Car Deal Canada

How to Buy a Used Car in Alberta

How to buy a car in Alberta

Buying a used car can be one of the most exciting yet daunting experiences for any Albertan. With so many options to choose from, it’s important to go into the process informed and prepared. This comprehensive guide will walk you through everything you need to know when buying a used car in Alberta. We’ll start with determining your needs, setting a realistic budget, researching different makes and models, finding options, test driving, thoroughly inspecting, checking history reports, negotiating pricing, closing the deal, registering the vehicle, obtaining insurance, getting a safety inspection, and keeping up with maintenance. By the end, you’ll be well-equipped with tips and knowledge to find a great used car while avoiding pitfalls.

Let’s get started!

Get Pre-Qualified in Under 60 Seconds

All Credit Approved and 0 Money Down Options Available

 

Determine Your Needs

As you begin your search for a used vehicle in Alberta, taking the time to determine your needs versus your wants is crucial. When evaluating potential vehicles, try not to get distracted by flashy features or eye-catching designs. Focus on how the vehicle fits into your lifestyle and meets your practical transportation requirements.

Consider factors like:

 

  • How many passengers need to fit comfortably in the vehicle?
  • What amount of cargo space is necessary?
  • Will it be used for daily commuting or road trips?
  • Do you need four-wheel or all-wheel drive capabilities?
  • Are towing or hauling features required?
 

Make a list of absolute must-have features based on your family size, usage, and day-to-day needs. This will help you avoid overspending on a vehicle loaded with non-essential upgrades. Your goal is to find a safe, reliable used car that gets you and your family where you need to go within your budget.

 

Set Your Budget

One of the most important steps when buying a used car in Alberta is determining your budget. This involves researching average used car prices and factoring in additional costs beyond the purchase price.

Look at pricing guides like Canadian Black Book and AutoTrader to find the average price for the makes and models you’re interested in. Consider the year, mileage, condition and options. This will give you a ballpark figure to start with when determining your maximum budget.

On top of the purchase price, remember to factor in taxes, licensing fees, insurance costs and any repairs or maintenance the vehicle may need. Here are some costs to keep in mind:

 

  • GST or federal sales tax – 5% of the purchase price if bought from a dealership.
  • Registration and license plate fees – Around $90.
  • Insurance – On average $1,000 to $2,000 per year.
  • Safety inspection – $80 to $150 if coming from out of province.
  • Maintenance and repairs – Budget $500 to $1,000 for items needing repair.

 

Creating a budget worksheet can help you visualize all of these factors and determine the maximum out-of-pocket amount you can afford. Sticking to your budget will help you avoid overpaying and reduce the risk of buyer’s remorse down the road.

 

Research vehicles

Once you’ve determined your needs and set a realistic budget, the next step is researching vehicles to create a shortlist of options. Take time to research the vehicles thoroughly before looking at specific listings. Focus on learning about things like:

 

  • Online reviews and common issues for the makes/models you’re considering.
  • Reliability ratings from sources like Consumer Reports.
  • Ownership costs including insurance, maintenance, repairs.

 

Online forums specific to certain vehicles can provide valuable insight from real owners about things to look out for. Review recall databases for any outstanding issues. Consider average fuel economy as well since gas costs make up a significant portion of ownership. By researching ahead, you’ll be better informed when assessing actual vehicle listings later.

 

Find Options

Once you know the type of vehicle you’re interested in, it’s time to start looking for specific options that fit your criteria. There are two main ways to find used cars for sale in Alberta: through dealerships or private sellers.

 

Dealerships

Shopping at used car dealerships provides several advantages. Dealerships will typically have a larger selection of makes, models, years, colors, features etc. to choose from. The vehicles will have been inspected and reconditioned before being put up for sale. Dealerships can also provide financing options and may be able to offer extra perks like extended warranties. However, dealership vehicles tend to be more expensive compared to private sales.

 

Private Sales

Buying from a private seller can mean getting a great deal, but also comes with some risks. Private sellers are often more flexible on price, and you may be able to get a car for thousands less than at a dealership. However, private sales do not come with any warranty, and you’ll have to handle any registration or inspection requirements yourself. Make sure to thoroughly test drive, inspect, and research the vehicle’s history before committing to a private sale.

It’s a good idea to explore both options – check listings from used car dealers as well as classifieds for private sellers. This will allow you to compare selection and pricing to find the best used car for your needs and budget.

 

Test Drive

Test driving a used vehicle is one of the most important steps when buying a used car in Alberta. It allows you to get a real feel for the vehicle before making a purchasing decision.

Be sure to schedule test drives in advance at times convenient for both you and the seller. Avoid taking a test drive at night or in bad weather, as you won’t be able to properly assess the vehicle.

When test driving, take the vehicle on both city streets and highways. Get a feel for acceleration, braking, steering, and how well it handles turns. Here are some things to check for during a test drive:

 

  • Listen for any unusual engine or transmission noises
  • Test all accessories like wipers, lights, radio, and heat
  • Assess ride comfort and seat adjustability
  • Make sure brakes feel responsive without any pulling, noises, or vibration
  • Get a sense of accelerator responsiveness and engine power
  • Check that steering feels tight and responsive without any play

 

A test drive allows you to get a good sense of fit, comfort, performance, and potential issues. Take your time, be thorough, and evaluate how well the vehicle meets your needs. Don’t feel pressured into making a hasty decision – a good test drive is key for making a well-informed used car purchase in Alberta.

 

Inspect Thoroughly

When buying a used vehicle in Alberta, it is highly recommended to have a thorough inspection done by a certified mechanic before purchasing. However, there are a few things you can inspect yourself as a part of your due diligence.

Begin by doing a walk around the exterior of the vehicle, looking for signs of damage, rust, or paint work that could indicate prior accidents. Check that the paint color is uniform across all panels. Inspect the tires for uneven wear, which could mean alignment issues. Look under the vehicle for leaks, damage, or rust on the undercarriage. Verify all lights, signals, and wipers are functioning properly.

Moving inside, make sure all interior features are operational – windows, locks, seats, seatbelts, and electronics. Smell for odors that could indicate leaks, mold, or other problems. Feel for damp carpets that could show water intrusion issues. Check for stains, damage, or excessive wear on upholstery and carpets.

When test driving, listen for any abnormal noises, vibrations, or handling issues. Make sure all gauges are functional. Test acceleration and braking at various speeds and on inclines. Check heating and air conditioning operation.

While a DIY inspection is helpful, a professional pre-purchase inspection by a trusted mechanic is highly recommended when buying a used car in Alberta. They will thoroughly inspect all vehicle systems and components, providing peace of mind that any issues are identified before purchase. This typically costs $100-$200 but can save thousands in unforeseen repairs or problems down the road.

 

Check History

Checking the history of a used vehicle is crucial before making a purchase. There are two main ways to get details on the vehicle’s past:

 

Ask for Service Records

Service records detail all the maintenance, repairs and major work done on the vehicle. Ask the seller to provide them. You want to ensure the vehicle has been properly maintained and doesn’t have recurring issues.

 

Get a Vehicle History Report

Run the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) through a vehicle history report provider like Carfax or CarProof. This will give you information on previous owners, odometer readings, any accidents or damage claims, outstanding liens and import records.

Having a complete history gives you peace of mind on your purchase. You’ll know what shape it’s in and if there are any issues to be concerned about. Avoid any vehicles with large gaps in service records or history reports.

 

Negotiate Price

Negotiating a fair price is crucial when purchasing a used vehicle in Alberta. Research websites like AutoTrader, Kijiji Autos, and Car Gurus to get a sense of current market prices for the make, model, and year of vehicle you are interested in. Consider mileage, condition, options, and demand when evaluating price.

When negotiating with a private seller, start lower than asking price, but be reasonable. Point out any flaws, high mileage, or needed repairs to justify your offer. See if the seller will include new tires, brakes, battery or any repairs needed in the price. Be prepared to walk away if you can’t agree on a fair price.

At a dealership, inquire about any wiggle room in the internet or sticker price. Note that used cars at dealers tend to be more thoroughly inspected and reconditioned, so you may pay a premium. See if they will throw in an additional warranty, winter tires or other extras to sweeten the deal. Remember the out the door price with taxes and fees should be your negotiating focus.

Getting pre-approved for financing also gives you negotiation leverage, as you know what monthly payment works for your budget. With patience, information and negotiation savvy, you can get the best price on your used vehicle purchase in Alberta.

 

Close the Deal

Once you’ve negotiated an agreeable price with the seller and are ready to complete the transaction, it’s time to close the deal. There are a few key steps you’ll want to take to finalize the sale:

Review the bill of sale – The bill of sale is an important legal document that transfers ownership of the vehicle from the seller to you. Make sure all the key details are included like VIN, make/model/year, mileage, sale price, date, and both your signatures. Review it carefully before signing.

Verify ownership – Request to see the current vehicle registration in the seller’s name as proof of ownership. Make sure the VIN matches that of the vehicle you are purchasing. Also ask to see photo ID from the seller matching the name on the registration.

Once you’ve double-checked everything, take possession of the signed bill of sale, keys, and existing registration from the seller. Be sure to hold onto the bill of sale until you register the vehicle under your name.

 

Register the Vehicle

Once you’ve purchased the used vehicle, you’ll need to transfer the registration into your name. This must be done within 3 days of buying the vehicle in Alberta. If purchasing from a private seller, make sure you get the signed transfer of registration document from the previous owner.

To transfer the registration, you’ll need:

 

  • The transfer of registration document signed by the seller
  • Valid insurance papers
  • Safety inspection certificate (if required)
  • Identification

 

Bring these documents to a registry agent to complete the registration transfer. The registry agent will provide new plates and registration if needed.

For out of province purchases, you’ll need to register the vehicle in Alberta within 90 days. Make sure you bring the bill of sale or previous registration, safety inspection certificate, insurance papers and identification. The registry agent will walk you through the steps to register the out of province vehicle.

Registering the vehicle properly is an important step to follow provincial requirements and avoid issues on the road.

 

Insurance Requirements in Alberta

When purchasing a used vehicle in Alberta, having proper insurance coverage is required by law before you can legally drive the vehicle. It’s important to understand the minimum insurance requirements, and to shop around for the best insurance quote.

The minimum liability coverage required by law in Alberta is:

 

  • $200,000 for claims against bodily injury or death to any one person
  • $200,000 for claims against bodily injury or death to two or more people in any one collision
  • $50,000 for claims against damage to property as a result of any one collision

 

This basic coverage is referred to as PL/PD coverage (Personal Liability/Property Damage). Alberta law requires drivers to carry at least this minimum level of auto insurance. However, experts recommend considering higher coverage limits for greater protection.

When shopping for car insurance quotes, be sure to get quotes from multiple providers. Rates can vary greatly between insurance companies, so taking the time to shop around is wise. Look at the level of coverage as well as the premium cost. Consider raising your deductibles which can lower the monthly payment. If bundling home and auto insurance, further discounts may apply. Review all available discounts you may qualify for.

Ultimately, balancing the right amount of coverage at the best possible rate is the goal when insuring your used vehicle. Take the time to shop around, and consult with an insurance broker if needed.

 

Safety Inspection

Alberta requires vehicle safety inspections for vehicles previously registered in another jurisdiction or vehicles that have previously been declared salvage by an insurance company. These inspections ensure that repairs have been properly completed and that the vehicle is safe for the road before being registered in Alberta.

During a safety inspection, the following items will be thoroughly checked:

 

  • Brakes
  • Lights
  • Turn signals
  • Windows
  • Mirrors
  • Seatbelts
  • Tires
  • Suspension
  • Steering
  • Exhaust system
  • Frame and body condition

 

Any issues that could affect the safe operation of the vehicle must be repaired before it can pass inspection and be registered. Safety inspections are performed at authorized inspection facilities in Alberta. The inspector will provide documentation that the vehicle has passed inspection before you can register it.

 

Maintenance Tips

Proper maintenance is crucial to keeping your used car running smoothly and avoiding major repairs down the road. Here are some tips for maintaining your used vehicle:

 

Follow the Service Schedule

When you purchase a used car, get a copy of the maintenance schedule from the previous owner or dealership. This schedule outlines the manufacturer’s recommendations for oil changes, tire rotations, fluid flushes, and more based on the car’s mileage. Stick closely to this schedule to keep your car in top shape.

 

Learn to Do Basic Maintenance Yourself

Simple maintenance tasks like changing oil, replacing air filters, and topping off fluids can be done yourself at home. This allows you to save on maintenance costs and have more control over the parts used on your vehicle. Be sure to invest in some basic tools and jack stands.

However, leave major services like transmission flushes to professional mechanics. Attempting complex maintenance without proper training can cause more harm than good.

 

Address Issues Promptly

Never ignore unusual sounds, smells, or drips coming from your used car. Have any potential problems inspected by a mechanic right away. It’s much cheaper to fix minor issues now rather than allowing them to escalate into major repairs down the road.

 

Keep Records

Maintain detailed records of all maintenance and repairs performed on your used vehicle. This documentation will come in handy if you ever decide to sell the car.

By sticking to the service schedule, learning to DIY basic maintenance, addressing issues early, and keeping records, you can keep your used car running smoothly for years to come.

 

Conclusion

Buying a used vehicle in Alberta can be a smooth process if you do your research and follow the proper steps. The most important things to keep in mind are determining your needs, setting a realistic budget, thoroughly inspecting any vehicle you’re interested in, checking the history report, negotiating a fair price, completing all registration and insurance requirements, and getting a safety inspection done. While buying a used vehicle does require diligence on your part as the buyer, taking the time to do it right will pay off with years of reliable transportation.

Following the tips outlined in this guide will help you find a high-quality used vehicle that meets your needs and budget. Taking shortcuts or skipping steps can potentially lead to buying a lemon, so it’s worth investing the time upfront to avoid headaches down the road. Be an informed buyer, know your rights and responsibilities, get everything in writing, and don’t feel pressured into making a purchase. If you stay disciplined and patient, you’ll likely find a great used vehicle in Alberta.

Common Questions About Buying a Used Car in Alberta

When buying a used car in Alberta, you’ll want to thoroughly inspect the vehicle inside and out. Check for any signs of damage, wear and tear, rust, leaks, etc. Take it for a lengthy test drive on different road conditions and pay attention to any unusual sounds or sensations. Review all maintenance records and verify ownership history with a CARFAX report. You’ll also want to take the car to your own mechanic for a pre-purchase inspection. This will help uncover any issues the seller may not be aware of or is not disclosing. Be sure to test all features and controls thoroughly as well.

When buying a used car from a private seller in Alberta, you’ll need a bill of sale, vehicle registration, proof of insurance for the new owner, and potentially a safety inspection certificate. The bill of sale should clearly outline the vehicle details, sale price, date, and signatures of both parties. You’ll need to officially register the change of ownership with Alberta Registries within 10 days. This requires filling out a “New Owner Registration” form. You’ll also need to show proof of insurance before driving the car away. Getting a safety inspection done on the car beforehand is highly recommended to uncover any issues.

When buying a used car in Alberta from a private seller, you don’t pay any provincial sales tax, only the 5% federal GST. If purchasing from a dealership, you pay GST on the full purchase price. You also pay a tire recycling fee ($4.50 per new tire) and registration fee ($84 per year). There may be added documentation or administration fees as well. You do not pay PST in Alberta, saving you 7% compared to other provinces. Insurance, fuel, maintenance and financing costs also need to be factored in when budgeting for a used car purchase.

Unlike some other major purchases, there is no “cooling off period” when buying a used car in Alberta. Once you sign the bill of sale and registration papers, the transaction is considered legally binding. The only way to return the vehicle if you change your mind would be if the seller agrees to void the original contract. Otherwise, you are responsible for the car as the new legal owner. This is why it’s critical you thoroughly test drive and inspect a used vehicle before finalizing a purchase. Don’t feel rushed or pressured during your shopping process.

If buying a used car online from another province, it gets more complicated. Once purchased, you’ll likely have to pay to transport the vehicle to Alberta. Before registration, it’ll need a safety inspection, which may require repairs you’ll have to pay for. You also may get stuck paying both the original province’s sales tax plus GST. Overall, there’s more risk buying remotely without ability to personally inspect. If going this route, get a dealer to broker the transaction and ensure there’s a warranty that remains valid in Alberta.

Unlike new vehicles, used cars in Alberta are generally sold “as-is” without any warranty protections. However, if you discover a significant issue soon after purchase that the seller likely knew about but didn’t disclose, you may have grounds to return the car and void the sale. This would require proving the seller deliberately hid the defect though. Alternatively, you could negotiate with the seller to split the repair costs. This is why a pre-purchase inspection is so important before money changes hands.

The steps are:

1) Complete bill of sale with seller

2) Buy auto insurance effective day of sale

3) Schedule out-of-province inspection if needed

4) Fill out “New Owner Registration” form at registry

5) Provide proof of insurance to registry to get new title

6) Affix new license plate

This needs to be done within 10 days of purchase. You also need to show valid insurance to drive the newly purchased car right away before registration is complete.

There are good reasons for both options when buying a used car in Alberta. Dealers must put vehicles through a mechanical fitness assessment and typically provide some warranty coverage. However, private sellers generally have lower prices. Private sellers have owned the car themselves, but dealers have serviced many makes and models. Get any private sale vehicle independently inspected. Dealers also handle all registration paperwork whereas private sales require self-registration. Evaluate the pros and cons of each for your specific situation.

To verify a used car you’re buying in Alberta has no existing liens or unpaid loans, you’ll want to carefully inspect the vehicle registration paper. Confirm the title shows the sellers name as the sole legal owner. Also verify the VIN sticker on the dashboard matches the VIN number printed on the registration form. Running a CARFAX report by VIN can uncover title discrepancies too. You can also directly call Alberta Registries with the VIN to double check the title status for unpaid debts tied to the vehicle before purchase.

For private sales in Alberta, cash, electronic bank transfer, bank draft, money order, or certified cheque are recommended for payment. Avoid using regular uncertified cheques which can bounce later on. For both buyer and seller protection, be sure to thoroughly complete and sign the bill of sale form including details like VIN, mileage, sale price, date, etc. Make copies for each party. Count cash carefully during in-person transactions. Wait for electronic payments to fully clear before releasing the vehicle. Having a neutral third party present during sale can ease security concerns.

Paying full cash outright when buying a used car from a private seller in Alberta can give you negotiation leverage without financing terms complicating things. However, used auto loans currently have relatively low interest rates, allowing you to keep your savings intact. This added liquidity can be handy for unexpected costs down the road. Weigh your current finances and budget to decide what makes sense. Just be sure to get pre-approved financing in place before searching so you know what you can afford.

When purchasing a used car in Alberta, avoid these add-ons:

– Extended car warranty (unlikely to be cost effective)

– Credit insurance (adds fees for little benefit)

– Alarm system (easy to install this later yourself)

– Fabric and paint protection (not worth the price)

– Wheel locks (just remove valuables instead if worried about theft)

– Upgraded floor mats (cheaper to buy these on your own)

 

These extra dealer products have large profit margins and are rarely good investments when buying a used vehicle. Negotiate just the price of the car itself without unnecessary extras.

The best used car dealerships in Alberta for buyers have AMVIC licensing, on-site repair facilities, a dealership-backed warranty, a large certified pre-owned (CPO) vehicle inventory, vehicle history reports for each car, online application options, competitive pricing, and strong customer service ratings. Look for dealers in your area that tick all these boxes when shopping for the most trustworthy experience.

When buying remotely in Alberta without ability to personally inspect the vehicle, have the car delivered to a local mechanic you trust for a pre-purchase evaluation before money changes hands. Also ask the seller to provide a current safety certification and claims history report from the province’s registry. Live video inspection of the car can help spot issues too. For seller legitimacy, confirm registry records show them as the official owner. Pay only once the car arrives as advertised. These tips help minimize safety and reliability risks purchasing a used car online unseen.

The most affordable vehicles to insure for Alberta drivers based on average premiums are:

– Subcompact cars

– Minivans

– Smaller SUVs

– Family sedans

– Pickup trucks

 

The least expensive used cars to insure typically have better safety ratings, fewer claims, lower repair costs, modest horsepower, good gas mileage, and relatively low base prices. Choosing an older or common used model can also yield insurance savings in the province.

When buying a used car in Alberta, it’s important to budget for expenses beyond just the sales price. You’ll also need to factor in costs like:

– GST on the purchase price if from a dealer

– Auto insurance ($800+ per year)

– Registration fee ($84 per year)

– Safety inspection ($150 approximate)

– Interest payments if financing

– Gas for driving (~$0.70 per liter)

– Regular maintenance and oil changes

Leave wiggle room for surprise repairs too. Getting quotes beforehand for things like insurance helps estimate total ownership costs more accurately.

Questions to ask the seller when test driving and evaluating a used car for purchase in Alberta include:

– How many previous owners were there and do you have maintenance records?

– Has the car ever been in an accident?

– Why are you selling the vehicle?

– What’s the average fuel consumption you’ve experienced?

– What repairs or major maintenance has been done and when?

– What’s the remaining tread life on the tires?

– Does all the equipment (radio, locks, lights, etc) work properly?

– Have there been any recurring issues I should know about?

When test driving a used car in Alberta, listen for any odd noises like knocks, squeaks or rumbles and watch for fluid leaks, smoke or steam. Make sure all controls, electronics and equipment function properly. Notice how smoothly the transmission shifts gears. Test acceleration for responsiveness and brake firmly to check stopping distance. Check blind spots and feel for vehicle vibration and pull to one side. Drive at highway speeds and vary terrain to fully assess performance. An extensive test drive helps determine mechanical condition before purchase.

Unfortunately, Alberta does not have specific “lemon laws” like other regions when buying used vehicles. As sales are “as-is”, the dealer or private seller is under no legal obligation to take the car back or refund payment. Your only recourse is to negotiate repairs, sale cancellation or trade-in value. This is why a mechanical inspection beforehand plus test drive is so important. Extended dealer warranties can provide some protection as well. Without them or provable evidence of an intentional defect cover-up though, used car buyers have minimal options if they discover major problems later on.

To avoid overpaying at a dealership when negotiating the purchase of a used car in Alberta, thoroughly research pricing data online for the specific make and model beforehand from sites like AutoTrader and KBB. Compare quotes between multiple dealers too. Secure independent financing beforehand as dealer financing often has inflated interest rates. Say you’re paying in cash even if not (for bargaining power). Bring someone experienced in the car buying process to help negotiate. And don’t fall for tactics urging you to decide immediately or risk “losing the deal”. Take your time.

Those looking to purchase a used car in Alberta without the high pressure sales tactics can consider:

– Private sales via Kijiji or Autotrader where you deal direct with the owner

– Independent corner lots with fair posted pricing

– Auctions for fixer-uppers at discounted prices

– Rental car companies selling off fleet vehicles

– Online retailers like Clutch.ca that deliver to your door

 

Finding a small, community operated dealership outside city centers can reduce pressure too. Test drive without obligation, let them know you’re getting multiple quotes, and be willing to walk away to avoid intimidation techniques.

Red flags to watch for that may indicate fraud when purchasing a used vehicle in Alberta:

 

– Title or VIN issues not matching registration

– Seller demanding unusual payment types

– Price or condition that seems too good to be true

– Verbal promises that don’t match paperwork

– Rush to complete sale without inspection

– Lack of seller identification confirmation

– Vehicle history report showing suspicious activity

– Seller reluctant or strange about test drives

 

Trust your instincts and slow down the process if anything seems suspicious to avoid being scammed. Thoroughly verify details before money changes hands.

Right after buying a used vehicle in a private sale in Alberta, first complete bill of sale paperwork with all details signed by both parties. Secure insurance effective immediately as coverage is required to drive away. Take thorough photos showing the car’s condition at sale. Check all fluid levels under the hood before driving. Install your own license plate if you have one or obtain temporary permitting from registry. Familiarize yourself with controls before leaving lot. Driving straight to a mechanic for inspection is also wise to uncover any undisclosed issues while sale is still fresh.

 

Determine Your Needs

As you begin your search for a used vehicle in Alberta, taking the time to determine your needs versus your wants is crucial. When evaluating potential vehicles, try not to get distracted by flashy features or eye-catching designs. Focus on how the vehicle fits into your lifestyle and meets your practical transportation requirements.

Consider factors like:

 

  • How many passengers need to fit comfortably in the vehicle?
  • What amount of cargo space is necessary?
  • Will it be used for daily commuting or road trips?
  • Do you need four-wheel or all-wheel drive capabilities?
  • Are towing or hauling features required?
 

Make a list of absolute must-have features based on your family size, usage, and day-to-day needs. This will help you avoid overspending on a vehicle loaded with non-essential upgrades. Your goal is to find a safe, reliable used car that gets you and your family where you need to go within your budget.

 

Set Your Budget

One of the most important steps when buying a used car in Alberta is determining your budget. This involves researching average used car prices and factoring in additional costs beyond the purchase price.

Look at pricing guides like Canadian Black Book and AutoTrader to find the average price for the makes and models you’re interested in. Consider the year, mileage, condition and options. This will give you a ballpark figure to start with when determining your maximum budget.

On top of the purchase price, remember to factor in taxes, licensing fees, insurance costs and any repairs or maintenance the vehicle may need. Here are some costs to keep in mind:

 

  • GST or federal sales tax – 5% of the purchase price if bought from a dealership.
  • Registration and license plate fees – Around $90.
  • Insurance – On average $1,000 to $2,000 per year.
  • Safety inspection – $80 to $150 if coming from out of province.
  • Maintenance and repairs – Budget $500 to $1,000 for items needing repair.

 

Creating a budget worksheet can help you visualize all of these factors and determine the maximum out-of-pocket amount you can afford. Sticking to your budget will help you avoid overpaying and reduce the risk of buyer’s remorse down the road.

 

Research vehicles

Once you’ve determined your needs and set a realistic budget, the next step is researching vehicles to create a shortlist of options. Take time to research the vehicles thoroughly before looking at specific listings. Focus on learning about things like:

 

  • Online reviews and common issues for the makes/models you’re considering.
  • Reliability ratings from sources like Consumer Reports.
  • Ownership costs including insurance, maintenance, repairs.

 

Online forums specific to certain vehicles can provide valuable insight from real owners about things to look out for. Review recall databases for any outstanding issues. Consider average fuel economy as well since gas costs make up a significant portion of ownership. By researching ahead, you’ll be better informed when assessing actual vehicle listings later.

 

Find Options

Once you know the type of vehicle you’re interested in, it’s time to start looking for specific options that fit your criteria. There are two main ways to find used cars for sale in Alberta: through dealerships or private sellers.

 

Dealerships

Shopping at used car dealerships provides several advantages. Dealerships will typically have a larger selection of makes, models, years, colors, features etc. to choose from. The vehicles will have been inspected and reconditioned before being put up for sale. Dealerships can also provide financing options and may be able to offer extra perks like extended warranties. However, dealership vehicles tend to be more expensive compared to private sales.

 

Private Sales

Buying from a private seller can mean getting a great deal, but also comes with some risks. Private sellers are often more flexible on price, and you may be able to get a car for thousands less than at a dealership. However, private sales do not come with any warranty, and you’ll have to handle any registration or inspection requirements yourself. Make sure to thoroughly test drive, inspect, and research the vehicle’s history before committing to a private sale.

It’s a good idea to explore both options – check listings from used car dealers as well as classifieds for private sellers. This will allow you to compare selection and pricing to find the best used car for your needs and budget.

 

Test Drive

Test driving a used vehicle is one of the most important steps when buying a used car in Alberta. It allows you to get a real feel for the vehicle before making a purchasing decision.

Be sure to schedule test drives in advance at times convenient for both you and the seller. Avoid taking a test drive at night or in bad weather, as you won’t be able to properly assess the vehicle.

When test driving, take the vehicle on both city streets and highways. Get a feel for acceleration, braking, steering, and how well it handles turns. Here are some things to check for during a test drive:

 

  • Listen for any unusual engine or transmission noises
  • Test all accessories like wipers, lights, radio, and heat
  • Assess ride comfort and seat adjustability
  • Make sure brakes feel responsive without any pulling, noises, or vibration
  • Get a sense of accelerator responsiveness and engine power
  • Check that steering feels tight and responsive without any play

 

A test drive allows you to get a good sense of fit, comfort, performance, and potential issues. Take your time, be thorough, and evaluate how well the vehicle meets your needs. Don’t feel pressured into making a hasty decision – a good test drive is key for making a well-informed used car purchase in Alberta.

 

Inspect Thoroughly

When buying a used vehicle in Alberta, it is highly recommended to have a thorough inspection done by a certified mechanic before purchasing. However, there are a few things you can inspect yourself as a part of your due diligence.

Begin by doing a walk around the exterior of the vehicle, looking for signs of damage, rust, or paint work that could indicate prior accidents. Check that the paint color is uniform across all panels. Inspect the tires for uneven wear, which could mean alignment issues. Look under the vehicle for leaks, damage, or rust on the undercarriage. Verify all lights, signals, and wipers are functioning properly.

Moving inside, make sure all interior features are operational – windows, locks, seats, seatbelts, and electronics. Smell for odors that could indicate leaks, mold, or other problems. Feel for damp carpets that could show water intrusion issues. Check for stains, damage, or excessive wear on upholstery and carpets.

When test driving, listen for any abnormal noises, vibrations, or handling issues. Make sure all gauges are functional. Test acceleration and braking at various speeds and on inclines. Check heating and air conditioning operation.

While a DIY inspection is helpful, a professional pre-purchase inspection by a trusted mechanic is highly recommended when buying a used car in Alberta. They will thoroughly inspect all vehicle systems and components, providing peace of mind that any issues are identified before purchase. This typically costs $100-$200 but can save thousands in unforeseen repairs or problems down the road.

 

Check History

Checking the history of a used vehicle is crucial before making a purchase. There are two main ways to get details on the vehicle’s past:

 

Ask for Service Records

Service records detail all the maintenance, repairs and major work done on the vehicle. Ask the seller to provide them. You want to ensure the vehicle has been properly maintained and doesn’t have recurring issues.

 

Get a Vehicle History Report

Run the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) through a vehicle history report provider like Carfax or CarProof. This will give you information on previous owners, odometer readings, any accidents or damage claims, outstanding liens and import records.

Having a complete history gives you peace of mind on your purchase. You’ll know what shape it’s in and if there are any issues to be concerned about. Avoid any vehicles with large gaps in service records or history reports.

 

Negotiate Price

Negotiating a fair price is crucial when purchasing a used vehicle in Alberta. Research websites like AutoTrader, Kijiji Autos, and Car Gurus to get a sense of current market prices for the make, model, and year of vehicle you are interested in. Consider mileage, condition, options, and demand when evaluating price.

When negotiating with a private seller, start lower than asking price, but be reasonable. Point out any flaws, high mileage, or needed repairs to justify your offer. See if the seller will include new tires, brakes, battery or any repairs needed in the price. Be prepared to walk away if you can’t agree on a fair price.

At a dealership, inquire about any wiggle room in the internet or sticker price. Note that used cars at dealers tend to be more thoroughly inspected and reconditioned, so you may pay a premium. See if they will throw in an additional warranty, winter tires or other extras to sweeten the deal. Remember the out the door price with taxes and fees should be your negotiating focus.

Getting pre-approved for financing also gives you negotiation leverage, as you know what monthly payment works for your budget. With patience, information and negotiation savvy, you can get the best price on your used vehicle purchase in Alberta.

 

Close the Deal

Once you’ve negotiated an agreeable price with the seller and are ready to complete the transaction, it’s time to close the deal. There are a few key steps you’ll want to take to finalize the sale:

Review the bill of sale – The bill of sale is an important legal document that transfers ownership of the vehicle from the seller to you. Make sure all the key details are included like VIN, make/model/year, mileage, sale price, date, and both your signatures. Review it carefully before signing.

Verify ownership – Request to see the current vehicle registration in the seller’s name as proof of ownership. Make sure the VIN matches that of the vehicle you are purchasing. Also ask to see photo ID from the seller matching the name on the registration.

Once you’ve double-checked everything, take possession of the signed bill of sale, keys, and existing registration from the seller. Be sure to hold onto the bill of sale until you register the vehicle under your name.

 

Register the Vehicle

Once you’ve purchased the used vehicle, you’ll need to transfer the registration into your name. This must be done within 3 days of buying the vehicle in Alberta. If purchasing from a private seller, make sure you get the signed transfer of registration document from the previous owner.

To transfer the registration, you’ll need:

 

  • The transfer of registration document signed by the seller
  • Valid insurance papers
  • Safety inspection certificate (if required)
  • Identification

 

Bring these documents to a registry agent to complete the registration transfer. The registry agent will provide new plates and registration if needed.

For out of province purchases, you’ll need to register the vehicle in Alberta within 90 days. Make sure you bring the bill of sale or previous registration, safety inspection certificate, insurance papers and identification. The registry agent will walk you through the steps to register the out of province vehicle.

Registering the vehicle properly is an important step to follow provincial requirements and avoid issues on the road.

 

Insurance Requirements in Alberta

When purchasing a used vehicle in Alberta, having proper insurance coverage is required by law before you can legally drive the vehicle. It’s important to understand the minimum insurance requirements, and to shop around for the best insurance quote.

The minimum liability coverage required by law in Alberta is:

 

  • $200,000 for claims against bodily injury or death to any one person
  • $200,000 for claims against bodily injury or death to two or more people in any one collision
  • $50,000 for claims against damage to property as a result of any one collision

 

This basic coverage is referred to as PL/PD coverage (Personal Liability/Property Damage). Alberta law requires drivers to carry at least this minimum level of auto insurance. However, experts recommend considering higher coverage limits for greater protection.

When shopping for car insurance quotes, be sure to get quotes from multiple providers. Rates can vary greatly between insurance companies, so taking the time to shop around is wise. Look at the level of coverage as well as the premium cost. Consider raising your deductibles which can lower the monthly payment. If bundling home and auto insurance, further discounts may apply. Review all available discounts you may qualify for.

Ultimately, balancing the right amount of coverage at the best possible rate is the goal when insuring your used vehicle. Take the time to shop around, and consult with an insurance broker if needed.

 

Safety Inspection

Alberta requires vehicle safety inspections for vehicles previously registered in another jurisdiction or vehicles that have previously been declared salvage by an insurance company. These inspections ensure that repairs have been properly completed and that the vehicle is safe for the road before being registered in Alberta.

During a safety inspection, the following items will be thoroughly checked:

 

  • Brakes
  • Lights
  • Turn signals
  • Windows
  • Mirrors
  • Seatbelts
  • Tires
  • Suspension
  • Steering
  • Exhaust system
  • Frame and body condition

 

Any issues that could affect the safe operation of the vehicle must be repaired before it can pass inspection and be registered. Safety inspections are performed at authorized inspection facilities in Alberta. The inspector will provide documentation that the vehicle has passed inspection before you can register it.

 

Maintenance Tips

Proper maintenance is crucial to keeping your used car running smoothly and avoiding major repairs down the road. Here are some tips for maintaining your used vehicle:

 

Follow the Service Schedule

When you purchase a used car, get a copy of the maintenance schedule from the previous owner or dealership. This schedule outlines the manufacturer’s recommendations for oil changes, tire rotations, fluid flushes, and more based on the car’s mileage. Stick closely to this schedule to keep your car in top shape.

 

Learn to Do Basic Maintenance Yourself

Simple maintenance tasks like changing oil, replacing air filters, and topping off fluids can be done yourself at home. This allows you to save on maintenance costs and have more control over the parts used on your vehicle. Be sure to invest in some basic tools and jack stands.

However, leave major services like transmission flushes to professional mechanics. Attempting complex maintenance without proper training can cause more harm than good.

 

Address Issues Promptly

Never ignore unusual sounds, smells, or drips coming from your used car. Have any potential problems inspected by a mechanic right away. It’s much cheaper to fix minor issues now rather than allowing them to escalate into major repairs down the road.

 

Keep Records

Maintain detailed records of all maintenance and repairs performed on your used vehicle. This documentation will come in handy if you ever decide to sell the car.

By sticking to the service schedule, learning to DIY basic maintenance, addressing issues early, and keeping records, you can keep your used car running smoothly for years to come.

 

Conclusion

Buying a used vehicle in Alberta can be a smooth process if you do your research and follow the proper steps. The most important things to keep in mind are determining your needs, setting a realistic budget, thoroughly inspecting any vehicle you’re interested in, checking the history report, negotiating a fair price, completing all registration and insurance requirements, and getting a safety inspection done. While buying a used vehicle does require diligence on your part as the buyer, taking the time to do it right will pay off with years of reliable transportation.

Following the tips outlined in this guide will help you find a high-quality used vehicle that meets your needs and budget. Taking shortcuts or skipping steps can potentially lead to buying a lemon, so it’s worth investing the time upfront to avoid headaches down the road. Be an informed buyer, know your rights and responsibilities, get everything in writing, and don’t feel pressured into making a purchase. If you stay disciplined and patient, you’ll likely find a great used vehicle in Alberta.

Common Questions About Buying a Used Car in Alberta

When buying a used car in Alberta, you’ll want to thoroughly inspect the vehicle inside and out. Check for any signs of damage, wear and tear, rust, leaks, etc. Take it for a lengthy test drive on different road conditions and pay attention to any unusual sounds or sensations. Review all maintenance records and verify ownership history with a CARFAX report. You’ll also want to take the car to your own mechanic for a pre-purchase inspection. This will help uncover any issues the seller may not be aware of or is not disclosing. Be sure to test all features and controls thoroughly as well.

When buying a used car from a private seller in Alberta, you’ll need a bill of sale, vehicle registration, proof of insurance for the new owner, and potentially a safety inspection certificate. The bill of sale should clearly outline the vehicle details, sale price, date, and signatures of both parties. You’ll need to officially register the change of ownership with Alberta Registries within 10 days. This requires filling out a “New Owner Registration” form. You’ll also need to show proof of insurance before driving the car away. Getting a safety inspection done on the car beforehand is highly recommended to uncover any issues.

When buying a used car in Alberta from a private seller, you don’t pay any provincial sales tax, only the 5% federal GST. If purchasing from a dealership, you pay GST on the full purchase price. You also pay a tire recycling fee ($4.50 per new tire) and registration fee ($84 per year). There may be added documentation or administration fees as well. You do not pay PST in Alberta, saving you 7% compared to other provinces. Insurance, fuel, maintenance and financing costs also need to be factored in when budgeting for a used car purchase.

Unlike some other major purchases, there is no “cooling off period” when buying a used car in Alberta. Once you sign the bill of sale and registration papers, the transaction is considered legally binding. The only way to return the vehicle if you change your mind would be if the seller agrees to void the original contract. Otherwise, you are responsible for the car as the new legal owner. This is why it’s critical you thoroughly test drive and inspect a used vehicle before finalizing a purchase. Don’t feel rushed or pressured during your shopping process.

If buying a used car online from another province, it gets more complicated. Once purchased, you’ll likely have to pay to transport the vehicle to Alberta. Before registration, it’ll need a safety inspection, which may require repairs you’ll have to pay for. You also may get stuck paying both the original province’s sales tax plus GST. Overall, there’s more risk buying remotely without ability to personally inspect. If going this route, get a dealer to broker the transaction and ensure there’s a warranty that remains valid in Alberta.

Unlike new vehicles, used cars in Alberta are generally sold “as-is” without any warranty protections. However, if you discover a significant issue soon after purchase that the seller likely knew about but didn’t disclose, you may have grounds to return the car and void the sale. This would require proving the seller deliberately hid the defect though. Alternatively, you could negotiate with the seller to split the repair costs. This is why a pre-purchase inspection is so important before money changes hands.

The steps are:

1) Complete bill of sale with seller

2) Buy auto insurance effective day of sale

3) Schedule out-of-province inspection if needed

4) Fill out “New Owner Registration” form at registry

5) Provide proof of insurance to registry to get new title

6) Affix new license plate

This needs to be done within 10 days of purchase. You also need to show valid insurance to drive the newly purchased car right away before registration is complete.

There are good reasons for both options when buying a used car in Alberta. Dealers must put vehicles through a mechanical fitness assessment and typically provide some warranty coverage. However, private sellers generally have lower prices. Private sellers have owned the car themselves, but dealers have serviced many makes and models. Get any private sale vehicle independently inspected. Dealers also handle all registration paperwork whereas private sales require self-registration. Evaluate the pros and cons of each for your specific situation.

To verify a used car you’re buying in Alberta has no existing liens or unpaid loans, you’ll want to carefully inspect the vehicle registration paper. Confirm the title shows the sellers name as the sole legal owner. Also verify the VIN sticker on the dashboard matches the VIN number printed on the registration form. Running a CARFAX report by VIN can uncover title discrepancies too. You can also directly call Alberta Registries with the VIN to double check the title status for unpaid debts tied to the vehicle before purchase.

For private sales in Alberta, cash, electronic bank transfer, bank draft, money order, or certified cheque are recommended for payment. Avoid using regular uncertified cheques which can bounce later on. For both buyer and seller protection, be sure to thoroughly complete and sign the bill of sale form including details like VIN, mileage, sale price, date, etc. Make copies for each party. Count cash carefully during in-person transactions. Wait for electronic payments to fully clear before releasing the vehicle. Having a neutral third party present during sale can ease security concerns.

Paying full cash outright when buying a used car from a private seller in Alberta can give you negotiation leverage without financing terms complicating things. However, used auto loans currently have relatively low interest rates, allowing you to keep your savings intact. This added liquidity can be handy for unexpected costs down the road. Weigh your current finances and budget to decide what makes sense. Just be sure to get pre-approved financing in place before searching so you know what you can afford.

When purchasing a used car in Alberta, avoid these add-ons:

– Extended car warranty (unlikely to be cost effective)

– Credit insurance (adds fees for little benefit)

– Alarm system (easy to install this later yourself)

– Fabric and paint protection (not worth the price)

– Wheel locks (just remove valuables instead if worried about theft)

– Upgraded floor mats (cheaper to buy these on your own)

 

These extra dealer products have large profit margins and are rarely good investments when buying a used vehicle. Negotiate just the price of the car itself without unnecessary extras.

The best used car dealerships in Alberta for buyers have AMVIC licensing, on-site repair facilities, a dealership-backed warranty, a large certified pre-owned (CPO) vehicle inventory, vehicle history reports for each car, online application options, competitive pricing, and strong customer service ratings. Look for dealers in your area that tick all these boxes when shopping for the most trustworthy experience.

When buying remotely in Alberta without ability to personally inspect the vehicle, have the car delivered to a local mechanic you trust for a pre-purchase evaluation before money changes hands. Also ask the seller to provide a current safety certification and claims history report from the province’s registry. Live video inspection of the car can help spot issues too. For seller legitimacy, confirm registry records show them as the official owner. Pay only once the car arrives as advertised. These tips help minimize safety and reliability risks purchasing a used car online unseen.

The most affordable vehicles to insure for Alberta drivers based on average premiums are:

– Subcompact cars

– Minivans

– Smaller SUVs

– Family sedans

– Pickup trucks

 

The least expensive used cars to insure typically have better safety ratings, fewer claims, lower repair costs, modest horsepower, good gas mileage, and relatively low base prices. Choosing an older or common used model can also yield insurance savings in the province.

When buying a used car in Alberta, it’s important to budget for expenses beyond just the sales price. You’ll also need to factor in costs like:

– GST on the purchase price if from a dealer

– Auto insurance ($800+ per year)

– Registration fee ($84 per year)

– Safety inspection ($150 approximate)

– Interest payments if financing

– Gas for driving (~$0.70 per liter)

– Regular maintenance and oil changes

Leave wiggle room for surprise repairs too. Getting quotes beforehand for things like insurance helps estimate total ownership costs more accurately.

Questions to ask the seller when test driving and evaluating a used car for purchase in Alberta include:

– How many previous owners were there and do you have maintenance records?

– Has the car ever been in an accident?

– Why are you selling the vehicle?

– What’s the average fuel consumption you’ve experienced?

– What repairs or major maintenance has been done and when?

– What’s the remaining tread life on the tires?

– Does all the equipment (radio, locks, lights, etc) work properly?

– Have there been any recurring issues I should know about?

When test driving a used car in Alberta, listen for any odd noises like knocks, squeaks or rumbles and watch for fluid leaks, smoke or steam. Make sure all controls, electronics and equipment function properly. Notice how smoothly the transmission shifts gears. Test acceleration for responsiveness and brake firmly to check stopping distance. Check blind spots and feel for vehicle vibration and pull to one side. Drive at highway speeds and vary terrain to fully assess performance. An extensive test drive helps determine mechanical condition before purchase.

Unfortunately, Alberta does not have specific “lemon laws” like other regions when buying used vehicles. As sales are “as-is”, the dealer or private seller is under no legal obligation to take the car back or refund payment. Your only recourse is to negotiate repairs, sale cancellation or trade-in value. This is why a mechanical inspection beforehand plus test drive is so important. Extended dealer warranties can provide some protection as well. Without them or provable evidence of an intentional defect cover-up though, used car buyers have minimal options if they discover major problems later on.

To avoid overpaying at a dealership when negotiating the purchase of a used car in Alberta, thoroughly research pricing data online for the specific make and model beforehand from sites like AutoTrader and KBB. Compare quotes between multiple dealers too. Secure independent financing beforehand as dealer financing often has inflated interest rates. Say you’re paying in cash even if not (for bargaining power). Bring someone experienced in the car buying process to help negotiate. And don’t fall for tactics urging you to decide immediately or risk “losing the deal”. Take your time.

Those looking to purchase a used car in Alberta without the high pressure sales tactics can consider:

– Private sales via Kijiji or Autotrader where you deal direct with the owner

– Independent corner lots with fair posted pricing

– Auctions for fixer-uppers at discounted prices

– Rental car companies selling off fleet vehicles

– Online retailers like Clutch.ca that deliver to your door

 

Finding a small, community operated dealership outside city centers can reduce pressure too. Test drive without obligation, let them know you’re getting multiple quotes, and be willing to walk away to avoid intimidation techniques.

Red flags to watch for that may indicate fraud when purchasing a used vehicle in Alberta:

 

– Title or VIN issues not matching registration

– Seller demanding unusual payment types

– Price or condition that seems too good to be true

– Verbal promises that don’t match paperwork

– Rush to complete sale without inspection

– Lack of seller identification confirmation

– Vehicle history report showing suspicious activity

– Seller reluctant or strange about test drives

 

Trust your instincts and slow down the process if anything seems suspicious to avoid being scammed. Thoroughly verify details before money changes hands.

Right after buying a used vehicle in a private sale in Alberta, first complete bill of sale paperwork with all details signed by both parties. Secure insurance effective immediately as coverage is required to drive away. Take thorough photos showing the car’s condition at sale. Check all fluid levels under the hood before driving. Install your own license plate if you have one or obtain temporary permitting from registry. Familiarize yourself with controls before leaving lot. Driving straight to a mechanic for inspection is also wise to uncover any undisclosed issues while sale is still fresh.

 

Determine Your Needs

As you begin your search for a used vehicle in Alberta, taking the time to determine your needs versus your wants is crucial. When evaluating potential vehicles, try not to get distracted by flashy features or eye-catching designs. Focus on how the vehicle fits into your lifestyle and meets your practical transportation requirements.

Consider factors like:

 

  • How many passengers need to fit comfortably in the vehicle?
  • What amount of cargo space is necessary?
  • Will it be used for daily commuting or road trips?
  • Do you need four-wheel or all-wheel drive capabilities?
  • Are towing or hauling features required?
 

Make a list of absolute must-have features based on your family size, usage, and day-to-day needs. This will help you avoid overspending on a vehicle loaded with non-essential upgrades. Your goal is to find a safe, reliable used car that gets you and your family where you need to go within your budget.

 

Set Your Budget

One of the most important steps when buying a used car in Alberta is determining your budget. This involves researching average used car prices and factoring in additional costs beyond the purchase price.

Look at pricing guides like Canadian Black Book and AutoTrader to find the average price for the makes and models you’re interested in. Consider the year, mileage, condition and options. This will give you a ballpark figure to start with when determining your maximum budget.

On top of the purchase price, remember to factor in taxes, licensing fees, insurance costs and any repairs or maintenance the vehicle may need. Here are some costs to keep in mind:

 

  • GST or federal sales tax – 5% of the purchase price if bought from a dealership.
  • Registration and license plate fees – Around $90.
  • Insurance – On average $1,000 to $2,000 per year.
  • Safety inspection – $80 to $150 if coming from out of province.
  • Maintenance and repairs – Budget $500 to $1,000 for items needing repair.

 

Creating a budget worksheet can help you visualize all of these factors and determine the maximum out-of-pocket amount you can afford. Sticking to your budget will help you avoid overpaying and reduce the risk of buyer’s remorse down the road.

 

Research vehicles

Once you’ve determined your needs and set a realistic budget, the next step is researching vehicles to create a shortlist of options. Take time to research the vehicles thoroughly before looking at specific listings. Focus on learning about things like:

 

  • Online reviews and common issues for the makes/models you’re considering.
  • Reliability ratings from sources like Consumer Reports.
  • Ownership costs including insurance, maintenance, repairs.

 

Online forums specific to certain vehicles can provide valuable insight from real owners about things to look out for. Review recall databases for any outstanding issues. Consider average fuel economy as well since gas costs make up a significant portion of ownership. By researching ahead, you’ll be better informed when assessing actual vehicle listings later.

 

Find Options

Once you know the type of vehicle you’re interested in, it’s time to start looking for specific options that fit your criteria. There are two main ways to find used cars for sale in Alberta: through dealerships or private sellers.

 

Dealerships

Shopping at used car dealerships provides several advantages. Dealerships will typically have a larger selection of makes, models, years, colors, features etc. to choose from. The vehicles will have been inspected and reconditioned before being put up for sale. Dealerships can also provide financing options and may be able to offer extra perks like extended warranties. However, dealership vehicles tend to be more expensive compared to private sales.

 

Private Sales

Buying from a private seller can mean getting a great deal, but also comes with some risks. Private sellers are often more flexible on price, and you may be able to get a car for thousands less than at a dealership. However, private sales do not come with any warranty, and you’ll have to handle any registration or inspection requirements yourself. Make sure to thoroughly test drive, inspect, and research the vehicle’s history before committing to a private sale.

It’s a good idea to explore both options – check listings from used car dealers as well as classifieds for private sellers. This will allow you to compare selection and pricing to find the best used car for your needs and budget.

 

Test Drive

Test driving a used vehicle is one of the most important steps when buying a used car in Alberta. It allows you to get a real feel for the vehicle before making a purchasing decision.

Be sure to schedule test drives in advance at times convenient for both you and the seller. Avoid taking a test drive at night or in bad weather, as you won’t be able to properly assess the vehicle.

When test driving, take the vehicle on both city streets and highways. Get a feel for acceleration, braking, steering, and how well it handles turns. Here are some things to check for during a test drive:

 

  • Listen for any unusual engine or transmission noises
  • Test all accessories like wipers, lights, radio, and heat
  • Assess ride comfort and seat adjustability
  • Make sure brakes feel responsive without any pulling, noises, or vibration
  • Get a sense of accelerator responsiveness and engine power
  • Check that steering feels tight and responsive without any play

 

A test drive allows you to get a good sense of fit, comfort, performance, and potential issues. Take your time, be thorough, and evaluate how well the vehicle meets your needs. Don’t feel pressured into making a hasty decision – a good test drive is key for making a well-informed used car purchase in Alberta.

 

Inspect Thoroughly

When buying a used vehicle in Alberta, it is highly recommended to have a thorough inspection done by a certified mechanic before purchasing. However, there are a few things you can inspect yourself as a part of your due diligence.

Begin by doing a walk around the exterior of the vehicle, looking for signs of damage, rust, or paint work that could indicate prior accidents. Check that the paint color is uniform across all panels. Inspect the tires for uneven wear, which could mean alignment issues. Look under the vehicle for leaks, damage, or rust on the undercarriage. Verify all lights, signals, and wipers are functioning properly.

Moving inside, make sure all interior features are operational – windows, locks, seats, seatbelts, and electronics. Smell for odors that could indicate leaks, mold, or other problems. Feel for damp carpets that could show water intrusion issues. Check for stains, damage, or excessive wear on upholstery and carpets.

When test driving, listen for any abnormal noises, vibrations, or handling issues. Make sure all gauges are functional. Test acceleration and braking at various speeds and on inclines. Check heating and air conditioning operation.

While a DIY inspection is helpful, a professional pre-purchase inspection by a trusted mechanic is highly recommended when buying a used car in Alberta. They will thoroughly inspect all vehicle systems and components, providing peace of mind that any issues are identified before purchase. This typically costs $100-$200 but can save thousands in unforeseen repairs or problems down the road.

 

Check History

Checking the history of a used vehicle is crucial before making a purchase. There are two main ways to get details on the vehicle’s past:

 

Ask for Service Records

Service records detail all the maintenance, repairs and major work done on the vehicle. Ask the seller to provide them. You want to ensure the vehicle has been properly maintained and doesn’t have recurring issues.

 

Get a Vehicle History Report

Run the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) through a vehicle history report provider like Carfax or CarProof. This will give you information on previous owners, odometer readings, any accidents or damage claims, outstanding liens and import records.

Having a complete history gives you peace of mind on your purchase. You’ll know what shape it’s in and if there are any issues to be concerned about. Avoid any vehicles with large gaps in service records or history reports.

 

Negotiate Price

Negotiating a fair price is crucial when purchasing a used vehicle in Alberta. Research websites like AutoTrader, Kijiji Autos, and Car Gurus to get a sense of current market prices for the make, model, and year of vehicle you are interested in. Consider mileage, condition, options, and demand when evaluating price.

When negotiating with a private seller, start lower than asking price, but be reasonable. Point out any flaws, high mileage, or needed repairs to justify your offer. See if the seller will include new tires, brakes, battery or any repairs needed in the price. Be prepared to walk away if you can’t agree on a fair price.

At a dealership, inquire about any wiggle room in the internet or sticker price. Note that used cars at dealers tend to be more thoroughly inspected and reconditioned, so you may pay a premium. See if they will throw in an additional warranty, winter tires or other extras to sweeten the deal. Remember the out the door price with taxes and fees should be your negotiating focus.

Getting pre-approved for financing also gives you negotiation leverage, as you know what monthly payment works for your budget. With patience, information and negotiation savvy, you can get the best price on your used vehicle purchase in Alberta.

 

Close the Deal

Once you’ve negotiated an agreeable price with the seller and are ready to complete the transaction, it’s time to close the deal. There are a few key steps you’ll want to take to finalize the sale:

Review the bill of sale – The bill of sale is an important legal document that transfers ownership of the vehicle from the seller to you. Make sure all the key details are included like VIN, make/model/year, mileage, sale price, date, and both your signatures. Review it carefully before signing.

Verify ownership – Request to see the current vehicle registration in the seller’s name as proof of ownership. Make sure the VIN matches that of the vehicle you are purchasing. Also ask to see photo ID from the seller matching the name on the registration.

Once you’ve double-checked everything, take possession of the signed bill of sale, keys, and existing registration from the seller. Be sure to hold onto the bill of sale until you register the vehicle under your name.

 

Register the Vehicle

Once you’ve purchased the used vehicle, you’ll need to transfer the registration into your name. This must be done within 3 days of buying the vehicle in Alberta. If purchasing from a private seller, make sure you get the signed transfer of registration document from the previous owner.

To transfer the registration, you’ll need:

 

  • The transfer of registration document signed by the seller
  • Valid insurance papers
  • Safety inspection certificate (if required)
  • Identification

 

Bring these documents to a registry agent to complete the registration transfer. The registry agent will provide new plates and registration if needed.

For out of province purchases, you’ll need to register the vehicle in Alberta within 90 days. Make sure you bring the bill of sale or previous registration, safety inspection certificate, insurance papers and identification. The registry agent will walk you through the steps to register the out of province vehicle.

Registering the vehicle properly is an important step to follow provincial requirements and avoid issues on the road.

 

Insurance Requirements in Alberta

When purchasing a used vehicle in Alberta, having proper insurance coverage is required by law before you can legally drive the vehicle. It’s important to understand the minimum insurance requirements, and to shop around for the best insurance quote.

The minimum liability coverage required by law in Alberta is:

 

  • $200,000 for claims against bodily injury or death to any one person
  • $200,000 for claims against bodily injury or death to two or more people in any one collision
  • $50,000 for claims against damage to property as a result of any one collision

 

This basic coverage is referred to as PL/PD coverage (Personal Liability/Property Damage). Alberta law requires drivers to carry at least this minimum level of auto insurance. However, experts recommend considering higher coverage limits for greater protection.

When shopping for car insurance quotes, be sure to get quotes from multiple providers. Rates can vary greatly between insurance companies, so taking the time to shop around is wise. Look at the level of coverage as well as the premium cost. Consider raising your deductibles which can lower the monthly payment. If bundling home and auto insurance, further discounts may apply. Review all available discounts you may qualify for.

Ultimately, balancing the right amount of coverage at the best possible rate is the goal when insuring your used vehicle. Take the time to shop around, and consult with an insurance broker if needed.

 

Safety Inspection

Alberta requires vehicle safety inspections for vehicles previously registered in another jurisdiction or vehicles that have previously been declared salvage by an insurance company. These inspections ensure that repairs have been properly completed and that the vehicle is safe for the road before being registered in Alberta.

During a safety inspection, the following items will be thoroughly checked:

 

  • Brakes
  • Lights
  • Turn signals
  • Windows
  • Mirrors
  • Seatbelts
  • Tires
  • Suspension
  • Steering
  • Exhaust system
  • Frame and body condition

 

Any issues that could affect the safe operation of the vehicle must be repaired before it can pass inspection and be registered. Safety inspections are performed at authorized inspection facilities in Alberta. The inspector will provide documentation that the vehicle has passed inspection before you can register it.

 

Maintenance Tips

Proper maintenance is crucial to keeping your used car running smoothly and avoiding major repairs down the road. Here are some tips for maintaining your used vehicle:

 

Follow the Service Schedule

When you purchase a used car, get a copy of the maintenance schedule from the previous owner or dealership. This schedule outlines the manufacturer’s recommendations for oil changes, tire rotations, fluid flushes, and more based on the car’s mileage. Stick closely to this schedule to keep your car in top shape.

 

Learn to Do Basic Maintenance Yourself

Simple maintenance tasks like changing oil, replacing air filters, and topping off fluids can be done yourself at home. This allows you to save on maintenance costs and have more control over the parts used on your vehicle. Be sure to invest in some basic tools and jack stands.

However, leave major services like transmission flushes to professional mechanics. Attempting complex maintenance without proper training can cause more harm than good.

 

Address Issues Promptly

Never ignore unusual sounds, smells, or drips coming from your used car. Have any potential problems inspected by a mechanic right away. It’s much cheaper to fix minor issues now rather than allowing them to escalate into major repairs down the road.

 

Keep Records

Maintain detailed records of all maintenance and repairs performed on your used vehicle. This documentation will come in handy if you ever decide to sell the car.

By sticking to the service schedule, learning to DIY basic maintenance, addressing issues early, and keeping records, you can keep your used car running smoothly for years to come.

 

Conclusion

Buying a used vehicle in Alberta can be a smooth process if you do your research and follow the proper steps. The most important things to keep in mind are determining your needs, setting a realistic budget, thoroughly inspecting any vehicle you’re interested in, checking the history report, negotiating a fair price, completing all registration and insurance requirements, and getting a safety inspection done. While buying a used vehicle does require diligence on your part as the buyer, taking the time to do it right will pay off with years of reliable transportation.

Following the tips outlined in this guide will help you find a high-quality used vehicle that meets your needs and budget. Taking shortcuts or skipping steps can potentially lead to buying a lemon, so it’s worth investing the time upfront to avoid headaches down the road. Be an informed buyer, know your rights and responsibilities, get everything in writing, and don’t feel pressured into making a purchase. If you stay disciplined and patient, you’ll likely find a great used vehicle in Alberta.

Get Approved Today

See if you qualify in under 60 seconds

Common Questions About Buying a Used Car in Alberta

When buying a used car in Alberta, you’ll want to thoroughly inspect the vehicle inside and out. Check for any signs of damage, wear and tear, rust, leaks, etc. Take it for a lengthy test drive on different road conditions and pay attention to any unusual sounds or sensations. Review all maintenance records and verify ownership history with a CARFAX report. You’ll also want to take the car to your own mechanic for a pre-purchase inspection. This will help uncover any issues the seller may not be aware of or is not disclosing. Be sure to test all features and controls thoroughly as well.

When buying a used car from a private seller in Alberta, you’ll need a bill of sale, vehicle registration, proof of insurance for the new owner, and potentially a safety inspection certificate. The bill of sale should clearly outline the vehicle details, sale price, date, and signatures of both parties. You’ll need to officially register the change of ownership with Alberta Registries within 10 days. This requires filling out a “New Owner Registration” form. You’ll also need to show proof of insurance before driving the car away. Getting a safety inspection done on the car beforehand is highly recommended to uncover any issues.

When buying a used car in Alberta from a private seller, you don’t pay any provincial sales tax, only the 5% federal GST. If purchasing from a dealership, you pay GST on the full purchase price. You also pay a tire recycling fee ($4.50 per new tire) and registration fee ($84 per year). There may be added documentation or administration fees as well. You do not pay PST in Alberta, saving you 7% compared to other provinces. Insurance, fuel, maintenance and financing costs also need to be factored in when budgeting for a used car purchase.

Unlike some other major purchases, there is no “cooling off period” when buying a used car in Alberta. Once you sign the bill of sale and registration papers, the transaction is considered legally binding. The only way to return the vehicle if you change your mind would be if the seller agrees to void the original contract. Otherwise, you are responsible for the car as the new legal owner. This is why it’s critical you thoroughly test drive and inspect a used vehicle before finalizing a purchase. Don’t feel rushed or pressured during your shopping process.

If buying a used car online from another province, it gets more complicated. Once purchased, you’ll likely have to pay to transport the vehicle to Alberta. Before registration, it’ll need a safety inspection, which may require repairs you’ll have to pay for. You also may get stuck paying both the original province’s sales tax plus GST. Overall, there’s more risk buying remotely without ability to personally inspect. If going this route, get a dealer to broker the transaction and ensure there’s a warranty that remains valid in Alberta.

Unlike new vehicles, used cars in Alberta are generally sold “as-is” without any warranty protections. However, if you discover a significant issue soon after purchase that the seller likely knew about but didn’t disclose, you may have grounds to return the car and void the sale. This would require proving the seller deliberately hid the defect though. Alternatively, you could negotiate with the seller to split the repair costs. This is why a pre-purchase inspection is so important before money changes hands.

The steps are:

1) Complete bill of sale with seller

2) Buy auto insurance effective day of sale

3) Schedule out-of-province inspection if needed

4) Fill out “New Owner Registration” form at registry

5) Provide proof of insurance to registry to get new title

6) Affix new license plate

This needs to be done within 10 days of purchase. You also need to show valid insurance to drive the newly purchased car right away before registration is complete.

There are good reasons for both options when buying a used car in Alberta. Dealers must put vehicles through a mechanical fitness assessment and typically provide some warranty coverage. However, private sellers generally have lower prices. Private sellers have owned the car themselves, but dealers have serviced many makes and models. Get any private sale vehicle independently inspected. Dealers also handle all registration paperwork whereas private sales require self-registration. Evaluate the pros and cons of each for your specific situation.

To verify a used car you’re buying in Alberta has no existing liens or unpaid loans, you’ll want to carefully inspect the vehicle registration paper. Confirm the title shows the sellers name as the sole legal owner. Also verify the VIN sticker on the dashboard matches the VIN number printed on the registration form. Running a CARFAX report by VIN can uncover title discrepancies too. You can also directly call Alberta Registries with the VIN to double check the title status for unpaid debts tied to the vehicle before purchase.

For private sales in Alberta, cash, electronic bank transfer, bank draft, money order, or certified cheque are recommended for payment. Avoid using regular uncertified cheques which can bounce later on. For both buyer and seller protection, be sure to thoroughly complete and sign the bill of sale form including details like VIN, mileage, sale price, date, etc. Make copies for each party. Count cash carefully during in-person transactions. Wait for electronic payments to fully clear before releasing the vehicle. Having a neutral third party present during sale can ease security concerns.

Paying full cash outright when buying a used car from a private seller in Alberta can give you negotiation leverage without financing terms complicating things. However, used auto loans currently have relatively low interest rates, allowing you to keep your savings intact. This added liquidity can be handy for unexpected costs down the road. Weigh your current finances and budget to decide what makes sense. Just be sure to get pre-approved financing in place before searching so you know what you can afford.

When purchasing a used car in Alberta, avoid these add-ons:

– Extended car warranty (unlikely to be cost effective)

– Credit insurance (adds fees for little benefit)

– Alarm system (easy to install this later yourself)

– Fabric and paint protection (not worth the price)

– Wheel locks (just remove valuables instead if worried about theft)

– Upgraded floor mats (cheaper to buy these on your own)

 

These extra dealer products have large profit margins and are rarely good investments when buying a used vehicle. Negotiate just the price of the car itself without unnecessary extras.

The best used car dealerships in Alberta for buyers have AMVIC licensing, on-site repair facilities, a dealership-backed warranty, a large certified pre-owned (CPO) vehicle inventory, vehicle history reports for each car, online application options, competitive pricing, and strong customer service ratings. Look for dealers in your area that tick all these boxes when shopping for the most trustworthy experience.

When buying remotely in Alberta without ability to personally inspect the vehicle, have the car delivered to a local mechanic you trust for a pre-purchase evaluation before money changes hands. Also ask the seller to provide a current safety certification and claims history report from the province’s registry. Live video inspection of the car can help spot issues too. For seller legitimacy, confirm registry records show them as the official owner. Pay only once the car arrives as advertised. These tips help minimize safety and reliability risks purchasing a used car online unseen.

The most affordable vehicles to insure for Alberta drivers based on average premiums are:

– Subcompact cars

– Minivans

– Smaller SUVs

– Family sedans

– Pickup trucks

 

The least expensive used cars to insure typically have better safety ratings, fewer claims, lower repair costs, modest horsepower, good gas mileage, and relatively low base prices. Choosing an older or common used model can also yield insurance savings in the province.

When buying a used car in Alberta, it’s important to budget for expenses beyond just the sales price. You’ll also need to factor in costs like:

– GST on the purchase price if from a dealer

– Auto insurance ($800+ per year)

– Registration fee ($84 per year)

– Safety inspection ($150 approximate)

– Interest payments if financing

– Gas for driving (~$0.70 per liter)

– Regular maintenance and oil changes

Leave wiggle room for surprise repairs too. Getting quotes beforehand for things like insurance helps estimate total ownership costs more accurately.

Questions to ask the seller when test driving and evaluating a used car for purchase in Alberta include:

– How many previous owners were there and do you have maintenance records?

– Has the car ever been in an accident?

– Why are you selling the vehicle?

– What’s the average fuel consumption you’ve experienced?

– What repairs or major maintenance has been done and when?

– What’s the remaining tread life on the tires?

– Does all the equipment (radio, locks, lights, etc) work properly?

– Have there been any recurring issues I should know about?

When test driving a used car in Alberta, listen for any odd noises like knocks, squeaks or rumbles and watch for fluid leaks, smoke or steam. Make sure all controls, electronics and equipment function properly. Notice how smoothly the transmission shifts gears. Test acceleration for responsiveness and brake firmly to check stopping distance. Check blind spots and feel for vehicle vibration and pull to one side. Drive at highway speeds and vary terrain to fully assess performance. An extensive test drive helps determine mechanical condition before purchase.

Unfortunately, Alberta does not have specific “lemon laws” like other regions when buying used vehicles. As sales are “as-is”, the dealer or private seller is under no legal obligation to take the car back or refund payment. Your only recourse is to negotiate repairs, sale cancellation or trade-in value. This is why a mechanical inspection beforehand plus test drive is so important. Extended dealer warranties can provide some protection as well. Without them or provable evidence of an intentional defect cover-up though, used car buyers have minimal options if they discover major problems later on.

To avoid overpaying at a dealership when negotiating the purchase of a used car in Alberta, thoroughly research pricing data online for the specific make and model beforehand from sites like AutoTrader and KBB. Compare quotes between multiple dealers too. Secure independent financing beforehand as dealer financing often has inflated interest rates. Say you’re paying in cash even if not (for bargaining power). Bring someone experienced in the car buying process to help negotiate. And don’t fall for tactics urging you to decide immediately or risk “losing the deal”. Take your time.

Those looking to purchase a used car in Alberta without the high pressure sales tactics can consider:

– Private sales via Kijiji or Autotrader where you deal direct with the owner

– Independent corner lots with fair posted pricing

– Auctions for fixer-uppers at discounted prices

– Rental car companies selling off fleet vehicles

– Online retailers like Clutch.ca that deliver to your door

 

Finding a small, community operated dealership outside city centers can reduce pressure too. Test drive without obligation, let them know you’re getting multiple quotes, and be willing to walk away to avoid intimidation techniques.

Red flags to watch for that may indicate fraud when purchasing a used vehicle in Alberta:

 

– Title or VIN issues not matching registration

– Seller demanding unusual payment types

– Price or condition that seems too good to be true

– Verbal promises that don’t match paperwork

– Rush to complete sale without inspection

– Lack of seller identification confirmation

– Vehicle history report showing suspicious activity

– Seller reluctant or strange about test drives

 

Trust your instincts and slow down the process if anything seems suspicious to avoid being scammed. Thoroughly verify details before money changes hands.

Right after buying a used vehicle in a private sale in Alberta, first complete bill of sale paperwork with all details signed by both parties. Secure insurance effective immediately as coverage is required to drive away. Take thorough photos showing the car’s condition at sale. Check all fluid levels under the hood before driving. Install your own license plate if you have one or obtain temporary permitting from registry. Familiarize yourself with controls before leaving lot. Driving straight to a mechanic for inspection is also wise to uncover any undisclosed issues while sale is still fresh.

Get Approved Today

See if you qualify in under 60 seconds