Toronto’s wisest used-car buyers approach their shopping processes with a well-cemented set of preordained priorities – the same way any savvy shopper goes into any major purchase.

Vastly for the most part, homebuyers don’t look over properties and imagine how they’ll alter their lifestyles to suit their new homes. The process of buying an insurance policy doesn’t usually include changing as many personal circumstances as possible to suit the new coverage. Likewise, people buy the cars that suit their needs at costs within their means.

Careful as most buyers will be, questionable knowledge about cars, used-auto dealers and what makes for a quality purchase with peace of mind can unnecessarily slow down, complicate and hamper getting a satisfying set of keys into one’s hand. Before you buy your first or “next” used car from one of Toronto’s favorite dealers, review these six “facts” about buying. What you don’t know could cost you.


MYTH: “Holding back some information until the last possible moment will lock me in a lower price.”

Nice try. Salespeople are wise to this. This is a popular one with buyers who are already leasing vehicles when they go to buy. Anyone who discloses a lease too early, the thinking goes, is begging for a sales associate to argue with leasing’s inherent expenses and quote a higher price for the vehicle.

Just the same, an assumption exists that playing coy about one’s trade-in until “realizing” how much the next vehicle costs actually snows the dealer. It doesn’t. You’re better off doing your trade-in homework beforehand. You then have a verifiable actual value already in mind before you even walk onto the lot.


MYTH: “I can always threaten to walk away from the lot entirely as a last-ditch effort at swinging the bargaining leverage my way.”

This isn’t nearly as effective online as it is in-person. It’s a classic for buyers who shop a dealer’s lot without doing any research or having any access to specific make and model’s intel ahead of time.

Unfortunately, while a dealer can try and conceal the lowdown on an individual vehicle, there’s no excuse anymore for not knowing a little something ahead of time. Edmunds Price Promise, for example, holds a litany of information about any given vehicle under the sun.


MYTH: “April showers bring May flowers – and keep competing buyers at bay.”

This one has somewhat backfired on the buyers themselves. So many buyers buy into the power of rain to deter used-car shoppers that everybody who thinks a downpour makes a dealer desperate converges on a lot thinking they have the same leg-up on everyone else. Again, just take it easy and sniff around online.


MYTH: “Giving the dealer minimal notice that you want to come in and buy a vehicle will cause a scramble to give you the best price possible.”

This might have worked, once upon a time when economic theories were young, few and far-between. Even then, it probably only worked where several dealers had never heard of “game theory” or realized that other merchants in the immediate area were selling the same goods they were. It might not necessarily “hurt” your chances of a good price to try and put a dealer on the spot, but it really does waste your time. Dealerships are aware of one another. For all you another, two competing sales managers that you might think you’re cleverly pitting against one another joke about these kinds of buyers on the golf course weekly.


MYTH: “The dealership will be more likely to work with me if I carry a cashier’s check for the exact amount I’m willing to spend and start off from a ‘Take-it-or-leave-it’ position.”

Best-case scenario, you show up with an exact-amount check to play hardball but haven’t taken taxes and other fees into account could increase the price. In the worst case, you may have just insisted on your price when the sales associate was prepared to offer you less. The dealer suddenly just keeps his or her mouth shut while you savor the satisfaction of thinking you’ve dominated someone into submission.


MYTH: “Proofread that sale agreement like a university professor going over a graduate thesis.”

This is an especially popular tactic with buyers who shop dealerships right before closing. It fails in that permutation because many buyers don’t take into account that auto dealers actually like money and will put off those dinner plans a while if it means padding their commissions.

Besides, it’s largely unnecessary. Go over the price. Verify the fees. Make sure all terms line up as discussed. However, know that a great deal of that contract has already been made mandatory the industry’s governing bodies and “lemon laws” mandating full disclosure when trying to offload a used car or truck. Perusing every word and punctuation mark of a contract is just killing time unnecessarily.

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