You've decided to buy a used car? Here are a few things to know before you make your choice to avoid unpleasant surprises.

Things to think about before buying a used car

Already have a brand or type of vehicle in mind? Good for you! Now you just need to find the dealer or individual who can sell it to you, and the rules will always remain the same.

Find out if the vehicle in question is in good condition and free of any debt.

Even if the vehicle is new, always check with the Register of Personal and Movable Real Rights (Registre des droits personnels et réels mobiliers aka RDPRM) to make sure that it is not under a loan or transferred by the dealer. If this is the case, be careful! You must not buy other people's debts. You risk having the vehicle seized at any time by the creditor or having to pay double. Before you buy, make sure you know what you are buying to avoid any surprises. You can ask the seller to give you the vehicle identification number (VIN), also known as the serial number. This VIN will help you research CARFAX to find out if the vehicle you are interested in is related to a theft or if it has been in an accident. Stolen vehicles are supposed to be registered.

Also, beware if the vehicle has had many owners in a short period of time, it may mean that the vehicle is unreliable and everyone wants to get rid of it at any cost. You can check with the SAAQ to find out, by asking for a history report of the vehicle you are interested in.

Check the exterior

Beware of the flashy effect. Some sellers are good at hiding body defects with new paint or even stickers. Be aware that a vehicle with a popular color, such as white, black or gray, sells for more than a vehicle painted with other colors. You should take a good look at the entire exterior before making your decision.

Check if the vehicle has been in an accident or not

Sometimes the vehicle for sale has been in a serious accident and then repaired. If the repairs were done properly and the price is right for you, there is nothing better. However, insurers may charge you more than you are considering, given the vehicle's history. Resale will also be a more difficult task. You can check the vehicle's insurance and accident claims history with the VIN still at CARFAX.

Check all accessories and ask for proof of maintenance

These details will be at your expense if you do not notice them before the purchase of the vehicle. If these accessories are not in good condition or do not work properly, you will be driving dangerously. You can ask the seller to change or repair them before you buy.

Every vehicle should be serviced regularly. Proof of maintenance will confirm this. This way, you will have the details of the various maintenance and repairs performed on the vehicle and you will be able to make a more informed choice.

The interior

Inside the vehicle, you can start by checking the dashboard. Are there any warning lights on?

The dashboard:

This is a very important point to check especially on a used vehicle. It reflects the wear of the vehicle. The more kilometers the vehicle has covered, the less it will last. Be careful, some sellers can fraudulently move the odometer backwards to sell at the best price. By turning on the engine you can verify this. An older engine often makes more noise and sometimes excessive smoke. However, the best way to verify the accuracy of the odometer is to obtain a vehicle history from the SAAQ.

Even if the vehicle is used, comfort is always a consideration. Inspect the seats carefully because it is inside that you are sitting. Always check that the air conditioning, parking brake, turn signals and other accessories are working properly. Also check the radio and listen to the speakers.

Under the hood and under the vehicle

Always insist on opening the hood and turning on the engine. If the interior is clean, no oil stains or leaks from the engine, jars, gearbox and even on the drums. If a leak is discovered, think about the future repair.

If the vehicle runs on diesel or gasoline, think about its use and consumption. If you choose an electric or a hybrid, think about its depreciation. Check the tire grooves if they are still visible. If everything is to your liking, turn on the engine and take a test drive with the salesperson to check the stability of the vehicle. You may want to listen for any unusual noises that may come from the vehicle while it is running. Mechanical details can sometimes not be seen but immediately heard. It also helps you test the reliability and drivability of the vehicle.

You can ask the seller to let you do a mechanical inspection at the garage of your choice and he should not refuse you if he has confidence in the vehicle for sale. This is a common practice that you should put into practice.

Warranty and price

If you buy from a dealer, a mechanical warranty is always offered. If you are buying from an individual, you have a warranty against hidden defects, as required by the Consumer Protection Act. Even if you are buying from a private individual, it may be possible to finance the vehicle and add mechanical protection.

You've been convinced by the vehicle, think about your budget if it allows it. That your purchase was a great opportunity to take.

Now you know what to do before buying a used vehicle, you are in a position to make a better choice. If you feel uncomfortable, first take a ride with a mechanical expert with your future vehicle. Don't be fooled by appearances.

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Laura Geller

Liked my experience. What I liked the most was Brigitte's availability even after the contracts were signed and the sale concluded. It came back to me quickly and the final details were settled within the agreed deadlines.