What to do when you first get your driver’s licence
Young woman adjusting her car's rearview mirror

Congratulations! Passing all the tests required to earn a driver’s licence in Canada is a big deal. It’s a milestone worth celebrating. Now, there are a few things you must do – plus a few you’ll want to do – after earning your licence. Don’t worry though, the hard stuff is over; this is where driving gets fun.

Buy a car (or don’t)

The first thing most people want to do after getting a driver’s licence is run out and buy a car. The choices are almost infinite - you could buy used, or new. Your car could be leased or financed or purchased outright. You could buy a speedy electric vehicle, or a plush luxury machine. These days, however, there are options other than simply buying a vehicle. Drivers who only need a car occasionally could potentially save money by either renting, or by subscribing to a car-sharing service.

Practice, practice, practice

It’s completely normal if you’re still not totally comfortable or confident behind the wheel yet. Most new drivers aren’t, whether they admit it or not. Getting comfortable driving in bustling downtown traffic or on major highways takes practice, practice and more practice. The confidence will come as you pile on the kilometres. 

Get or update auto insurance

If you buy a car, you’ll need to get it insured. Yes, car insurance is mandatory in Canada. Alternatively, if you’re living with your parents who already own a car, they should update their auto insurance to reflect the fact there’s now another driver in the home. Car insurance regulations vary by province but, in general, you’ll want to research different insurance companies, different types of coverage, and get multiple quotes to find the best policy for you. If you’re looking for tips on how to save on car insurance, we've got you covered. 

Know your car

What’s that warning light on the dashboard? What happens if the washer fluid runs out? What should I do if the tire-pressure monitor says there’s a problem? Don’t panic; these things happen. Ideally though, you don’t want to be flipping through your vehicle’s instruction manual by the side of the road trying to figure out what to do in these situations. Get familiar with your car’s functions and basic maintenance needs. Check the tire pressures regularly, and know how to add a little air if needed. Know how to check the windshield-washer fluid and oil level. Of course, your local garage can do these things for you too, but it’s helpful to know how to do it yourself in a pinch.

Get your car inspected

Speaking of garages, it’s a good idea to get your car inspected once a year, regardless of whether you think anything’s wrong or not. You can take it back to the dealer, or to an independent garage, where a professional mechanic will give your car a once-over. They’ll inspect parts that wear out – like tires and brake pads – and top-up or change any fluids as needed. The peace of mind is worth the cost, especially for new drivers. On top of that, a good mechanic will also give you a heads up on any emerging issues that you’ll want to budget for and fix in the future.

Keep learning

Just because you earned your driver’s licence in Canada, it doesn’t mean you’ve got nothing left to learn. Even the best, most experienced drivers are constantly trying to be better, safer road users. Usage-based insurance, like Sonnet Shift, can help save money for safe drivers and those who don’t drive as often. 

Gear up

New cars don’t come with everything you need to hit the road. There are a handful of useful items – including a first aid kit, tire inflator, sunglasses and phone charger – you’ll want to keep in the trunk or glovebox at all times. Here’s our handy checklist of 10 things to keep in your car.

Celebrate with a road trip

Go discover what the “freedom of the open road” is all about. Forget the daily commute and the grocery run. Get out of town, away from home, and see something new. That doesn’t mean you need to drive the full length of the Trans-Canada Highway, although you could. Your first road trip can be 45 minutes or five hours; just get out there and explore.