Shopping for your first car can be intimidating, but there’s a few essential tips, tricks, and tools that can help make the journey a lot easier. This blog post delivers some nuggets of wisdom to save you some headaches and help keep the costs of car ownership to a minimum.
It’s 8.10 am, Monday.
The bus rumbles and sputters up to your stop. You move towards the exit as urgently and politely as you can, pushing through an almost-impenetrable crowd. You barely make it to the door before it shuts.
You hop off and land in a large puddle.
Your socks are wet now, and no amount of hot cocoa can get them dry again. You still have a second bus to catch, but it’s nowhere in sight. Just then, you realize that you left your umbrella on the crowded bus that’s already moving too fast to run after.
You stand in the pelting rain and stew.
Just then, a sleek, silver sedan pulls up. An electric window lowers. The driver, a colleague, beckons you to get in while she drives you eight blocks to your workplace.
Her car is warm, dry, clean, and quiet except for the pleasant conversation and soothing melodic playlist that’s wirelessly streaming. Even the seats are heated!
“This is heaven!” you almost blurt out.
And then it hits you: maybe, just maybe, it's time to buy a car.
“But I can't afford a new car!” your mind suddenly counters.
Are you sure about that?
As with any big financial decision, car ownership entails lots of choices to make. But making the right decisions can help save you a fortune over time.
Let’s look at a few practical tips that will help first-time car buyers save money every step of the way.
This one seems like a no-brainer for budget-minded shoppers, but you’d be surprised how many first-time car shoppers beeline straight for the brand new model when they arrive at a dealership.
Maybe you crave that brand new car smell. Go for it, if you can afford it. But if your bootstraps need tightening, a quality used car will provide great value for money.
The used car market is very robust these days. Forget what your nostalgic grandpa says about “back in my day.” Compared with previous generations, cars these days are built to last, which makes the used car industry a smart place for frugal shoppers to browse.
With a used car, insurance is generally cheaper and depreciation is less of a concern. There’s always a worry that a used car is less reliable than a brand new car, but many used cars come with existing or renewed warranties to protect the new owner from any hidden defects. For added peace of mind, some pre-owned cars are even certified and inspected before resale by the manufacturer or dealership. But even if you find a car that is isn’t certified or warrantied, that doesn’t mean it’s not reliable. You just need to do a bit of extra homework to ensure you’re getting good value for your money.
As mentioned, factors like slower depreciation and lower insurance rates are just a couple of reasons why you may choose to buy a used vehicle over a new one. But before you commit to a pre-owned vehicle, you need to be aware of its history. Otherwise, you could end up with a car that’s barely roadworthy, or worse, a lemon.
Forget flashy spoilers and chromed rims. Focus on finding a reliable car. Your number one priority is a vehicle that won’t leave you stranded on the side of the road or broken down in the middle of traffic.
Once you have the car, another consideration to make is running costs. Ask yourself the following questions:
To answer these questions, you need to consider the following ongoing costs:
Let’s discuss a few simple ways that you can keep these costs to a minimum.
GasBuddy is your best friend when it comes to minimizing fuel costs. It displays real-time gas prices in your city or province to help you pick the most cost-effective gas station to refill at. You can download the app from the App Store and Google Play, so you’ll always know the cheapest price of gas wherever you are.
Good driving habits can help you save on gas too. Consider driving at a steady speed and just below the speed limit for most efficient fuel consumption. Slamming on the brakes too much will guzzle gas faster, so make sure you keep a safe distance from the other drivers on the road and brake in good time.
If you drive long distances for work or love road trips at the weekend, you might want to consider a vehicle with good fuel economy.
IBC Source: GISA & MSA data for private insurers (as of December 31, 2018), SGI Annual Report (2018), MPI Annual Report (2018), Société de l'assurance automobile du Québec (SAAQ), and ICBC Service Plan (2019)
*Ontario figure updated February 2020 by Canada Drives to reflect 1.56% average increase.
If you know nothing about car insurance, it’s important to know that some factors used to calculate your premiums are out of your control, such as your age and lack of a driving record. But some factors are within your control. The following tips can help ensure you get the lowest possible premiums:
Don’t wait for something to go wrong with your car. Good driving habits and simple preventative measures can help you steer clear of the mechanic’s auto shop and costly repair bills. There are quite a few jobs you can easily do yourself.
Here are some simple things you can do to ensure your vehicle stays in good running condition:
If you plan on visiting a dealership for the first time, this is how the experience usually goes:
This process is even more frustrating if you have bad or no credit as many dealerships and financial institutions are not prepared or willing to work with you.
Fortunately, there’s another way.
Canada Drives has been preapproving Canadians all across the nation since 2010. Whatever your credit rating, we work with car buyers facing all types of credit situations to help secure affordable vehicle financing.
With finance already approved before you visit the dealership, your car-shopping experience will be a lot more enjoyable. There’s no more waiting, no more anxiety, and no more disappointment.
Once you fill out our fast, free, and secure online form, we'll match you with a certified dealership that has the right car for your budget.
Apply with Canada Drives to learn more and see what you're eligible for.
Your online application takes only 3 minutes to complete and we only ask for information we actually need.
Or feel free to call us at 1-888-865-6402