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Car Shopping

There are many reasons you may want to buy a car: maybe your family shares a single vehicle or your parents would prefer you have your own car. But before you start shopping, there are some things you need to consider.


Depending on your budget, you’ll need to decide if you want to buy a new or used car. There are pros and cons associated with both: used cars tend to be less expensive, while new cars tend to have fewer issues.

When you’ve decided how much you can afford to spend on a car, you’ll need to factor two main recurring costs into your budget:

Operating costs – These are variable—meaning they can change depending on your driving behaviour—and include things like gas, oil changes and repairs.

Ownership costs – These are fixed—meaning they are normally stable from month to month—and include insurance, licence and registration fees, taxes and car payments if you’re on a lease or a payment plan.

What will it cost?

If you’re looking for help calculating the true cost of a vehicle you’re thinking about buying, check out the CAA Driving Costs Tool. It will give you a calculation of the total expenses associated with your vehicle—beyond the purchase price.

Safety and reliability

Once you’ve decided what you can afford, you need to see if there are cars available that fit your budget and are both safe and reliable.

The safest cars will have these features: 

  • An antilock braking system (ABS)
  • Three-point safety belts
  • Daytime running lights
  • Electronic stability control (ESC)
  • Driver and passenger airbags
  • Adjustable and lockable headrests

If you’re looking to buy a used car, you’ll also want to consider its reliability.

Make sure the used car you’re looking at has:

  • A good warranty
  • A clean history with no major restorative work due to a crash
  • Mileage under 100,000 kilometers
  • A safety inspection certificate

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