideal for highway driving.
Sporty Sporty cars are personality cars, offering all sorts of performance and luxury features.
Luxury Luxury cars are usually the most expensive to buy and operate.
Mini-vans Mini-vans are especially appealing to people with big households and diverse activities.
Sport Utility Vehicles Sport Utility Vehicles appeal to people who own cottages, like to camp, fish, ski or travel in rugged terrain.

4. Should I buy or lease my next car?

Leasing is one way to have the new car you've always wanted or that you truly need for your lifestyle. Leasing offers low monthly payments with the opportunity to change cars every two or three years. You don't own your leased car -- the leasing company does -- but you're responsible for all maintenance and repairs during the term of your lease, just as you would be if you owned the car.

Until there's new disclosure legislation, it's important to inform yourself fully before entering into an auto leasing agreement. Read the contract carefully and ask questions. Find out about penalties (for exceeding mileage limits, for excess wear and tear) and about restrictions (on how to maintain the car, where you can drive it, your ability to break a lease if circumstances change). Ask what purchase price the lease is based on and what interest rate is being charged. Visit the Car Calculator web site for help on checking leasing deals.

While there may be advantages to leasing, especially if you want to change cars frequently, it's not trouble-free. So if you're not willing to work within certain limits and/or you intend to keep your car for several years, as many people now do, borrowing to buy one may be a less expensive and more practical alternative.

5. I decided to go for a new car. Where should I start?

Reading up on what's available will help you narrow down your choices to the makes that interest you most. Then, comparison shop in different dealerships for base prices and the cost of options that interest you. Price is important, but should not be your single focus when deciding on a dealer: a dealership with a reputation for good service may sometimes be worth a little extra on the purchase price.

Before you buy, you should...

  • inquire about warranties, rustproofing, rebates & incentives, etc.
  • get written quotes on the car and each of the options that interest you. Don't be tempted to buy a car that's loaded with expensive options you don't need just because the dealer may have one in stock.
  • test drive the car on an expressway or open road so you can judge its all-around performance.
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04/04/2007 15:26:02