Here are some tips to help you choose the best and safest vehicle for you and your loved ones.
Which vehicle is right for you?
Vehicles don’t have to be expensive to be safe. All new vehicles for sale in Canada must meet minimum safety standards. There are so many components to choosing the right vehicle. After considering budget, and what best meets the needs of you or your family, safety should be top of mind:
- Make sure you can handle the vehicle safely and with ease, and you’re able to see properly. If you’re unable to see over the dash of that huge SUV, then it isn’t the safest vehicle for you.
- If you have children under the age of 7, make sure the vehicle can accommodate all their car seats safely and securely. Test them out in a vehicle before you buy it.
Vehicle Safety Rating
When it comes to safety, not all vehicles are equal.
So how do you know which vehicle is safest for you and your family? The U.S. Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) website contains crash-test ratings for various vehicles and rates them.
They also have their Top Safety Picks online for vehicles ranging from 2006 to present.
If you’re still unsure or can’t decide which vehicle is right for you, use our handy vehicle comparison checklist (pdf, 40 kb) to get you started. You can print off a copy and fill in the information while you shop. This will help you remember and compare the vehicles you’re interested in at a later time.
Vehicle Safety Features
Vehicle safety technology assists drivers in maintaining vehicle control during an unexpected event; however, they are not a substitute for good driving habits. You should always travel at a speed that is safe for the current road conditions.
Here’s a list of the important common vehicle safety features you should look for:
- Electronic Stability Control (ESC) - a safety technology that helps prevent loss of control in the event of a skid.
- Antilock brakes - allows the driver to maintain the ability to steer during emergency braking.
- Head restraints - help reduce the likelihood of a whiplash injury.
- Supplemental Restraint Systems (Airbags) - supply car occupants with added protection in a collision, and functions in combination with a properly adjusted seatbelt. You should try to keep at least 25 cm between the center of the air bag cover and the center of your sternum and avoid placing your arm across this area to hold the steering wheel.
Newer vehicles are coming equipped with safety features that not only reduce the severity of a collision, but can actually avoid them altogether, some examples include:
- Lane departure - alerts you when you’re about to drift into another lane when your turn signal isn’t on.
- Blind-spot detection - senses cars in your blind spot behind or alongside you, and if your turn signal is on, it alerts you not to change lanes.
- Forward collision avoidance - uses sensors to detect an imminent crash. The system warns the driver about an imminent collision.
- Back-up cameras - a video camera attached to the rear of a vehicle to aid in backing up, and to alleviate the rear blind spot.
Buying a Used Vehicle
Not everyone can afford a brand new vehicle; sometimes you need to buy used. Purchasing vehicles only through licensed dealers is one way for motorists to protect themselves. Here are some other tips to protect yourself:
1. Vehicle Information Number (VIN) search
SGI has a free service that looks up the VIN of a previously Saskatchewan registered vehicle and provides the following information:
- status of the vehicle (if any) - rebuilt, stolen, non-repairable or total loss
- most recent Saskatchewan registration expiry date
- damage claims history in Saskatchewan since Nov. 1, 2002
- whether Saskatchewan provincial sales tax (PST) is payable
The results only include claims paid under SGI's Auto Fund licence plate insurance.
To check if a vehicle is eligible for registration in Saskatchewan, request a Cross-Canada VIN search. You can't register a vehicle that has been designated as 'ineligible for registration' in Saskatchewan or any other jurisdictions. There is a cost for this search.
2. Use common sense
- If the deal is too good to be true, it probably is.
- Take the car for a test drive on both a smooth highway and a rough road. Make sure it operates safely under both conditions.
- Avoid buying online unless the vehicle purchase is conditional upon an inspection and a satisfactory test drive.
- Always get the seller's home address or place of business and view the vehicle at that location. Be cautious if the seller seems too eager to bring the vehicle to you or to make the deal in a different location, such as a mall parking lot.
- Insist on seeing the current vehicle registration in the seller's name.
- Ask the seller about damage and ensure that the response is documented, in writing, prior to the sale.
- Check the condition of the tires. If the tires are damaged or the treads are near or at the tread wear limit, be sure to budget for new tires when negotiating price.
- Pick the vehicle up in person. Do not accept delivery of a private sale.
- Pay by certified cheque made out to the registered owner of the vehicle.
3. Do your research
- Make sure the vehicle is not stolen by doing a search on the Canadian Police Information Centre website.
- Flood events can seriously impact vehicles. Look for signs of water damage, such as moldy or damp odours, or any signs of rust or mud in the trunk, vents, or glove box, under the seats or dashboard, on the carpet and under the hood. Test the heater, air conditioner, lights, turn signals, gauges, radio, cigarette lighter and windshield wipers, to ensure water has not impacted electrical systems.
- Check with the insurance bureau to make sure it hasn't been flood damaged.
- Check for liens against the vehicle at the Information Services Corporation (ISC) website or by contacting ISC at 1-866-275-4721.
- Get a safety, structural and drive train inspection done by a trusted mechanic before you buy the vehicle.
- Ask the seller for copies of repair receipts to see how long the seller has owned the vehicle and what repairs have been made. Follow up with the repair facility if you doubt the receipts.
- Collect the Transfer of Ownership or Vehicle Identification Certificate attached to the seller's registration certificate, along with a bill of sale (pdf, 12 kb).
- Check with a dealer representative or the original equipment manufacturer to confirm all recall notices have been completed.
- If you're considering a late model vehicle, contact a dealer or the manufacturer to determine if any warranty is still valid.
- Always ensure you know the history of any vehicle purchased from the U.S.1
Registering and insuring your vehicle
You found the perfect vehicle for you. Congratulations!
Now you need to ensure you have the appropriate insurance to protect your purchase.
Your 1st step is to transfer the ownership of the vehicle to yourself. Check out our registration guidelines to make the process easier.
When you purchase licence plates, you pay a flat registration fee and receive a basic package of insurance which includes:
- coverage for damage to your own vehicle subject to a deductible
- coverage for personal injury as a result of a vehicle crash with personal auto injury insurance
- liability insurance for damage your vehicle may cause to the vehicle or property of others or injuries it may cause to other people
To register your vehicle, visit one of our motor licence issuers located across the province.
2. Extended insurance coverage
You can also buy additional insurance for your vehicle, known as a package policy or auto extension insurance.
Having additional insurance can give you:
- increased protection when travelling outside Saskatchewan
- a lower deductible
- no deductible for wildlife collisions, fire and theft
- coverage to replace your brand-new vehicle
If you are interested in an automobile extension policy, contact an insurance broker near you.
1-800-667-8015 ext. 6042
- Under the Motor Vehicle Safety Act administered by Transport Canada, vehicles imported from the United States that are 15 years old or newer are processed through the Registrar of Imported Vehicles (RIV) program. For more information on importing vehicles from the U.S., please contact the Registrar of Imported Vehicles at http://www.riv.ca/.