A Student’s Guide To Their First Used Car

As school bells ring for the first time across the province, class is back in session for students of all ages — including those pursuing their undergraduate degrees. Many of these post-secondary students live off campus, and they intend to commute to class every day.

If you plan on driving to school, you need to make sure you have a car that stands up to your lengthy commute, but thanks to your student budget, you may only be able to afford a used car. That shouldn’t matter. You can still arrive on campus safely as long as you service it well, and we can help you stay on top of its maintenance.

With our proximity to so many prestigious universities and campuses, our auto shop in Mississauga is an easy stop along the way. Until you can plan a visit to our Service Centre, here are some tips to help you avoid a clunker, a rust bucket, or a lemon.

Ask for the Used Vehicle Information Package

By law in Ontario, anyone selling a vehicle must produce a Used Vehicle Information Package (UVIP). This package provides guidance throughout the second-hand sale, offering insights into both the vehicle’s condition and your rights as a buyer. Whenever you plan on buying used, ask the seller to see the UVIP. It will outline things you need to know about your potential new car, like its history, average wholesale value, and vehicle lien information.

Always shop during the day

This may seem like common sense, but you should only ever shop for a car during the day. In the dark, it’s easy to overlook damage and cosmetic issues in and outside of the vehicle. You’ll be better able to catch potential problems when you inspect the car in daylight or indoors under bright fluorescent lighting.

Once you’ve scheduled a meeting with the buyer, spend time looking at the exterior closely. You’ll want to check for any signs of bodywork that suggests the vehicle has been in an accident. You’ll also want to check for wear and tear inside the cabin. The condition of the upholstery, steering wheel, pedals, and consoles will show if the car has seen a lot of use.

Take it for a long test drive

If you’re going to get an accurate feel for the way the vehicle handles, you’ll need to put it through different driving and road conditions. A quick circle around the block won’t tell you the things you need to know, so let the seller know you plan on taking it for a 30 to 45-minute drive. This should give you enough time to ride on highways and residential roads. Our crew recommends driving with the radio off, so you can pay attention to any noises that may occur while on the road. Pay close attention to the way it brakes, switches gears, and steers. Here is a list of common problems to look out for on your test drive.

Have a conversation

Your seller can be an invaluable resource of information about the car. You’ll want to tap this person for what they know, so you can make an informed decision. While talking with the seller, make sure you ask about the following:

  • Vehicle’s accident history: Though outlined in the OVIP, it’s good to hear about any potential collisions from the vehicle’s owner. If this car has been in an accident, you should ask for a written summary of the accident and any damage that it incurred. You can also check with a website like CarFax or CarProof to see if they reported collision repairs through their insurance.


  • Emissions testing history: In Ontario, vehicles that are seven years or older must pass a Drive Clean emissions test in order to be deemed safe for the road. The Drive Clean website lets you check the car’s emissions test history for free as long as you have the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN).

Get a Safety Standards Certificate

A safety standards certificate is awarded after a thorough inspection of your vehicle shows it meets the provincial government’s minimum safety standard. You need to get one of these certificates whenever you buy a used vehicle. As a licensed Motor Vehicle Inspection Station, we can perform a government-regulated safety inspection of your used vehicle to ensure it’s safe for the road. The crew at Veerpreet can carry out this inspection on its own or as a part of a greater tune-up. In fact, we recommend you have your used car fully serviced before you drive it to campus.

If you have a busy fall semester, don’t worry about your hectic schedule. You can contact us 24/7 for any issues relating to your car. Give us a call once you’ve found a used car and bring your student ID with you. The crew at Veerpreet offers a 10% discount for anyone with a valid student ID.

The start of another school year is always exciting, but it’s especially true when you arrive on campus in your very own car. You can improve your daily commute by following our tips when shopping for a used car. This, along with a thorough inspection of your vehicle, will ensure you choose the right car for your needs.