5 Tips for Buying New Tires: Guest blog by Rose Fox

Tires. Many of us think that if they’re round, have visible tread, hold air and are grippy – they’re good. But the truth is, not all tires are right for all vehicles – or even all conditions. So before you plunk down your hard-earned cash on a set of tires that may or may not be right for your new or used car, your city or the way you drive, take heed and follow these simple buying tips:

Get the basics

Before starting your shopping trip, check your owner’s manual and the information placard on the inside of the car’s door. They contain critical information about the type and size of tire that’s recommended by the manufacturer.

Know the code

Every letter and number on a tire’s sidewall means something – and it’s important that you know what that “something” is. Edmonds does a good job of thoroughly explaining the primary markings, and Wikipedia houses an exhaustive list of the additional markings that you may encounter.

Consider your spare

If your spare tire is old, treadworn, or cracked, it might be worthwhile to invest in a new spare tire, as well. And if your negotiation skills are sharp, you might even be able to wheel and deal on the cost of the fifth tire with the manager or owner of the shop.

Get your car aligned

If you put new tires on a misaligned car – or even one with bad shocks – the tires won’t wear evenly and they’ll wear quickly, which will put you in the position of shopping for new tires sooner than you’d probably like.

Contemplate fuel economy

Every time you put new tires on your car you’ll likely impact its fuel economy. In fact, according to Bill VandeWater at Bridgestone Firestone North America, “consumers can see a 15 to 20 percent difference in their fuel economy depending on the tire they select.” If fuel economy is a concern, read the reviews, manufacturer’s product description and talk with your tire tech about how each option you’re considering might affect your car’s overall MPG.

Finally, if you don’t have an immediate need and can wait for a sale, you’ll likely find the best ones in April and October, as well as throughout the spring and summer during long holiday weekends, such as Memorial Day, Independence Day and Labor Day.

BIO: Rose Fox – Rose is a guest author who just loves to write. She occupies her time word smithing about everything from New York to new cars, from farming to pharmaceuticals.

Buying A Brand New Car – 5 Tips: Guest blog by David Young

Buying a car is usually a non-trivial personal or collective financial decision. The car you drive can say a lot about your tastes, preferences and even personality. The automobile market is filled with options from a plethora of manufacturers of national and international repute, providing a wide range to select from. In addition, purchasing a car from the financial standpoint, assures depreciation of the value of the product after purchase. Keeping these points in mind, how does an individual make a selection while purchasing a car, simultaneously ensuring value for money and fulfilment of personal requirements? Here are five tips to bear in mind while buying a brand new car:

1. Feature Requirements and Product Research: Before buying a car, a thorough list of all those automobile requirements that you need fulfilled should be addressed. Is the car going to be for use by the entire family? Is it for your individual use only, or is it meant for out-of-town trips and navigating rough terrain? These questions will help narrow down on the features you expect the car to have. For instance, if the car is for use by the whole family, then the size might be an important feature to consider. Also, environment-friendliness, fuel efficiency, and so on might be some of the attributes that you would like to investigate before you make your buy.

2. New Technological Features for the Year 2013: Front-centre mounted airbags for additional protection to the driver and front passenger in the event of a collision; the back-up collision intervention system to detect moving objects in the vicinity and automatically brake to avoid collision; inductive wireless charging for hands-free mobile and gadget charging; and many more are some of them.

3. Assess the True Market Value of a Car: The true market value refers to the average pre-tax rate that customers are paying for a model in a particular area. This amount could vary on a daily basis and is based on market fluctuations. Therefore, inform dealers that you are interested in a particular model and are seeking to purchase it. However, make it clear that you are interested in making the purchase from only where the pre-tax sales rate is lowest. Compare the rates that the various dealers quote to assess the true market value of a model and based on your research, you can begin negotiations. Remember to approach at least five to seven dealers in your area during this step.

4. Weigh the Benefits Versus the Costs: With every model that the buyer chooses to examine, one of the main checks would be analysing the benefits of the model in terms of the time and money invested on it. Is the financial investment being returned in terms of fuel efficiency, features provided? Possessing a car means additional costs for fuel, maintenance and so on. The point of having a car is normally for cutting down on travel time to the work place, easy travel to parts of the city without having to expend time and effort of public transport, etc. It would not be a sensible purchase, if on an average; expenses made towards the car far outweigh the benefits. Therefore, during the research and negotiation phases, the buyer must compulsorily study these aspects to avoid making a rash purchase.

5. Incentives and Rebates: Before making the purchase, ensure to avail all the incentives and rebates that you are eligible for. While making the purchase, the finance and insurance manager will put you through a number of documents. During this process, he or she may likely convince you to buy a number of additional accessories and products. Be sure to know what products you really want and need to avoid making excessive and unnecessary purchases. Purchasing a car may not be an easy task, but following these suggestions could help you make a wise and cost-effective purchase.

AUTHOR: David Young works in Advertising for Car Accessories Plus, enjoying a much quieter desk job after spending most of his life in the pit at his garage.

Automatic vs. Manual Cars: Which One Should You Drive? Guest post by Kiera Willis

It’s an age old question for drivers. “Can you drive stick or are you automatic?”

The answer varies from the person to person simply because of the world of differences there are between the two modes of driving.

For readers who are just about to learn how to drive, the fundamental distinction between manual and automatic is that the first requires you to shift gears on your own, while the latter does the shifting for you. This one distinction proves to be very important because it affects a lot of things in a car.

Feel

Manual transmission cars, by design, are a bit more complicated than automatics. You have to deal with a third pedal (the clutch) to be able to shift gears, and you also always have to keep in mind the speed you’re going so you know when to shift gears to not damage the transmission.

Automatic transmission cars keep it simple. The usual modes for an automatic car are “drive”, “neutral”, “reverse”, “park”, and sometimes “third”, “second” and “first”, with the last three locking in a car’s gears to a certain set of gears.

A typical line of thinking is that “real men drive stick,” because of the power a manual car
supposedly emanates. You’re the one doing all the driving, and it requires a lot more skill and concentration to handle it.

But if you live in the city and you’re dealing with the usual traffic going to the office then going home, it can get tiring having to constantly step on the clutch and the gas pedals, as well as to change gears. Automatic means less stress.

Power

You’ll be able to hit higher speeds faster in a manual car because of the control you have in shifting gears, letting you reach full-throttle acceleration for each one so the transition from one gear to the next is smoother. You can also make quick and narrow turns without having to go back to lower speeds, in case you ever find the need to do so.

Automatics, on the other hand, pick up speed on their own pace, and sometimes they hastily shift gears leading to less efficient transitions.

The advantage obviously goes to manual in this department, allowing you to do so much more with your car.

Fuel Efficiency

Because automatic transmissions have to use a more complex system in changing gears, they end up spending more energy and consuming more gas when they’re used compared to manual cars which have a simpler setup.

With a stick shift, you can also find more efficient ways of using your car. One such way is when you see a traffic light turn red and you’re still a good distance away, you can just downshift all the way to neutral and let the car slow down naturally to a full stop.

Cost

As an extension of the previous point, manual transmission systems, being simpler, translate to less costs of producing them. Buying a brand new manual car will then be more affordable than a brand new automatic within the same level.

When a manual car’s transmission breaks down, it’s also cheaper to fix them, thanks to their straightforward design. This carries over to maintenance as well.

Another plus to stick shifts is that when the car battery conks out, you can give the car a good push to get them started again, unlike automatics which are basically stuck on the road.

There’s also the case for less fuel consumption for better mileage in manuals. Gas isn’t getting any cheaper these days, so the less dollars you spend on that, the better.

Conclusion

Although the scales seem to tip towards manual transmission cars, it’s still much more common to see the average US citizen driving automatic. This probably has more to do with their ease of use, as well as with the relative lack of need for high speeds and full control of a car in packed city streets and calm suburban neighborhoods.

If you don’t mind the extra cost and you’re also looking for a comfortable ride, go for the automatic.

If you’re on a tighter budget, look forward to the challenge, or you just want to be totally in charge, get that stick shift.

Kiera Willis, a car enthusiast and a writer for carrentals.co.uk , the UK’s leading car hire
comparison site that helps customers find the cheapest car hire deals every day. Check the website for more information.

The best used cars for your money, according to Forbes

I just finished reading a pretty good article:

The best used cars for your money

The article touches on a topic I brought up a while back, that Super Storm Sandy has impacted used car prices because of the amount of cars that were destroyed.

On a personal level, we’ve seen quite a few people come by the dealership who lost a vehicle in the storm. If these folks are looking to buy used cars in Vineland, NJ, I can only imagine that the market is much worse in areas closer to the damage, such as the Jersey shore and NYC.

Good recommendations over all in this article, but they focus only on 2009 model year vehicles. I would like to see some of the older, less expensive models featured as well.

What to look for when buying a used car: Guest blog by Bill Muffareh

Purchasing a used car can be a cost-efficient solution to your transportation needs, but it can also be a daunting task for those with minimal car knowledge. To avoid buying a clunker, there are certain things you should examine before driving off the lot. Putting to good use the extensive car maintenance knowledge of our technicians and mechanics, with the B&W Service Center step-by-step guide to inspecting any used car, you will be sure to pick a good one.

1. Ask when the car was last painted. If it was recently, the shiny paint job could be purposefully distracting from larger problems like underlying rust.

2. Check the exterior for rust, dents or body filler. Pay close attention to bumpers and wheel wells.

3. Inspect both sides of the car for inconsistencies in frame alignment and signs of major body repair. These are sure signs of previous wrecks.

4. Examine the interior for tears in upholstery, sun damage and general appearance.

5. Under the hood, look at the engine’s overall cleanliness. Check for rust on the exhaust manifold and oil leaks around the valve cover and head gasket.

6. Rub your thumb against the dipstick. If you feel small particles in the oil, the engine may be worn.

7. Start the engine – it should turn on immediately – and take the car for a test drive. Check the brakes and make sure they do not squeal.

8. If the car has a manual transmission, test it for slippage. Set the emergency brake, depress the clutch pedal and shift through the gears while checking for grinding sounds.

9. Test all the lights, the windshield wipers, the turn signals and the sound system.

10. Look at the odometer. If it seems unusually low, someone may have tampered with it.

11. Ask for a current smog certificate.

12. Request a record of the car’s maintenance and history. This should show any oil changes and checkups, number of previous owners and any work that has been done to the car.

Author

Bill Muffareh is the owner of B&W Service Center, a San Francisco auto repair & maintenance shop that was founded in 1982.

Super storm Sandy impacts used car pricing

I just finished reading this article:

http://www.nbcnews.com/business/sandy-might-send-more-250-000-cars-scrap-heap-1C6891693?google_editors_picks=true

It reports that 250,000 cars were destroyed beyond repair during the storm in the NJ and NY area. That’s an awful lot of cars. Which means all those cars will need to be replaced. And that of course means a greater demand for used cars in the NJ and NY used car markets.

I would expect a situation similar to income tax season once the insurance companies start paying the owners of these flooded vehicles, which means more money being put into the market. This in turn will drive up the wholesale and retail pricing on used vehicles.

10 Simple Ways to Winterize Your Car: Guest blog by the folks at carshop.co.uk

As the nights draw in and the temperature drops, motorists’ thoughts turn to icy
roads, frozen windshields and all the other delights of driving in the middle of winter.
If you would like to minimize the hassles associated with cold weather motoring, take
a look at my list of 10 ways to prepare for the worst.

1. Make sure your breakdown cover is up to date – This is one of the most
important tasks in ensuring that your vehicle is ready for the cold season.
Being stranded at the side of the road is no fun at any time of the year but in
winter, it can be very dangerous.

2. Change the engine oil – To ensure that your car is able to perform well during
snowy weather, it is worth using a slightly less viscous oil. This is because oil
tends to get thicker as the temperature drops. For a list of acceptable grades
to use, consult your owner’s manual or have a word with the mechanic at
your local garage.

3. Replace windshield wiper blades – Blades that feature a protective rubber
housing to insulate them from snow and ice are a great accessory for
motorists that have to travel in all weathers. They can be found at reasonable
prices in online stores and garages across the country.

4. Increase the ratio of antifreeze to water in your radiator – A 50/50 mix should
be enough to ensure that it does not freeze whatever the weather is like
outside. You can check current levels with handy tester kits that are available
in many shops nowadays.

5. Check your tires – Tread depth is important in all climatic conditions. But if
you want to minimize the chances of losing control in slippery conditions, it is
vital to make sure that your tires are in good condition with plenty of wear
left.

6. Check your battery and replace if necessary – A dying battery should be
replaced well before the first frost. This ensures that you can start your car
easily no matter what the conditions are like on the road. Garages have the
necessary equipment to test if older models are still capable of holding a
charge.

7. Test 4-wheel drive functionality when applicable – Because the majority of 4-
wheel drive owners rarely use the system, it is worth testing it to make sure
that the gears engage and disengage without any problems. Being able to use
4WD in deep snow could literally be a lifesaver.

8. Pack warm clothing and blankets – Whether you are planning to visit the local
shops or drive hundreds of miles to see a distant relative, always keep a few
warm clothes and blankets in your car. That way, if you should breakdown
despite all your preparations, at least you will not freeze to death while
waiting for help to arrive.

9. Check belts, hoses and wiring – Whether you have a brand new car or one
that has been in the family for years, it is important to conduct a visual
inspection under the hood before the cold weather sets in. The same goes
whenever you are planning a long journey.

10. Clean your lights – Even if you find the job of keeping your car clean incredibly
tedious, it is vital to ensure that you can be seen in bad weather. Take the
time to wipe your headlights, rear lights, indicators and fog lights before
getting behind the wheel of your vehicle during the winter months.

About the Author
Established in 1999, Car Shop is a leading supplier of used cars both online and
throughout the UK. They aim to provide reliable and useful information about getting
the most of your automobile.

4 reasons it is difficult to find a cheap used car, under $2,000

I have talked to a lot of customers who come to the dealership, looking to buy a car at a low price point, such as $2,000 or under. It is understandable with the current economic climate. But it is also very difficult to get inventory that would retail in that price range. Consider the following:

  • The scrap value of used vehicles has increased dramatically in recent years. This means that if a car that doesn’t run is worth more than it was 10 years ago, a vehicle that still runs and looks decent is going to be worth even more than that junker.
  • The vast majority of used car inventory comes from trade ins to dealers. Whether the car is traded in at a new or used car dealership, dealers are putting more money into the trade ins than ever before. That added expense gets passed along to both the wholesale buyer, such as a used car dealer, as well as the consumer.
  • The effects of the cash for clunkers program took a lot of inexpensive vehicles out of the marketplace. The effects are still being felt today. The supply of these cheap cars was cut dramatically, and the law of supply and demand dictates that the vehicles left will increase in value unless the demand for them decreases. Also the program gave more money for these vehicles than they were actually worth, which affected the value of the remaining vehicles.
  • There is a lot of demand for cars in this price range, so those that are out there usually don’t last very long in a dealer’s inventory.

If you want to buy a cheap car, especially for under $2,000 or so, you need to act quickly. If you’re the type of buyer who is very concerned about things like the amount of miles on a car, or the color and options, the chances of finding something in this price range drop exponentially.

Act quickly when you find something, or else be prepared to use that $2,000 as a down payment on a more expensive vehicle.

Let’s review those used car reviews

In this modern information age, many people like to read reviews of products and services. It’s often wise to spend a little time researching before you pay your hard earned money for something.

Unfortunately, the wealth of review sites out there don’t really apply to used cars. Why don’t they apply, you may ask?

Every used car is unique. Let’s say I have two Nissan Altimas, both with identical miles and equipment. One was driven by someone commuting back and forth to work on a regular basis, and the majority of the miles were accumulated on highways. The other one was driven by a young gentleman who used it to deliver pizzas. Which car do you think was driven more tenderly?

The engine that these hallowed review sites deem as the most reliable in the world will blow up pretty quickly if the oil was never changed. But they only look at aggregated data and individual anecdotes. No consideration is given to maintenance.

I once had a customer who was in the market for a foreign 4 door mid size sedan with under 100,000 miles at a specific price point. I found one for this customer the next day, and called to give this person the good news. I got a message back from this customer five minutes later, telling me they read a review and changed their mind. Bear in mind, the car in question is one of the most popular cars of the last 10 years, and there are literally millions of them on the road.

I’ve written before about the pricing sites that can tell you what your car is worth, but don’t back it up with a checkbook. Now they can do a mechanical inspection as well, without ever driving a car, let alone running some diagnostics.

Reviews on brand new cars can be somewhat accurate, although often the bias of a particular reviewer can cloud the picture. Unfortunately, blanket reviews on used cars are wholly inadequate, and can never take the place of a hands on inspection and test drive.

Rubber Meets The Road: Tire Tips When Buying Used – Guest Blog By Jack Payton

Jack Payton is a car nut in the purest form. He loves to write about everything gear
related, and rebuilt his first engine at 15. He works as the online publisher for the
online tire retailer tires-easy.com. In his spare time he enjoys cruising, attending car shows, and collecting vinyl.

When it comes to buying a used car there are a lot of things to take into
consideration: checking the Carfax, getting a quick diagnosis, and of course, getting a
good deal. Often, we are buying used to save money, and we look for ways to talk
down a price. A detail a lot of folks forget to look to when hoping to drive a bargain
is the tires. True, most folks will examine the rubber ground grippers, but when it
comes to negotiation, this can be a powerful resource. If you find the car is being
listed at Blue Book value, and the tires are shot, you can hope to argue the
replacement cost against the lived value. I have dropped a price by about $1,000 by
doing this.

Granted once you get the vehicle, even if you dropped the sale by the amount
of the tires, there is a chance it will still be a bit of time before you are able to afford
the new rubber. If this is the case, here are some tips to help you make due until you
are able to replace the existing set. Even if you are able to get new tires immediately,
these are still some very useful things to keep in mind.

Maintain proper tire pressure: This should be done about once a month,
but definitely before you leave on any distance drive. It is typical for tires to deflate
1 psi per month, as well as 1 psi per 8-degree loss in ambient temperature.
According to studies conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety
Administration on tire-related crashes, the leading cause of tire failure is under
inflation. Inadequate inflation will also lead to a drop in gas mileage and an increase
in tire wear, costing you more money in the long run.

Be sure to rotate the tires: “They rotate every time I drive, right?” Ignore
my daughter’s sarcasm. Tire rotation is a very important practice to be performed at
your local auto and tire tech. Rotation is essential to ensure even tread wear.
Excessive loss of tread can cause the vehicle to lose its balance of grip on the road,
and can become a major problem waiting to happen.

Adjust the alignment regularly: Misalignment of the steering and
suspension, can adversely affect the steering feel and stability of a vehicle, as well as
cause rapid and uneven tire wear. If you feel the steering pulling in one direction or
another when traveling straight ahead on a flat road with no crosswind, or if you
notice uneven wear on the front tires, you should have the alignment checked and
adjusted as soon as possible.

Replace tires in pairs or complete sets: Installing different tires on the
right and left side of the vehicle can tendentiously affect its balance and handling.
For this reason, it is imperative that tires are replaced in front or rear pairs, or in a
complete set—never one at a time. Regardless if the vehicle is rear, front, or all
wheel drive, the new pair of tires should always go on the back, as maximum rear
traction will ensure stability of the entire vehicle. By no means should you ever put
tires of differing construction—such as radial or bias ply—on opposite ends or
sides, because handling will be adversely affected.

Select the right tires for the right driving environment: Most drivers are
comfortable with all-season tires; so that most new vehicles now come equipped
with them. However, more specialized tires for performance, rain, snow, off-road
and touring have made the idea of matching your environment much easier, and this
certainly has its advantages. Just consider that excellent qualities are most likely
achieved at the expense of others. Determine what your crucial needs are, and
narrow your choices accordingly. Then, if possible, drive a similar vehicle equipped
with the tires you are considering.