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Buying a Used Car - Don't Get Burned!

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Author: Andre Foksowicz

Buying a used car can be a stressful and demanding task. Generally speaking, a vehicle purchase can be one of the largest financial commitments we make. So how do you know you're making the right decision? How do you know that you're buying a good car? Before you purchase, it is smart to do your homework and ensure that you get some, if not all, of the following points accomplished.

Make sure that the vehicle you are buying is free of liens (monies owed against the vehicle) and major accidents. To ensure this you can check the liens with BC Lien search and get a vehicle damage report from ICBC.

Because these reports are limited to BC this may not show you everything you need to know. You may choose to use a company called that will give you an individual report from every single province in one convenient report. This will cost you approximately $60.

Make sure that the vehicle you are about to purchase has been mechanically inspected. Many dealers do this in-house for convenience. I would strongly recommend a third party inspection done by someone who has no business in repairing vehicles as this can pose conflict of interests.

The most reputable source for this is BCAA who does not have any interest in repairing vehicles, just providing inspections. This will be the best money spent. A BCAA report will set you back approximately $139.

All used vehicles will have flaws that are expected. However, it makes sense to pay more for a vehicle that has had some of the larger issues recently taken care of.

Things such as a dealer recommended service, tires that are 50% or better, brakes that are about 40% or better and any deficiencies that the mechanical inspection found. If these are not done, it can add up very quickly costing you as much as an additional $2,000 over what you must pay for the vehicle.

An extended warranty is always a good idea. If purchased from a dealer at the same time as the car, there may be a discount as the warranty company has less risk knowing the car was properly inspected.

Although there is a tendency to skip this and cross your fingers, in many instances the warranty can pay for itself with just one repair. If this puts you over your budget either increase it or select a less expensive vehicle.


The majority of vehicles sold in the private market may have serious mechanical deficiencies and because the seller needs to maximize the amount of money for their vehicle, it may not be up to date on servicing etc.

Make sure that you get a mechanical inspection before you hand over any monies as well as pay for a report and check the liens. Although this takes time, effort and money it may be the best $200 you'll ever spend.

Although a similar vehicle at a dealership may sell for an extra $500, there is additional value and peace of mind built into that price.

Reputable dealers have their name and reputation riding on every sale. Most of them will have an in-house mechanical inspection to show you, some even go beyond that and have a BCAA inspection to get an independent view, even better.

There are a handful of dealers who take their business more seriously than others, focusing on the customer experience.

These dealers will repair all deficiencies found on the inspection report not just the safety issues. Their safety reports will come from their own shop and in some exceptional cases from BCAA as well.

These dealers will also have not just the ICBC report and BC lien search done but also a report for you to see. This not only adds value to the vehicle but saves you time and money on additional inspections, repairs etc.

This means that everything on the vehicle is done for you up front and you can be confident that you're driving away with a car or truck that you don't have to worry about.

Andre Foksowicz is the Lead Sales Manager at Westminster Volkswagen. He has worked in the auto industry for over 25 years.

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