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Used Car Dealerships Reviewed!

The excitement is building as the team at Rate My Dealer pours over thousands of reviews from across Canada. Canadians finally have a forum to rate and review dealerships, dealers, services, prices and car loans. Dealers will have individual areas to showcase all of their skills, tools and products. Allowing the public a rare glimpse into the used car dealership business. Ultimately helping people make more informed decisions when buying their next Car, Van or SUV.

Since 1982 the internet has grown to become the single largest source for automotive information in 2011. With so many web sites offering free information its very hard to tell who’s got the real goods. Rate My Dealer promises to deliver an unbiased look into what makes dealerships, mechanics and service departments tick.

Used Car Dealer Secrets to a Great Deal

It’s safe to say that most of us know someone who’s negotiated an amazing from a used car dealership. Unfortunately the reality is that over ninety percent are ripped of by a dealership, both new and used. So this is the ultimate how to negotiate a car deal guide.

You’ve spent countless nights and lunches at your desk pouring over stats, data and material about your new car. Great! Now your 10% there. Unfortunately without preparing yourself for the negotiation your about to walk into an auto ambush. Its like playing chess against the pro. The grandmasters know your next move before you do!.  The deck is usually stacked against you because car salespeople live and breath the art of negotiation. For every “no I can’t”or “That’s too much”they will always have 16 other products with a perceived value to cover the discount. “Oh, you’d like $1000 off?, no problem how about I give you this $1100 warranty”Sound familiar? That’s the famous perceived value, bait and switch.

This secret guide to buying a used car exposes salesman’s hidden tricks to relieving you of your hard earned cash. Reading this free car buying guide along with your own personal auto research will help your save thousands of dollars and earn hundreds in extras for your new ride.

Research the Car for you and your Family

Don’t just go to the local dealership to decide which vehicle is best suited to your needs. Do some of your own online car research to help narrow the choices. There are four major car decision points:

1.  Budget –One of the most important aspects to your car purchase. You should be brutally honest with yourself to decide on an affordable maximum monthly payment, Lease payment or Cash (tax in) amount. Future fuel prices should also be considered as some suv’s monthly fuel expense may exceed their monthly payment.

2. Lifestyle –Will your new car suit your current and future personal and family needs? Will you need a minivan for the family or fuel efficient sports coupe. In your off time do you like to go camping in the mountains or just like to cruise the shopping malls.

3. Location –Do you live downtown in an urban area, or in the suburbs on a Snowbelt.

Ok, so now you know exactly which vehicle will suit your needs. For example if you do a 30 minute commute to work, one way. You have one child and live close to the downtown core but not in a snow belt. Your choice should be Small to mid size (fuel efficient), hatch back or wagon (for stroller), front wheel drive or AWD (for peace of mind in deep snow). Depending on budget you will have options from the  Toyota Matrix, Pontiac Vibe, Mazda3, Mazda6, Lexus IS250c, BMW 3Series wagon, Mazda5, Mercedes Benz B200 and Audi A3.

Its a good idea to familiarize yourself with most of the trim levels or options available within that model and year available. With some models the difference from lets say a Nissan Altima 3.5SL and 2.5S could be thousands of dollars. Know your trim levels and options available and know your engine options.

Dealership vs Private Sale: Please check with your province’s laws for dealer declarations, we will use Ontario for our sample. Ontario has the MVDA 2002 (Motor Vehicle Dealers Act, 2002). Simply put this act requires all sales people, managers and owners to conduct business activity with honesty, integrity, financial responsibility and in accordance with the law. For those consumers who suffer a financial loss from a registered dealer the Motor Vehicle Dealers Compensation Fund may compensate consumers up to $45,000. If you’re careful to research, inspect and compare, buying a vehicle from a registered dealer can be safer than buying from a private seller.

Why would a dealer sell a car for so cheap?

With all of the advertisements for used cars it can become overwhelming. Here are some common used car buying questions and answers with our editor.

Question- How come some dealers are selling the same car, kilometers and model for thousands of dollars apart?

Answer- Many of the cars in the lowest price ranges are accident repair vehicles. Dealers are not obligated to disclose accidents in their advertisements. Vehicle condition may also be a huge factor.Compare a dealer who paid very little for a vehicle that has:Engine light on, ABS warning light, Engine is knocking, some cosmetic damage, musky interior odour and inoperable drivers power window. These issues can be fixed for as little as $350. OR. you can pay a little more for a vehicle doesn’t have a used scrap yard power window regulator, hasn’t had an additive added to calm the knocking engine nor have the carpets been sprayed with chemical solvent. You get what you pay for.

The following is our “Used Car Reality Check”list:

1) Branded Title  –  Types of Brands

a) Extremely bad –Irreparable (Written off as a total loss, Only for scarp or parts, Never be driven again)

b) Very bad –Salvage (Same as above but can be repaired, must pass structural inspection test)

c) Not good –Rebuilt (Same as above but has passed Structural Inspection test with Certificate)

d) Good –None (Vehicle has no brands or rebuilt before March 31, 2003, never been in a collision)

2) Commercial   Vehicle –  Types (A previous commercial vehicle may sell for substantially less when compaired to non commercial vehicle. Previous daily rental is the most common and Dealerships are required by law to disclose this material fact in writing and advertisements. )

Police Vehicle —Emergency —Taxi —Limousine —Daily Rental

3) Odometer —True distance unknown (Vehicles that have broken, faulty or replaced odometer without proper documentation)

4) Out of Province Registration –Previously registered in USA, other provinces and other countries. Every day more vehicles from the USA and abroad cross our borders. Be aware that some warranties may not be valid and dome franchise dealerships have been known to deny, decline or delay warranty repairs. These vehicles may be worth substantially less for resale.

5) Accident repair —Structural Damage –(Some accidents are minor while others have damaged major structural portions of the vehicle. Please pay close attention to the Carproof/Carfax report and have the vehicle independently inspected. Even it the salesman says its a $0 report. HAVE IT INSPECTED somewhere other than their shop. If the vehicle is a 2006 that had an accident repair of $1500 in 2006 that’s not so bad. Normally a minor fender bender. However, if this were a 2001 with a $1500 repair in 2010, that indicates a larger hit on a less expensive car. Cars are generally more expensive to repair in their first few years.

Negotiate From Home

Use the Internet and telephone to start your negotiation. Its a well known fact to car business insiders that internet leads are the most fickle. Because you’re not at the dealership in person, most of the used car salesman tactics are useless. As long as you stick to your game and control the conversation you will get the best price or an indication of it over the phone. If not just move on to the next dealer. You can find good deals from sites like, and There are literally hundreds of sources available. Which ever directory you find,  just sort the list by price (low to high).

Car Buying tip: You can say your out of town and you are negotiating the best possible deal for a 2 day return and purchase.

Negotiating my email can is a great way to take your time selecting a salesperson and getting the best deal. In every dealership there are many personalities therefore many approaches to selling. You may call and get a “Sorry we can’t discuss it by email, you will have to come in.”This is the sign of a lazy salesman. Its like going to a Vegas hotel, parking your own car and having to tip the valet anyway.

Car Buying tip:Offer to give your credit card number over the phone ONLY if you can reach a reasonable price. Never give your actual number, instead mention that you are willing to secure the deal. Always make your offer subject to:

-Mechanical Inspection (by an independent shop)

-Carproof (pull date within 30 days)

-Test drive

-Always a good idea to have an experienced body shop inspect the vehicle for undocumented damage

Response to their Quote

You might not be able to negotiate a final price by phone or email. You will however get far enough to feel comfortable with the salesperson. Its important that a good salesman doesn’t make you feel rushed, answers any and all of your questions and can indicate that there is a little more room to negotiate when you come in. Here are some negotiating phrases used when asking for the bottom line or last price.

“I compared your quote and I’m still not sure it’s worth us coming in. Is this your best price?.”

“I’m on a strict budget, can you do better when I come in?, I have to know by tomorrow.”

“After comparing your price I found that it wasn’t that competitive. Can you offer me a better deal before decide tomorrow?.”

You should get a reply like:“My manager says yes but you’ll have to come in”or “There might be a little more room”. At this point you may want to request the VIN#.

Car Buying tip:Always pull your own Carproof. Not to be confused with Carfax. Never trust a  report unless you have accessed it yourself. Its always worth the small fee compared to fighting a dealer in court over undisclosed information.

Car Buying tip: Try not share any prices or monthly payments between dealers. Instead of saying “the other dealer offered me $?, can you beat it”  its better to say “I will come in with my deposit if you can do better than $?.”

Its a good idea to make an appointment with your salesman. Since you may not actually purchase a vehicle on your first visit. Its important that the salesman or manager know that you are serious and that you have one more car to see. This tactic always keeps dealers on their toes. Its to your advantage to keep the dealers competing.

What to do at the Dealership

There was an episode of the Cosby Show where Dr Huxtable and his son Theo attempted to negotiate on a used car. They wore old work clothes and acted as if they had hardly enough money for gas. That was until someone recognized the good doctor and foiled his plan. Times have changed.

Rate My Dealer has interviewed thousands of dealers and salespeople about this very subject. The single most important tool to negotiating is respect.

Make sure to inspect the vehicle thoroughly. Use the following as a Used Vehicle Checklist:

1) Manual/Owners Guide including service book

2) Full set of keys (Two keys with remotes + Valet key)

3) Radio Code card in case the battery is disconnected.

4) Spare Tire, Jack, Tire Iron (Tire should be inflated with at least 75% tread left)

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