Buying Used Cars Guide


Buying a used car is an ideal way to fulfill your needs and save money in the process. Did you know that the prices of unused cars include hidden commissions and fees that you don't always need to pay? You can potentially save thousands of dollars by looking for used car solutions in Canada. All you need is determination and the will to effectively analyze the used car market.

While there are risks involved, finding a premium retailer of pre-owned vehicles can mitigate the majority of these perils. With a team of technicians, market analysts and experts, you can make the right choice when it comes to your next vehicle. However, this is just the end phase of a long process.

To dissipate any confusion around buying used cars, we've prepared the ultimate used car buying guide for you. Not only will you improve your life quality with a great car which is as good as new, but you will do so with a secure and methodical approach to the entire venture.

1: Preparing yourself

Buying a used car is much more than walking into a dealership and picking the model you want. To ensure that your choice is right, you have to start preparing on time. The right preparatory measures will result in you exiting the dealership with your hands behind the wheel and a smile on your face.

1.1: What do I want?

Before you do any kind of research, put together a list of your dream cars. They can be both common models or even outrageous sports cars. The essential part of the buying process is creating an impromptu list that will serve as a guide from your wishes towards realistic options for purchase. Don't hold back.

1.2: What do I need? 

After you've consolidated your wishes, it's time to think about what kind of car you need. The main factor that determines the type of vehicle for you is your location.


      If you live and work in a densely populated area of a big city, like Toronto, you have to accommodate. An ideal car for you would be a small hybrid car that you can park anywhere and that has an exceptional fuel economy.

      For those of you that live in rural areas like Mississauga or Port Hope, you need a sturdy vehicle that can withstand long drives and provide you with on-road security.

Your job is also a determining factor. Construction workers, for example, need a pickup truck or a vehicle with a large storage area. Think of what you need and cross-reference that with your initial wishlist.

1.3: Determine a budget

After you have a list of cars that you both want and need, you need to determine the exact amount of money you're willing to spend. Remember - purchasing a used car includes more than just taking ownership of the vehicle. Factor in licensing fees, taxes (HST) and, of course, license plates.


      Never spend more than you're willing to part with. Buying a good car is not worth jeopardizing your everyday life and other needs.

      Budget for the long-term, as well. You will need to spend a select amount of money on your car every year. This is a thing many buyers forget when looking for car solutions in Canada. Even if a car is seemingly cheap, its yearly costs can cripple you.

      Be willing to go over the top, if needed. There is a possibility that you will see your dream car, but it's slightly over your budget. If the deal is good and if you want it, there is no harm in going a bit over the budget. 

Crafting a budget is best done with someone who has experience with finances or buying a used car. Ask your friends and family members for advice. When you're buying used cars, it's easy to let your wishes and plans get the best of you. Because of this, it's best to have someone judge your choices and plans.

During the budget creation process, it's essential to keep extra costs in mind. Some of them are:


      Depreciation. Certain car models, because of their popularity or limited numbers, tend to cost more as they age.

      Fuel economy. If you're looking to buy a used car in Toronto or Ottawa, pay attention to fuel expenditure. For small, frequent rides, it's essential to maintain a low fuel expenditure rate. Even cheap cars can burn through a lot of fuel. In fact, bad fuel economy is one of the main reasons people sell cars and too low of a price is sometimes an indicator of terrible fuel economy.

      Insurance. The amount you have to pay depends on your driving experience, both your and the vehicle's age, as well as other factors.

      Repair costs and spare parts. A common problem when buying used cars is the lack of licensed mechanics and shops in the area.


Pay special attention to repair costs when determining a budget. Imagine you have to choose between a 2002 Subaru and a 2015 Toyota. While the Subaru is significantly cheaper, there may not be spare parts and mechanics available in the area. This small detail can make the amount you spend on the car much higher in the long run.


2: Conducting research

With a wishlist, a budget and knowledge of what you need to watch out for, it's time to get down to research. The amount of time you're willing to invest in research can greatly determine the quality of your used car purchase.

Cross-reference the wishlist with your desired price range and get to work! The internet is your best source of information. Sites like Car and Drive or Consumer Reports can help you find detailed information about almost every vehicle ever made.

The first phase of your research should consist of finding information about a particular vehicle. Is there something you particularly like? How about a red flag or something that you don't like? Write all of these things down, as they will be helpful when deciding between individual models. During this phase, find information about the car when it's new.

Contrary to popular belief, a majority of cars display the same characteristics after years of use. What a car is like when it comes out of the factory is the "sketch" of the entire picture of the car. When the car has been used, there are other factors involved, but you should first pay attention to the factory state.

The second phase involves looking at the nitty-gritty. You've probably narrowed down your list, which means it's time to compare cars. Open Kelley Blue Book on your browser and pitch different cars against each other. Sometimes, it may be hard to decide between two cars when looking at them separately. A comparison gives you an opportunity to better see any useful features or glaring flaws.

Lastly, you should focus on real-time experience with the car(s) you want. Scour the internet for reviews and talk to people who've already owned the car you want. Be sure to ask them the following questions:


      Was the car used or new when you bought it?

      Why did you buy it?

      Were there any particular problems that you faced?

      Why did you decide to get rid of it?

      Is it good for [insert any activity/need that's important to you]?

      Would you recommend it?

      How much did you buy it for?


All of these questions will help you get a clear and useful recollection of the person's experience with the car. Real life situations and experiences are the best measures of a car's quality.

3. The search can begin

You've managed to go through the most difficult phase of buying a used car in Canada. Congratulations! Now you know how to discern between your wishes and needs, how to inform yourself, as well as how to set a budget for a used car purchase.

3.1: Where to look?

With the help of the internet and social media, there is a myriad of sources to find great used cars. Here are some of them:


      3rd party websites. Auto Trader or Kijiji are known as the most popular car trading websites in whole of Canada, especially the state of Ontario. If you want to buy a used car in Canada, these websites will show both personal ads, as well as an integrated map of real-time results from car owners and dealerships alike.

      Social media. Even though social media has a bad reputation for all things money-related, there are a lot of Facebook groups for car trading. They are always heavily moderated and any frauds are quickly exposed.

      Car dealerships. Buying your car from a premium pre-owned vehicle dealership is by far the best options. We at Car Solutions Canada invest the utmost effort into making sure your car purchase is more than a purchase. With the best analytics, checkups and verifications, you can expect a car dealership purchase to be a risk-free venture.

      Print listings and online ads. Albeit outdated, print listings are a great way to find a good deal. While we wouldn't advise online ads because of safety issues, you can find what you're looking for if you get lucky.

3.2: Understanding the advantages of buying from a dealership

The most important part of buying a used car is safety. Buying from a dealership ensures you won't get scammed, but that's just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the used car market in Canada.


      No issues related to conditioning. Private sellers can sell literally destroyed cars without any consequences. The best car dealerships in Toronto usually refurbish their vehicles before they are ready to be sold. You won't notice any rust, mold or other things that are found in a car that has aged.

      Regulations ensure reliability. Buying used cars from a private seller is tricky. You are legally prevented from suing the person if they failed to mention a flaw or something that was wrong with the car which prevents its smooth operation. Inspecting the car is your responsibility and not noticing something is entirely your fault. Car dealerships, on the other hand, must abide by industry and legal regulations. They must be honest.

      More choices to make. A private seller wants to sell the car because he wants to get rid of it. Car dealerships have a wide array of different models. If you visit our lot, you never know which bargain deal you might find. The beauty of choice is being entirely in control of your automotive future.

      A clear history. A private seller can sell the car without any certificates. Dealerships offer cars with certificates, certified histories. Some models might come with additional warranties straight from the manufacturer. You can contact us at any time to find out more about our acceptance criteria.

Even though privately-owned cars can theoretically be less expensive, you risk being scammed and having an astronomical number of costs down the road. When buying a car, you can't ignore the possibilities and flexibility that dealerships offer.

4: The inspection

Looking at a car in person might be the most essential step in this entire used car buying guide. Once you've located the car that fits your criteria and needs, you should contact the seller or the dealership to book a personal inspection.

An inspection is an ideal opportunity to see if the vehicle fits the descriptions of the images were edited somehow. You should take a close look at the color difference compared to the images. Some sellers deliberately use Photoshop or similar software to enhance the images of their vehicle. An inspection is your chance to bust them.

Remember to check the documents, the history and everything else that might interest you. Our dealership has an open-for-all policy. Anything you want to ask, you're free to do so. It's your life we're talking about and we absolutely understand any level of skepticism.

4.1: Taking photos and going for a test drive

The first inspection doesn't have to be the last. Be sure to take photos for later consideration. If a dealer or an independent seller don't allow you to take photos, you shouldn't wait for another moment. Refusing photos from a buyer is an obvious sign that they're trying to hide.

Take the care on a test drive. An ideal option would be to take someone knowledgeable with you and try it out for a little while. Check how the care operates and if there are any difficulties during the test drive.

What should your test drive be? You don't have to take the car on an off-road trip. Instead, just make sure you've done everything you would have done with your car in any normal situation. This is by far the best way to see if the car responds properly and if it's fit for driving.

4.2: Verify the documentation

When buying a used car in Canada, there are three instances of paperwork that ensure a car is legitimate. They are:


      Safety Standards Certificate. This form verifies that the vehicle is safe to drive under the legal standards of the state of Ontario. Without this form, you might be risking your life if you buy a car.

      Used Vehicle Information Package. According to the laws of Ontario, every used car sale has to include the UVIP. This paperwork package includes the registration history, factory data and lien information. You should inspect this instance of paperwork. If there are any blank time periods of missing forms, you ought to get up and leave. A missing form is also a sign that the seller might have something to hide.

      Ontario Drive Clean Emissions Test. The ODCET is a thorn in the side of many used car buyers, mostly because it's so easy to forget. If the police stop you and you don't have the ODCET, a big fine might be in store.

Without these documents, you shouldn't even consider buying a used car. No matter the explanation, it's not worth risking your life or legal repercussions.

5: Purchasing

All you have to do now is take care of the little details. The hardest part is over and we hope you've finally found your dream car, in a condition that fits your criteria.

5.1: Pick the payment option

You can pick between several payment options for your new car, but we would highlight the three most popular (and most beneficial) solutions:


      Financing. If you're willing to take on long-term financial obligations, a bank or a car dealership can give you a loan.

      Leasing. This method is very unlikely for used cars. Immigrants and Canadians with no credit history almost always get refused. If you have a clean credit history, go for it.

      Buying it right away. You might pay more during that moment, but it saves you money in the long-run. Think of the future and if you have any other financial commitments.

After you've made the deal, all you have to do is register the car and fill out the paperwork so that the car is registered to you.


Doesn't seem too hard, does it? Buying a used car in Toronto doesn't have to be difficult. We at Car Solutions Canada offer you the best deals and the most pleasant experience when getting a new set of wheels. If you have any questions, complaints and dilemmas - we're here to help! Call us at 888-716-0037 or fill out our online form. Our skilled team will contact you in a short while. Our goal is to match people and cars, all in order to create long-term relationships between man and machine.





Make an Inquiry

I consent to receive electronic messages from Car Solutions Canada containing sales promotions, product offers, special events and other information relating to their products and services. I understand that I may withdraw consent at any time. Please refer to our Privacy Policy or Contact Us for more details.