Car Deal Canada

Best Used Car Dealerships in Thunder Bay

Best Used Car Dealerships in Thunder Bay

Buying a used car can be an exciting yet daunting process. With so many options to consider, it’s crucial to find reliable dealerships and negotiate the best deal. This comprehensive guide provides insider tips to help you find quality pre-owned vehicles in Thunder Bay.

We’ll discuss factors to consider when shopping for used cars, highlight top-rated dealers in the area, and provide strategies to get the best pricing. You’ll also learn about inspecting vehicles, financing, alternatives to dealers, and total ownership costs. With the right preparation, you can find the perfect used car in Thunder Bay.

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Considerations When Buying Used Cars in Thunder Bay

When shopping for a used car in Thunder Bay, there are several key factors to take into consideration:


Reputation and Reviews

Research dealership reviews on sites like Google, Facebook, and Yelp. Look for consistent positive feedback on customer service, pricing, and vehicle quality. Be wary of dealers with many negative reviews.


Vehicle History Reports

Purchase a vehicle history report like Carfax to uncover any accidents, repairs, or other issues. A clean history report can give you peace of mind.


Warranties and Return Policies

Many dealers offer short-term warranties on their used cars. Inquire about extended warranty options for additional coverage. Also ask about return policies in case issues arise shortly after purchase.


Financing Options

Get pre-approved for financing from your bank or credit union. Compare their rates and terms to any dealer financing offers. Avoid high-interest loans that dramatically increase the total cost.


Certified Pre-Owned vs. Non-Certified

Certified pre-owned (CPO) vehicles undergo rigorous inspections and come with extended manufacturer warranties. Non-certified cars typically cost less but have more uncertainties.


Assessing Condition and Mileage

Carefully inspect each vehicle and take it for a test drive. Check for signs of damage, wear, rust, and mechanical issues. Also consider the mileage; higher mileage cars may require more maintenance.


Top-Rated Used Car Dealers in Thunder Bay

When shopping for a used car in Thunder Bay, there are several reputable dealerships known for their selection, prices, and customer service.


Thunder Bay Used Car Superstore

Thunder Bay Used Car Superstore is one of the most popular options for used car buyers in the area. This dealership has a large selection of vehicles across various makes and models. They advertise a “Lifetime Warranty” on many of their pre-owned vehicles to give buyers peace of mind.

Reviews for Thunder Bay Used Car Superstore are generally positive. Many customers mention the helpful sales staff and range of financing options. While pricing is not always the lowest, their vehicles tend to be higher quality.


Driven Cars Canada

Driven Cars Canada specializes in selling higher-end pre-owned vehicles. Their inventory includes luxury brands like BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Lexus and Audi. Vehicles undergo thorough inspections and reconditioning before being offered for sale.

Reviews for Driven Cars Canada are mixed. Some customers have complained about pushy sales tactics and overpriced vehicles. However, their vehicles tend to be lower mileage and in good mechanical condition.



SelectiCar is a great option for shoppers looking for an affordable and reliable used car or SUV. They have a wide selection of vehicles from brands like Toyota, Honda, Ford and Chevrolet. Flexible financing options are available for buyers with all credit types.

SelectiCar is highly rated on Google and Yelp. Previous customers praise their transparent pricing, low-pressure sales approach and helpful finance department. Overall, SelectiCar is a solid choice for price-conscious used car shoppers.


Getting the Best Deal on a Used Car in Thunder Bay

Buying a used car involves more than just finding the right vehicle – you also need to negotiate the best possible price. Here are some tips for getting a great deal on your next used car purchase in Thunder Bay:


Shop end of model year sales. Dealerships are eager to move the previous year’s inventory off their lots to make room for new models. You can often score huge discounts at the end of a model year. September and October are great months to get deals on the outgoing year’s cars.

Consider private sellers to avoid dealer fees. Buying from a private party means no dealer doc fees, which can add hundreds to the price. Private sellers may also be more flexible on price since they don’t have as much overhead. Use caution and thoroughly inspect the vehicle first.

Negotiate the out-the-door price. Don’t just focus on the listed price of the car. Make sure to factor in taxes, registration fees, and any dealer add-ons. Negotiate the bottom line price so there are no surprises.

Get quotes from multiple lenders for financing. Even if you plan to finance through the dealership, get pre-approved by banks or credit unions. Their loan rates can give you leverage to negotiate a lower financing rate with the dealer.


Choosing the Right Used Car for Your Needs

When shopping for a used car in Thunder Bay, it’s important to choose the right vehicle for your specific needs and lifestyle. Here are some key factors to consider:


Assess Intended Use

Think about how you will primarily use the vehicle. Will it be a daily commute car? An off-roading and adventure vehicle? For hauling cargo or towing? Defining the main purpose will help narrow down the best options.


Calculate Ownership Costs

Look beyond just the purchase price. Estimate ongoing ownership costs like insurance, gas mileage, maintenance and repairs. Fuel efficient vehicles tend to cost less to own long-term.


Prioritize Must-Have Features and Trim Levels

Make a list of features that are necessities vs. nice-to-haves. This may include cargo space, towing capacity, technology packages, and more. Choose a trim level that has the features you need.


Test Drive Top Contenders Thoroughly

Take any promising used cars on lengthy test drives. Evaluate ride comfort, handling, acceleration, visibility, cargo space and how well it aligns with your intended use. Focus on test drives to find the best fit.


Inspecting and Test Driving

When shopping for a used car, it’s absolutely essential that you thoroughly inspect the vehicle and take it for an extensive test drive. This will help you identify any issues or problems so you can negotiate accordingly or walk away from a lemon. Here are some tips on what to look for during inspection and key things to assess on a test drive:


Inspecting the Vehicle


  • Check for body damage – Look for inconsistencies in paint, large gaps, misaligned panels, ripples, and signs of repair.
  • Inspect the undercarriage – Look for rust, damage, oil leaks.
  • Open and close all doors, hood, trunk – Make sure they operate smoothly.
  • Check all lights, signals, wipers – Confirm they are in working order.
  • Assess the tires – Should have adequate tread depth with no damage or uneven wear.
  • Look at all fluid levels – Oil, coolant, brake fluid, transmission fluid.
  • Review maintenance records if available.
  • Have a mechanic do a pre-purchase inspection.


Test Driving the Vehicle


  • Assess acceleration – Does the car accelerate smoothly and strongly?
  • Listen for unusual engine noises.
  • Test brake smoothness and stopping distance.
  • Check steering for vibration, looseness, pulling.
  • Switch between gears – Does transmission shift smoothly?
  • Drive at highway speeds – Any vibrations or noises?
  • Turn off radio and open windows – Listen for any odd sounds.
  • Drive on bumpy roads – Check suspension.
  • Test features like AC, heat, radio, Bluetooth.


Taking the time to thoroughly inspect and test drive used vehicles will help you avoid purchasing a problematic car. Pay close attention during your inspection and assessment to identify any issues early on.


Financing Considerations

Financing is a major factor when purchasing a used vehicle. Most buyers will need an auto loan to afford their next used car. It’s important to understand all the key aspects of financing to get the best rates and terms.

Getting preapproved for an auto loan before visiting dealerships can give you leverage in negotiations. With a preapproval letter from your bank or credit union, the dealer knows you already have financing secured. This prevents them from marking up the interest rate. Shop around with multiple lenders to find the best preapproved rate.

The interest rate on your loan makes a big impact. Even a couple percentage points can add hundreds to your total repayment amount. Those with excellent credit scores in the 700s typically qualify for the lowest rates. Consider taking steps to boost your credit before applying.

Don’t just look at the monthly payment when reviewing loan terms. The length of the loan also matters. Shorter 3-4 year loans have higher payments but cost less overall in interest. Long 6-7 year loans are easier to manage monthly but add substantially to the total cost through interest.

The down payment is key to getting approved and reducing interest costs. Aim for 20% down if possible. Putting down less than 10% often leads to higher rates or denial. Having a sizable down payment shows the lender you are financially committed to the vehicle.


Buying from a Private Seller

Purchasing a used car from a private seller rather than a dealership has some advantages and disadvantages to consider:


Pros of Buying from a Private Seller

Some benefits of buying privately include:


  • Lower prices – Private sellers are often more flexible on pricing and you can sometimes get a better deal.
  • No dealer fees – You avoid extra charges for documentation, cleaning, financing, etc.
  • More negotiation – Private sellers are typically more open to negotiating on price.
  • Learn car history – You can ask the seller directly about the vehicle’s history and condition.


Cons of Buying from a Private Seller

Some drawbacks to buying privately are:


  • No financing support – Dealers offer in-house financing while private sales are cash-only.
  • No warranties or guarantees – Private sales are generally as-is without extended warranties.
  • Less recourse – You have less options if the car has undisclosed issues after purchase.
  • More research required – You’ll need to thoroughly vet the car and seller on your own.


Tips for a Smooth Private Sale Transaction

To ensure a good experience when buying from a private seller, some tips include:


  • Have a mechanic inspect before purchase.
  • Test drive extensively and have a 3rd party verify any claims.
  • Ask for service records and verify vehicle history.
  • Reference Blue Book values when negotiating price.
  • Use escrow services when making payment.
  • Complete bill of sale and transfer ownership promptly.


Paying and Transferring Ownership

When buying privately:


  • Make payment after a test drive using secure funds like a bank check.
  • Have the seller sign over the vehicle title upon payment.
  • Complete registration and apply for insurance in your name.
  • Notify the DMV of the sale within a few days to update records.


Taking these steps helps ensure you gain legal ownership and can operate the vehicle properly.


Questions to Ask the Used Car Dealer

When purchasing a used vehicle from a dealership, it’s important to ask the right questions to get all the details about the car’s history and condition. Here are some key questions to ask the used car salesperson:


Service and repair records – Ask to see maintenance records and repair invoices for the vehicle. This will give you insight into how well it was cared for and any issues it previously had.

Previous owners – Inquire how many previous owners the car had. Fewer owners generally means less wear and tear. Ask why the previous owner sold it.

Reason for selling – Understand why the car is being sold by the dealer. Is it a trade-in, auction purchase, or acquired from an individual seller? This can provide clues about the car’s history.

Odometer verification – Request documentation verifying the current odometer reading. Make sure the mileage hasn’t been rolled back or tampered with.


Getting answers to these questions will help you make an informed decision and potentially negotiate a better price. A reputable dealer should be transparent about a vehicle’s background.


Avoiding Scams and Fraud

When shopping for used cars, it’s important to be vigilant against potential scams and fraud. Some unscrupulous sellers may try to hide issues with a vehicle in order to make a quick sale. Here are some of the most common scams to watch out for:


Identifying Odometer Rollbacks

One tactic dishonest sellers use is rolling back the odometer to show lower mileage. Warning signs include:


  • Mileage that is inconsistently low for the vehicle’s age
  • Gauges, pedals, or seats that appear more worn than expected
  • Service records or maintenance history that don’t match the odometer reading
  • Issues with the vehicle that typically occur at higher mileages


Run a vehicle history report to check for odometer discrepancies and be wary if the mileage seems too good to be true.


Spotting Flood Damage

Flooded vehicles can have serious mechanical and electrical issues. Look for these signs of water damage:


  • Musty odors in the cabin
  • Upholstery stains or water marks
  • Rust around screws, hinges, or on the underside
  • Moisture in the headlights or taillights
  • Problems with electronics malfunctioning


Ask if the vehicle has ever been declared a total loss or had flood damage. Be suspicious if the carpets appear new compared to the rest of the interior.


Watch for Stolen Vehicles

While rare, it’s possible to unknowingly purchase a stolen vehicle. Protect yourself by:


  • Checking the VIN number on multiple parts of the car
  • Comparing the VIN on the dash to the title/registration
  • Looking for signs of tampering like mismatched VIN stickers
  • Running a vehicle history report to check for theft records


Avoid sales that seem shady or too good to be true. Only purchase from reputable dealers to reduce the risk of buying a stolen vehicle.


Alternatives to Dealerships

While most people shop at used car dealerships when looking for pre-owned vehicles, there are some alternatives worth considering:


Online Classifieds

Websites like Kijiji and Craigslist allow private sellers to list their vehicles for sale. This opens up more options beyond just what dealerships have in stock. Kijiji in particular is popular in Thunder Bay, with hundreds of used cars and trucks listed at any given time. The prices tend to be lower than at dealers since there are no overhead costs. However, there is more risk buying privately and you likely won’t get a warranty.



Attending a live auto auction or bidding online through sites like allows you to potentially get vehicles well below market value. You can find government, fleet, rental, and repossessed vehicles. However, you usually can’t test drive or inspect the vehicles thoroughly before bidding. There is no guarantee of their condition or history.


Rental Car Companies

Major rental car companies like Enterprise and Hertz sell off their fleet vehicles once they reach a certain mileage. These cars are well-maintained but will have higher mileage. The rental history should be documented. You can sometimes find good deals on lightly used models. Just be aware that rentals tend to experience more wear and tear from frequent drivers.


The Cost of Owning a Used Car

When budgeting to buy a used car, it’s important to look beyond just the purchase price. Owning and operating a vehicle also involves ongoing costs that should be factored in.

One major cost is auto insurance. Rates can vary dramatically based on the driver’s age, driving record, vehicle type, and other factors. Getting quotes from multiple providers is wise to find the best deal. On average, Thunder Bay drivers pay $1,200 to $2,500 per year for auto insurance.

Fuel is another big expense. With gas prices fluctuating, it pays to choose a fuel efficient used car. Smaller engines like 4-cylinders offer better gas mileage than 6 or 8-cylinders. Hybrids are another option to save on fuel.

Maintenance and repairs are needed to keep any used vehicle running safely and reliably. Budget around $500 per year for routine maintenance like oil changes, tire rotations, fluid flushes, etc. Repairs for worn components like brakes, batteries, hoses, belts etc add more costs over time.

All vehicles depreciate and lose value as they age. Expect a used car to depreciate around 15% per year. Luxury and performance models may depreciate faster. Choosing an in-demand model can help minimize depreciation costs.

By budgeting for all these ownership costs, buyers can make an informed decision when shopping for a used vehicle in Thunder Bay.


Warranties and Extended Protection

When buying a used car, it’s important to understand the differences between warranties and extended service contracts. This can help you make an informed decision to get the right protection for your vehicle purchase.

A warranty is a guarantee provided by the manufacturer to fix defects and problems that occur during the warranty period, which is typically 3 years or 60,000km for most used cars. Warranties are included in the purchase price of the vehicle.

An extended service contract, sometimes called an extended warranty, provides additional coverage beyond the original manufacturer’s warranty. These are optional add-ons sold by the dealer for an additional cost. Extended service contracts can cover certain repairs and components for a longer time period such as 5 years or 100,000km.

Key differences between warranties and extended service contracts:


  • Warranties are included, while extended service contracts cost extra.
  • Warranties cover defects, while contracts cover repairs and maintenance.
  • Warranties are backed by the manufacturer, while contracts are backed by the dealer or third-party provider.


Most extended service contracts allow you to cancel at any time and receive a prorated refund. Make sure to review the cancellation terms before purchasing. Having a solid understanding of your coverage options can provide peace of mind that your used car investment is protected.



In summary, the key factors to keep in mind when shopping for a used car in Thunder Bay are the dealer’s reputation, getting a vehicle history report, inspecting the car thoroughly, negotiating the best price, and understanding all the costs of ownership. The top used car dealerships recommended in Thunder Bay based on reviews and ratings are Thunder Bay Used Car Superstore, Driven Cars Canada, and SelectiCar. These dealers tend to have large inventories, detailed inspections, warranties, and strong reputations.

When visiting a used car dealer, come prepared with financing pre-approval, know your budget, get quotes from multiple dealers, take test drives, and negotiate the out-the-door price. Also consider alternatives like buying from a private seller to get a better deal. With proper diligence and patience, you can find a high-quality and reliable used car in Thunder Bay.

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Questions About The Best Used Car Dealerships in Thunder Bay

The most popular and top-rated used car dealerships in Thunder Bay based on customer reviews include Thunder Bay Used Car Superstore, SelectiCar, Need A Car Thunder Bay, True Value Auto Sales, Gore Motors Honda, Driven Cars Canada, and Downtown Volkswagen. These dealerships have a wide selection of quality used vehicles at competitive prices along with excellent customer service.

You can find a very diverse range of used car makes and models at Thunder Bay dealerships, including sedans, hatchbacks, coupes, sports cars, pickup trucks, SUVs, crossovers, vans and more. Popular brands available include Honda, Toyota, Chevrolet, Ford, Dodge, GMC, Volkswagen, Hyundai, Nissan, Subaru, Audi, BMW, Mercedes-Benz and many others. There is a used vehicle to suit virtually any budget and need.

Many of the top used car dealers in Thunder Bay offer excellent warranties to provide customers with peace of mind on their purchase. For example, Thunder Bay Used Car Superstore provides a lifetime warranty on the engine, transmission and differential on qualifying vehicles. Others offer more limited powertrain warranties. It’s a good idea to ask about the warranty coverage before purchasing a used vehicle.

Most Thunder Bay used car dealerships can arrange competitive financing from third-party lenders even if you have bad credit or no credit history. This makes it possible for more buyers to get approved and drive home with the vehicle they want. Many dealers also have their own in-house financing plans with reasonable interest rates and flexible terms to choose from.

Yes, here are some top tips:


– Shop end of model year clearance sales


– Consider ex-lease or rental vehicles


– Look for online specials and coupons


– Ask about any current promotions or discounts


– Bundle your purchase with a trade-in


– Get pre-approved financing before negotiating


– Research prices online using tools like AutoTrader


– Bring someone along who knows cars


– Take your time and don’t feel pressured

Typical fees include:


– Taxes – 13% HST


– Licensing and registration costs


– Dealer documentation fees (can be negotiable)


– Safety certification fee if applicable


There may also be optional fees for things like warranty, rust protection, theft protection etc. Ask the dealer for a full breakdown of fees in writing beforehand so there are no surprises.

Yes, Canadian dealerships have access to detailed vehicle history reports from CarProof and Carfax. These reports outline the previous owners, accident history, liens or other problems, odometer verification and maintenance records. Insist on seeing the CarProof before purchasing any used vehicle and beware if it is not available.

Under the Ontario Motor Vehicle Industry Act, vehicles that meet the lemon criteria must be repaired or replaced at no cost to the consumer. To qualify as a lemon in Thunder Bay, new vehicles must have:


  1. A major defect that was not disclosed
  2. Multiple repair attempts in the warranty period
  3. Been out of service for 30+ days total


For used vehicles, implied warranties also provide some protection against undisclosed problems.

Dealerships are typically the safer, lower-risk option because the cars are inspected and certified, you get some type of warranty, dealer financing is available and you have recourse if something goes wrong. However private sales can be cheaper and are fine if you take precautions like getting an independent inspection and meeting at a service centre for the ownership transfer.

Some of most reliable used vehicles widely available at Thunder Bay dealers include:


– Toyota Corolla, Camry, RAV4


– Honda Civic, CR-V


– Subaru Outback, Forester


– Mazda3


– Hyundai Elantra, Tucson


– Nissan Rogue


– Ford Escape, Fusion


Focus on late model used vehicles that are one or two owners, lower kms, have complete service history and no accidents.

Typical additional fees when transferring registration into your name include:


– Retail Sales Tax (RST)


– License plate sticker fee


– Used Vehicle Information Package (UVIP)


– Drive Clean test fee if required


– Tire tax disposal fee


So allow an extra few hundred dollars at least on top of your vehicle purchase price for these fees.

There can be advantages due to lower upfront costs, reduced depreciation rates, less exposure to salt and winter conditions in Southern Ontario, and a good selection of vehicles owned locally. Just be sure to have any vehicle inspected thoroughly, research market values and obtain a detailed vehicle history report for peace of mind.

Top rated vehicle inspection shops in Thunder Bay include:


– Red Rock Inspection Services

– OK Tire & Auto Service

– Canadian Tire Automotive Service

– Speedy Auto Service

– U-Haul Moving & Storage of Thunder Bay


An independent prepurchase inspection is highly recommended before buying any used vehicle. Expect to pay $100-$150 for a comprehensive inspection.

Some of the best areas to find Thunder Bay residents selling their used cars include:


– Simpson Street/Algoma Street

– Red River Road/Water Street

– James Street/Syndicate Avenue

– Arthur Street/Cumberland Street

– John Street Road/Highway 11-17

– Walsh Street/Brown Street


Search sites like Kijiji and Craigslist for private sellers, as well as Autotrader and dealership websites.

Essential documents that the used car dealer should provide upon purchase include:


– Bill of sale

– Vehicle ownership (transferred into your name)

– Safety standards certificate

– CarProof vehicle history report

– Completed UVIP (Used Vehicle Info Package)

– Warranty paperwork if applicable

– Financing agreement if financed


Review everything carefully before signing and paying.

Standard license plates are issued on the spot when registering a used vehicle in Thunder Bay, so you can drive your newly purchased car right away legally. Personalized plates need to be manufactured and can take 3-4 weeks. To save time, you can transfer existing plates from your previous vehicle for $20 (plus applicable taxes).

The most opportune times to find good deals on used cars in Thunder Bay are:


– End of winter in March/April – dealers want to clear out inventory before summer

– October/November – prices drop on trade ins for new winter vehicles

– December/January – dealers look to meet annual sales quotas


Watch for tax refund time, long weekends and inventory clearance events for enhanced promotions too.

Some of the most competitive used vehicle financing rates in Thunder Bay come from:


– Meridian Credit Union

– CUMIS Credit Union

– Scotiabank

– TD Canada Trust

– Bank of Montreal


– Desjardins


Rates range from 3-10% for used cars depending on individual credit rating, loan term etc. Shop around for the best auto loan.

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