Why Canada’s used-car world is becoming a buyer’s market

TORONTO — The balance of power in the used car market is shifting towards shoppers as improved data and online offerings create more opportunities to push for the best price.

A fast-evolving online marketplace is providing more intelligence on the fair value of cars, said Cliff Banks, a Detroit-based auto retail expert.

“I don’t know that it can be any more transparent…they all provide intelligence on the pricing and the deal of the vehicle, whether it’s a good deal, a fair deal.”

Kijiji Canada recently announced it will add a standalone auto sales site that will roll out later this year to keep up with shifting expectations. The site will add reviews of dealers as well as market pricing information from Carproof.

“The key feature for us, and one of the biggest, the biggest win for us is what’s called price transparency or price analysis,” said Matt McKenzie, general manager at Kijiji Canada.

The online classified company, owned by eBay, already boasts of being the largest player in the Canadian market with about 500,000 vehicle listings. Autotrader, owned by Etobicoke-based Trader Corp., lists about 444,000 vehicles on its site while there are many other offerings on the market as well.

Listing companies are boosting their online presence as the used vehicle market is set for significant growth, said Dennis DesRosiers, president of DesRosiers Automotive Consultants.

“There’s tremendous opportunity, and that brings in all the different retail players and their approach of, how do I get a piece of that?”

While new vehicle sales are expected to be largely flat at about two million this year, the used vehicle market is set to add half a million more in sales in the next three to five years, on top of the three million that changed hands last year, said DesRosiers.

The rise in the used vehicle market comes as improved quality in the past decade means cars and trucks are lasting much longer, allowing for a potential lifespan of four to six owners from the two or three expected not long ago.

“It takes 23 years to remove the vehicles from the road now, a decade ago it only took about 12, so it’s essentially doubled,” said DesRosiers.

Used vehicles also offer margins that are two to three times higher than for new cars, adding to their appeal, he said.

The quality and information improvements have significantly changed the overall used retail market, said DesRosiers.

“It’s not that far long ago, call it 15 years ago or maybe 10 years ago, where the used car market was largely a culture of deceit…even if the online capacity was there, there was just so much riffraff in the used car market that it was very dangerous. A lot of that has changed.”

The improved access to data means used-car retailers have to be more transparent and competitive about their pricing, said Jamie Tekela, director of pre-owned operations at Pfaff Automotive Partners.

“You need to really justify what you’re asking, why you’re asking it, and you can’t go asking $500 more for the same Honda Civic with the same mileage. It just it doesn’t work any more.”

“It’s night and day, to be perfectly honest. It’s gotten a lot more customer friendly,” he said.

The improved information on crash reports, comparable sales, and other metrics hasn’t done away with potential negotiations but does give more justification, said Jamie.

“There’s always going to be negotiations when trying to buy and sell vehicles, but with so much information available to each and every one of us, it’s a lot easier to explain our rhyme and reason why we’re asking what for a car.”

Buying a Used Car: How to Choose a Payment Option

When the time comes to buy a used car, there are many financial factors to consider. Perhaps your budget will narrow your used car choices, or you may not be aware of the payment options available. We are ready to show you some ways you can pay for your vehicle and to show you that the make and model you desire most may well be within your reach if you plan carefully.

Consider the Time Frame

As you consider payment options, one of the first factors you might want to think about is how long you will be paying for your car. Whether you secure a loan through the bank or choose in-house financing with us and depending on your credit, your loan could be as brief as two or three years or as long as five. It is important to understand the exact terms of the length of your loan before you sign off on a vehicle.

Give Yourself Time

Even if you find yourself needing a new vehicle for your commute to work or school, you should avoid jumping into a deal right away. Take the time to consider your options, as this may help you avoid hefty payments that might be hard to handle later on. For example, ask yourself whether your current car is a valid trade in or if you can secure a down payment that may help lower the cost of a vehicle.

Review Your Budget

One mistake many people make when they shop for used cars is to miscalculate how much they can afford to pay monthly. To avoid this error, you will need to factor more than just the car payment into your auto ownership budget. The cost of insurance, gas and other taxes and fees that will need to be paid when you purchase a vehicle should all be included in your budget to ensure you do not overextend it.

Buying a used car can be a challenge, especially if you are unsure of your payment options. However, being prepared and asking the right questions can help you get the car you want at an affordable payment.

Advice and Negotiation Tips for Shopping Used Cars

Buying a vehicle is never easy, but buying a used vehicle is downright difficult. You will get your hopes up numerous times by an ad that seems too good to be true, only to be let down when, in fact, it was too good to be true. Someone might advertise their car as “Like new! Mild wear and tear! Runs great!” when in actuality, it is very much old, has extensive wear and tear and doesn’t run at all. Yes, it happens. That is why, when shopping for used cars, you should know where to turn and how to negotiate. Don’t fall for a scam and bring home a lemon, and use the following advice to help ease the pain of your search:

Go to a Dealer

Sure, you know someone who found a great deal on Craigslist, or are even friends with that lucky person who bought a car on Ebay ten years ago and it’s still running great today. However, those people are the exceptions to the rule that states that you should never, ever shop for used cars online. Not only is it impossible to tell the true condition of a vehicle without actually seeing it, but also, you’re risking spending thousands of dollars a car that may take a dump on you ten minutes after purchasing it. Then, because there is no warranty, you’re stuck with an old car that doesn’t run and no money to fix it.

Find the Car You Want

Before you head to the dealership, know what you’re looking for. If you head to the dealership without a clue, you may end up purchasing a vehicle that is over your budget and all wrong for your needs. Identify the traits you need in a new used car: good gas mileage, three rows, ample storage space, etc. Once you do this, set a budget and head to the dealer.

Negotiate Like a Pro

Negotiating for a fair price might be the most daunting part of the car buying process, but it’s necessary. Dealerships expect you to negotiate and price their cars accordingly. Use all the knowledge you have regarding the vehicle to bring the price down.

Use the tips above when shopping for used cars to get the best your money can buy.