Used Car Buying Guide

Everything you need to know about buying a used car:

What’s the right used car for you?


Deciding which vehicle you should buy will depend on your needs, your budget and personal preferences. Consider which features are necessities, and which are luxuries. Evaluate a car’s make/model, price, fuel economy, safety rating, size, driving experience and resale value.

Determine which used car is best for you.

Where to look for a pre-owned vehicle


To find a used car near you check out resources like online listings, consumer reports, your local newspaper’s classified section, print buying guides and public auctions. Don’t forget to visit your local dealership to check out their inventory, as they constantly get new stock.

Find out where to shop for a used car.

How do you perform a proper test drive?


A 30-minute test drive is essential to evaluate how a car runs in a realistic setting. Plan a familiar route and test actions you would typically do; hit the brakes, put it in park, take a corner, accelerate, merge and change lanes. Get a feel for the car’s accessories and ensure they work.

Get the test drive checklist.

Why is a pre-purchase inspection so important?


A pre-purchase inspection is essential to determine the cosmetic, mechanical and safety condition of a car. A mechanic can help pinpoint any existing conditions as well as highlight potential future issues. This information is critical and can help provide negotiation leverage.

Where to get a pre-purchase inspection.

What is a VIN check and how do I get one?


A VIN check will tell you details about a specific car like year, make, model, and where it was made. When buying a used car, this information is important in order to make a decision with confidence. To decode a VIN, first find the VIN, typically found on the inside of the driver’s door jamb and windshield, and enter it into a free decoder tool, like this one below.

Get a free VIN decode.

How do you find out the history of a car?


A CARPROOF Vehicle History Report provides you with important information that’s critical to understand when buying a used car. Most importantly, it uncovers whether the vehicle you’re interested in has been in an accident and whether there’s a lien registered against the vehicle.

Get a vehicle history report.

What to ask before buying your next car


Take the intimidation factor out of buying a used car by asking the right questions. Ask why they are selling the car, if it’s had regular service and maintenance and if it’s still under warranty. Ask for a VIN check and request to take the car for an independent inspection.

10 questions to ask before buying a used car.

How to successfully negotiate a used vehicle purchase


Before you negotiate, educate yourself on vehicle valuation and the factors that impact a vehicle’s value. CARPROOF's True Retail Sold™ values tell you what the vehicle is worth, based on what comparable vehicles actually sold for, and adjust this value to account for reported damage in the vehicle's history. Having an accurate valuation will help you make a confident offer based on your research and budget.

Top used car buying negotiation tips.

How do you finalize a used car sale?


Each province has different regulations for finalizing the sale of a used car. We’ve compiled the steps and information that you need to know, as well as provided links to the appropriate websites. When in doubt, contact your provincial government to ensure you and the seller have covered your bases.

Finalizing a car sale (by province).


Want to know more? Click below to download CARPROOF’s free Used Car Buying Guide.

Download Used Car Buying Guide