Baby First Car Ride

The Long Drive Home

It’s one of those things that you never forget. Well on our way to the warmer temperatures and sunshine that comes with spring, we happily drove to the hospital for a check-up on our soon to be born first child. Being informed that we would not be leaving the hospital that day was a bit of a surprise but a happy one, knowing that we would soon be meeting our son.

Three days in the hospital felt like 20 minutes and as they shooed us out on our own, I couldn’t help but think that I wasn’t even close to being ready to handle the responsibility of raising another human being. That’s when it hit. The odds of one of the worst blizzards of winter hitting at the end of April, and more specifically, on the day that I had to drive our newborn son home, were not great. Yet, there it was!

My knuckles were as white as the snow I was fighting to see through as we made our way home that day. The snow pounded the window, making it feel like we were moving at warp speed, although based on the honking, I was definitely driving at least 20, fine, 40, kilometres under the posted speed limit. Luckily, we managed to make it home in one piece as we began our journey into parenthood.

It definitely took having children to realize that there were some areas of my life that I needed to tighten up a bit more. For instance, I had never purchased winter tires prior to having children, which definitely would have been helpful on that trip home from the hospital. I had also not given much thought to the type of vehicle I was driving, generally opting for the “whatever is cheapest” approach. This method left us with some fairly undesirable and frankly, impractical vehicles.

When we were looking to purchase our next car, I was a wise, veteran parent at this point and I had a way larger check list of things I needed from a vehicle to keep my family safe in any kind of weather. So, I did a ton of research on before purchasing our last vehicle (yes, it’s a minivan), which led us to a great deal at Metro Dodge here in Ottawa. was amazing in helping me compare prices between both dealer and private sellers, plus it allowed me to get a feel for what my current vehicle was worth as a sale or trade-in. It was a huge resource of information – from car comparisons, to reviews, I learned a lot about what I needed to know to make sure I was confident in my final decision. And, even after I bought my van, I found myself coming back to the site – the News & Features section was a great way to get expert opinions on all the burning questions I had, including what my warning lights mean, how to figure out insurance, cruise control tips and more.

Before I leave you, I’d like to take a moment to just say that minivans get a bad rap, but our minivan is the single greatest purchase we have ever made. We are able to shuttle the kids to all their sports without worrying about fitting the equipment in. We can pack the van full of their friends and head off on amazing adventures. Plus, now that I’m a big boy who buys winter tires, I am never afraid of being on the road in the winter anymore because a minivan is essentially a small tank. It’s one of those “don’t knock it ‘til you try it” kind of deals. Much like having children…

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Important Tips For First Time Car Buyers!

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I can still remember my first car. It was a white Jeep Cherokee with slightly worn leather seats, a couple small rust spots, a butt warmer for winter and automatic windows (which were cool at the time). I was one of the last of my friends to take the plunge into car ownership, but it was such a proud day when it finally happened. I had spent months pouring through vehicle ads in various editions of the AutoTrader magazine and when I saw that glorious beast of a vehicle, I knew it had to be mine!

Unfortunately for me, the only thing I got right in that process was that I used AutoTrader to find some options. The truth is that I didn’t know anything about the vehicle purchasing process and because of that, I missed some key things that had me regretting the purchase less than a year into it. Luckily for you, not only have I learned a few lessons along the way, but now I go right to’s News and Features section, which is an incredibly valuable resource as you begin your journey with vehicle ownership! That being said, here are some tips for first time car buyers to help make that very exciting purchase a great experience!

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1. Set a Budget. A Realistic One!

I can’t state enough how important it is to know what your realistic budget is going into this process. I spent way too much money on my first car for several reasons but the big one was that I didn’t set a budget in advance and just bought the first cool thing I liked. Also, when thinking of your budget, keep in mind that there are other expenses such as gas, insurance and vehicle maintenance that can add up quickly.

2. Do Your Research!

As stated above, don’t just buy the first shiny thing you see, even if it falls within your budget. In fact, offers the largest inventory of new and used cars in Canada, available online and through the mobile app, so there’s no reason not to at least look up a few different options even if you are set on a specific brand of vehicle. You can search based on vehicle model, make, colour and geographic location to find the deal that is right for you. Speaking from experience, if you are too shy to negotiate a better price with a seller, try to bring someone with car buying experience with you to help out. Remember, you are the car buyer and you have nothing to lose by walking away and looking for a better deal elsewhere.

3. New vs. Used Car

This might be the toughest decision you are going to make when buying your first car. The benefits of buying new include predictable monthly payments with a traditionally lower interest rate than used, repairs covered under warranty (with roadside assistance usually included), the latest technology, added safety features, higher fuel efficiency, and not to mention that new car smell… The downside of course is the higher cost. New cars often come with a new-car price tag, and quicker depreciation.

With a used car, there’s more variety because you’re not just dealing with the newest models and used usually leads to bigger savings. Some benefits of buying used include the fact that it’s easier on your wallet as you get most of the car’s life and most of the warranty for a fraction of the new car price and you can avoid new car fees. There’s also more choice among age, make, model and trim and insurance rates tend to be lower. The downside of course is that the vehicle is slightly older depending on which route you go and generally requires more maintenance/repairs, etc.

A couple notes here before we move on. You can buy a bottle of “new car smell” nowadays, so if you want a used car that smells new, it’s only $6.99 more! You really can’t go wrong here as long as you stick to the previous points of budget and research. Think about what your needs are and that will help you find something that checks all the boxes. By using Canada’s number one automotive marketplace in, I guarantee you will find something that you will love, whether it be new or used.

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4. Leasing vs. Financing

This is another big one when it comes to purchasing your first vehicle. Both options have their pros and cons and it’s important to weigh factors such as vehicle usage and monthly budget when making your decision. Here are just a few points to help you make the best decision for you.


Pros: Monthly payments can be flexible, influenced by interest rates, payment terms and the length of time chosen to pay off the cost of the vehicle. The cost of the vehicle is spread over a period of time and at the end, the vehicle is owned outright. As someone shuttling around a busy family of 4 plus friends, financing was really the only option for us as we put a LOT of miles (and dirt/dents) on our van.
Cons: The fact that the vehicle will be paid off in full by the end of the borrowing term means that financing payments may be higher than leasing rates. It is possible that a vehicle could depreciate faster than it is paid off, meaning the value could be less than is owed.


Pros: Leasing can be an attractive solution due to the accessible payments and vehicle warranty, which allow for predictable monthly budgeting. Leasing is appealing for people who like to trade in for a new vehicle every few years, enjoying the latest designs and technology updates. This is an especially appealing option if you are simply driving to work and back, with no heavy wear and tear on the vehicle.
Cons: Leasing is essentially a long-term rental unless you choose to buy out the vehicle at the end of the lease. You are therefore responsible for excessive mileage and any damage that may occur.

Hopefully this was a good starting point for you if you are in the market for your first vehicle. I can’t stress enough how wonderful of a resource is, with innovative tools like I.Q. and the mobile app, there is quite literally all the information you will ever need and more when it comes to buying your first car.