Ultimate Guide To Buying A Car In Regina

It’s time to buy a new car. A prospect that likely fills you with equal parts excitement and trepidation. After all, buying a new car (even if it’s a used new car) is kind of a big deal. It’s a decision that you’ll have to live with for years to come, and not one to be made arbitrarily. When you’re looking for a car dealership in Regina Saskatchewan you have a plethora of choice… But choice is a double-edged sword. Knowing exactly what you’re looking for in a car (and in a car dealership in Regina) can make all the difference. 

With that in mind, we’ve compiled this ultimate guide to buying a car in Regina from the research phase to driving your new car off the forecourt. 

Let’s get started…

The research phase: Know your needs!

The better you know exactly what you’re looking for in a car, the more squarely positioned you are (pun very much intended) in the driver’s seat. As we progress through this guide we’ll address the various aspects of your purchase that you’ll need to keep in mind as you browse through the vehicle classified pages, peruse car ads online and stroll through the forecourts of car dealers in Regina. But let’s start off by talking about the research phase.

Finding the right car for you starts with lots of research. And researching which car to buy online means casting a wide net and gradually whittling down your selection until you’ve found a make and model which ticks all of your boxes.

While brand loyalty may be an issue for many, we advocate keeping an open mind when researching the right car for you. You wouldn’t want to miss out on the right car for you at a price that’s perfect just because you’ve ruled out the manufacturer because of something your Dad said about them in 1986. 

When carrying out research on vehicle models, don’t just limit yourself to the manufacturer’s website. Some other useful resources include;

  • Consumerreports.org– Has useful safety information on every vehicle you can imagine.
  • IIHS.org- For crash test ratings and safety news
  • CanadianBlackBook.com– Has useful depreciation value so you know roughly what your vehicle’s value will be when the time comes to sell or part exchange.

Calculate your budget

Knowing what you can afford is every bit as important as knowing what you need from a car. And that requires a carefully calculated budget. Accurately calculating your car budget is a skill and it’s an important skill to learn in the research phase. It will give you an idea of the kind of prices that you should be looking for in private sales or from a car dealership in Regina. When you have a clear car budget in mind, you’ll be less likely to be overcharged or upsold and you’ll know what optional extras you can afford without burning a hole in your carefully constructed monthly cash flow.

When it comes to calculating your car budget, it’s a good idea to use this formula;

  • List all of your monthly expenses. Some of these are fixed (rent/mortgage or taxes, loan repayments, etc.) and some are variable (utility bills, food costs, etc.) estimate on the upper side of average for your variable expenses.
  • Deduct these from your monthly wage to determine your disposable income.
  • From this, deduct what you usually part with to pay into savings, keep for emergencies and, of course, enjoying your life. This will show you roughly how much you can afford to part with for car payments.
  • By rule of thumb, you should pay no more than 10% of your monthly household income per vehicle. Then it’s just a case of comparing car prices and finance options to see what vehicles fit into that margin. For example, CAA.ca lists the cost of an average compact as $9,500 to own, which amounts to roughly $790 per month.

Want to know more? You’ll find more details on car budgeting on this previous post from our blog. 

New or used? That old chestnut

So, now that you have a rough idea what you’re looking for and what you want to spend, it’s a matter of deciding whether a new or a used car is the right choice for you.

While there are some who exclusively buy used cars so that they have the peace of mind that comes from their warranty, it’s worth noting that warranties aren’t exclusively available on brand new cars. In fact, other than bragging rights, there are very few reasons to buy brand new. The unfortunate truth is that used cars are subject to various myths and misconceptions, many of which simply don’t apply in today’s used vehicle market. 

Buying used from a reputable dealership in Regina actually has a host of advantages. For example;

  • They’re cheaper! Up to around 50% cheaper than buying brand new.
  • The bulk of the depreciation has already occurred so you’ll get better purchase resale value.
  • If you’re buying from a reliable dealer, the vehicle has been rigorously checked and is in excellent condition (more on that later).
  • Insurance premiums will likely be lower than a new iteration of the exact same vehicle.
  • There may still be a manufacturer’s warranty available and you can even get warranties on used vehicles. 
  • Used vehicles cost less to customize.

Thus, generally speaking, a used vehicle represents better value for money without compromising on your peace of mind, especially when you buy from a reputable car dealer. Check out this post on what to look for in a used car dealership. When you have a dealership you trust in your contacts list and know exactly what you’re looking for, you actually have to try pretty hard to get a bad deal.

But let’s return to the notion of knowing exactly what you’re looking for. Now that you have a rough idea how much you want to spend and how you’d like your vehicle to run (after balancing budget and ethics), what else should you consider when buying a car in Regina?

Fuel: What powers your wheels? 

The fuel that runs your car will not only have an impact on the vehicle’s running cost but on your household’s carbon footprint. Many eco-conscious buyers will also think long and hard about what powers their vehicle. In an era where we’re better informed than ever of the effects that our consumer and lifestyle choices have on the planet, vehicle manufacturers of all kinds are working hard to reduce the environmental cost of their vehicles and make them more sustainable. 

Yet, while manufacturers are all making lofty claims about the future, today consumers have the following choices;

Gasoline- Vehicles with gas engines are (broadly speaking) cheaper than diesel engines as well as being cheaper to run and service. Although CO2 emissions are higher than diesel engines, gasoline-powered cars produce less of some other dangerous emissions like nitrogen.

Diesel- Diesel is a more efficient fuel than gasoline. In fact, diesel engines are rated about 25% more fuel-efficient than gasoline engines of a similar size and power rating. However, diesel engines are not recommended for drivers who make only short journeys as this can lead to soot blockage in the Diesel Particulate Filter (DPF).

Natural gas- Natural gas is a cleaner and more affordable fuel source than liquid fossil fuels. However, natural gas-powered engines are pretty sparse when it comes to passenger vehicles and tend only to be available on medium and heavy-duty trucks.

Hybrid/ electric- For the eco-conscious driver, a hybrid or all-electric vehicle may seem like the most sustainable choice. While these vehicles are more expensive, they are also much more affordable to run, especially for drivers who carry out lots of short journeys. Switching to a hybrid or electric vehicle can lead to $2,000 a year in fuel savings alone. And with battery recycling schemes becoming increasingly common, hybrid and electric vehicles are getting even greener. But that doesn’t mean that electric vehicles are not entirely without environmental cost

Engine size and type

Your engine is the beating heart of your vehicle. And a key part of your research (whether it’s online or on the forecourt of a car dealer in Regina) should be to consider the right engine size and type to suit your needs. 

Let’s take a look at the most common options available to you…

Four-cylinder inline engine- Compact and cheap to manufacture, this is the most common engine on the market. It has a very simple anatomy, with one cylinder bank, one cylinder head, one valve train, and one exhaust manifold. With a size range from 2.5 – 3 liters, this is commonly found in front-wheel drive vehicles.

Horizontally opposed engine- A horizontally opposed or flat engine is also called a boxer engine because of it vague;y resembles a boxer’s fist. It’s used in high-performance vehicles, with a low centre of gravity that makes for better handling. While its primary and secondary forces give better balance than an inline engine it is a bulky engine that’s complex in design making it potentially harder to maintain.

Inline/straight-six engine- A straight-six engine is pretty much a four-cylinder inline engine with two extra cylinders. This makes for a much smoother, naturally balanced engine. This is the kind of engine that was first introduced by BMW in 1933 and still powers many “Bimmers”.

V6 engine- Popular for their versatility, V6 engines are often found in everything from mid-sized sedans to crossover SUVs and even some muscle cars. They work just as comfortably in front and rear wheel drives and while they offer power when needed that are surprisingly compact. However, their cost and weight make them less common than inline engines as well as being potentially more difficult to work on meaning higher potential repair costs.

V8 engine- Perfectly balanced, but also heavy and costly, V8 engines are rarely seen outside of either towing vehicles or ostentatious American muscle cars. 

Hybrid / electric powertrain- Electric motors eschew the traditional engine anatomy while hybrid vehicles combine an electric powertrain with a smaller internal combustion engine. 

So, which is best for your needs?

If your vehicle is simply intended to take you to work and back throughout the week and facilitating trips to the store on weekends, most will get by just fine with a four-cylinder inline engine. However, if you live in mountainous, rugged or rural territories you may need something a little more robust, especially in the cold Saskatchewan winters where a little more torque makes all the difference. 

If you have a big family or frequently need to carry heavy loads in your vehicle, a straight-six or V6 engine may be the best bet for you. If your family holidays regularly involve towing a caravan and checking out some of the stunning scenery Saskatchewan has to offer, you should consider something with a V8 or at least a V6 engine. If, however, you need to make lots of short distance journeys for work (if, say, you’re an Uber driver or a courier) a hybrid engine is probably the best choice. You’ll get the responsiveness you need in busy urban environments without burning through fossil fuels (although you’ll have a gas or diesel engine to give you a little extra ‘oomph’ when you need it). 

Your engine choice will impact everything from mobility and fuel consumption and so it’s not a choice to be made lightly.

However, it goes without saying that different engine types and sizes lend themselves well to certain vehicle sizes and types. Which brings us to… 

Size: Does it meet today’s needs and tomorrow’s?

Your concerns and quandaries relating to the size and type of your next engine should also be extrapolated to the size and type of the vehicle itself. You need to consider how your car meets your needs not just in terms of performance but in terms of functionality, load-bearing, comfort and other factors like safety and lifestyle features which we’ll get into later.

When it comes to vehicle sizes and types, a reliable car dealer in Regina Saskatchewan will be able to offer you a broad selection including;

Sedan- A sedan typically has four doors and five seats and enough rear-seat space to accommodate up to three children or adults making them a good family-sized car while still being easy enough to maneuver in busy cityscapes. Arguably the most common type of vehicle on the market they lend themselves well to a huge range of buyer profiles including singles, childless couples and small families.

Hatchback- A hatchback is so-called for the rear door which allows access to the cargo compartment. These usually have only two doors and the front seats tilt forward to allow access to the rear seats. The rear seats can usually accommodate up to 3 adults and can be folded down to increase cargo space. Hatchbacks are typically more compact and agile than sedans making them ideal for those living in urban populous areas. Again, this type lends itself best to singles, childless couples and small families.

Coupe- Short and sporty, coupes are typically lower profile than hatchbacks or sedans and have smaller rear seats and less boot space. They tend to have higher-performing engines and are favored by singles and childless couples who value performance and aesthetics over capacity or functionality. This makes them a popular choice among singles and childless couples. 

Convertible- Convertibles tend to have shorter, longer bodies as well as retractable roofs made from either fabric or interlocking metal parts lined with a waterproof sealant. While there’s no thrill quite like riding with the top down on a summer’s day, these are not the car for those who value practicality. They have little space in the rear and trunk making them impractical for families. What’s more, convertibles can often develop issues with water ingress, making them problematic for those who live in rainy or snowy climates and who don’t have access to indoor storage. 

SUV / Crossover- A Sports Utility Vehicle or SUV is an umbrella term that covers a wide range of vehicles. They can have anywhere from 4-8 seats and the cabin and cargo area are usually interconnected. With high ground clearance and rugged builds, most SUVs also have the off-road capability. They’re a great choice for big families and/or those living in rural or hilly areas where torque and horsepower are very important, especially in colder weather.  

Crossover utility vehicles are often confused with SUVs and the terms are often used interchangeably. The difference, however, is that most crossovers have the appearance of an SUV but don’t always have the handling and performance that make it an appropriate offroad vehicle. This is because crossovers sit on a car’s platform rather than a truck’s, and their body and frame are a single piece unlike in a true SUV.

Minivan- Minivans ride lower than SUVs and aren’t really appropriate for going offroad. However, their generous seating and storage capacity make them perfect for large families living in the suburbs or rural areas. 

Station Wagon- A station wagon is essentially a sedan with the roof extended backwards to encompass both the cabin and cargo area allowing for more cargo space in the back. Thus, it’s a great choice for adventurous families who like to go camping or take long road trips. 

You’ll likely be sticking with this vehicle for at least a couple of years, so it’s worth considering what your needs are now and what they will be later. For example, if you have a baby on the way, your sporty coupe with its V8 engine, two seats, and non-existent trunk space might not be the most prudent purchase. 

If you should change jobs or be transferred to somewhere further away, will your vehicle give you the fuel economy you need to make the job worth taking? If the economy should nosedive and you should lose your job, would your vehicle enable you to make a living carrying either goods or passengers making multiple stops over short distances? Or would your DPF need to be replaced after 6 weeks after becoming irredeemably clogged with soot?

Your tween-age kids might love going on vacation with you in your vehicle now, but what happens when they go off to college in a few years? Will your station wagon then be surplus to requirements and guzzle more gas than its worth? 

There are no right and wrong answers but you’ll need to juggle your present and future needs regardless of your choice. Not to mention the fine balance between finding a car that gives you the performance you need and a car that meets your personal lifestyle requirements. 

Safety features

Today’s vehicles, even a great many used vehicles, come with a plethora of digitally enabled gadgets to keep drivers safe on the road. In Regina Saskatchewan, where winter temperatures can reach -19 degrees in winter and where roads are particularly vulnerable to potholes and crumbling, these safety features can make all the difference in keeping you and your loved ones from harm. 

Such features include;

  • Lane Assist- Stay in your lane with sensors that give you an alert when you’re drifting out of your lane as a result of fatigue or slippery surfaces.
  • Rear cameras- Rear cameras can alert you to hazards coming from behind especially when parking and maneuvering.
  • Parking sensors- Parking sensors warn you when you’re getting too close to other vehicles and objects when getting into a space.
  • Emergency braking- Sophisticated sensors perceive incoming hazards and apply emergency braking if you’re unable to react in time. 
  • ABS (anti-lock) brakes- Advanced Braking Systems are imperative in enabling faster and more efficient braking. Of course, it’s also important to make sure your brakes are changed regularly.
  • Tire pressure monitors- Low tire pressures can reduce their efficacy and undermine your car’s fuel efficiency. Sensors can alert you when tire pressures become sub-optimal.
  • Stability and traction control- Especially important in cold Saskatchewan winters, stability and traction control are electronic systems which help to reduce wheel spin, sliding and skidding.

While some of these will be of more immediate use for you than others, the research phase is the ideal opportunity to determine which safety features mean the most to you. If you aren’t married to a particular manufacturer, a good dealership in Regina will help you to choose the right car for you based on your safety needs. 

In-car entertainment

Whether you’re keeping your mind occupied on a long road trip or keeping the kids entertained enough that they don’t become a hazardous distraction, don’t forget the importance of in-car entertainment when making a consumer choice. 

From DVD players and screens in  rear seats to Bluetooth-enabled infotainment systems that mirror your smartphone’s screen and allow you to make calls and activate apps safely, (and let’s not forget good old-fashioned radio) there’s no shortage of ways in which you can keep yourself and your fellow passengers happy and entertained while in your car. 

After all, driving needs to be many things (safe, responsible, considerate) who says it shouldn’t also be pleasurable?


Aesthetic preferences matter too! Why drive around in something that you’re embarrassed to be seen in? Don’t be shy when it comes to telling a car dealer in Regina what you’re looking for aesthetically in terms of color, body kits or shape and structure. For example, if there’s a hatchback that has all the qualities you’re looking for but you prefer the sleeker, more attractive appearance of a sedan, they will likely be able to find you an equivalent sedan with all the same features.

Dealerships vs private sales: It’s a matter of trust

Now that you have a clear idea of what you want from a car, it’s simply a matter of to whom you want to give your money. When buying privately, you can usually find cars at very low prices. However, these savings may be offset in the long run if you don’t have the assurances that come from buying through a reputable used car dealership in Regina Saskatchewan. 

When you buy privately, the seller has no real obligation to you. Within a few weeks, the vehicle could develop a terminal fault or a problem with the engine requiring a very expensive fix. Unless you can prove that the seller deliberately mis-sold the vehicle, you have few options in terms of legal recourse

Used car dealerships, however, are much more accountable. When you find the right car dealer in Regina you have a range of benefits including;

Choice- A used car dealer will have a wide selection of vehicles and the knowledge and experience to be able to match the right vehicle to your needs. And if they don’t have exactly what you’re looking for on the forecourt, they may well be part of a network of dealerships and as such, be able to track down the exact vehicle you’re looking for.

Knowledge- The staff at vehicle dealerships are extremely knowledgeable. Their ability to close a sale and make a living depends on their ability to answer any questions a prospective customer may have on any given vehicle. And that means that they are much better positioned to advise you than any private seller who, when all’s said and done, just wants the car off their driveway. 

Peace of mind- No private seller will be able to assure the comprehensive checks, warranties or guarantees that you’ll get from a reputable dealership. What’s more, a private seller most certainly won’t allow you to exchange the vehicle for an alternative if you change your mind, which a dealership will be able to do. 

Relationships- Despite what popular culture may have told you, used car dealerships don’t just want to take the money and run. Well, there may be some that do… but they tend not to stay in business for long. A reputable car dealer in Regina, the kind worth doing business with will want to build a long-lasting relationship with a loyal customer… And that can’t be done if you don’t give them a great deal and a great experience. 

So rest assured that when you visit a reputable used car dealership in Regina, you won’t get taken for a ride. You’ll get a useful contact who’ll fight your corner every time you’re looking to buy a new car.

The test drive: Just what exactly are you looking for?

Okay, so you’ve narrowed it down and found the right car for you at the right dealership. You asked the sales professionals at the dealership all the right questions and they’ve given you all the right answers. Now it’s time to take the car out for a spin and see how well you two get along. 

But how do you know what you’re looking (and listening and feeling) for when test driving your prospective new vehicle?

We have some suggestions…

Inspecting the cabin- Don’t be afraid to spend a little time getting to know the car before driving it. Take some time to get into and out of the car, ensuring that you can do so comfortably and without banging your head. Make sure you have enough head and legroom. Make sure the seat is comfortable and gives you the back and lumbar support you need. Take a look at the back seats and the trunk. Does the car have the storage space you need? Will it accommodate the kids comfortably? 

Testing the features- Take a moment to familiarise yourself with the car’s features and controls. Is everything readily accessible? Can you access in a way that is intuitive and allows you to keep your eyes on the road? Does the car connect quickly to your phone via Bluetooth? Do you like how the radio sounds? 

These are all important considerations.

Driving- Finally, listen to your senses as you drive the vehicle. Does the accelerator respond in tune with your application of pressure? Are the brakes responsive without being jarring? Does the suspension provide you with comfort while still allowing you to feel bumps? Does the handling allow you to hug the road as you turn? How well does the vehicle respond to your particular driving style?

Throughout the process, don’t be afraid to ask the sales professional as many questions as you like as and when they come to you. Don’t worry, they won’t get bored or irritated. This is a big part of their job and they know it. They may not be able to answer every question off the top of their heads but they will be able to make a note of any questions they can’t answer straight away and get back to you with timely answers. 

Follow this guide and you’ll find that getting the perfect car for you at a price you’ll love with the assurances you need is far easier than you might have thought. 

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About DriveNation

We are about always putting our customers’ needs first, DriveNation is committed to getting all of our customers approved for financing and driving a quality used car, used truck, or used SUV.

We have a team of auto finance specialists that will work hard to make sure you get the best interest rate your credit will allow. Our promise to you is that if you have questions about our services we will do our very best to make your experience with us as easy and as rewarding as possible. Expect full transparency, great customer service, and a vehicle you can count on.

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