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Buying a used car online: Some things to bear in mind

Getting a new car is a significant expense for any Canadian household. The shopping process is also time-consuming and involves research, paperwork, test drives and a considerable amount of bargaining. The internet has helped streamline the process and made it easier, but it’s harder to accurately evaluate what you’re getting when you shop online. Here are a few things to keep in mind when shopping online for a used vehicle.

Inspection checklist

Mileage, damage, paint, tires, engine, suspension, whatever you can think of. Write it down, make a comprehensive inspection checklist and bring it to your mechanic. Do your research online and don’t be afraid to ask advice from a more knowledgeable or experienced friend.

Background check

Buying a car from an individual or from a used car auction requires additional precautions. There are services available online to help you research the past life of the car you want using its VIN. Sellers aren’t technically required to give you the VIN, but it’s common to ask for it when purchasing a used car. If you’re thinking about changing models altogether, make a list of similarities and differences with your current car in case you decide to take a test drive. This will help you get a better sense of what you’re looking for.

Budget

Always have a budget in mind. It will help you narrow down what’s available to you and help you figure out whether or not a car is worth buying online. You should also factor in the resale value of your current car. Selling your car privately might net you more money since a dealership will always offer you the minimum value and rely on the convenience of just swapping your car in order to get you to accept their offer. Your budget might be higher than you think.

Test drive

Always do a test drive. Shopping online is convenient and you may think you know what you want, but it’s better to be safe than sorry. A car is a long-term investment. You’ll spend a lot of time driving your new car, so make sure you’re comfortable doing so. At the end of the day, there’s no substitute for hands-on experience.

Insurance

Call your insurer for an insurance quote on the vehicle you’re considering and factor this into your decision. If you decide to purchase the car, be sure to advise your insurer of the change. There you have it. Online car shopping is more practical and fuel-efficient than going from dealership to dealership, but it’s important not to neglect any steps and to keep tabs on what you want and what you can realistically afford. Hopefully, these tips will help you make a sound decision!

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