5 Things to Change on Your Car

It’s a great feeling to drive home in a new-used car. There are some aspects of preparing your new (to you) car for life on the road though. Even if you found a perfect car that fits you well, there are 5 things you should try and change as soon as possible.

  1. Factory and OEM clone air filters work, just not as good as they could do. If you spend a few dollars and buy a good quality air filter like a K&N filter (there are a good number of similar-quality brands on the market if you prefer the companies that supply those) then you will subsequently increase mileage, horsepower, and overall performance. Though good air filters are not cheap, it will still be a good investment in the long run (the mileage savings should neutralize the initial cost of the filter and added power is always a welcome improvement to any car enthusiast) Most high end filters are washable, too, so it should be a one-time investment.
  2. If you purchased a used car and you don’t have documentation of when spark plugs were changed last, then change them. Use a quality platinum or iridium plug for a hot, cleaner burning spark. Many people change new car plugs simply because some manufactures still insist on using a lower grade plug to keep their costs down. Much like the air filter, this can add a bit of extra time before a fill-up is needed, as well as giving better performance and horsepower as well.
  3. If the car is not currently under factory warranty research tuner chips for your make and model. The (typically easy to change) computer chips can make a big difference in performance. If this is a totally new area for you do some research on Car Performance Chips – just have a play around with Google and spend a bit of time getting a good overview of the topic, as it’s quite an in-depth one. A bit of research goes a long way though, and an afternoon reading good quality information sources (cross-reference where you find information out from using other sources to give yourself a better chance of weeding out unreliable information) can pay big dividends.
  4. Get rid of the space saver spare tire that the car is most likely equipped with. Get a tire correctly suited to the road conditions you’ll be driving on most often. If you read the limitations on the space saver spare you’ll find they are designed for short distances and low speeds. In any case, you will probably need to replace the tire if you get a flat at highway speeds anyway so there is no money saving involved if you wait until it happens. Finally, think about snow tires or chains-in the event of heavy snow they can make a large difference to the grip the tires can generate.
  5. Get rid of the cheap scissor or bumper jack that came in your car. Whether just for emergency use or for use when doing your own maintenance at home a quality jack like this 2 tonne bottle jack will be easier and safer to use.

Financing a Used Car

alfa-romeo-giulietta-spider

There are many considerations someone thinks about when purchasing a used car. One of the largest being how to pay for it. A majority of used vehicles are financed since this is an expensive purchase for most car shoppers A large factor when buying used vs a new car is the loan rate the credit union or bank gives you and the amount of money you are approved for.

Insurance

Although finance is the focus here, it nevertheless has a large impact on insurance. If a bank issues an auto loan it will require certain levels of insurance on the vehicle that is collateral on that loan. Although auto loan rates are typically lower than personal loan rates, if the insurance is $100/month cheaper because you are a high risk category then going with a personal loan at a higher interest rate may make sense over an auto loan, since it could save your money. This does not change the fact you have less insurance on the vehicle and if something happens to it you may lose out overall but assuming all goes smoothly you might be fine.

Dealership Financing

You may already do your banking with one or two banks or credit unions. A dealership often does business with lots of banks and credit unions and the financing arm of the auto brands they sell. Working with a dealership has the advantage of convenience and speed. Large full service dealerships like The CarShopcan assist you arranging insurance and financing a car.

However be aware that with convenience that probably means you won't be getting as good a deal vs going through a local bank or credit union. There can be a lot of “gotchas” through dealership financing you may not be aware of and you should read terms carefully.

It is always smart to compare all your financing options and I recommend taking your time to consider who you will finance any car with. Searching for financing before starting the search for a car is a good idea. Personally I recommend using a local credit union over a bank or dealership. Many actually use the lower rates they get through a credit union and pressure a dealership to give better loan rates and terms.

Cash Alternative

Maybe you have saved up for a used vehicle and intend to pay cash for it. That's great as most dealerships tell salespeople that, “A sale today is better than a sale tomorrow.” This usually means you can pressure the car salesman to give you better deal on the spot with all that beautiful cash, but that may not always be the case. Since dealerships make more on the financing of cars most of the time they might be hard negotiating a better price. If that is the case then you should move onto another dealership and not waste your time.

 

5 Car Insurance Myths Debunked

car insurance myths

There is a lot of misleading information out there about car insurance that gets repeated so often people believe it to be true.  However, most of these so called car insurance myths neglect vital facts and more importantly facts that could save you money.  Since these misconceptions often influence what a person buys and drives for a car, which is a big decision, taking a closer look at car insurance myths is a good idea.

5 Car Insurance Myths Debunked

  1. Both New and relatively New Cars cost more to insure: While this is generally true as cars depreciate in value over time, there are many factors involved in determining rates for auto insurance for a given make or model and the replacement cost of a vehicle is a relatively small piece of that.  Better safety features and a steady insurance track record can potentially result in a new car having a lower rate than your current vehicle.  Living in a saving neighborhood with lower crime can also drastically lower car insurance rates. 
  2. The color of the car changes insurance rates: The truth is your insurance company does not know what color your car is and probably doesn't care.  They don’t ask and no, the VIN (Vehicle Identification Number) does not indicate a color. Bright red or plain white, if the same make, model and driver are involved the same rate will result for insurance.
  3. Sports cars get more speeding tickets and will make rates go up: Not true, 9 of the top 10 models in terms of speeding tickets are non-performance vehicles. Insurers are interested in how many speeding tickets you have, not how many a type of car might get. Rates for sports cars are higher based on horsepower and insurance claims records, not the likelihood of picking up a ticket.
  4. Tickets in other states do not change insurance: Not only do insurance companies regularly find these tickets, but if they find them after the event has occurred you may be dropped from coverage completely or they may refuse to pay a claim as it was a fraudulently obtained policy. It is expensive regardless so make sure your insurance will pay if a claim needs to be filed by being above board to start with.  
  5. Full or comprehensive coverage insurance means they pay for everything: Full coverage insurance is a loosely defined term to mean both liability coverage and loss coverage. With comprehensive coverage damage to your car in an accident, theft, and fire are typically covered. Glass coverage, towing and rental coverage, theft of property in the vehicle, etc. are areas that may or may not be included. To compare policies and premiums you need to look at each of these things, not simply request a quote for full or comprehensive coverage as that definition can be very different from one policy to another.  

Policy limits also exist in every policy so even if the same things are covered but one insures for a total of $10,000 medical coverage (a 3 day stay or less sometimes in a hospital) and the other for $100,000 then the rates are different and rightly so. Often super cheap policies are dropping all coverage to the minimum legal amounts for a state. Saving $30 every 6 months is not a bargain at the risk $90,000 in medical bills if the situation would warrant the latter.

Most full service insurance agents will happily take the time to go over different options available to you in car insurance from ways to cut the cost down to ways maximize protection in the areas of coverage you need. AXA is an example of a website that allows you to tailor a policy online and then have an actual agent review the policy to address any questions. Many online insurance companies now will allow you to print all the policy details to compare accurately. Doing the investigation before shopping for your new car or used car can save you a lot of frustration with car insurance down the road,  Literally and figuratively speaking.  

A Vehicle History Report Won’t Tell You Everything

Alfa Romeo Spider
Alfa Romeo Spider

I have gotten a few emails about this so I thought I would talk about what a Vehicle History Report will and won't tell you.

I am sure most people have seen information and advertisements for a Vehicle History Report, such as Carfax and Autocheck, but are they worth it and can you trust what they say? Well … the answer is bit mixed.

In my opinion you should it is always good to try to get all the information about a used car before you buy it. These Vehicle History Reports hardly give you the whole story of a used car most of the time though.

Let's say you are looking at a used car, such as a Honda Accord.  This Honda Accord looks fine and good to you and you can't see anything wrong with it.  Hell mechanically the car seems to be running fine and the Carfax or Autocheck report come out clean.  So should you buy it?  My answer to this question, “Hell NO!”  You should ALWAYS get a used car checked out by an independent mechanic before you hand over any cash, check, credit card, money order, wire transfer, etc.  Even if that report comes out clean.

The reason?  What you may not realize is that a vehicle history report takes data mostly from insurance companies and dealerships.  That means only cars that have been fixed via an insurance company claim will show up on a Vehicle History Report.  Sooo, it can tell you data that is useful but you must realize something.  Body shops are not required to report to any state agencies or databases the work they perform.  That means it is easy for a body shop to repair a car and sell it to you even if you check a vehicle history report.  Dealerships and body shops do it all the time actually.

I have a friend and his dad used to paint cars in NASCAR back in the day.  If I took a car that I had to him that needed some bodywork or had been in an accident, he could make my car look like new.  It would be hard to tell if the car had been painted and it wouldn't be reported to anywhere and therefore wouldn't show up on a Carfax or Autocheck report.  

Besides most vehicle history report systems can never keep up with the amount of cars getting into accidents.  (That sounds unfortunate but true!)  Bottom line, cars should be checked out by a professional mechanic before you bu no matter what.  

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Important Tips when Buying a Used Car

Alfa Romeo Spider
Alfa Romeo Spider

Important Tips when Buying a Used Car

With 2013 bringing so many great new cars to the market and with new car sales trending upwards for 2013, many people are getting into new cars while selling off their old cars. This has made a great opportunity for used car shoppers since these used cars typically are only owned for a short period of time (1-5 years).

However buying a used car it can be challenging for first-time drivers or people who have a limited budget to spend. A few good tips can help in making a wise decision and choice when shopping for that perfect used car.

Budget

Figuring out how much you can spend on a used car is the first step you need to make before take the plunge into shopping. Have you checked you credit scorce? Do you know a reasonably amount you can borrow? This will ensure that you do not get swayed by a salesman who will try to lure yo to buy a used car, or even new car, you might not be able to afford.  Please read my article “The DOs and DON'Ts of Car Financing” to get a better idea of what you need to do and think about.

The Right Fit

Just like a baseball glove or sweater the you car buy should be a suitable fit for, your lifestyle, and preferably style. Though you need to be flexible about the color of the car and features when buying a used car, looking through all the car options that fits within your budget including contemplating on the pros and cons, will help you make the best choice when selecting a used car.

Test Drive

Obviously before you buy a used car make sure to test drive the car you will be purchasing. This will give you an exact idea about the way your potential “new car” works and how you like driving it. While test driving, particularly look for how it feels on the road and how the mechanical systems works such as the brakes, transmission, suspension, etc. Does the engine make any abnormal sounds and vibrations? Are there any general rattles when the car is moving?

Check it Out

Getting a used car inspected and checked by an independent trusted mechanic is a must. Consider what you found on the test drive an d let them know. With the help of a mechanic, ask them to help you inspect the chassis of the car, if the headlights and indicators are working, the battery condition, any repainting or bodywork signs, air conditioning, HVAC, electrical systems, etc. If the car needs repairs it might be fine, but it will allow you to negotiate a much better deal.

If you are not a member of a credit union I would highly recommend joining one in your area. Credit Unions are non-profit and owned by the members who are part of it and not shareholders. This allows them offer much lower rates on loans compared to traditional banks. Many credit unions charge have the same interest rate on new cars as used cars, which is unheard of at traditional banks.

After you have found the best used car for you needs and feel comfortable moving ahead, make sure to negotiate the best possibly deal. Try to make it reasonably for both you you and the seller of the car. Confirm that the paperwork is in place and properly filled out and being transferred to you the new owner and that the current owner actually owns the car. You should be good to go.

Buying a used car for a first-timer or a veteran can still be a challenging and frustrating experience. Used cars can vary widely in condition but if you follow these tips you should be good.

If you have any questions about buying a used car please contact me and I would be happy to help you out.  If you have find this article and information useful please follow Adam’s Auto Advice on Facebook and Twitter.