A man in a blue jacket standing in front of a mountain.

Jan 24, 2019

5 min. read

Many people shy away from buying used cars because they’re worried about being saddled with a lemon. But it’s possible to find a great used vehicle. Just remember to follow these simple rules.

Do a background check

Use the car’s vehicle identification number, or VIN, to review its history on Carfax (all CAA Members qualify for a discount) and learn whether it has been involved in a major accident. If so, steer clear.

Look for a stamp of approval

If you want a car that’s guaranteed to last, opt for a certified pre-owned vehicle. You’ll pay more, but these cars go through a manufacturer-mandated inspection process and often come with a warranty.

Be wary of former rentals

The price might be great, but avoid rental cars without service records; there’s no telling what kind of abuse they’ve been through. Also, bypass discontinued nameplates, like Pontiac and Saturn, that are no longer supported by manufacturers.

Phone a friend

If you’d like some impartial (and free) advice, call CAA’s Consumer and Technical Services at 1‑866‑464‑6448 or email cats@caasco.ca. Team members can tell you what fair market value is for any given model and flag potential problems.

Get a checkup

Before buying, bring the car to one of CAA’s Approved Automotive Repair Services (AARS) facilities, where technicians will put the vehicle through a 139-point inspection. Click here for locations and details.

Need more tips?

Here are some other shopping secrets for buying used, as well as suggestions for great features to look for in your next vehicle.

Image credit: istock.com/Sakkawokkie

Share this article: