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Quebec Used Car Buying Guide

acheter une voiture d'occasion au quebec


For ease of reading, we use the masculine or feminine, which are used in a generic sense. They refer without distinction to all genres 💙 🙌

This buying guide describes the steps to buy a used car in Quebec confidently. I will share the essential tips to avoid scams and get a good deal 💡.

I just remembered that I had to introduce myself! My name is Edouard. Several years ago, I started working in a car dealership in Montreal.

With my experience as a car broker and those around me asking me for advice on buying a car, I quickly understood that it was more complicated for ordinary people with all the scams on the market.

Through this guide, I hope to help you with a bunch of fruity info 🥝 and warnings 🙅‍♂️.

Do not hesitate to share this guide with those around you if it has helped you, and to share your comments/questions with us if you have any. If we can improve this guide, that’s great for future readers, and that’s what we want! 😊

Come on, let’s get down to business 🚀


Determine your car budget

Before you even start shopping for a used car in Quebec on Kijiji Auto and AutoHebdo, we will define your budget.

At CarInspect, when shopping for your car, we advise you to divide your overall budget in two:

  1. Your purchasing budget (i.e. the amount you will spend on the day you buy your car).
  2. Your annual budget (maintenance costs, registration costs, fuel, etc.).

I can’t tell you the number of people around me who bought a car “within their budget” and had to sell it a few months later because they didn’t consider the annual fee when purchasing. The purchase is much too high for their overall budget…

So, believe me, you must make this distinction! ⚠️ ☝️

The idea is not to spend your entire budget at all costs. $500 more won’t necessarily get you a better car. Conversely, imagine that a good deal at $300 more than your initial budget will save you money by buying it at the right time and selling it for more a few years later.

Do you not believe me? 🤔

5 years ago, I drove a 2005 Honda Civic with 190,000 kilometres purchased for $1,800.

After several car changes, I now drive a $30,000 car without increasing my initial automobile budget.

For this, I did not have to tinker with the car, nor the mechanics, nor the aesthetics, I followed the recommended maintenance and analyzed the market!

Buying and selling at the right time can help you pay for at least your insurance, fuel and more.

But in short, once again, it all depends on your priorities.

We will start by listing the different expenses not to forget because the purchase price of a car is far from being the final price 🔖


Purchasing budget:

  • Sale price (price displayed on the ad)
  • Taxes (9.975% if you buy from a private or 14.975% from a dealership)
  • Mechanical inspection
  • Immediate repairs (if applicable)

Day-to-day car budget :

  • Permit fees (approximately $70 taxes included)
  • Registration (around $205, in 2021)
  • Car insurance
  • Future interviews
  • Required equipment (tires, mats, etc.)
  • Fuel
  • Extended warranty (optional)
  • Parking (optional)

🙅‍♂️ Warning alert
Please note that adding administrative fees, transport costs or other additional costs not included in the display price of the ad is strictly illegal, and it is a common practice among dealers! This article tells you more about illegal processes if you want to know more.

Determine your needs

Last step before choosing your future car: you must know your needs.

This step is unique to everyone, so we’ll break it down to save you time.


Rent or buy a car?

Rent out

 The decision to buy or rent is yours; there is no right answer. Renting allows you to drive a recent car without worrying about mechanical or functional breakdowns. Unfortunately, that peace of mind fades when you must return the vehicle, as the cost of even minor cosmetic defects can quickly add up. That’s why many people purchase additional insurance to avoid this hassle. In conclusion, renting will cost you more than buying in the long run.


The other option is to buy cash or with financing.

🙅‍♂️ Warning alert
Often in dealerships, you will see that purchasing cash supposedly allows you a “discount,” but this is fake! Dealers love to talk about discounts, promotions and other marketing tools that are actually sales cost placements (you didn’t see that one, eh🙄).

Take the example of a new car sold for $25,000. You are hesitating between financing and cash purchase. Both mention “$1500 discount for any cash purchase” which makes you want to take advantage of this (false) promotion.

Here is the truth:

The actual price of the new car is $23,500 (25,000 – $1500), and the $1500 rebate represents hidden interest!

And yes, 0% financing rates (Hello Volkswagen) do not exist. It would be too good to be true.

🙅‍♂️ Warning alert!

NEVER apply for financing at a dealership!

Suppose the dealers offer to take the steps for you. In that case, it is because they take the opportunity to add their commission before sending you the final rate.

The rate communicated by the dealership is NEVER the rate obtained at the bank. So, you could take the steps yourself to get the best rate and choose to shop in a dealership or at a private.

Once again, there is no one solution better than the other.

It all depends on your situation, cash flow, debt ratio and time. Financing from the dealer might be a good option if you want to save time.

If you want more information, here is a CarInspect post that might interest you.

Buy from a dealership or from a private?

Buying from a dealership is reassuring at first glance. You benefit from a mandatory warranty (the duration depends on the age and mileage of the car).
And then, we think that a professional knows what he is selling.

So we think it’s worth paying 14.975% tax on the purchase price rather than 9.975% between individuals.

Let’s first differentiate between a brand dealership (For example, Subaru dealership) and a multi-brand dealership.

The brand dealership often offers “certified” used vehicles. I bought a “certified” Subaru myself. I made this choice because it was the best deal when I bought it rather than because I hoped the car would be more reliable or better inspected. It didn’t fail! I had high costs quickly after purchase, which were not covered by the “certification.” I have also bought cars from multi-brand dealerships and had high costs soon after the purchase, the same with a purchase from a private.

🥝 Fruity info: Purchasing from a private is the only solution that allows you to know the former owner. Helpful to get an idea of whether the car has been well maintained or if it has been “shuffled”.

So, from whom can you buy a used car in Quebec?

Even if I would tend to advise you to purchase from a private, the answer is: it’s better not to rule out any avenue. You can find good deals anywhere, but the important thing is to carry out a mechanical inspection by a third party part, which ensures good working conditions. 

(I emphasize this part; it’s essential not to have the car inspected in the owner’s garage for a neutral and transparent inspection. Why…? Tamper a car report with Photoshop or Ai: it’s déjà vu… 😑)


🙅‍♂️ Tip! Never buy financial products (guarantee, financing, insurance of any kind, etc.) during the first visit.
“Promotions of the day” in dealerships exist every day… Because once you request financing in a dealership, you won’t be able to shop elsewhere!

For more information,  here is a post we wrote on the subject. 

Usage & preferences

Ask yourself questions about the desired use of your future car:

  • Is it for city trips or mainly on the highway
  • Do you plan to use it every day or only on weekends
  • Another relevant point: what are your preferences: comfort, reliability, driving pleasure, safety or low consumption?


These questions are essential to ask yourself because car makers design each car for specific needs. So, sure, you can buy any car and drive it every day. But don’t be surprised to have mechanical problems later!

🥝 Fruity info: For example, the Hyundai Santa Fe, which is an overall very reliable car today, has already had problems with its four-wheel system in the past. That’s a wrong choice if you are looking for an efficient 4X4. On the other hand, it is an excellent car for city use.

Types of fuels


The most common fuel. There are different grades of gasoline, from regular to premium. Vehicles that require ‘super’ are large displacement or sporty vehicles and higher costs should be expected.


Suitable for long journeys. Less fuel-efficient than gasoline engines, diesel is a smart choice for those who do 20,000 km or more yearly. A diesel has a much longer lifespan than a gasoline, provided it is used correctly. We do not recommend diesel for use in town, with journeys of less than 10 km.

Electric ⚡

With government purchasing aid, electric vehicles are suitable for short-distance travel, mainly in the city.
This committed, and responsible choice requires great rigour before purchasing 🌿

🥝 Fruity info: The main cost of an electric car comes from the batteries. It is essential to inspect an electric car (like combustion) with specific points such as the residual capacity of the battery.

Hybrid and Plug-in Hybrid 🔋

That’s the perfect compromise that combines the advantages of electric and gasoline. Hybridization makes it possible to drive electric for daily journeys, and for long journeys, petrol removes the constraint of battery range.
The hybrid is the solution for those who want to consume or have an eco-responsible sports car.


Hydrogen vehicles are still little known, yet they have already proven themselves. Mainly present on trucks, hydrogen is becoming more popular thanks to car manufacturers like Hyundai. Without going into details, hydrogen is ecological, offers excellent autonomy, and fills the tank almost as quickly as filling up with gasoline.
His fault? Lack of infrastructure to fill up with hydrogen.

Automatic or manual

A manual car generally has a lower value than an automatic, and its sale time is longer.
Of course, we cannot make generalizations! Some models will have a better value if they are equipped with a manual transmission, like the Subaru WRX STI for example. As you will have understood, this exception is mainly aimed at sports or atypical cars.


Automatic transmission exists with different technologies.

There is the semi-automatic transmission, double clutch or continuously variable transmission (CVT). If you want more information, read our detailed article on the subject!

Essential options?

It is important to define your essential options. It is sometimes better to buy an older car with more mileage to have a more equipped version.

Be careful not to confuse essential options with extra options.

Is the sunroof necessary? A simple question to which many answer yes! This is why manufacturers offer option kits at exorbitant prices.

🙅‍♂️ Warning alert: Keep in mind that the fewer purchasing criteria you have, the more likely you are to find an excellent deal. Please note that many options can be added with “aftermarket” parts, such as Bluetooth for $25 or a rearview camera for $125.

💡 Comment Kiwiz peut t’aider ? Sur ton espace Kiwiz, inscris tes options indispensables et Kiwiz se charge de sélectionner les versions des voitures d’occasion qui répondent à tes critères. Parmi nos 50 000 fiches auto, tu peux inscrire toutes les options jusqu’aux Apple Carplay et/ou Android Auto, on se charge de les trouver!  

Driving Wheels

“Need 4-Wheel Drive for Winter?” ❄️

Actually, that’s a common misconception. What you truly need are high-quality winter tires in excellent condition. Your choice of a vehicle’s drivetrain should match your specific requirements. Let’s go over the options.


  • The most common type of drivetrain.
  • Ideal for urban driving.
  • Front-wheel drive.
  • Fuel-efficient and suitable for lighter cars.
  • Provides adequate grip in winter conditions.


  • A specialized choice.
  • Not recommended for year-round use.
  • Rear-wheel drive.
  • Can be fun on dry roads but risky on snow 😉.
  • Can lead to higher annual insurance costs.

All-Wheel Drive (AWD), also known as 4-Wheel Drive (4WD):

  • Suitable for driving in town and outskirts
  • 4-wheel drive (4WD)
  • Maximum grip at all times
  • Higher consumption and makes the car heavier

As an owner of front-wheel drive, rear-wheel drive, and four-wheel drive vehicles, here’s my perspective: for your daily commute and even winter mountain trips, front-wheel drive provides sufficient traction. However, I can’t stress this enough; your tires are the vital link between your car and the road!

Rear-wheel drive can be enjoyable in winter, but let’s be realistic; it’s not practical for everyday use.

In contrast, four-wheel drive offers peace of mind. As the owner of two Subarus, I can vouch for the joy of all-wheel drive during heavy snowfall. While my neighbors are busy shoveling snow off their cars, I simply turn the key in my Subaru and drive away with ease. It never ceases to amaze me. As for fuel consumption, the primary factor that affects it is in the driver’s seat (yes, I’m talking about you). Smooth driving and avoiding aggressive acceleration can save on gas.

Maximum mileage and age ⌛

After 100,000 km, your car will have lots of problems” or “after 5 winters, it’s a lemon” – these are common beliefs among those who lease or buy brand new cars. But guess what? They are mistaken!

Even CAA Quebec acknowledges this, stating, “Breakdowns and replacements may be expected,” and “sometimes less safe.”

The need for “breakdowns and replacements” is often the result of inadequate maintenance by some owners. Changing the oil and oil filter alone won’t suffice; manufacturers provide detailed maintenance schedules for a reason.

A well-maintained used car with primarily highway mileage can be a great deal. Keep in mind that frequent short trips and cold starts can accelerate wear and tear, especially in winter. Therefore, it depends on previous owners and their level of care.

During my time at a dealership, I encountered used cars with 100,000 km facing engine failure and others with over 250,000 km in excellent condition. Without delving into specifics, believing that a new car won’t have mechanical or electronic issues is a misconception.

Additionally, the idea that new cars are inherently safer is refuted by the multitude of manufacturer recalls following incidents. Mileage and the car’s age have little impact on a used car’s reliability.

🥝 Fruity Info

Take a look at this photo of my Audi A6 Allroad with almost 430,000 km on the odometer.

Vue du tableau de bord Audi A6
  • How is this possible? Simply by adhering to the manufacturer’s recommended maintenance schedule.

For those automotive enthusiasts who know that this A6 generation was not available in Canada, it’s a long story…

In conclusion, ask yourself what is the maximum age you want for your used car:

3 years and under

This is recently used, which is ideal if you want a recent car without paying the depreciation costs of a new car. Most often, you will find certified offers in dealerships.

Be careful; these are mostly rental returns. Rental car drivers tend not to keep up with maintenance if they know they won’t buy the car at the end of the contract.

6 years and under

In my opinion, it is the choice of reason when you have little automotive knowledge. The value of the used car is approaching the floor price and the “major maintenance” of 100,000 km – 115,000 km has been carried out.

The most expensive maintenance in the life of a car is generally around 110,000 km: changing the gearbox, changing the timing belt, etc.

The good deal is the used car that just passed this service!

10 years and under

Used cars have reached their floor price, meaning that their value should not decrease or decrease only slightly over time. Many cars of this age are in good condition and ready to drive for many years to come.

10 years and over

Ideal if you are looking for an inexpensive used car in Quebec or a “beater” for the winter. The car I drive every day is a 2003 Subaru Legacy and it drives great. I’m not afraid of adding miles to it and lowering its value, because I bought it for $1,500! As for insurance, I pay $30/month and that’s great!


Determine your makes and models 🚗

Each of the previous steps allows you to find the models that suit you. For example, depending on the essential options you have chosen, you can determine which model and, more precisely, which version has the options you want.

comment trouver une voiture

🙅‍♂️ Warning alert: The equipment included in a version also depends on the year! For example, the Subaru WRX 2015 “Basic” version doesn’t include a multimedia screen, unlike the “Sport” and “Sport tech” versions. Then, starting from 2016, the “Basic” version includes the screen. The options included in the versions are constantly changing because they are a marketing argument for manufacturers.

You can browse Auto123 or The Auto Guide to find the models. Let’s be realistic; consulting the different automobile information sheets is painstaking work.

Otherwise, you can ask those around you for their opinion. However, I think that if you are reading this guide, it is because you prefer to form your own opinion, and that is to your credit.

Our team has written several articles according to different categories of cars (for young drivers, family cars, with the best quality-price ratio, the most reliable, etc.). I invite you to take a stroll on our blog!

Search Ads 🔍

You now have all the information you need. The used car purchasing in Quebec can finally begin!

You know the models you’re looking for, maybe one, two or more.

It is sometimes necessary to try several models to make a choice. As with a house, it is by seeing it for yourself that you will know if it interests you or not.

To find the best deals, I highly recommend you consult several platforms such as KijijiAuto, auto123,, Autohebdo, LesPAC, Otogo (formerly Occasion en or), Facebook Marketplace, etc.


🙅‍♂️ Watch out: Facebook Marketplace can hold more scammer ads than the other platforms (based on the inspections of thousands of customers we’ve accompanied at CarInspect)


meilleure annonce kiwiz


Call the owner 📞

At the dealership, as with private, it is common to pay a deposit to “secure” the vehicle. We recommend that you pay a deposit of approximately 5% of the sale price by Interac transfer (avoid cash payments).

If you are buying from a private individual, it should be great to sign a contract.

Questions about the owner


1- Reason for sale (applies only between individuals)

This question allows you to understand the owner’s profile better. Does he want to sell to buy a new car? Or because there are repairs to be made?


2- Is there a credit on the car? (Applies only to a purchase between individuals)

Here are the options:

Option 1: If the sale price is lower than the credit remaining to be paid by the owner, I advise you to pay the car directly to the creditor, and the owner will pay the balance of what remains to be paid to the creditor.

Option 2: If the sale price is higher than the credit remaining to be paid by the owner, I advise you to make payment of the remaining credit to the creditor and pay the difference to the owner. You can also pay the entire amount directly to the owner.

When transferring ownership to the SAAQ, the credit must absolutely be repaid in full!

🙅‍♂️ Warning alert: It is generally necessary to allow 3 to 5 working days between payment to the creditor and the payment reception.


3- Number of previous owners?

It will be possible to check the number of owners in the “Check history” step. The idea is to know if the owner knows the car’s history and if he is the 1st owner, then it is an asset!


4- Vehicle Identification Number (VIN)
This number is present on the vehicle registration card or in 3 places on the vehicle:

At the bottom of the driver’s side windshield
On the driver’s side door
On the engine block

🙅‍♂️ Warning alert: Be careful that these 3 numbers are identical! If this is not the case, it is because the engine does not belong to the original chassis, which does not belong to the original car… That’s porbably a sign of a past accident!

The VIN is essential, because it allows you to check the car’s history and ensure that the car has not been damaged and/or stolen.


5- Number of keys?

In theory, there are 2 keys to start the car and 1 key to unlock it.

Make sure you have both keys to start the car. If the owner only has one key, you need to check that it has a code written. This code is required to make a new key.

🥝 Fruity info: The cost to obtain a new key is around $1,200 + taxes.

Questions about the vehicle

1. Aesthetic and functional defects?

On ads, owners tend to say that the car is in perfect condition “9/10″… “A1” condition (besides, the term A1 doesn’t mean anything…🤪).

By asking this question, you will be informed about the real condition of the car and its defects. And yes, a used car will inevitably expect defects and repairs, this is entirely normal!


2. Up-to-date maintenance and invoices for the latest repairs?

Often, we see “no repairs to be done” in the ad.

Excellent, but is the maintenance up to date? It’s not just oil and filter changes that are required. A car needs specific maintenance depending on its mileage!

🥝 Fruity info: If the reliability of a Toyota Corolla is no longer up for debate, like any car, the Corolla must undergo rigorous maintenance at the risk of losing its reliability, here is its maintenance menu.

If the owner has the invoices, it is a big asset for resale. A used car with a maintenance log (invoices) sells for 10% more on average. So, check with the owner to make sure they have them!


3. Equipment provided? (summer and winter tires, floor mats, other)

You should know that all the equipment included is a lower cost for you!

Test drive and inspection 🧑‍🔧

As CAA Quebec points out, “it is essential to find out about the model and have your future car inspected by a professional. “.

A complete inspection should include at least one mechanical inspection, functional inspection, and road test.

The mechanical inspection will determine the condition of the mechanics but, above all, whether the car is up to date with its maintenance.

An engine oil change and oil filter change are not sufficient maintenance. Even a Toyota Corolla will break down if it doesn’t follow the car manufacturers’ maintenance menus!

Hence, the importance of the inspection!

For this, several options are available. Here is a comparative table:

guide d'achat voiture d'occasion
Certified Mechanics
You stay at home
Unbiased opinion
(no repair sales)
Service under 24h
(48h if not possible)
90-day warranty
see conditions*
Repairs to plan
and their costs
Canadian Tire
Local repair shops
Other mobile companies

Garage inspection

🙅‍♂️ Warning alert: I strongly advise you to have the mechanical inspection carried out by a third party (who is not the owner of the vehicle). For a car at a dealership, the mechanical inspection must be done in another garage. Between privates, the used car must be inspected in a garage other than the one where it is maintained.

I recommend that you avoid all garages that have received bad reviews on Google.

Another point is to search the OPC (consumer protection office) to check that the garage has no complaints. You will be surprised at the percentage of garages that have them! Once again, I am not making generalizations. As in any profession, there are honest professionals and others who are not.

Unfortunately, the automotive professions have ranked last in the level of trust in Quebec for a long time.

🙅‍♂️ Warning alert: Each garage has its own “home inspection”. Some won’t even do a test drive and will only check a few aesthetic points… Cars “inspected” without them even being started, I’ve seen too many… a classic!

That’s why I will still advise you on how to carry out the road test and the aesthetic and functional (non-mechanical!) inspection by yourself:

  • During a test drive, take the time to drive the car around town and on the highway. Specific mechanical faults only appear from 70/80km/h.
  • Apply emergency braking, i.e. drive at 30km/h and brake hard. The car is supposed to brake quietly and in a straight line.
  • Likewise, accelerate gradually and see if the acceleration is linear. If you feel shaking, there is a problem (or a turbo!).

CarInspect inspection

When I was a salesman in a dealership, I remember a gentleman who refused to test drive the car before buying it. He explained to me that he knew nothing about cars and could not determine the car’s condition. This surprised me. How can you buy a car without testing it?

In hindsight, what is the point of doing a test drive if you cannot interpret an abnormal rolling noise from the rear axle or a clutch bearing that is not working correctly?

This is why I told myself that there was a lack of a complete and trusted inspection offer on the market that would allow people who are not automotive experts to get referrals and buy with confidence without being fooled.

That’s why I founded CarInspect, a service offering complete and transparent car inspections, including a 90-day warranty.
We have a network of certified and unbiased inspectors across Canada.

In 4 steps, here’s how it works:
– You share with us the car you want to have inspected
– We mandate one of our inspectors
– The inspection is carried out within 48 hours
– You receive the complete report, the expert’s opinion (does he recommend the vehicle?), and the costs of repairs to be planned if necessary.

If you want more information about our inspections, do not hesitate to visit our page.

Rapport CARFAX (vérification de l’historique)

Even if it appears healthy and in good condition, purchasing a used car in Quebec still requires additional verification.

As explained in the “Call the owner” paragraph, you become the debt owner if you buy a used car on credit! It’s up to you to make sure the car is debt-free. You can do it here

🙅‍♂️ Warning alert: In addition to the credit dimension on the car, you must check its origin, if it has not been stolen, damaged in the past or worse, its mileage has been reduced. That’s why checking the historic is important.

Note that two types of historic reports exist. The CARFAX one and the SAAQ (governmental) one.
Note that
the SAAQ form to obtain the car’s history must be sent by mail. No electronic delivery is accepted.

As for the Carfax report, it’s much better than the SAAQ history report, because everything is done online, and searches are done in Quebec, but also in the rest of Canada and the United States 🙌.

Choose the CARFAX report without hesitation! Here, a non-fraudulent link.

Negotiation and payment

At the dealership, as between individuals, it is common to pay a deposit to “reserve” the vehicle. We recommend that you pay a deposit of approximately 5% of the sale price by Interac transfer (avoid cash payments).

For a purchase between individuals, it’s time to sign the contract.

guide d'achat voiture d'occasion

🥝 Fruity info: The CAA Quebec sales contract between individuals is complete and legally recognized. If you are not a member of the CAA, take advantage of the free CarInspect contract (and just as complete).

The difference between the sale price and the deposit can be paid by certified check during the appointment at the SAAQ for a purchase between individuals and when receiving the car at the dealership.

🙅‍♂️ Warning alert: Be careful of the dealer’s beautiful words. He is a sales professional! When I was a dealership salesman, I had plenty of sales arguments to convince people. The reality is that over 3 million cars are sold each year in Canada. You will find the right shoe for you. If you find the price too high, the seller seems to be hiding information, or you are hesitant, stop there! You are not buying a tee-shirt, but a car. It is quite normal to want to be completely confident.

Administrative procedures


You have now purchased your new used car (congratulations). Before you even drive it, the car must be insured. If you call an insurer or even your bank directly, negotiate over the phone. You can easily lower the annual premium.

Assurance Kiwiz

Registration - Dealer

At the dealership, you collect your car with a transit. This is a piece of paper that serves as a temporary license plate. You have 10 days to go to the SAAQ. There, you can pay the traffic fees (around $275 for Montreal) and receive your permanent license plate. To do this, you must make an appointment on the SAAQ websiteSAAQ website.

🙅‍♂️ Warning Alert: If you use your car with an expired transit, you risk a $483 fine. Believe me, I was in a funk the day this happened to me. I know it’s my fault and I have no excuse.


Registration - Individuals

Between individuals, the transfer of ownership of a used car takes place at the SAAQ.

  1. Make an appointment on the  SAAQ website (“service outlets”> “vehicle registration”> “ownership transfer)
  2. Prepare your papers: Driver’s license, ID, debit or credit card, and screwdriver (you will need to remove the previous owner’s license plate and affix your own).
  3. Be present with the seller or have power of attorney.




🙅‍♂️ Warning alert: On the website, it says that an appointment lasts 15 minutes. In my experience, this may or may not be true. I’ve spent over an hour waiting for my turn… (even with an appointment!), so be prepared!

Concerning the payment of taxes, we calculate them on the sale price.

Between privates: 9.975%
At the dealership: 14.975%

And there you have it; now you have to enjoy your new car!