Ultimate Guide to Buying a Car in Calgary

It’s not easy to buy a car because there are so many car dealers around Calgary. It is difficult to decide which dealer you should trust, and a single mistake could result in you losing thousands of dollars. This article will give you all the information you need in order to make informed decisions when buying a vehicle. Continue reading to learn more.

Calgary Regulations and Rules

We are here to help you understand the details and translate them into simple English. This guide doesn’t contain any jargon that could confuse readers.

Vehicle Licence

It is a good idea to assume that dealers need a car dealer license in Calgary to trade cars. The law prohibits anyone selling a vehicle not used for household, personal or family purposes.

There are some exceptions to these rules:

  • A person who sells only vehicles to dealers
  • A licensed auction company that sells only vehicles not owned by the company but owned by other people.
  • A person who trades vehicles in order to finance the purchase or lease of a vehicle. A person who sells a vehicle to a dealer after it has been repossessed or seized as part of a security agreement.
  • Secured creditor
  • A government agency or business selling its fleet vehicles. However, only if the vehicle has been owned by the agency or business for over one year.
  • Anyone who acts under an order of a judge or other statutory authority, executors, estate trustees or other trustees or lawyers who sell a vehicle during the performance of their duties.
  • A distributor, manufacturer, exporter, or importer of vehicles who sells cars only to licensed dealers or to authorized dealers.
  • A person who leases vehicles to consumers for less than 120 days, but does not sell the vehicles at the end.
    Although it is illegal to sell a car within Alberta, some dealers do it. Before you buy, make sure they are registered.

Business Premises

To sell cars in Calgary, a car dealer must also meet the “Premises requirements”. This means that they will need to have land designated for display and storage, which can hold at most six cars. A permanent sign must also be installed.
Salespeople must be available during normal business hours. If they work on an appointment basis, they must be available within three days and for a reasonable length of time.

Save Money on Cars in Calgary

A Calgary car dealer will help you cut costs by selling you a vehicle. You want to get the best deal possible, regardless of whether you have a large, medium or small budget.

Dealers in Calgary are not required to list a selling price. This means that most of them don’t. A loophole in Calgary’s car dealers is that they can’t advertise a selling price and cannot sell the vehicle for more money. This is known as the “drive-away price” because the price you are quoted is what you will pay to take the car home. Avoid any dealer who refuses to sell you the car. They don’t care about the rules.

Every buyer needs to be aware of the differences between the DAP sticker and the MSRP sticker. Although the “Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Prices” are often considered to be an advertisement, there are some limitations. The marketing regulations do not apply to stickers that are created by specific manufacturers and placed on new cars. If stickers are placed on vehicles by manufacturers from outside of the state, the same applies. You should not assume that the DAP and MSRP are identical. Otherwise, it could lead to significant financial losses.

There is an easy way to distinguish the differences between them. The law requires that dealers disclose all information about the vehicle before selling or leasing it to customers. A dealer must disclose information about the car, including whether a price was advertised or displayed for drive-away. If consumers don’t pay via finance, the total charges do not include taxes. Other fees may apply if you don’t pay cash. For example, the trade-in fee for your vehicle.


As a down payment, a Calgary car dealer can take a deposit. You should be aware that the dealer can only charge less than 2% of the vehicle’s price. This 2% rule will prevent you from spending too much upfront. Cash is usually accepted to avoid overspending.
If you do not sign a contract, the dealer must give the deposit back to you in the same form that it was given. If you paid cash for the deposit, they can’t give it back as vouchers.


It is a great way to save money over the long-term. You can pay more to get repairs paid for by the manufacturer or dealer. It’s best to get the warranty free of charge. It is free for cars that have driven less than 200,000 km in Calgary. Dealers must offer a minimum guarantee for 30 days or 1,000 km, depending on when it occurs. The warranty applies to the “powertrain”, which includes the engine, transmission and driveshaft’s. Differentials are excluded. Dealers will try to sweeten the deal with things you consider complementary.

This will make you feel like you’re getting more for your buck, and you drive away with a fairly cheap vehicle. If the guarantee is included, and the seller uses it to increase the price, then this may not be true. To soften your feelings, always determine which features are worthwhile and which are just a gimmick.

Car Buying Checklist

It is always a good idea to have a few trusted car buying tips to help you negotiate a great deal. We’ve taken the best of the regulations and created a checklist that buyers can use to their advantage.

Before purchasing, make sure to verify with the Financial and Consumer Affairs Authority of Alberta. Ask if the advertised price was available so you can determine if there are drive-away options.

New Cars – Ask about the DAP, but don’t confuse it with the MSRP. The “Manufacturer’s Suggested retail price” applies only to stickers. A drive-away price will not apply if the advertisement is the MSRP.

Check for damages. If the damages are greater than 20%, they must be reported.

Demo Vehicles – A Calgary car dealer is permitted to sell used cars for demo purposes. Before you sign the dotted line, however, they must disclose all information. First, a SGI vehicle information report should be available. It should be free from dealers you trust. Any dealer that refuses to give you an SGI report or tries to keep you from getting one might be lying.
It is also smart to inquire about the previous uses of the vehicle before it was made into a demo model. It is fine to buy a vehicle that was once part of a fleet of police vehicles or a taxi, but it is important to consider its past before you make a purchase.
The warranty period is important. Demo cars are often started by the manufacturer when they were being driven for demonstration purposes. You might not be eligible for a manufacturer warranty because it may have expired.

Leases – A lease agreement should clearly explain what “wear and tear” means. You will be responsible for any repairs that are caused by wear and tear. It is important to know your rights and what you may have to pay in the future. Talk to your dealer about maintenance obligations.
It is important to consider the mileage. Dealers often charge drivers for exceeding the specified number. This is why it is important to keep track of it and write it down. There is also insurance. Although a Calgary car dealer might offer insurance, it does not guarantee that the premiums will cover all costs. There is an additional charge for damages. It might not cover contents and be too basic. A personal policy is the best option to avoid any gaps.

How to Decide

It can be difficult to choose from the thousands of models and makes available. It all depends on your needs. An older or used car is the best choice if it’s affordable. If you want luxury and elegance in your vehicle, then you’ll prefer something older.
There will be a long-running debate about whether to buy a new or second-hand car. Here are a few things you should remember when shopping for a Calgary car dealer.


As long as the car doesn’t break down on the side of the road, used cars are fine. How do you ensure this doesn’t happen to your car? It is better to buy from a dealer than from a private seller. They may not be trustworthy as they don’t have industry standards or expertise. They don’t care if a seller sells a vehicle. Calgary car dealers offer security and assurance by offering warranties and guarantees for the worst. Compare the prices with similar dealers in the region to determine if the price is reasonable.

Buyers in Calgary must pay a Goods and Service Tax as well as Provincial Sales Tax. It is difficult to avoid the GST, but it is not necessary to pay the PST if your vehicle is already registered in Calgary. It doesn’t have to pay the full PST, and it will be less expensive. If it was imported from outside of Canada, however, you will be required to pay more tax.
There is also the matter of repairs. You will need to locate a mechanic to repair your used car. Because it is more difficult to find the right parts and make repairs, less popular models are more expensive. This is in addition to the car’s reliability. You will need to repair it.
Be patient before you make a commitment. While the first vehicle you see may be perfect, you should not take the salesperson at his word. Do your homework and compare other vehicles to ensure you get a great deal. Ask for a history report and safety inspection. They are more likely to be old and not new. Surprisingly, nearly 50% of CA imports have a negative past. A SGI safety report can alert you to structural or mechanical issues but you will need the Vehicle Identification number.


You’re not the only one looking for a luxury or new car. Luxury car sales have soared in Calgary and Alberta recently. According to data from Alberta Government Insurance, there’s been a 26% increase over the past five year. Calgary now has car dealers that were not there a decade ago.
While many cars are cheaper than others, it is important to consider multiple payments. Many car buyers will cut down on the initial price, but end up spending more for repairs and maintenance. You can save money over the long-term by choosing a reliable manufacturer even though the initial price will be higher.

In-Car features

Many modern cars have many gadgets. However, not all of them are worthwhile to buy. While some gadgets are practical and useful, others will only increase the cost and make you spend more. The automotive industry is thriving on commercialism.
It is important to know which car features are worth your money and which are wasteful. Here are some gizmos that we believe you should have in Calgary.

Worth Buying

A Multifaceted Tailgate
Pickup trucks are a popular choice for Canadians, especially Albertans. The weather can change quickly throughout the year, so many Canadians drive them. While a standard tailgate can be useful, it does not add any value to your life. Multifaceted tailgates allow you to power it up or down, climb into the cab with the step, cover items with a flip-up lid and transform it into a work surface.

Auto-Start & Stop

Calgary’s transportation system is 53% used to commute to work or school. More than 530kg of CO2 are produced each year by cars alone in the region. The figure will only increase, given Alberta’s size. Because we only have one planet, it is our collective duty to save it. An auto-start/stop feature can help you do your part. The engine will shut off when the vehicle is at a complete stop. This helps to conserve fuel and reduce carbon emissions. The engine will restart once you release the brake.

Intuitive Lights

It is not a good idea to come up to another vehicle’s headlights on full blast, causing you to squint as you drive. You don’t want them to go off, but research has shown that Calgary cars are less likely than others to collide if they are always on. Intuitive headlights automatically dim their beams when they see another vehicle approaching. Even if they are in a well-lit area, they will do this. Safety of yourself and your passengers is the best reason to spend on an in-car gadget.

Heated Steering Wheel

Calgary is an unfriendly place to live in winter. If you forget your gloves, the idea of touching freezing-cold leather for several hours is not pleasant. A heated steering wheel will make it easy to feel the leather warm to your fingertips. This option is for you if you don’t like the cold.
Calgary’s summers can be scorching hot so you will need to find a way of cooling down. Air conditioning is now standard equipment in many cars.
It’s not worth buying


When the weather is bad, an all-wheel drive seems like a smart investment. You should remember, however, that most cars have traction control. You can have as much grip on icy roads without spending thousands of dollars with 2-wheel or 4-wheel drive. The all-wheel drive requires more power and wastes fuel. This can lead to higher gas prices and pollution.

Built in Sat Nav

Alberta is large and can be difficult to navigate. Satellite navigation systems are often the best option unless you don’t use your phone. Google Maps is interactive and reliable, giving you the most up-to-date information about your route in real time. It also has a GPS function, which allows you to track your location and plot your route in case of loss of service. You already have a GPS system in your pocket so there is no reason to add another one to your car.

Unnecessary Wheels

Yes, wheels can be flexible and should adapt to the terrain and season. You don’t have to fit the largest rims possible. It looks horrible. It will also make the car look terrible, negating the added safety it might provide. The weight of the wheels could cause you to veer off the road and flip. They’ll also void your insurance and prevent you from getting paid if an accident occurs.

Things to Keep in Mind

Alberta is an adaptable place. Conditions can change from day to day. All four seasons can be experienced in Alberta: spring, summer, winter, and autumn. When you purchase a vehicle from Calgary’s car dealer, keep these things in mind. These tips will ensure you are always ready and able to handle whatever the road throws at you as a driver.

The Weather

Calgary gets more than two inches snow each year. There is a good chance that you will be caught in a snowstorm at some point. It’s important to have a vehicle capable of getting you home safely, such as a truck with four-wheel drive. You won’t get stuck on the freezing roads with the extra power, stability, and clearance. If you don’t have the money for a 4×4, you can winterize your vehicle by buying snow wheels and adding antifreeze to the engine. You should also have a supply kit for emergency supplies, in case of an unforeseen event and you need to bring extra clothes and food.

Speed Limits

Calgary’s speed limit is 50 km/h, so luxury cars are not allowed on any streets. It will be difficult to drive a Ferrari and you won’t even be able use it for its primary purpose. There are also proposals to reduce the speed limit from 50 km/h, as most cars don’t exceed the threshold. It seems like a practical, agile, powerful vehicle that can run the Calgary school run is the best option for Calgary.

Insurance Premiums

One thing that frustrates drivers all over the globe is paying a premium to insure their vehicles. They are expensive and sometimes the companies will use loopholes to avoid paying the bill. However, they are required by law in Calgary. You should reduce costs by being focused. Losing your concentration is the main reason behind car accidents in Calgary. According to SGI, auto theft is a major concern. This is why you need a car you can keep safe. You can prevent thieves from raising your insurance premiums by investing in a car with 21st century safety features.

The policy in B.C., a neighboring province, is another reason to not invest in luxury vehicles. A law was passed by legislators that requires owners of cars worth $150,000 and more to have a private insurance policy with higher premiums. It doesn’t directly affect Calgary at the moment but it is expected that this policy will be widespread across Canada and stop average ratepayers subsidizing repairs. Although it might not occur, high-end car owners will be affected.

Traffic in Calgary, Canada 

The Consumer Protection and Business Practices Regulations

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