96 S Waverly Rd Holland, MI 49423 616-546-3000

Why you should avoid buying a Canadian Vehicle

This was originally written in 2018 but still valid today....maybe even more so. You will often see in my used car listings that my vehicle is NOT Canadian.  I get asked quite often why I say that or why shouldn't they buy a Canadian used vehicle.    Over the last year there has been an excessive amount of Canadian used cars flooding the U.S. market.   These cars are being brought to many US Auto Auctions and dealers are buying them for their inventory.   Dealers like to buy them because often they are significantly less expensive than the exact same one that was made for and spent its life in the U.S.  These same dealers can make  hundreds even thousands of dollars more when they convince you to buy one.  Don't make a $2,000 mistake.  Here are a few things to consider.
#1 Canada has a much harsher climate the here in Michigan.  Many people would rather buy a vehicle that did not come from a northern state let alone from an even higher northern country.   I have seen many of these come from very rural areas of Canada like Nova Scotia and Newfoundland( island). Two months ago I had a customer considering one of our vehicles and another one down the road at another dealer that was $500 less.  I pointed out it was missing a few options and Canadian(from Newfoundland).  I then pointed out that the brake lines all had recently been replaced.  I have been selling used cars for over 23 years and have never changed all the brake lines on a 4 year old vehicle because of corrosion.  I am positive there were other items that were probably needing replacing very soon.  Once corrosion and rust starts it is very hard if not impossible to stop.
#2 These vehicles were not made to be sold the the U.S. Market.  The USA and Canada have different standards for their vehicles.  I am positive these may be very minor differences and not be all that concerning but nonetheless  it could also effect things like recalls and Service Bulletins.   Even warranties could be affected.   I have seen manufactures replace defective parts or extend the warranty for known issues.  Many times these are only in effect when in their home country.   Vehicle features and options may also be packaged quite differently in these vehicles.
#3 Carfax-  Now this is a bigger factor than most people realize.  Everyone wants to see the Carfax before they buy a used car.....and even if you don't, I implore you do INDEED LOOK AT THE CARFAX.  Carfax has been in the US market for over 20 year and is not perfect by any means.  Carfax has only recently been in the Canadian market for a very short time.   They are just now setting up their sources for all the information you find on the report.   A vehicle from Canada may be missing very important data that Carfax just doesn't have yet.   Most consumers would rather not buy a vehicle that has had 3 owners or been in a bad accident.    If Carfax does not have the data source yet, you could be buying a vehicle with an truly unknown vehicle history report even when the Carfax states One Owner(or is blank) and lists no accidents reported.   It may be a few years before Carfax has everything up to date on vehicles from Canada.  Until then......it might not be worth the risk.
#4 Resale Value - here is another point that can really impact you later down the road.  If Canadian cars are not all the desirable now and have a lower value today, just think  what this will mean when you want to sell or trade it in a few years from now.  It could bring hundreds to thousands of dollars less.  There are some people(and even dealers like me) that have no desire to have a Canadian vehicle at any price.   It could make it harder to get rid of down the road.  The last thing you want is to buy a vehicle today and then find out Carfax finally added an accident to the history report and no one wants your car because it is Canadian.
#5 This point is rather small but worth noting.  Right now there is enough of a used car shortage to make the prices of used cars a little higher than normal.   Cars that are in Higher Demand sell pretty quickly and dealers can make higher than average profits.  Do you think that Canada is sending us their good ,Above Average, high demand, higher profit and quick selling vehicles?  Of course not.  They are sending us the ones they can't sell in Canada.  Ones from rural areas of Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and other cities with inventory just sitting around.   If they don't want that car in Canada......do you really want it here?
In the end it is your choice on which used car to purchase.  Make sure you have all the facts and don't let a salesman sugarcoat the process or the vehicle.   If something feels off, walk away and look into it a bit more.  Don't make a $2000 mistake if you can help it.

Good Price does not equal Good Deal

I recently had a customer in my showroom that was looking at one of my vehicles. They mentioned they wanted to look at another vehicle at a different dealership because it was $1,000 less than mine. It was marked Good Price on both Autotrader and Cargurus.com. I asked what the Carfax history report looked like and they admitted they did not know. I told them that often vehicles that are priced less than they should be usually have a major reason why.  We looked it up and found out that the Carfax showed 2 accidents and 4 owners. I mentioned that no two vehicle conditions are the same and what can appear to be 2 vehicles that look exactly the same on paper(miles, options, yr) can really be vastly different based on condition.  Just the fact that the carfax showed 4 owners and two accidents already told me that my 1 owner and no accident vehicle was certainly worth the $1,000 price difference. I told them that the other vehicle was probably average or slightly below average in condition and may also need mechanical issues handles.  They were still hopeful and wanted to go see it before making a decision. Several days later they came back and we talked about the other dealer's vehicle. They told me it was indeed in rough condition. Both bumpers looked horrible with scuffs, scratches and deformed plastic. Tires were needing replacing and it clearly smelled foul inside......not smoke but very bad. The other dealership recently got the vehicle and bought it at an auction that is know for selling below average condition vehicles. Since it was so recent I was actually able to see what it sold for at the auction.  That dealer paid $3,000 less for it than I paid for mine. Mine had a condition rating of Above Average and theirs was rated Below Average. Even though they bought it for significantly less they were still trying to sell it for a premium price.  Most dealers are only concerned about how cheap they can buy a vehicle and how much money they can sell it for. They usually skimp on important things like maintenance and repairs just so they can have a price advantage over another dealer. In reality that other vehicle should have been price $3,000 less than mine. Having a fair price on a vehicle that is in outstanding condition both physically and mechanically is MORE important than having a "Good Price" on something that is a huge mess and a complete waste of peoples time. The value of something is a lot more than just the price. You have to factor in so many other things(condition being the most important) that on paper it is hard to figure out.  Don't feel like you have to run out and see the cheapest vehicles on the interest....most of the time you will realize why it is priced the way it is. ALWAYS see the Carfax BEFORE visiting the dealer. It can usually save you time.

The real story on many of those Great Deals

Here is a perfect example of what looks like a "Great Deal" on paper but in reality is not only a horrible deal but one you would want to avoid and never ever consider buying.   Take a look at this vehicle.  It was being sold at a dealership in Grand Rapids.  It was listed on Cargurus.com as a Great Deal.  It had many people that "saved" it as one of their favorites.  The problem is that it really is a vehicle with some serious issues.   On Cargurus.com they really don't ever show you the history report.  They tell you they use AutoCheck History Reports but they don't show you any of the data.  You have to pay for it.  Autocheck also misses quite a bit of stuff that Carfax does not.  In this example Autocheck said there were no issues.   Now take a look at the Carfax and see if this is something you would buy.
What the Carfax is showing is pretty bad. Most people want to buy a nice One Owner vehicle.  This Yukon has had 4 owners. People hate buying vehicles that have been in an Accident.  This vehicles has had 2 - one with Airbags deployed.  Both seem pretty bad.  Buying a vehicle that spent its life in Canada is not a good thing. Buying a vehicle that spent time as a Rental Car is also not a good thing.  This Yukon has BOTH.  Another thing that is very bad is Mileage Inconsistency or Odometer Rollback.  Carfax show a potential issue with this as well.  If all of this was not bad enough, the vehicle has some huge mechanical issues. It needed major repairs just to be road worthy.  Many people spent their time going and looking at this vehicle because it was listed as a great price.  They all walked away from it because it looked bad and drove bad.  They didn't even get to see the Carfax with all of the other issues.  After a couple of months the dealer lowered the price and fixed some of the obvious issues but left many others. The vehicle sat and sat with everyone looking that came to look at it running for the door.  The vehicle sat on the lot for over 400 days.  
Just because a site like Cargurus.com tells you something is a Great Deal and priced $2,528 below market price does not mean it is so.  This vehicle would have still been a horrible deal for someone even if it were priced $5,000 lower.  No one should ever consider buying a vehicle like this.  It checks off almost every Red Flag and could not get any worse.  Sites like this are not doing consumers any favors.  In fact they are making it worse.  Buyers are filtering out vehicles that say Fair Deal or Good Deal and only focusing on the ones that say Great Deal.  If they visit the dealer and assume the Carfax is fine or never ask to see it they could be buying a vehicle with major issues and spending thousands more than they should.  Dealers want to be shown on these site as deals but in order to show up like that they have to NOT spend extra money of vehicles.  Many times they won't service or repair issues that should be done before a customer walks in the door.  They also buy vehicles that may have a few blemishes, smell like smoke or are missing lots of popular options. Those vehicles are cheaper to buy and would show up as Deals compared to another vehicle that was in above average condition, serviced/repaired with no issues and ready for a new buyer. Dealers are reluctant to spend money to make the vehicle nice because all of those things raise the price and they might lose their Deal listing.  Unfortunately the only way to know if you are getting a deal or not takes lots of research and legwork.  You will have to see and drive many of the same types of vehicle.  You will have to note condition, history report, options and many other factors that go into the real price Value.

Buy from a Large New Car Dealer or Small Car Lot

It seems the mindset of the majority of used car shoppers is to buy a used vehicle from a large dealership that sells new and used vehicles.  Buying a used vehicle from anywhere is chock full perils and most people are looking to limit getting taken buying a bad vehicle.   Does buying at a large dealership really limit your exposure to buying a bad vehicle?   Used car salesman have bad reputation right from the start.  There can be bad salespeople at any size establishment.  Things that make it worse are lies, high pressure and the overall bad vibe from either the person or the vehicle.   I am going to point out several things that will give you more insight on how to avoid buying the wrong vehicle and maybe some things to think about on where to buy your next vehicle.
First I would like to point out that buying at a large dealer that sells new and used vehicles does not guarantee your deal will be hassle free nor does it guarantee that your car will be the right one for you or that it is mechanically sound. People think that at a big dealer that has a big service department that the used vehicle must be a good one.  It surely must have been inspected, fixed properly and fully ready to be put on the lot.   That is not always the case.  I worked at a dealership that when they bought or traded in a used vehicle they had a mechanic in the service department inspect the vehicle.  Normally these guys are not the same mechanics that are working on the new vehicles.  They do the inspection and come up with a list of things that the vehicle needs.  They hand that list to the used car manager who then decides which stuff they fix and which stuff they don't.   I can tell you from experience that there were vehicles on the lot that needed repairs and were done to keep the cost down.  It is easy to tell when a vehicle needs brakes or tires.  Most customers can tell by looking or driving.   Things that are less obvious or can't be seen or heard on a test drive are often left out of being handled. 
The next misconception is that all or most small used car dealerships are crooks or shady.   There definitely are a lot of bad ones out there so I can see how this one is easy to be in the front of your mind.  One thing that all dealers have in common is the fact that they want to make lots of profit and spend as little as possible.  Finding the right car is the most important thing that should be considered when looking for a vehicle.  Finding the right dealership is probably second.  Having a great dealership experience but buying the wrong car for too much money will still leave you in a very bad position in the end.  
Here are some things to remember and think about before buying your next used vehicle.
#1-In almost every Large dealership they have everyone get paid commission.  They need to keep profit margins high since several people are taking a piece of the action.  It is easy know understand that the salesperson takes a commission and maybe the used car sales manager but what most people don't understand it that other people are taking some of the profit. People like the Finance Manager, New Car Manager, General Manager, Owner, Office Manager and in some instances the Parts and Service Managers.
#2- smaller used car lots have less overhead and many don't have commissioned sales people.  They can have lower prices on the same used vehicles because they don't need all that extra profit for commissions and high building expenses.
#3 - Always have a vehicle inspected by someone you select.  Even if it is at a large dealership claiming their service dept already did a full inspection.  Remember it is not about what they did fix or maintain.  It is about what the vehicle still needs now(things they did not do) or things that it may need in the near future.  There is nothing wrong with taking it to have a second non biased opinion.  Any dealership that objects..........just walk away.
#4 If you have good/great credit you may want to avoid going to places that advertise Guaranteed Financing for Everyone.    I could write a whole blog this topic and why......Do yourself a favor and don't waste your time. There is not much good that will come out it for you.  Cars will be in disappointing condition and your experience will be less than desirable.
#5 - Avoid the dealers that need get your attention by crazy commercials, unrealistic deals advertised or junk mail that state " We need your trade.....Please bring in your 2005 PT Cruiser for Top Dollar" or even Test Drive for Free Gift - Win a Car!  I am surprised at how often people fall for this garbage.  No one ever has a key that fits the winning car.  They really don't need your old worn out trade.   You get the point.  NEVER FALL FOR THIS STUFF.....EVER
#6 - Read Google Reviews.  This no sure fire way to guarantee that you will get the right vehicle with a no hassle experience but it could save you time from going to a bad dealer.  You may see dealers that have lots of great reviews and a few bad ones.  What you want to look for is what the bad ones says.   It is easy for a dealership to encourage happy customers to write a quick review so that the bad ones get less noticed.  What is important to see what happened in the bad ones.  If several people write that their transmission or engine went out soon after they bought the vehicle then it should be concerning.  Clearly they do sell bad vehicles.  I have also seen lots of reviewers state that they were clearly mislead or the dealer never mentioned huge issues with the History Report.  Seeing lots of people complain about buying a vehicle with bad Accidents, Airbags Deployed, Salvage Title, Canadian or other major history report issues means they purposely buy these vehicles in order to maximize profits and take advantage of people. No matter how many good reviews that they may have does not make up for the fact they have and will sell bad vehicles to people when they can get away with it.  This is the perfect example of wrong car and wrong dealership.
#7 - Always look at the Carfax or at the very least Autocheck. Make sure the VIN on the report matches the VIN on the car.  Reading and fully understanding the history report way more involved than just seeing Owners and Accidents.  This will probably be another blog topic I will explain more in detail. Everyone likes One Owner No Accident Vehicles but in reality that does make it a better or nicer vehicle.  It is still important to look the car over and have it inspected.  Not everything shows up on the history report.  Unless the car is priced 40-50% off the Retail Value you will want to avoid: Salvage Title, Total Loss, Mileage Inconsistent Issue, Accidents involving Airbags Deployed, Vehicles that spent their life in Canada and Lemon Law Buyback.
#8 - Do some online research on the model you are considering.  It is easy to find certain years or models that have major mechanical defects that should be avoided.  
#9 - Avoid putting too much faith when different websites tell you a certain vehicles is a "Great Price" or "Good Deal"  Often they are missing options, have bad history reports, body damage, mechanical issues or even smell like smoke.  There is absolutely no way for a website to know what condition the car is in.  Since condition has a huge impact on value, how could they possibly know if something is a good deal or not.
Once you tackle some of these important tips you will get a general sense on what dealers not to waste your time with and which ones are worth a closer look.  You might be surprised to find a few small dealers that really can give you a Hassle Free Experience on a vehicle that has a great history report and is in above average condition both physically and mechanically............all at prices that beat the big guys hands down.

Websites giving pricing advice have flaws

Is it really a Good Deal or Overpriced?  Don't just blindly trust certain websites.

Who has seen websites like Cargurus.com, Kbb.com, Edmunds.com, Carfax and now Autotrader.com telling you that the price listed is a Great Deal, Good Deal or even Overpriced?  Really.....these sites personally went to all see and drive all of these vehicles?  They had them mechanically and physically inspected?  They know the true vehicle history for accidents, owners, location and maintenance? You already know the answer to those questions.   No they didn't

When shopping for a used vehicle there are lots of things to consider that make a huge impact on the Value/Price. Many websites now days try to tell you if you are getting a good/fair/bad deal. It is important to use these as guides but you really have to know they do come with some major flaws.  Almost everyday I have customers tell me how they went to look at a vehicle at another dealership that was rated as "Great Deal" only to go there and find out that is was no deal at all.  Some have seen vehicle with severe hail damage, some were not mechanically sound, some smelled like smoke and others were clearly in an accident or repainted/repaired poorly.  What looked good on paper was not a true representation of that actual vehicle.

No two used cars are worth the same amount of money. How can these sites tell you if the vehicle is a good deal or not when they only know less than 50% of the details. The condition of the vehicle is one of the most significant impacts on its value. It is even more important than miles and options. Would your rather buy a vehicle with 50,000 miles that is in below average condition, smells like smoke and is in need of mechanical repairs or a vehicle that has 85,000 miles and is in near perfect condition both physically and mechanically. If they both have the same price, these website will tell you the one with the lower miles is the better deal.  These sites don't and can't take the condition into account at all. Most of them also don't know any data from the History Report and therefore can't use that information in their equation. Here are a few examples of things that really affect the value. These values come from Real Shoppers that were surveyed and given the chance to put a value on each item.

One Owner – a one owner vehicle has $750 higher value on a vehicle that is 5 or more years old. It has a value of over $1,000 more compared to a vehicle with 3 owners or if a vehicle is over 8 years old.

Accidents: An  Accident Free vehicle verses one that shows an accident with little to no damage $500. Moderate Damage $1,000. Severe Damage or Airbags Deployed - $2,000(or more)

Smoke Foul Odor – This one really has a huge range. Most people(non-smokers) put a value of over $1,500 for one that is smoke free vs smoke odor. Many customers commented that they would not buy a vehicle with a foul smoke smell at any price. This can impact a vehicle thousands of dollars.

Tires: A vehicle with new tires has a $500 higher value than one needing tires. In some vehicles it could be as high as $1,000. This is one where you have to see and account for how much life is left and adjust your pricing accordingly.

Repairs/Maintenance: A vehicle that has been inspected, serviced and repaired on average has a $500 higher value than one that is in need of repairs. Always have a car inspected before you purchase it. It could easily add up to thousands of dollars if you buy a vehicle that is deficient on maintenance and repairs. Brake Job - $275-$500 – Alignment $70 – Timing Belt - $700-$900 – Suspension Work - $300-$600 – Oil Leaks - $500. Major engine and transmission work could easily get into the thousands of dollars for repairs. Spending $50-$75 for a pre-purchase inspection would be worth it.

Body Condition – A vehicle with Several minor door dings is worth about $200 less. Scratches needing paintwork to fix - $500. Often you will see poor previous repairs on bumpers. This changes values buy over $500 if substandard work is done. Cracked Windshield - $200

Interior Condition: Rips/Tears/Stains in Leather easily have $200- $500 impact on value. Also check for worn steering wheels, stains/tears in carpet or seat belts.

Canadian Vehicles: The US and mostly norther states are getting flooded with vehicles that spent their life in Canada. These vehicle should not be very high on your list of vehicles to consider. These vehicles can have a huge impact on the value for a number of reasons( Read: Why you should avoid buying a Canadian Vehicle). Canadian vehicles are worth $1,000 less and in many cases $2,000.

As you can see you can have two seemingly identical vehicles sitting next to each other, both with same year, make, model, options, color, and miles. Based on the above scenarios you could easily have a $3,000 difference in values. On paper both would have the same value but in reality one truly is a Good Deal and the other is one you should probably not consider. These websites don't subtract one dime for a vehicle that smells like smoke, has spent its life in Canada or is in Below Average Condition and needing repairs. Those seem like pretty important things to me.....I bet they do to you as well.

When is the best time to buy a used car

I get asked quite a bit about when is the best time to buy a used car.  The short answer is there is no specific good time of year to buy a used vehicle.  There are too many variables with used vehicles that make it impossible to time the market.  It used to be that you would never want to buy a 4x4 or AWD right before winter since prices are at the high point.  That really has changed since now days most vehicles sold are SUV's and are already AWD or 4x4.  Regular cars are selling less and less each year.  Soon there will be less of a selection of cars to choose from since many manufactures are getting rid of low performing models.  There are more important money saving ideas for buying a vehicle than trying to time price based on season.   

Welcome to our new website!

Welcome to our new website!
Feel free to look around and get in touch with us for your next pre-owned car in Michigan.