4 Important Things to Know Before Buying a Car

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There are some standard things you already consider before buying a vehicle. You look at EPA fuel economy, cargo space, towing capacity, horsepower, suspension, the drive system, mileage and accident/repair history (for used cars) and an assortment of driver manual specs before you give it the final kick of the tires. And while all of those are essential qualifiers, you may neglect to measure some very important attributes, ones that your local car dealership may not think to disclose.

As your guide to automobile insurance in BC, we want to help put you behind the wheel of a vehicle that not only performs and suits your tastes, but one that will keep you safe from common liability concerns. So buckle up and have a read below.

4 Significant Statistics to Consider Before You Buy a New or Used Vehicle

1. Unbiased Safety Ratings

That downloadable PDF provided by the dealer or manufacturer may dive deep into the safety specs of a given vehicle but in the end it is nothing more than a marketing tool.

Instead, you will want to reference the annual safety designations provided by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). The IIHS conducts vehicle tests to determine crashworthiness. According to IIHS, crashworthiness is dictated by how well an automobile protects its occupants in a crash. IIHS also rates vehicles by front crash prevention, addressing systems that alert the driver and/or brake automatically to avoid or mitigate a frontal collision. Headlight evaluation is also included in the accounting of vehicle safety. Automobiles that perform best in the tests qualify for the IIHS Top Safety Pick award, a distinction that has been applied to vehicles on the Canada/US market since 2006 (model year). In 2013,  the Top Safety Pick+ award was introduced. Detailed below, are the qualifiers for each:

Top Safety Pick – a vehicle must earn good ratings in the driver-side small overlap front, moderate overlap front, side, roof strength and head restraint tests. It also must earn an advanced or superior rating for front crash prevention and an acceptable or good headlight rating.

Top Safety Pick+ – a vehicle must earn good ratings in the driver-side small overlap front, moderate overlap front, side, roof strength and head restraint tests, as well as an acceptable or good rating in the passenger-side small overlap front test. It also must earn an advanced or superior rating for front crash prevention and a good headlight rating. (source: iihs.org)

Search IIHS test results by make and model here and cross reference your findings with another reputable source regarding vehicle safety, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) ratings, which can be filtered by make and model here.

2. Most Frequently Stolen Vehicle Statistics

In our own article about how to keep your car from being stolen, we asked you to be mindful of which vehicle makes/models are commonly stolen in Canada. The Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) publishes an annual Top 10 Most Frequently Stolen Vehicles list, which has been updated here.

But don’t just look at the overall statistics for the country – you need to narrow it down to the city you park your car in most often. For instance, the most commonly stolen cars in Vancouver BC may differ significantly than the national list, so Vancouver residents will want to make purchase decisions accordingly. Every year, municipal police departments release a list for their city, while the RCMP releases their own provincial list, with the most up to date one for BC found here. Perform an online search before you’re ready to buy to make sure you don’t end up with a vehicle that’s “most wanted” by the wrong element.

3. Motor Vehicle Safety Recalls Database

Up to date data and statistics regarding motor vehicle safety recalls will be very telling. If a manufacturer, make, model, and year range continues show up on an index, you may have cause for concern. Transport Canada has provided a Motor Vehicle Safety Recalls Database for Canadian consumers, so be sure to refer to the database before making your purchase decision.

4. Consumer Complaints Against Local Dealerships

Another less direct (but no less important) way to make a more informed choice about buying a vehicle is to investigate consumer concerns about dealerships applicable to where you live. In British Columbia, automobile dealers must be licensed by the Vehicle Sales Authority of BC (VSA) and follow certain laws. On the VSA website, you will be able to access information about prospective dealerships, including up to date registrars decisions regarding disputes and judicial reviews by year. The information gets pretty in-depth, going so far as to address dealer license disputes that arise because of relevant criminal history and more. When you find consistencies regarding certain dealerships and salespeople along with makes/models you can draw conclusions that may help you make a final decision about where and what to buy.

Beyond that, you can reference local dealer reviews with online directories that you already know, from Yelp and Google My Business to dealer-centric sites such as DealerRater Canada.

After considering the above and choosing a vehicle, be sure to protect your interests further by ensuring that you have the most comprehensive automobile insurance available. Contact Park Insurance before putting your new car on the road.

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