Do you need an extended car warranty — car repair insurance?

All new cars come with a new-car warranty from the car manufacturer. There is typcially a general “bumper-to-bumper” warranty that covers just about everything that is not a wear-and-tear item, and a powertrain warranty that covers the engine, transmission, and drivetrain components.

For most new cars, the general warranty is good for 36 month or 36,000 miles, and the powertrain warranty for 60 months or 60,000 miles. Some car brands have higher mileage warranties, as high as 10 years and 100,000 miles.

There are also separate warranties on tires, batteries, and a few other components.

That’s about warranties on brand new cars. What about used car warranties? Do used cars come with warranties? Read the rest of this entry »

cheap auto insuranceI regularly answer people’s car buying and selling questions on Yahoo Answers (My user name is TiggyWiggy, my cat’s name) and one of the most frequent questions that comes up several times a day is, “Is this a good first car for a teen?”  And in the details, they’ll state what car they are talking about. It might be anything from a 1980s Oldsmobile with 200,000 miles, to a brand new high priced luxury car, to a big SUV, a high-powered sports car, or a 1960s muscle car.

More often than not, the car they like is NOT a good first car. I sometimes think they know that, but they are looking for some opinions otherwise. Often, they are in disagreement with sensible parents who are opposing their poor choice.

Here are some of the kinds of vehicles asked about:

Old inexpensive used car, unknown condition, high mileage

Many old cars, even with high mileage, can be in excellent first cars. However, most old cars have problems, some serious (and expensive), some not so serious.  And no car, even a reliable brand such as Honda and Toyota, are exempt from problems when they begin to age. The only way to know whether such a car is a good first car is to have a professional mechanic inspect it before the purchase. It’s not a good practice to rely on the word of a seller in determining a car’s condition. Not that sellers are all dishonest, but sellers and dealers often don’t know the real condition of the cars they sell.

Read the rest of this entry »

There’s one kind of car buying customer that sales people just love. They are “payment buyers.” 

A car salesperson’s job is to sell cars — and make maximum profit for his dealership. The way to make maximum profit is by selling at the highest possible prices and including as many “add-on” extra items or services as possible.

Some customers are an easy sale but are difficult to make a big profit from. Others are easy on both counts. The latter of these two types are the kind of customers that car salespeople love.

A salesperson’s dream customer is one who has done little or no research about cars they might be interested in, understands almost nothing about the car buying process, knows little about car pricing, has few negotiating skills, but most of all, wants to negotiate monthly payments, and only monthly payments. These customers are called “payment buyers.”

Read the rest of this entry »

most reliable carsThe best selling cars are those that car buyers like best and buy most often. Given that most of those buyers do at least some research before they make a decision, they choose their cars wisely and make informed decisions. If other buyers don’t want to do the research and make their decisions based on what other buyers are choosing, that’s okay. They still end up getting great cars.

Although we will be talking about best-selling new cars here, the same cars are generally the best-selling used cars as well. Furthermore, we won’t talk about trucks, but suffice it to say that the Ford F150 pickup has been the best-selling vehicle of any type for years.

Before we present our list, let’s take a moment to discuss why some cars are super-popular and others not so much.

Generally, the best-selling cars are those that have the best combination of all the things that buyers are looking for — the optimal “package.” Smart buyers want good value, a reasonable price, quality construction, high reliability, good performance, a comfortable drive, adequate space for passengers and cargo, good styling, good fuel economy, modern features, an excellent safety rating, and maybe some luxury features. They also want a car that is reasonably inexpensive to insure, maintain, and repair.

Read the rest of this entry »

teen car safetyPreparing a teen for their driver’s license is both exciting and frightening. The freedom of driving is exhilarating, but the dangers are real. Car insurance for teen drivers is significantly more expensive than it is for more experienced adults — for good reasons. Inexperience and unsafe driving can lead to accidents, and accidents, even minor fender benders, can make a teen’s car insurance even more costly. Using the following five tips while preparing your teen for safe driving can help to ease your concerns and pay dividends down the road.

Buckle Up

Teaching your teen the importance of using seat belts is one of the most important safe driving tips that they can learn. Drivers and passengers who are properly restrained during the unfortunate event of an accident almost always suffer far less serious wounds, and have a far lower mortality rate, than those who are not wearing their seatbelts. It is estimated by the National Highway Safety Administration that properly worn seatbelts lower the risk of fatal injuries by 45 percent, and the risk of moderate-to-critical injuries by 50 percent.

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According to questions I see posted on Yahoo Answers, there are a huge number of first car buyers out there who have somehow found exactly the WRONG way to buy a car. They then look for help AFTER they realize their mistake. It’s nearly always too late by that time.

Here’s how NOT to buy a car:

Leave a deposit with a seller or dealer for a car you are not absolutely sure you’re going to buy. The problem is that you may not be able to get your deposit back if you change your mind, unless there is a clear written document that states that you’ll get your deposit refunded and under what conditions. In the worst case scenario, the seller sells the car to someone else AND keeps your deposit. Don’t leave deposits unless you absolutely must.

Buy a used car without having it inspected by a professional mechanic before the purchase. Used cars are sold “as-is” which means you can’t get your money back if you find the car has problems later. There are no “right-of-return” or used-car lemon laws to protect you, even if you feel the seller or dealer committed fraud. You can’t rely on a seller’s statement that a car “runs fine” or “has no problems.” A mechanic’s inspection will cost $75-$125 but can prevent you from making a multi-thousand dollar mistake.

Read the rest of this entry »

first carI frequently visit the popular web site, Yahoo Answers, and answer questions about cars there. Many of the questions are from teens and other young people who are buying their first car.

One of the most common questions is, “What is a good first car?” or simply, “What is a good car?”

Sometimes the asker has already narrowed down his or her choices to a few makes and models but, more often, they simply don’t know and want some advice or suggestions.

It’s difficult to recommend a specific car to someone when you have no idea of their needs or preferences. But I usually suggest the popular Honda Civic as a good first car because it has a great combination of most of the things that buyers are looking for. It offers a lot of car for a relatively low price, whether it’s used or new. It’s very reliable and won’t be expensive to maintain.  It has good gas mileage which makes it relatively inexpensive to drive. Insurance costs are low, compared to many other cars. It’s safe and comfortable. And its 4-cylinder engine provides peppy performance.

Although the Civic is a great car for a great price, it doesn’t fit everyone’s needs.

Read the rest of this entry »

car scamThe most common car scam is one in which a nice car is listed for sale at a low price on Craigslist.com, Autotrader.com, or other web site.

There is no hint, other than the low price, that it is a scam. They show you a couple of good pictures of the car and even provide the VIN number.

So, what’s the problem.

The problem is that the picture of the car and the VIN were snagged somewhere on the Internet and it’s not the “seller’s” car. In fact, the “seller” is only trying to get your attention so that he can separate you from your money.

You won’t find out enough details to determine it’s a scam until you contact the “seller.” At that time you’ll get an email from him much like this one:

Read the rest of this entry »

Car Leasing KitLeasing a car is a bit more complicated than buying a car with cash or with an auto loan. Because of that, many people are leasing when they shouldn’t be, and others who should are making mistakes or paying too much.

It’s a fact that many people who lease cars make their decision based on nothing more than monthly payment. They know that lease payments are lower than loan payments — it’s true — but what seems like a low lease payment can often be a bad deal. It’s very difficult to calculate lease payments on a simple calculator, especially if you don’t know the standard lease formula. And even if you know how to calculate a payment, it doesn’t tell you if the lease deal is good or bad.

This is the reason that LeaseGuide.com (also by Al Hearn) created the Car Lease Kit a few years ago. It’s a collection of online tables, calculators, and guidelines that give car leasing customers the tools they need to make sure they get the best possible deal and avoid mistakes.

The Lease Kit helps in the following ways:

– Tells you which car makes and models make the best lease deals (have the highest lease-end residual values)

– Shows you average lease-end residual percentages for all vehicle makes and models so that you can compare the lease residual offered by your dealer

Read the rest of this entry »

money for carThe need or desire for a first car often comes before sufficient money is available.

This is especially true for many teenagers or college graduates who are eager to buy that first car, but lack the necessary funds. What to do?

This is a common problem for lots of folks buying their first car. It can be solved in a number of ways.

There are essentially four ways to get money for a car:

  1. Save the money
  2. Be gifted the money
  3. Borrow the money
  4. Earn the money

Let’s take a closer look at each of these ways:

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best car dealsEveryone buying a new car wants to get a bargain and a great deal. So where can those deals be found?

Although we’ll be primarily discussing brand new cars here, we can make some comments on used cars, if that’s the direction you think you want to go.

Used Car Deals

Finding a great deal on a used car is a bit more tricky than finding a new-car deal. That’s because used cars are, well, used. No two are alike. Even used cars of the same year, same brand, same model, and same equipment can have different mileage, different problems, may have been driven and maintained differently, may have been wrecked (or not), and may have very different prices for these and other assorted reasons. When you find a used car at a bargain price, it might be for a good reason — or the buyer may simply be desperate — or it could be a common scam, especially if bought online. Therefore, it takes much more care when buying used.

Read the rest of this entry »

better to lease or buyAlthough we’ve discussed this topic previously (see Lease vs Buy), there is one aspect that we haven’t discussed and continue to hear questions about.

The question is essentially this: “If a car dealer is offering a special promotional lease deal, a purchase rebate, and a low interest loan on the car I want, which one is the best deal?”

The short answer to this question is that the lease deal will nearly always be better — and it’s not simply because monthly payments are less. If the lease deal is one that is being offered by the car manufacturer, the company has usually applied a price discount, a low money factor (finance rate), and a high lease-end residual value. The combination of all these things makes for an attractive low monthly payment. Customers are not able to negotiate these kinds of deals for themselves  because a dealer only controls one of those three things — price.

Read the rest of this entry »