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There have been so many articles in the press, radio or on television that mention that new car prices are considerably cheaper in the US. In the early "Wild West Day" of importing (2007 & 2008) some cars were up to 30% cheaper in the US. Today, with the dollar hovering at or above, in many cases it's still much cheaper to buy a vehicle in the US. We know it can't be due to the exchange rates. What then?

Granted, there are a few vehicles that are the same or slightly cheaper in Canada but in many cases, they're base models. Add some options and the prices skyrocket. The problem is still present. There was a time that when even the federal Minister of Finance said Canadian cars were overpriced. When he says that you know something's up.

There are dealers in Canada who also agree (and lucky for smart consumers like you) and have been feeling it on their ledger sheets. For a couple of hours of paperwork you could save THOUSANDS of dollars. Anywhere from $8000 to $10,000 on a $30,000 car. The prices vary greatly. The trick is DO YOUR HOMEWORK.

Don't forget to check the "Vehicle Prep" and other charges. A lot of Canadian stealerships (I love that term) tack on security and administration fees to pump up their profits. Many won't tell you about that until they have your deposit.

There are also tons of manufacturer-to-dealer incentives that are hidden from you. Add to that the fact that sometimes you can get great US incentives and discounts from US dealers (who sell in higher volume) and you can quickly see how you can save a bundle.

Unless the car is very hot and desirable (like a new model or extremely popular) The vast majority of buyers pay BELOW invoice (Not MSRP). Sometime you also qualify for US rebates (if offered) and other incentives that typically drop the invoice price up to thousands less.

Basic Rules of Thumb for buying in the US:

Contrary to what a Canadian car stealership might tell you, almost ANY car can be imported regardless of it's age. The process is very simple. There's very little paperwork to do. Ask around, you'll be surprised how many people are doing this. The press has taken note. To retaliate, the Canadian car companies have quietly told some of their US dealers NOT to sell to Canadians since the savings can be quite dramatic. Check out the US invoice prices online for free. Many consumers are getting vehicles in the US for LESS than invoice. Canadian dealers insist on working backwards from the MSRP which is ALWAYS going to work in the dealers' favour. I'll say it again, check and see for yourself.

Another popular Canadian Sales tactic is to ask you what you're willing to spend (without actually committing you to a term). Visit a car dealer and see the tactic at work yourself. You'll be told that US cars aren't compliant and that you'll need to spend "thousands" to conform your car. Don't believe it. It's a way to cast doubt on your decision-making. Remember for every person that hesitates means "thousands" more in the dealers' pockets.

Transport Canada has contracted Livingston International to establish and operate the national program of vehicle inspection, certification and registration, known as the Registrar of Imported Vehicles. They have a valuable website at with most of the information you will need to successfully import a vehicle on your own. You can research your particular model and see what (if any) modifications are required to successfully register the vehicle in Canada. In the vast majority of cases, very little or as was the case of many cars like the Subaru Outback that I imported, NOTHING is required.

There is no doubt there are price disparities in Canada. Many Canadian dealers will use all kinds of arguments to mislead you. There is a Canadian automotive analyst who is clearly on the manufacturers payroll. Some "automotive experts" are reliant on the manufacturers advertisement and are not about to question their masters. Some manufacturers or "experts" will point out that model and trim levels aren't the same so true comparisons are not possible and that no real price disparity exists when you compare apples to apples. Unfortunately for them, with the Internet at your disposal, you can compare options to options. This price disparity is huge and is now the subject of a $2 billion dollar lawsuit filed in Canada in September, 2007. That lawsuit languishes but is still underway.

Another point to ponder; your judgment will be clouded and confused with the dreaded “taxation” argument. That’s cheesier than the old pick up line “hey babe, what’s your sign?”. DON’T FALL FOR THAT ONE! Taxation shouldn’t ever come into discussion since you're paying taxes regardless of where you buy. A Canadian buyer purchasing down south will save additional money as the overall tax bill will be significantly reduced since the initial cost of the car is considerably lower. Keep in mind that SOME non-NAFTA vehicles are subject to 6.1% duty which if applicable, should be considered in your overall purchase price. You’ll be told you need to pay duties on ALL cars. Remember these folks need to justify charging you upwards of $10,000 for the unit sitting on their Canadian lot. You'll be told the resale value on US-sourced vehicles will be lower (not true at all - check out all the US-sourced vehicles at many Canadian stealerships. Most have no distinction between Canadian and US-based vehicles. This is yet another cash grab from the Canadian dealers.

Local Canadian dealers will tell you the Canadian market is small and can't support US pricing. Another good one that is making the rounds is that “the cars in Canada are competitively priced in the market”. That's the whole point of the lawsuit. There appears to be some collusion going on. There is an allegation that many Canadian car manufacturers have agreed to keep their prices artificially high.

The information on this site was gathered from experienced consumers (like me who have actually done it). The best part is this information is provided to
everyone free of charge. Unfortunately it appears some unscrupulous “carpetbaggers” have set up websites and are compelled to charge you for this exact same information. Some have actually plaguerized the data from this author. They like to consider themselves entrepreneurs. It’s bad enough the Canadian car dealers are doing it, but charging consumers for free information is unfortunate. Can’t say it’s because it needed to be compiled and bound together. That’s here for you. Again for free. Remember, I've been providing this information for free since 2006. Ask them how long they've been in business.