In the twenty years I've been driving in Canada, I've never bought a vehicle, never even looked for one. That was my ex-husband's job, I just drove whatever vehicle he chose for me. Now, the prospect of looking for a car on my own is more than a little overwhelming, especially if I have to drive around to a bunch of dealerships and talk to more than a few salespeople. Nothing against salespeople, the problem is me. I'm an easy mark and usually end up buying stuff I never wanted. However, there is a big difference between a magazine subscription and a car. If I buy a car I don't need, I could end up broke.
I know I'm gonna need a new car soon, real soon, and the first thing I did was look on craigslist. That's where my ex-husband always looked. OMG, not only do I have no idea if they are worth the asking price, they're spread out all over the lower mainland. Some sounded good, but when I showed up to look, it was just me and some guy at his house on an acreage. Yeah, not a personal security concern at all. Not only that, but the car wasn't what he told me it was. It had dings and I'll just leave it at that.
I've never taken a vehicle to a mechanic. Seriously, never have. Yep, that was my ex's job, literally because he is a mechanic. If I can start the thing it's mechanically sound in my opinion. Private sales were just too complicated and had too many questions. So back to the dealers.
A friend posted on the all mighty Facebook, a link to a website called Rides.ca, so I clicked on it to check it out. First thing that impressed car challenged me was that I didn't have to know what make or model I wanted to search for. I could type in whatever search I wanted. Red Sports Car. Blue Station Wagon. Fun Little Sporty Car. Anything under $5 000. Any type of search provided me with search results. There is also the 'choose a make and model' search option for those more sophisticated car buyers.
I can sort by price, distance from me, odometer, or date. There is a photo of every car, the important details, and which dealership it's located at. I can easily compare prices between dealerships and save time. As a single mother, price is probably the most important factor for buying a car, so being able to see exactly what I can get and where I'll get the most for my money is important.
The site has a few features to make life easier for the car shopper. The first is a favourites button, so I can keep track of the vehicles I'm most interested in. The next is a IM chat feature, so I can ask the salesman at the dealership any questions about the vehicle without having to go see him, call him, or wait for him to return my email. It also has a send to mobile option, so I can check out my choices on my phone while I'm out running errands or at the dealership trying to negotiate the best deal. I haven't got that far in the buying process, but when I do, it's there.
The car's profile page has everything you'd expect to be there. Professional photos, pricing, contact information, features, and the car's deets. There are also bonus features, video of the car, snap to mobile, and IM chat with an available sales rep. Bonus features are always a good thing.
Now, if I had a car worth anything to trade in or sell, Rides.ca has me covered. Instead of having to negotiate with the salesman, who knows I want to buy the new car right away. I can sell my car on Rides.ca at a dealership type of auction. The dealers bid for your car and that way you can get the best deal possible. Best part, you don't have to run all over town to see if a dealer will give you a few bucks more, it's all there at the click of a button. I haven't tried this feature yet, so any feedback about how it worked for you would be much appreciated. Just leave a comment below telling me what you thought of Rides.ca.
I don't like shopping, I'm not big on spending lots of money, I don't have lots of money to spend. Car shopping, for these reasons, is one of my least favourite things to do. So, having a research tool to help me compare, keep track, and communicate with the seller is important. If you live in Canada and you're buying a car, check out Rides.ca. It'll save you time, money, and that nasty car buying headache.
This article was originally written in 2013. I finally was able to afford a car and bought my first car, a new Mini Cooper I call Tori, in 2016
Shannon Peel is an author, marketing specialist, and so much more. Go to her Marketing Agency site, MarketAPeel.agency to find out how she can help you.