Purchasing a new (or new-to-you) vehicle is a big financial decision that requires a significant investment of time, effort, and money. The process can sometimes feel overwhelming, especially if you have little experience and are trying to figure out what to look for when buying a brand-new car. But if you take the time to research and follow a few simple tips when buying a new car, it can go a long way towards making the purchase go smoothly, and you'll be zipping around in your recent acquisition in no time.
That's why the brokers at Morison Insurance put together this blog with some tips and advice on what to look for when buying a car in Ontario. Find out what you need to know before you set foot in a dealership to ensure you drive away with the car you need and want, no more and no less.
It makes sense that this is the first step toward determining what to look for when buying a car, but prospective buyers often need to pay more attention to it. Some people like to approach buying a car similarly to how they would shop for clothing—look around and see if anything appeals to them. But that's a big mistake. A vehicle purchase represents a significant investment in your comfort, convenience and quality of life, so it's not the type of thing you should walk into unprepared without.
Take the time to look around at some of the possibilities online, compare features, and think hard about what you want, what you need, and where those two (possibly competing) motivations find some common ground. Considering what's most important to you and how you will likely use the vehicle will give you a better sense of what to look for when buying a car. For example, if you do a lot of camping or outdoor recreation in rugged areas, your type of vehicle will be different from someone who sticks to paved, urban roads. Work in a career that involves impressing clients or investors. You're going to prioritize the appearance and status level of your car more than someone who needs a highly utilitarian vehicle that can get their large family to and from all their various appointments and activities. Having your priorities clear and at the forefront of your mind will allow you to make informed decisions when buying a car.
Many people assume that they need to go through a dealership for vehicle financing, but that's not the case—and dealer financing is often not the best option. When you're in the process of finding out what to look for when buying a car, that's the best time to shop around and get pre-approved for a loan with your bank or credit union. Having that pre-approval in place doesn't mean you have to use it, but it helps you figure out where you can get the best purchase price on your financing and possibly the lowest monthly payments.
The dealership has no obligation to get you the lowest interest rate you qualify for according to your credit score, so you can typically get a better deal by taking care of it yourself before you set foot on a car lot. The other significant benefit of getting pre-approved is that it exposes any possible issues with your credit history that may prevent you from getting what you had in mind. That may not sound like a perk, but it's much better to find out in advance than make that discovery when you're an hour or two into car-buying at a dealership. If there is an issue, you may scale back your purchase plans or give yourself some additional time to improve your credit score.
Another step you should cross off your list before you even get to the actual buying-a-car stage is to call your broker at Morison Insurance. You need proof of insurance to drive the vehicle off the lot. There's no "grace period" or temporary period where you can go without the right Ontario car insurance, even to get your new car home.
Whether you need a new auto insurance policy or want to transfer an existing one from your old vehicle to your new one, you'll need to call your broker from the dealership and supply them with specific information to update your proof of insurance. The required information includes the vehicle identification number (VIN), so they can get the paperwork taken care of and ensure you have the full insurance coverage you need to drive your car off the lot. But it doesn't hurt to contact your insurance broker beforehand and tell them that you are researching what to look for when buying a car. They may have some helpful information and can be ready to help keep your policy up to date.
The high-pressure sales environment is what most people dislike most about buying a car, but because there is a big commission on the line, that's likely to stay the same for a while. It's also what motivates people to research in advance what to look for when buying a car, and that's a good thing. The more information you have, the better prepared you will be to dodge clever sales tactics and get precisely what you want at a reasonable price. Don't be afraid to ask many questions to determine that you're getting the best options for your unique lifestyle.
It's also essential to keep calm. Just like a high-stakes game of cards, you want to keep your hand private and not give the salesperson an advantage that they can use to upsell you on anything you don't necessarily need or want. You may be desperate to get a car today, but they don't need to know that, so keep your cards close to your chest. The salesperson will likely ask you questions early on, such as whether you're getting financing through the dealership, but you should focus on one thing at once and not talk about financing until later. Keeping it simple makes it easier to focus on what to look for when buying a car.
The sales process naturally involves bargaining, including the salesperson's efforts to upsell you on additional features or plans such as paint protection plans, tire warranties and more when buying a car. While that may only add a relatively small amount to your monthly payments, it could amount to thousands of dollars over time. The dealership is trying to get you to pay as much as possible, and because of that, you can likely get a better deal elsewhere on add-ons you may want, such as an extended warranty. You do not have to buy an extended warranty through the dealership you get the vehicle from, and you do not have to wait to buy it. After you purchase your new car or truck, you'll have plenty of time to shop for the best price on an extended warranty or other nice-to-have add-ons.
One of the add-ons that dealerships will often try to sell you is gap insurance. Vehicles begin to depreciate as soon as you drive them off the lot, which creates a "gap" between the car's worth and how much you owe for it. Gap insurance is an optional coverage that provides funds to pay off your car loan if your vehicle is damaged or totalled and the loan amount exceeds the vehicle's worth.
Because cars depreciate quickly over the first year after they're sold, it's a good idea to have some insurance protection against that potential for financial loss. However, there may be better solutions than gap insurance for you, and like other types of add-ons, you're not going to get the best advice or price from a dealership that is not prioritizing your interests. For example, you can get the same or better protection as you would from gap insurance but at a lower cost by choosing to add a waiver of depreciation to your current auto insurance policy. At Morison Insurance, we work for you and always focus on your best interests. Speak with your broker about gap insurance and other options, such as a waiver of depreciation, so that they can give you a recommendation based on your unique insurance needs.
Some people feel uncomfortable asking for a test drive, or they're sure they'll love the new car and don't want to be bothered, but it's a crucial step that shouldn't be skipped. It's only possible to know what to look for when buying a car if you take the time to look for the features and amenities you've identified on your list of priorities.
When buying a new car, the test drive is your opportunity to confirm that it's a good fit. Here are a few things to look for when buying a car and taking it out for a test drive:
It's also a good idea to double-check that the vehicle you are test-driving is the one you are considering buying. If you are interested in a basic model, test-driving a version decked out with all the bells and whistles will give you a different experience.
Part of the planning and research of what to look for when buying a car is coming up with a budget of what you can reasonably spend without putting too much financial strain on yourself. But it's easy to enter the dealership with a number in mind and then see it on a windshield and assume that the vehicle is within your budget. It just doesn't work like that when it comes to buying a car—the sticker price displayed on the vehicle can be surprisingly far away from the final cost when you factor in fees, add-ons, interest and insurance. As a general rule of thumb, if the sticker price is near the upper limit of what you want to pay, that car isn't in your budget this time.
If you need tips when buying a new car, the above points are a good starting point to smooth the process and ensure you drive away with the perfect option to suit your lifestyle. Whether you're getting your first car, adding a new one or replacing an old one, you can have the peace of mind that the experienced brokers at Morison Insurance seek the right insurance coverage for your needs. We work for you, not for insurance companies, so we always make your best interests our top priority. We invite you to call our expert team of reliable brokers at 1-800-463-8074 or request a quote online to learn more information.
This content is written by our Morison Insurance team. All information posted is merely for educational and informational purposes. It is not intended as a substitute for professional advice. Should you decide to act upon any information in this article, you do so at your own risk. While the information on this website has been verified to the best of our abilities, we cannot guarantee that there are no mistakes or errors.