How to buy my first car in Ontario?
December 31, 2005 9:42 AM   Subscribe

I need to buy a car. I'm in Toronto. We've never had a car in Canada before. What are useful sources of information?

A change in circumstances has meant I need a car for work. I have no idea about the costs of owning a car, since I've managed to do without for more than ten years. It doesn't need to be a big vehicle, but it does have to be able to handle regular trips of 250km or more in relative comfort. Due to the nature of my work, it should be as economical and low-emissions as possible. If I were in the UK, I'd probably go for a stick-shift diesel, but I realise these aren't that common here.

Buy new? Used? Lease? Financing tips? How does insurance stack up? Hybrid? Diesel? Stick-shift? Is there a recovery association similar to the UK's ETA in that it lobbies for the environment, not just for the industry? Any pointers greatly appreciated.
posted by scruss to Travel & Transportation around Ontario (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
VW Golf TDI, get a used one.
posted by furtive at 10:18 AM on December 31, 2005

Supporting Golf search in Ontario.
posted by furtive at 10:20 AM on December 31, 2005

I recommend a Honda. They're safe and run forever. They're also everywhere so it's not hard to get them worked on.
posted by wsg at 10:20 AM on December 31, 2005

Not exactly similar to ETA, but Natural Resources Canada offers a list of the most fuel efficient vehicles available to consumers. Perhaps you can get some inspiration/direction there.

Since you're living in Toronto, have you considered AutoShare? Not sure if would fit your needs, but as an alternative to buying and owning a car, it's quite "green" and saves me a boatload (carload?) of cash.
posted by gavia at 10:28 AM on December 31, 2005

Toyota Echo, Honda Civic.

Buy new? Used?

For those, either. You'll save money with used, but probably only a very proportionate amount, not the absurd amount you might think.


Lease if you want to get rid of the car in 3 years, either for another one or just to have no car. Buy if you want to drive it 5+ years.

Financing tips?

Car price and financing are separate deals. Do not mingle them, ever. Do not ever discuss monthly payments. Talk to your bank or credit union first.

How does insurance stack up?

Call your insurance company and ask them. They'll give you straight-up no-shit quotes for any cars you care to ask them about.


If you like. You'll save gas, but might end up spending more money over 5 years.


If you want a VW. An Echo will get mileage in the same ballpark if not quite as good.


Unless you're mostly going to be in stop-and-go on 401, yes.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 10:41 AM on December 31, 2005

I joined Car Help Canada when I was buying my first new car. The deal they got me more than paid for the joining fee and they made the whole thing completely hassle-free.
posted by transient at 10:52 AM on December 31, 2005

Autotrader is essential for determining the market value of your preferred model, even if you don't buy though them. (I have, with no complaints, but buying used is always a risk.)
posted by Popular Ethics at 11:35 AM on December 31, 2005

What kind of license do you have? IIRC, not all licenses from other jurisidictions convert to the full G license. Your license may only be a G2. The restrictions on a G2 aren't too bad, but there's a maximum BAC of 0.0, which you should know about in case you ever decide to have one beer at a friend's and drive home.

The links here'll tell you more, if you have any questions.
posted by Pseudoephedrine at 1:25 PM on December 31, 2005

4WD/AWD. I know it restricts your choice but you'll rejoice when int snows!
posted by Neiltupper at 2:09 PM on December 31, 2005

I've found Phil Edmonton's annual Lemon-Aid guides to be a useful source of information. There's one for used cars, one for new cars.

Regarding cost: If I recall correctly, the annual cost of operating a car is about $6000 for the average Canadian household. That was a few years ago, so it's probably closer to $8000 or $10000 now. You pay a considerable premium for a new car as opposed to a one-year-old car. If you can afford it, my suggestion would be to buy a reliable brand of car for cash, a couple years old rather than new, through a private sale (e.g. Auto Trader) rather than a dealer, with an inspection ($100 or so) beforehand to make sure you're not buying a problem car. For collision and comprehensive insurance, we "self-insure" by taking high deductibles and paying lower premiums.

That said, once we have to replace our current car, we're thinking about getting a new hybrid.
posted by russilwvong at 6:01 PM on December 31, 2005

Response by poster: You've certainly given me something to think about. Thanks, all.

gavia, AutoShare would be murder on the distance and availability that I need. I'd love to be able to use it, but they don't have cars out in Scarborough.

Pseudoephedrine, I have a full G licence. I got one shortly after Ontario signed full reciprocity with the UK. So I got a full licence with no test, without ever having driven in this continent. Afraid yet?

Neiltupper, 4WD is too much weight to lug around for the couple of times a year I might need it. All cars come with 4-Wheel Stop, after all.
posted by scruss at 6:39 PM on January 1, 2006

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