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How to buy a used car in Ontario
Learn the steps you should take to buy a used car in Ontario and get information on province-specific requirements.
Buying a used car in Ontario is a relatively simple undertaking if you know what steps to take. Find out more about the process you should follow to buy a used car in Ontario, including province-specific information and tips. You can also use our checklists to make sure you cover all your bases and get a car that suits your budget and lifestyle.
- Before the sale (how much to spend, where to buy and financing)
- During the sale (negotiating, test driving and inspection)
- After the sale (used car tax, registration and insurance)
Steps to follow before buying a used car in Ontario
1. Figure out how much you can spend
Do some calculations to figure out how much you can afford to spend before you start shopping. Aside from the purchase price of your vehicle, you should think about additional car expenses such as loan interest, sales tax, car insurance, registration, maintenance and gas costs. You should aim to spend less than 10% to 15% of your total income on buying a car in Ontario privately or at a dealership.
Extra costs of buying a car as is in Ontario
You may want to add all of these expenses together to get the total cost of car ownership.
|Expense||Typical cost in Ontario|
|Purchase price||$1,000 to $40,000|
|Interest rates||Annual APR between 5% and 30%|
|Sales tax||13% on the wholesale value of the car or the purchase price (whichever is higher)|
|Car insurance||$700 to $2,000 per year (average of $1,505 in Ontario)|
|Scheduled maintenance||$500 to $700 per year|
|Emergency repairs||$50 to $6,000|
|Gas||$50 to $200 per month|
|Registration||Between $150 and $215 (depending on where you live in Ontario)|
|Actual costs will vary based on your driving record and what type of car you have|
2. Decide where to buy your car
You’ll be able to buy a used car in Ontario from a dealership, private seller or online broker. There are pros and cons to each type of seller.
- Dealer. You’ll usually pay more to shop with a dealer, but you’ll be able to take multiple cars for test drives and easily compare a large inventory.
- Private seller. You could save money when buying a used car in Ontario privately, but there’s also an additional layer of risk since you could end up with a lemon.
- Broker. You can use a broker to compare prices and access a large inventory of cars across Ontario, but you may run into fraudulent lenders on this type of platform.
3. Decide how to pay for your used car in Ontario
The cheapest option for buying a used car in Ontario privately or at a dealership is to pay for it outright with your own savings. This means you won’t be saddled with loan payments for a set number of years. You may want to go the financing route if you don’t have enough savings or you want to use a car loan in Ontario to build your credit.
Compare used car loans in Ontario
Steps to follow when buying a used car in Ontario
4. Compare cars and negotiate prices with sellers
Figure out what type of car you want and compare cars to find the best deal. Feel free to haggle on prices if you want a better deal as most sellers will mark used cars up and expect to negotiate. You can also do some research and ask your seller to price match if you find a car in the same condition with similar mileage at a lower price tag.
5. Test drive and inspect your used car
Take the used car for a test drive and do a thorough visual inspection to make sure it’s in good working condition. You can consult the checklist below to get an idea of what types of damage you should be looking for. You may also want to schedule an inspection with a licensed mechanic and check the vehicle identification number (VIN) before buying a used car in Ontario privately or at a dealership.
Used car checklist: What to look for when inspecting a used car in Ontario
Consult this checklist to get an idea of what you may want to inspect when buying a car as is in Ontario.
- Outside of the car. Look for cosmetic damage (dents, dings and scratches) and inspect the undercarriage for leaks or rust.
- Inside the car. Make sure the fabric and plastic inside of the car looks good and that electrical systems and heating/cooling systems work.
- Tires. Make sure the tires have tread and see if there’s an extra set of winter tires.
- Engine, brakes and steering. Make sure the engine sounds good and check that the car brakes and turns easily.
- Miscellaneous parts. Confirm that miscellaneous parts are in good working order including wipers, gauges, speedometer, odometer and radio.
Steps to follow after buying a used car in Ontario
6. Pay for your car
You can use your savings or a car loan for buying a car as is in Ontario. If you have enough saved up, you can pay in cash or by transferring funds to your seller. You can also apply for financing from a bank or private lender to get enough money for your used car. You’ll then repay your loan with regular monthly payments over a set period of time.
7. Get your car registered
Registration in Ontario costs between $150 and $215 with plates included. You’ll need to register your car within 6 days of the sale at a ServiceOntario centre.
- Government-issued ID. Show your licence or registrant identification number (RIN)
- Proof of purchase. Present a receipt from the seller, a bill of sale or some other document that shows you own the vehicle.
- Vehicle permit. Provide the original vehicle permit from the seller with a completed transfer portion
- Proof of insurance. Submit proof of insurance from an insurance provider licensed in Ontario.
- Inspection report. Show proof that you’ve had the car inspected and have a Safety Standards Certificate (SSC) issued by the mechanic.
- Used vehicle information package. Have a copy of your used vehicle information package on hand in case it’s required.
What is a used vehicle information package?
A used vehicle information package is a mandatory package of information that the seller has to give to you when you buy a used car in Ontario. It includes the following:
- Description of the vehicle, including the VIN, plate number, year, make, model, colour, cylinders and other identifying information.
- Ontario vehicle registration history
- Odometer information
- Outstanding debts (link to liens) on the vehicle
- Wholesale and retail values for the vehicle’s model and year, if available
- Retail sales tax requirements
- Bill of sale
- Tips on vehicle safety standards inspections
8. Organize insurance
The average cost of car insurance in Ontario is $1,505, but you could pay anywhere between $700 and $2,000 per year to insure your car. You’ll need the following information to get insurance:
- Government-issued ID. Show your licence or other government-issued ID.
- Proof of ownership. Present proof of ownership such as a lease or bill of sale, and provide information about the make and model of your car.
- Driving record. Give consent for your insurer to pull your driving record.
Where can I buy car insurance in Ontario?
You can buy car insurance from a wide selection of private companies in Ontario. These include Canada-wide insurers such as Allstate, The Co-operators, Sonnet, Economical, RSA, Intact, CAA, Aviva, The Dominion and several of Canada’s big banks.
How to choose a used car that fits your needs
Look for a car with the following features to make sure you get a vehicle that fits your needs:
- Suitable make and model. Buy a car that makes sense for your budget and lifestyle, and will suit your individual style or family needs.
- Low mileage. Look for the lowest mileage possible when buying a car as is in Ontario to make sure you don’t get stuck with expensive repairs.
- Vehicle inspection. Use an inspection checklist, take the car to a mechanic and check the VIN to make sure everything is in good condition.
- Priced to sell. Check sites like Kelley Blue Book and Canadian Black Book to figure out how much your car should cost and don’t pay more than that.
- Eligible for financing. Figure out how you can pay for the car and make sure it’s eligible for financing if you don’t have money saved up.
How to buy a used car in Ontario if you live out of province
You’ll need to follow a couple of extra steps if you want to import a car from Ontario into another province.
- Get an out-of-province inspection. Most provinces require you to get an out-of-province inspection before you bring a car in from Ontario.
- Fix identified issues. You’ll need to fix any issues that are flagged in your inspection before you can register your used car.
- Provide paperwork. You’ll be required to provide proof of ID and ownership (such as a bill of sale) to register your vehicle in your own province.
- Pay taxes. You’ll have to cover the taxes required by your province to import a vehicle from Ontario (usually between 5% and 15%, depending on the province).
Learn more about the steps you need to take to get the best deal on a used car in Ontario. Find out important details such as where to shop, what to look for in an inspection and how to secure financing. You can also check out our general guide on tips for buying a used car in Canada if you want more information on how to secure the right vehicle for you.
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