Q1: Well, we have the sunshine outside so many of us will also want some wheels. Any ideas on how to save money on buying cars?
Buying a three or four year old car makes the most sense financially because it has lost 50% of its value and still has 70% of its life left and even your insurance costs are lower. These days with improved engineering and tighter quality control the average life span of an automobile is more than ten years.
George Iny, President of the Automobile Protection Association, says “Don’t be a price junkie. In buying homes the saying is “Location, location, location”, but for cars it is condition, condition, condition.” He explained that, “you want to pay top dollar for a car in good condition, because the cost of repairs for an average or poorly maintained vehicle will usually be much higher than the price difference.”
If one vehicle is $9,500 and a similar make and model is $10,500, look seriously at the second one. And remember to budget about $1,000 for repairs you may have within the first 3 to 6 months for regular upkeep like the timing belt change at 100,000 km., tires and brakes
Q2: Where do you find a car?
There are some benefits to buying privately or and others through a dealer. Privately, the price is usually less and on top of that, you only pay one tax. You can also assess the condition of the car more accurately without it having been “prettied up”. Through the dealer, you have more consumer legislation covering you but you may not be able to find out who owned the car before and how well they took care of it.
Join the APA Automobile Protection Association. For buying new cars, they have a list of selected dealers who follow a code of ethics and have good prices. For buying a used car, they can recommend honest used car dealers or even offer a car finder to help you find a car. Members can also call them to determine the cost of any new or used vehicle.
To check for approximate prices on cars, buy the Auto Hebdo Guide d’Evaluation des Automobiles or look online at www.hebdo.net or www.autotrader.ca. This gives you an approximate book value, but many factors, including the mechanical condition of the car, the mileage and the appearance, will affect this.
Remember that prices of cars will go up in the Spring (April to July) perhaps by $1,000-$1,500, because the demand is greatest now. However, selection is always greatest now too. It is best to buy used cars in March and October. If you are buying a convertible, prices will be highest now too, and will go way down in the Autumn. Four wheel drive prices will go up in the Fall.
Q3: How do you know if it’s a good car?
Mr. Iny made it quite imperative that “The MOST important thing to do is to get the car properly inspected.” This should be an independent inspection. The APA has a fabulous roadside inspector named Andrew Bleakley who will take his inspection vehicle right to the automobile that needs to be checked out.
He will do a thorough inspection, including an ultrasound of the body , mechanical inspection and a road test. He can tell you if the car has been accidented or is two vehicles welded together, and he even knows how to check to see if the odometer has been tampered with and set back.
Also, CAA Quebec has 2 inspection garages.
Q4: What are some of the steps to take when going to look at a car?
Here is an idea of the process to go through:
- Keep track of the details for each car, including phone number, where you saw the ad, price listed, etc.
- Do not negotiate on the phone about price. Wait until after you see it and have had it inspected, so that you know what repairs it might need, in order use this to negotiate with. Expect dealers to take $500 or more off easily.
- When you are looking for a car, limit yourself to only about 2 or 3 three models, so it will allow you to become more expert on them and be able to make a good comparison study as you check each one. You will also become familiar with the price range and know when you’ve found the right one.
- If it is a private individual, ask how long they’ve owned the car. A real quick turnaround might be a negative indication. Either it is a lemon, they might be a curbside dealer, or maybe it’s even stolen.
- What is the mileage? It should be about 20,000 km. per year. Much less can be suspicious. And you must consider a rolled back odometer. Don’t let high mileage scare you off, though, because if it was all highway driving or used by a busy company rep whose company took proper care of it, it still might be a good buy. Andrew can reliably compare an odometer to the condition of a car.
- Instead of putting them on the defensive and asking about accidents, ask if it has the original paint and then what body repairs have been done in the past. (It`s hard to get a dealer to answer this question honestly)
- When can you see it? Daylight is important so that you can assess its physical condition.
- In a private sale, ask why they want to sell it. There is no right answer, but you can get a feeling if they might be hedging around some uncomfortable information.
- On the phone, ask them for a cosmetic description. If they say there is a little dent on one side and you find the whole door is pushed in, then you may wonder what else they are minimizing.
- At the site, check the house and garden to see how neat and tidy they are in general. If they take care of those things, it is most likely they also took good care of their car. Are there any oil spots in the driveway? Look in the trunk of the car; if it has cans of brake fluid or oil there may be problems
- Is the name the same on the registration and the insurance form, and is this the same individual that you are dealing with?
- If there is a transfer paper on the back window, an X-plate, a dealer plate, or more than one car for sale on the driveway, you are probably not looking at a private sale.
- Has it been serviced lately? Ask to see a full service record, not just oil changes. Note the mileage at each inspection. Follow the numbers along and make sure they increase at a consistent rate and add up to what you see on the odometer.
- How much should you offer?- at least $500 off the asking price. Before the end of the negotiations, ask if they have some snow tires to throw in or other useful extras that belong to that car (like a roof rack).
Q5: What if you wanted to spiff up your car with a spoiler, where could you go?
Kit Motion, around since 1989, has been providing high quality car spoilers throughout Canada.
With more than 300 different models, they can quickly meet spoiler needs for North American or foreign cars – and also those for used vehicles. The company has a team of professionals including accredited painters and trained technicians who ensure the quality of the spoilers.
Most of the spoilers are made of ABS, the same material used in original OEM products. Most models come with easy-to-use hardware kits making installation easy.With their excellent service and high quality products, they have been the leader in car spoilers for over 21 years.
Kit Motion, 8180 Montview St, Mount Royal at Royalmount Phone: 514-736-0800 www.kitmotion.ca
Automobile Protection Association (APA), Phone: APA-5555. www.apa.ca. By joining the APA ($65), not only do you get access to their vast knowledge of everything that’s happening with new or old cars, you get listings of all their recommended garages and access to their expert car inspector (see below for his details). For buying new cars, they have a list of selected dealers who follow a code of ethics and have good prices.
The APA also has group auto and home insurance. Before you buy a car, refer to their Lemon-Aid magazine, which comes free to members, and then call them to find out the true cost of any new (4 quotes per year) or used vehicle ). Their web site has warranty info – secret ones and extensions, tire recommendations and ratings of local garages. www.apa.ca.
Andrew Bleakley, curbside car inspector, Phone: 514-890-5000. The inspection price for APA members is $80 and for non-members it is $90 for a thorough curbside inspection in the greater Montreal area. Take advantage of one of the best deals in town.
CAA, Phone: 514-861-7111. Besides the most popular reason for joining the CAA – their emergency road service – they have other deals. Car Inspection centers which charge $175-192 (non-members), or $131-145 (members) for a 160-point check-up, including a road test, are located at 2380 Notre-Dame o. (514-937-5341) or 550 boul. des Sources (514-636-1309), and are open by appointment Mon-Fri 8-5.
For general car repairs, they have a list of qualified service stations. The CAA also offers free trip planning, free travellers’ cheques and more. Other offices: Brossard, 3 Place du Commerce; Pointe Claire, 1000 boul. St-Jean ; Laval, 3131 boul. St-Martin o; St-Leonard, 7360 boul. Langelier. www.caaquebec.com