Buy Your Used Car at a Dealership
There are lots of reasons for people to consider buying a used car, and that’s a great decision provided that you avoid the pitfalls that can trip you up along the way. One of the very best ways to avoid buying a lemon from an unknown or shady seller is to actually buy your used vehicle at a dealership. Here’s why:
The images of car salesmen with slicked-back hair and plaid jackets are a thing of the past, if indeed they ever truly existed outside of the movies. The government of Ontario has a regulation board that monitors business practices in the vehicle sales industry. The Ontario Motor Vehicles Industry Council (OMVIC) screens and approves individual dealerships that conduct themselves according to certain protocols and principles.
When you buy your new or used vehicle from an OMVIC-registered dealership, you get the assurance that they are expected to follow a Code of Ethics that include integrity, accountability, respect and professionalism. And it’s not just the dealerships. Individual salespeople are also certified by OMVIC, so if yours isn’t, keep walking.
Additionally, you can ask if your dealer is also a member of the Used Car Dealers Association (UCDA) which is not a government body but does adhere to certain standards and practices within the industry.
Not only will you get the assurance of an upstanding sales experience, you can also rest assured that the quality of used cars and trucks you’ll find on the pre-owned section of a new car dealership are of a higher quality compared to those that you may find on a private lot – you know the kind – that pop up on a vacant street corner for a few months and then disappear.
The used vehicles on display at new car dealerships are safety-certified and have a history that can be fully accounted for and disclosed to you. Your dealership can trace previous owners and determine if a vehicle has any liens against it, or been involved in past collisions. So the vehicles on offer are familiar to the sales team and often come from customers who are trading in their reliable vehicles for a new model.
GM Certified Pre-Owned Vehicles vs a “Safety” certificate
Many car dealerships will provide a safety certificate on used vehicles, but some cars come with an even higher standard of performance guarantee.
A road safety certificate is provided when a vehicle complies with and passes a Ministry of Ontario road safety inspection. That means it’s safe to drive on the road in its current condition. This is the very least you should expect from your seller, so walk away if they can’t provide one.
However, vehicles that qualify can earn the GM Certification by undergoing a more comprehensive examination that covers 150+ points of inspection by a GM certified technician. These points are set by General Motors and assess more than road-worthiness; they look at the appearance and working condition of the vehicle, assess it with a test drive and evaluate how much life is left in it for the next owner (e.g. Does the A/C work? How much tread is left on the tires?).
Many of the vehicles Mills Motors offers are late model and often come with some remaining manufacturer’s warranty. However, if a vehicle without any remaining warranty is sold with a GM Certified Pre-Owned rating, GM provides a limited warranty of three months or 5,000 kms.
Under Ontario law, there is no “cooling off” period as it pertains to motor vehicle sales. So it’s an added benefit to you to purchase a GM-Certified Pre-Owned Vehicle because it gives you a 30-day, 2,500 km exchange privilege. This allows you to take the time to make sure you made the right decision.
When you buy a used vehicle from just anyone, they are primarily interested in your money and nothing else. When you buy a used car from a dealership, however, they want you as a customer for the long term. They want to service your vehicle for as long as you own it, and hope to eventually sell you your next one after that. So it’s in their interest to make sure you are happy with your purchase! Building a relationship with your dealership allows you to take advantage of promotions and service packages, and it’s always nice to go where everybody knows your name!
If you think that after your purchase you will use that dealership’s service department, go take a look around. Are the facilities clean and organized? Are the advisors friendly and the technicians busy? Being able to buy and service your used car or truck at the same location is convenient, and having a service record of your maintenance history can be useful down the line when you are ready to trade your vehicle in.
If the dealership is well-known in your community, chances are the company is committed to earning and maintaining their good reputation and will help you navigate your vehicle purchase with expertise and good will. That’s an advantage to you, since it can mean a great deal and a superior sales experience. (At Mills Motors, for example, we’re dedicated to doing“Whatever It Takes” for our customers.)
Take a look at the dealership online: do they have a legitimate web presence? Is thewebsite informative? Do they have a Facebook or Twitter page and do they respond to their followers? These are clues that will tip you off to the kind of responsiveness you can expect from them.
Finally, do a search of Google reviews on that dealership to see what other customers’ experiences have been. Of course every company always has a small number of grumpy reviews, but overall is the reputation of the dealership favourable? That generally means they take their reputation seriously. (Of course, when you have a great experience with your dealer, you should also consider leaving them a positive review so other customers can gain from your knowledge.)
A great advantage to buying your used car or truck from a new car dealership is that you have flexible financing options that you’d never get if buying from a private dealer or individual seller. A new car dealership can help you work out the best payment plan and financing to suit your needs.
And a dealership with a used car lot will gladly take your older vehicle as a trade-in against your purchase, which can be an advantage when trying to lower your overall price.
Do remember that, under Ontario law, there is no “cooling off” period for vehicle sales contracts. If you don’t understand part of the paperwork, be sure to ask for clarification before you sign it, as the contract will be binding. The experienced staff at most new car dealership is more than willing to help you understand all components of your sales contract, financing and documentation.
Have more questions? Ask our experienced Sales and Financial Consultants!