How to Save When Buying a Car in Canada

How to Buy a Car in Canada If you're willing to put in a little extra effort, you can save $5,000-$10,000 by importing a car from the U.S. Here's a real life success story of how Canadian blogger Sustainable Personal Finance saved $9,400 importing a car from the U.S.

Benefits of Importing a Car

  • Potential savings of 20-30% off the price of a new car. For most people this outweighs all other considerations.
  • Wider selection of vehicles and options in the U.S. In fact, some vehicles are not even sold in Canada but are allowed to be imported.
  • The CAD is currently worth more than the USD which means even more savings (and now is one of the best times to import).
  • Great excuse for a road-trip!

Downsides of Importing a Car

  • There are several steps to import a car into Canada, however it's easier than you might think. You could also use an import service to do it for you, but that will impact the amount of your savings.
  • Some manufacturers do not allow their dealerships to sell to Canadians, but you can easily check this in advance.
  • Some manufacturers won't honor warranties once the vehicle crosses the border. Again, just check with the manufacturer in advance.
  • Cars manufactured outside North America are subject to duty tax under NAFTA (cars manufactured in North America are not subject to this tax). Even with duty, you can often still save thousands of dollars by importing.

    Note: Some U.S. dealers are getting smarter and are now charging a Canadian Export Surcharge to process the import. This fee can be up to $750 and is worth trying to negotiate.

How to Get an Even Better Deal When Importing to Canada

Even if you are outside the U.S. you can follow the same process that an American would use to make car dealers compete for a better price.

  1. Find out the postal code (and zip code) of the nearest border crossing.
  2. Use that zip code to request car price quotes from U.S. dealerships.
  3. Use my car buying guide to learn how to email car dealers and negotiate the best deal.
  4. Once you've lined up a deal, follow this checklist of all the Steps to Import a car into Canada.

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