Driving a car in Canada

How To Buy Or Rent A Car In Canada

When moving to a new country, figuring out your mode of transportation is a top priority. So if you’re looking to buy or rent a car in Canada, we’ve got you covered. Canada is an ideal destination for those who wish to road trip or explore the country while on holiday. In fact, the country has 900,000 km worth of driving routes! As the second biggest country in the whole world, there are plenty of places to drive to and sights to see.

When looking to buy or purchase a car, it’s important to take note of some factors. If you’re worried about high prices or long term maintenance costs that come with buying a car, leasing a car would be safer for you. Or, if you’re only staying in Canada for a year or less, renting a car would be your best decision!

How to buy a car in Canada

1. Driving licenses

When looking to drive in Canada, you need a driver’s license issued by the government of your province. You also must be at least 16 years old to apply for a license. If you want to use a foreign driver’s license, then you should get an International Driving Permit (IDP) before moving to your new home in Canada.

To get your license, you need to pass a vision test, a test on your knowledge of rules and regulations on the road, and two road tests. After passing these tests, you will receive a class G1 license. You also need to show legal documents such as proof of your legal name, date of birth and signature. Some accepted documents include your passport or any permanent/temporary immigration documents. Head to a DriveTest Centre or Travel Point with your documents.

Take note that a fee will be charged upon application for your new driver’s license! This fee includes the costs of the tests you need to take and a five-year licensing fee.

Drivers will receive a full Class G licence, provided they have an equivalent class licence. If you have fewer than two years of driving experience, you may get credit for your experience and enter Level Two of the graduated licensing system. Once you have a total of two years of driving experience, you may take the Level Two road test to earn full driving privileges.

All ministry-approved driving schools are listed on the ministry’s website.

2. Road rules and regulations

  • Drive on the right side of the road
  • Wear a seat belt at all times
  • There are 2 types of green light: the green light, and the flashing green. When you are facing a flashing green light, it means that you have the right-of-way to make a left turn.
  • When a school bus is stopped and its red lights are flashing, stop your car more than 5 metres from the bus
  • It’s illegal to use your phone at any time while driving
  • It’s also important to note that each province has its own special rules, own speed restrictions and fines

3. Cost of owning a car

The price of owning a car usually varies, depending on its quality, age and brand. It can cost up to $1000 monthly to maintain a car when including all car payments such as gas, maintenance and insurance costs. The average price of a car is also more expensive in Canada than in other countries such as the US.

4. Where can you buy a car from?

If you have decided on what car to buy, then heading to purchase a car would be your next step! You can buy a car in Canada online, or in person. If you’d rather look at cars in person, then keep an eye out for advertisements in local newspapers or even visit your local second-hand car dealers. You can even visit a car showroom and meet car dealers for the sweetest ride.

For looking at the car market online, there are numerous websites you can use. Some examples are Canadadrives, Autotrader or carpages.

5. Car inspection

There are a few types of car inspections required before buying a car in Canada:

Car dealerships usually take care of this aspect when it comes to purchasing a new car since they are required to do so by law. Private sellers, on the other hand, are not required to do so for used cars. So, when purchasing a second-hand car, buyers generally have to carry out a safety inspection at one of the motor vehicle inspection stations throughout the country. 

(b) Mechanical checks

During a car inspection, some things that are checked on include the brakes, suspension, steering, hoses and belts, the emission system, exhaust system, engine cooling system, lights, transmission, the electric system and tires.

6. Car insurance

Car insurance is important in case your vehicle is damaged or stolen. It also protects you from damage you may cause to other road users and third parties. The average monthly car insurance rates in Ontario are between $125 to $158, depending on which part of the province you live in. This is the highest average car insurance rate among all provinces in Canada.

7. Registering the car

The next step after purchasing your car is to register it! When you register your vehicle you will get a vehicle permit, licence plate and licence plate sticker. You need to renew your licence plate sticker each year. Your vehicle permit needs to be updated within 6 days of a change in your address or vehicle information.

If you are buying a new vehicle from a dealership, the vehicle registration will usually be completed by the dealer!

How to rent a car in Canada

buy or rent a car in canada
Photo credit: Dan Gold / Unsplash

1. How long do you need the car for?

One of the most important pieces of information you need to give your car rental company is how long you’ll need the car. If you’re renting a car in Canada for more than three months, getting a car leased would be a good choice. Although Canada has a few rapid transit systems such as Montreal Metro, the Toronto subway and Vancouver SkyTrain, having a car would be useful for travelling in such a big country.

The most popular mode of transport in Canada is by road, so motorised passenger travel will be your main form of getting around. This allows everyone to travel conveniently and to more remote areas that are difficult to access without a car or motorcycle.

2. Where can you rent a car from?

Contact a car rental agency or look online for different car renting websites available, such as EnterpriseAvisSixtHertz, and Budget. There are numerous other websites online where you can rent your dream car at an affordable price. Car pickups are usually done at any city point or can be met at a destination of your choice. If you’re coming from the airport, they also have a car rental service usually available at the arrival section.

Rental car companies usually include insurance along with the car rental, so fret not about extra documentation or work necessary. Documents you might need include your driving license, identification card and address location.

4. What’s the cost of leasing a car?

Car leasing in Canada varies, depending on the company, type of car and duration. It usually costs between $500 to $1,000 per month. The price can also increase if you’re purchasing it with insurance, or perhaps getting a more expensive car model.

5. Deposit

In order to qualify for car leasing, you should also have enough funds in your credit card according to the company’s policies. A deposit of up to $300 may be asked and is usually unavoidable.

All in all, it’s important to have your own car, whether you buy or rent one, when in Canada. Although you may be used to travelling by bus or other forms of transport if you’re trying to access more remote areas of Canada or merely wish to enjoy a more convenient ride to work.

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