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How to choose the right vehicle

For many, once you’ve got that permit in your hands, you turn your sights to finding a vehicle of your own. So how do you choose the right vehicle for yourself? Consider these factors before making a decision.

Should you buy a new car or a used car?
When it comes to finding the right car for you, there are pros and cons to both new and used vehicles — but ultimately, your decision will likely come down to budget and your driving habits. If you will generally be staying close to home, a basic (but reliable!) used vehicle might be all you need. But if you plan on driving a fair distance, a new vehicle that gets better gas mileage and is equipped with the latest safety features might be a smarter choice (if it fits in your budget). At the end of the day, a gently used vehicle will likely do the trick for most drivers — and it'll probably be more affordable, too. If you do decide to go the used car route, consider these tips to make sure the vehicle you're considering is the right one for you.

What safety features are important?
Many modern vehicles are equipped with built-in safety technology, from rear-view cameras, which help drivers back up safely, to blind spot detection technology, which assists with safe lane changes. While all of these driver assistance systems have benefits, when it comes to modern drivers, the most critical might be a hands-free cellphone connection. According to Statistics Canada, distracted driving contributed to an estimated 21% of fatal collisions and 27% of serious injury collisions in 2016. It's also been estimated that you are 23 times more likely to be involved in a collision if you text and four times more likely if you talk on a cellphone while driving. While staying off your device entirely while driving is the best option, having a hands-free connection is an important consideration when choosing a vehicle. While many safety features lead to built-in savings when it comes to insurance premiums, check with your broker to see if you can qualify for any car insurance discounts if they install any after-market safety products (like a security system, for example).

What should you look for when taking a test-drive?
Whether you're considering a new vehicle or one that's been previously owned, it's important to do your due diligence by researching the vehicle's features, safety ratings, and reviews. Regardless of what you find out, the best way to determine if a vehicle is right for you is to put yourself behind the wheel. Here are a few things to consider during the test-drive:

  1. Determine how comfortable the vehicle is for you. For example, how easy is it to adjust the driver's seat and steering wheel? If you’re over six feet tall, a compact car might not be the best option, even if seats are pushed all the way back.

  2. Pay close attention to the vehicle's brakes. Are they touchy, or do they require a more forceful foot to stop quickly? Make sure you’re comfortable with how the brakes feel before you commit to making a purchase.

  3. Look for how you are able to manage the vehicle's steering. How well does the vehicle respond to sharp turns or quick maneuvers?

  4. Test how well you can manage the vehicle for a variety of scenarios. 

If you're unsure about anything, from warranty to safety standards, ask the salesperson for clarification.

How can you make sure you're getting the right price?
Make sure you're getting a fair price on your vehicle by spending some time doing research before stepping foot onto a car lot. With numerous credible resources available online, a little research should give you a good handle on what's available in your price range and help you recognize when a vehicle is overpriced. If you're looking at purchasing a new vehicle, search for the invoice price versus the manufacturer's suggested retail price (MSRP). The invoice price is what the dealership will have paid for the vehicle, which could come in handy if you're looking to negotiate. If you're considering a used vehicle, research recent resale prices in your area for that specific make, model, and year. Arming yourself with these details will help ensure that you're getting the best price for the vehicle you choose.

If you have questions about your existing car insurance policy, contact your OTIP Insurance broker at 1-833-494-0090. If you’d like to get a quote for car insurance, connect with an OTIP Insurance broker today at 1-888-892-4935.

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