Archive for the ‘Buying Cars’ Category

Used Car Buying Tips the Experts Use

Thursday, January 17th, 2008

When it comes to buying a used car, you should not only bring in outside, professional expertise, but make a professional out of yourself, too.



By combining a physical inspection from a licensed mechanic (which you should always try to do), with the information directly available to you as a consumer, such as vehicle history reports, you can empower yourself with the knowledge and confidence you need to make the best decision possible.

No one will dispute that fact that uncertainty is the most prominent and unwelcome part of the used car-buying process. Since the first Model T rolled off the line, people have been fixing and selling vehicles without disclosing their full, and sometimes checkered, pasts. And, be it your first or 14th used car purchase, the questions always loom: Am I buying a problem vehicle? Has it been in an accident? How do I know this isn’t a lemon?

In this information age, you can arm yourself with the same information and techniques professionals use to answer these questions, and make an educated and confident used car purchase. These techniques include:

1.) Pedals and Steering: Examine the pedals for wear. While the paint and interior are often updated to make a car appear less worn, sellers rarely replace pedals. Also, with the engine off, jiggle the steering wheel back and forth. There should be less than 1 inch of play and no clunking noises. If there are, the car may need a steering gearbox, rack or other front suspension repair such as tie rod ends.

2.) Frame Damage: Never buy a frame-damaged car. Check the radiator core support, which connects the front fenders and holds the top of the radiator and includes the hood latch. It should be bolted, not welded on either side. Inspect the bolt heads at the top of the fenders inside the hood; scratch marks indicate that the fenders have been replaced or realigned after a crash.

Uneven tire wear is another indication of possible frame damage. When cars are involved in a major collision and frame damage occurs, the frame often remains slightly off keel and the tires will show this hidden problem.

3.) Paint: Carefully check the paint job, taking note of any rust spots, dents or scratches. Look at the sides of the car from end-on for waviness, which indicates paint work. Run your finger along the edges of the joints between panels; roughness indicates residue left from masking tape, uneven gaps between door, hood, and trunk panels and their openings indicate possibility of a major repair. Consider bringing a small magnet with you. If the body of the car is steel, then a failure of the magnet to stick can indicate the extensive use of body compound to conduct a repair. When using this trick however, keep in mind that many newer models use fiberglass for certain body panels.

4.) Fluids: Remove the oil filler cap. Check for signs of thick, dark sludge, which may indicate the vehicle didn’t receive frequent oil changes. Look at the condition of the coolant in the overflow tank; filthy brown coolant means a rusted cooling system and possibly a leaky head gasket. Pull the transmission dipstick; the fluid should be pink or red. An old car may have dark transmission fluid, but the oil should not look or smell burnt. Check underneath the vehicle for fluid leaks.

5.) Vehicle History Report: Beyond your own firsthand detective work, checking a car’s vehicle history is one of the most important things you can do before making a purchase. Vehicle history reports like Experian’s AutoCheck (www.autocheck.com) pull data from various sources, including state department of motor vehicle records, auto auctions and dealers.

AutoCheck now features the AutoCheck Score, which assigns each vehicle a numeric score based on that vehicle’s specific history. In much the same way as a credit score distills large amounts of information into a simple, easy-to-understand numeric score, this first-ever vehicle score makes it easier to understand the vehicle’s full history and compare that car against the average score of similar vehicles.

Vehicle history reports factor in reported events such as title and registration information, accident, auction data, the vehicle’s emission history, whether it’s ever been repossessed or stolen, whether the vehicle has ever been a government car, police car or taxi and whether it’s ever been leased. The AutoCheck Score does the analysis for you, helping you easily understand what a vehicle history report really says about that used car.

Becoming a savvier car buyer will not only allow you to make a better investment, but it can also protect you and your family from an unsafe vehicle. Gone are the days of simply kicking tires and staring blankly under the hood. With a little research and some careful inspection, you can steer clear of problem used vehicles.

THE CALIFORNIA AUTOMOBILE “LEMON LAW” AND WHAT IS A REASONABLE NUMBER OF REPAIR ATTEMPTS

Friday, April 20th, 2007

What is considered a reasonable number of repair attempts will depend on the circumstances including the seriousness of the defect. For example, one or two repair attempts may be considered reasonable for serious safety defects such as brake failure, depending on the exact situation.

A special provision, often called the “Lemon Law,” helps determine what is a reasonable number of repair attempts for problems that substantially impair the use, value, or safety of the vehicle. The Lemon Law applies to these problems if they arise during the first 18 months after the consumer received delivery of the vehicle or within the first 18,000 miles on the odometer, whichever occurs first. During the first 18 months or 18,000 miles, the “Lemon Law” presumes that a manufacturer has had a reasonable number of attempts to repair the vehicle if either (1) The same problem results in a condition that is likely to cause death or serious bodily injury if the vehicle is driven and the problem has been subject to repair two or more times by the manufacturer or its agents, and the buyer or lessee has at least once directly notified the manufacturer of the need for the repair of the problem as provided in the warranty or owner’s manual or (2) The same problem has been subject to repair four or more times by the manufacturer or its agents and the buyer has at least once directly notified the manufacturer of the need for the repair of the problem as provided in the warranty or owner’s manual or (3) The vehicle is out of service because of the repair of any number of problems by the manufacturer or its agents for a cumulative total of more than 30 days since delivery of the vehicle.

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Lemon Laws (Oceana’s Legal Almanac Series Law for the Layperson)

Thursday, February 22nd, 2007

The car you’ve just bought is a lemon and now you want to take action. Lemon Laws is the invaluable guidebook that informs car buyers of their rights and offers resources to benefit unfortunate owners of defective vehicles. Extensive coverage is provided on consumer protection laws, federal warranty laws, federal protection Acts, lemon laws for all 50 states, and tips to avoid buying another lemon. The Legal Almanac series serves to educate the general public on a variety of legal issues pertinent to everyday life and to keep readers informed of their rights and remedies under the law. Each volume in the series presents an explanation of a specific legal issue in simple, clearly written text, making the Almanac a concise and perfect desktop reference tool. All volumes provide state-by-state coverage. Selected state statutes are included, as are important case law and legislation, charts and tables for comparison.

More lemon law books.

Lemon Law Bible

Monday, February 5th, 2007

Amazon Customer Review: If you are planning to buy a car, you should buy this book first. Written in plain, understandable English, and packed full of information not only about what to do if your car turns out to be a lemon, but also how to avoid buying a lemon in the first place, Steve Lehto’s book is a much-needed, non-technical guide to automobile law. Lehto provides the relevant information in the clearest possible manner, on legal terms, on the process of repair and replacement of a lemon, on the “tricks” many unscrupulous dealers use to avoid responsibility, on “Lemon Laws Around the Nation” - on every aspect of automobile law you need to know to become an empowered consumer, and take control of the situation. The extensive appendices, such as a “Sample Last Chance Letter,” and “Internet Resources,” are especially useful. Highly recommended!

Lemon Law Bible

Rule Of Thumb Auto Finance Rule

Friday, January 5th, 2007

There’s a rule of thumb formula for calculating how much most lenders will let you finance monthly for a car loan. Because interest rates have generally declined over the past several months it may be worthwhile to look into refinancing your auto loan.

HDD-Camcorder Car Shopping

Friday, December 29th, 2006

If you are shopping for new or used car and your significant other cannot accompany you, bring you best choices back on digital video. The Sony DCR-SR100 is world class optically, and it’s best feature may be that it is an hdd-camcorder. You record onto an internal hard drive that acts just like another hard drive on your computer when you bring it home and make the connection. Easy to view, edit and email your recording.

HDD Camcorders are the future of digital video.

Does Refinancing Your Car Loan Make Sense?

Tuesday, December 26th, 2006

When does auto refinancing make sense? If you bought your car from a dealer, chances are that the specific APR of your auto loan was never part of the negotiation. Car salesmen are very good at keeping the money discussion focused on the amount of your monthly payment and never how much that money is costing you. You may be buying a $20,000 car with 15% financing but the dealer is really selling you a $28,500 installment note.

Useful information about automobile financing

Kelly Blue Book + Consumer Reports = Car Buying Knowledge

Sunday, November 5th, 2006

If you are looking to buy a new car, be sure to look in the Kelly blue book before you do. Using the automotive blue book is really the only way for you to know how much you should pay for a used car. The automotive blue book covers everything there is about used cars and pricing. It tells you by make, model, year and condition, exactly what you should pay for just about any vehicle that you could possibly even run across! It is a veritable goldmine of pricing information. There are, however, a few big things that the Kelly automotive blue book is not really any good for. It is lousy, or even worthless for finding point by point reports of how well cars keep their utility. Sure, you can get some idea of what car might be worth buying by seeing which keeps its worth, and which does not do that at all, but that does not really tell the whole story.

This is why I am such a big fan of the consumer reports guide to car. Although it is not as good a guide to how much to pay as is the automotive blue book, it does have a lot of advantages that the latter does not. It will tell you almost everything about used cars. It will show you expected life, the expenses of maintaining them, and point by point, which systems of the car are likely to need to be repaired or replaced, and which are not. There is really no more valuable source in the whole wide world for trying to figure out which car to get as your next one than the consumer reports guide. It is almost without parallel, if you are to ask me.

Of course, neither the consumer reports guide nor the automotive blue book really are enough. The automotive blue book will tell you how much to pay, and the consumer reports guide will tell you about what you should look for, but there is no substitute for getting the car checked out by a qualified mechanic. If you do not take this all important step, then you are likely to just get ripped off instead of getting a car that will last you for as long as you need it to. And getting ripped off stinks. Do yourself a favor and get the thing checked out.

The Loan Business Can Be Dangerous To Your Financial Health

Saturday, November 4th, 2006

It can be useful to get a loan for many things, however, you must be careful. I mean, really careful. There are all types of fraudulent services out there which will lure you in with promises of guaranteed loans even if you have bad credit, or if you have been turned down in the past, etcetera, but many of them don’t tell you, or try not to tell you that they will charge you an arm and a leg in interest on your loan in exchange for your gullability in using their services. Basically, any one who offers a loan for people with terrible credit is looking for vulnerable people with economic problems to completely rip off. We do know a good site for auto loans if you’re in the market for a new car.

Recently, I got a loan for improving my restaurant, and you can bet I didn’t use one of these services. I got what was known as a small business loan, a loan guaranteed by the government to help small business owners like me make improvements on their establishments at reasonable rates. This loan let me add a new counter, new tables, several new pots and pans, knives and other utensils, a new sound system, as well as a stage for shows. This loan was very reasonable, and I’d get another loan for my business if I was to need to improve it again.

You can also get a loan for improving your education. College loans can be found if you have economic problems, good grades, or sometimes just because you are going into a program which is under represented. It can be very difficult to pay for college of if you are of modest economic means. Add to that being a single mother, and having to support a family, and you can see why a college loan can be so necessary.

My cousin recently got a loan for college. She did not get the best grades, but because she was going in to science as a woman, she was an under represented group in a fast growing field, and therefore, loans were available for her. She is now a successful researcher doing physics experiments at a major national research laboratory, so obviously that loan paid off. You can see that, although you will have to pay it off, and with some interest, it can often be worth it to have a loan to improve all sorts of areas of your life. And a college loan, you don’t have to pay for until after college.

2006 Cadillac Escalade

Saturday, October 21st, 2006

What is the deal with the 2006 Cadillac Escalade? I mean come on people; why is everyone so stoked and anxious to own one of these massive SUVs? Is it because they brandish the name, Cadillac? Or maybe it’s because all the male celebrities want to purchase them as well. I have to admit, the 2006 Cadillac Escalade was off my list the minute I noticed Justine Timberlake owned and drove one. No thanks! This guy is lame with a capital L. I can barely forgive Cameron Diaz for dating the loser. Anyway, enough about cheesy celebrities and their many many cars. The truth is the 2006 Cadillac Escalade is famous beyond belief. In fact, it seems to be the most desirable SUV on the market these days. Are you looking for one?

Who wouldn’t take a 2006 Cadillac Escalade? Okay, besides me? Yeah, that’s pretty much what I thought. I think it’s fairly safe to say that most folks would jump at the chance to own a 2006 Cadillac Escalade. It’s just one of those fancy, gargantuan SUVs that everybody respects because they assume you’re loaded if you own one. Now, me on the other hand; I would rather have the Porsche Cheyenne any day of the week. That is one seriously sweet vehicle. Granted they want a ton of cash for one, but that’s just the way it goes. When I get about 80 grand to drop on an SUV, I’ll probably purchase one. I doubt that will happen any time soon, but you never know. As for all of you out there who are madly in love with the 2006 Cadillac Escalade, These are being sold all over the country. Heck, you can even have them done-up and tricked-out exactly to your liking. Does that sound intriguing?

If you are in the market for a 2006 Cadillac Escalade, then I suggest you start sorting through your local dealerships. One of them is bound to have this popular SUV for sale at a decent price. Of course that all depends on what you consider decent. It’s a relative term right? If you are unable to spot a 2006 Cadillac Escalade in your immediate or surrounding areas, you can easily hop online to take a gander. There are infinite websites like Carmax.com that sell the 2006 Cadillac Escalade and much more. Virtually anything you can fathom can be found in cyberspace. So, what are you waiting for?