The four R’s in vehicle purchasing

| Consumer bulletins

The excitement of buying a new vehicle can sometimes cloud your judgement and make you rush through the process. You may find yourself with a vehicle you truly cannot afford or a vehicle you don’t know enough about. Use the four R’s: read, remind, research and review to keep from rushing through a vehicle purchase.

Read the advertisements.

Read all of the advertisements for the vehicle to make sure you are not paying more than was stated in the advertised price. Remember, all-in pricing is the law in Alberta. This means the advertised price is what you should pay, plus GST and any costs associated with financing. Of course, the price can increase if you add optional features that weren’t originally on the vehicle. If the automotive business tries to add other fees such as a documentation fee or a cleaning fee, contact AMVIC, because those fees should have already been included in the advertised price.

Remind yourself of your budget.

The rear-view camera or the voice activated text messaging feature may seem nice to have, but it could push you into spending more than you want if it’s an extra that wasn’t on the vehicle that was advertised. Stick to the budget you have already set for yourself and always focus on the total price, not the weekly or monthly payments. AMVIC has a consumer financial guide that can help you stick to a budget, and consider other financial costs such as maintenance and car insurance.

Research the vehicle.

Buying used? Make sure you research the vehicle by using the vehicle identification number (VIN) taken directly off the vehicle (not from documents that run the risk of typos). The VIN can allow you to purchase vehicle history reports to reveal any previous repairs, accidents and registrations in other provinces or countries. The VIN can also allow you to run a lien search to make sure all debt on the vehicle is paid off, so creditors don’t come after you for the vehicle. Also, ensure you review the Mechanical Fitness Assessment (MFA) that the automotive business is required to give you, which is an assessment of the components of the vehicle that comply or do not comply with the Vehicle Equipment Regulation of the Traffic Safety Act. Remember, the MFA is only an assessment and not an inspection.

Review all documents.

Review all documents before you sign! Are you putting down a deposit? Make sure you ask questions to clarify the purpose of the deposit and if it’s refundable or non-refundable. If you are about to sign the bill of sale, review everything and know what is required on the bill of sale. The automotive business should not be asserting undue pressure on you to sign, which would be against Section 6(2)(a) of the Consumer Protection Act. Consider taking the contract home to read so you can understand everything and have time to think things over.

Remember, there is no “cooling off” period in Alberta. This means if you signed the bill of sale, you are legally obligated to buy the vehicle. Stop shopping after you purchase a vehicle, because you may find yourself buying a second vehicle and not be able to get out of the contract with the first!

AMVIC has helpful consumer guides you can read and print for buying new or used vehicles; service and repair; and vehicle budgeting on