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How to Buy a CarWith car shopping, like with any big purchase, the more you know, the more you’ll appreciate what you buy. Here are the top things to keep in mind:

Photograph of a junky, old car for sale.

Research online first.
Dealerships aren’t designed to teach you about what vehicle is right for you; they’re designed to move metal and generate revenues. So search for vehicles you like online and compare, as you’ll get lots of reviews ranking your car against some of its competition. Try to get your shortlist down to about three vehicles.

Look into insurance, mileage and financing costs.
This can also be done online, but make sure you’re looking at Canadian sources, as much of the info online is American.

Test-drive your shortlist.
Don’t miss this step. There’s no substitute for seat time.

Michael Bettencourt test-drives more than 100 new vehicles a year and is a member of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada.