Car Shopping? How to Get the Best Deal

couple-car-shoppingHas your current car driven its last kilometer? Does your lifestyle require that you change the type of automobile? Perhaps you are transferring from a pedestrian lifestyle towards a commuter lifestyle?

If you are in the market to buy a car, there are a few things to know.


You really want to save money when buying a car? Then wait.

Although the springtime is the “busy” season for car buying (mostly because of the more pleasant weather for cruising car lots) you will receive the deepest discounts in the late fall, when dealers are scrambling to get rid of current model years to make room for the next year’s model (my family scored a sweet deal in just this fashion on our current automobile).

Furthermore, there is another case for delaying a car purchase. Car payments. Don’t be lured into promises of super-low interest rates, ability to skip payments, etc. etc. when looking at cars. Even with low interest rates, you are still borrowing money.

From a financial standpoint, you are far better served to wait and save (at least to have a significant down payment) which will diminish the debt load you take on, as well as shorten the amortization of the loan.

Put on Your Haggling Hat

Plan to negotiate. Hard. There is huge competition between car dealers, whether you be buying new or used, and many will turn proverbial retail cartwheels to land your sale.

Don’t just use price as a negotiating point either (you may find that some stick firm on those points). Negotiate extras, like added features or free (or discounted) service or aftercare.

Think Outside the Car Lot

You can shop for clothes, trips and just about everything you can think of from the comfort of your computer or handheld device, why not cars too?

Car sales are evolving beyond the traditional lots, and there may be additional savings in store for you.

Used sites, like Kijii, or other dedicated car sites, have allowed the proliferation of private sales, and can often times house some decent bargains.

Car dealers themselves are dealing with excess inventory, and may turn to virtual parking lots to unload vehicles. When space is an issue, pricing often falls in favour of the consumer.

Head South of the Border

It’s not just books and clothes that are cheaper in many instances in the U.S. Cars are often sold at a much cheaper price down south.

This is a little more complicated than your straight domestic purchase. Not all cars are allowed to be imported to Canada, so you are well advised to do your due diligence prior to purchase.

When calculating bargains, remember to consider the value of the CDN dollar vs. USD, as well as the potential of extra charges (duty, etc.). That said, the U.S. has a market that is far larger than that in Canada, which means that they have volume on their side- which represents cost savings for the consumer.


Not just fodder for reality T.V., auctions can be a bargain hunter’s best ally (not to mention that they are a super-fun, exciting way to shop).

Go to reputable auctions in your area (that offer some sort of warranty and have certified staff, inspectors etc. willing to vouch for the safety and quality of the auto). In some instances, cars are sold “as-is”, and if this is the case, make sure you a making a calculated risk, mitigated with research.

What may seem like a dream deal on the auction floor can quickly turn into a money pit on wheels, as the kilometers roll along.