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Complete Car-Buying Guide: Getting Value for Your Money

By Mark Richardson

After you pinpoint the type of vehicle you need and which bells-and-whistles you’d like, it’s time to head to the dealership. We spoke with Farlee Frunchak, general manager at Country Hills Toyota in Calgary, for advice on buying the best car for you for the best value.

How can I save money when buying a car?
First, do your research online, comparing manufacturers, makes and models. has a build-and-price feature that gives you a chance to drill down into pricing for every vehicle and play around with higher or lower package options. Well-informed consumers will often find themselves a better deal because they’ve done their research, know what to expect and have a budget that matches their needs.

Selecting the style of vehicle, trim package and more that’s right for you

What are the benefits of leasing?
Lease payments are typically lower than finance payments because you only pay for the vehicle’s depreciation over the lease term—instead of paying off the entire purchase price. Most lease terms fit within the manufacturer’s warranty period, so maintenance costs can be more easily managed. Also, at the end of the lease you have options to own the vehicle outright, return it or trade up. Leasing can be a good option for people who like to upgrade their vehicle frequently.

And what are the benefits of financing?
There are no mileage restrictions, as there are with a lease. When the finance term is over, the vehicle is paid off, which allows you to have equity in your asset. Lending institutions also allow for penalty-free lump-sum payments to save you dollars in interest. Financing is better if you plan to own your vehicle after it’s paid off.

What to know if you’re thinking about buying a used car

What is the “bill of sale”?
The dealer draws up this legally binding contract after you’ve negotiated your price, the payments at that price, and the down payment. It states the vehicle’s make, model, year, colour and cost. It may also include any extra incentives, like a new set of tires or cash rebates.

Why is it better to buy from a dealership?
Dealerships and other businesses that sell new or used vehicles are required by law to be licensed by the Alberta Motor Vehicle Industry Council and follow laws set out by Alberta’s Fair Trading Act. For example, AMVIC-licensed businesses must provide you with a completed Mechanical Fitness Assessment before entering into a purchase contract. You don’t get this level of protection when you buy from a private seller.

Earn $200 in reward dollars on new or used vehicle purchases at Country Hills Toyota and South Pointe Toyota (both in Calgary), and at Mayfield Toyota and Lexus South Pointe in Edmonton.