Age and the Car

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Op-Ed by Paul Wimsett & A. Bunch

It does seem a shame that the moment you can afford a car, that car is out of bounds. Either the car is too big, or too sporty, or too showy, or some other reason society comes up with to disapprove of your choice. It’s the way of the world.

 

automobile-1853936_1920When you first get your license…

Previous generations just wanted a car. It represented freedom to explore the world and also not needing to borrow the family van to take your date out for pizza. Or worse, having a parent chauffer you to and from your date. If you bought your first car yourself, chances are was pretty scary and nearing the end of its life. If you’re one of the lucky few whose parents bought you a car then we recommend keeping your mouth shut. Especially if it’s something sporty, (you should know your peers hate you).

However you got your ride, just drive your chick/dude magnet up to school and remember that all that adoration won’t put gas in your tank. Better ask your date to pay for the pizza.

These days, teens seem to prefer mass transit or rideshare. They see cars as an extra expense, (and well it is, but come on) and since teens are not allowed to have jobs the only teens who get cars are those whose parents bought it for them.

 

auto-2179220_1920At the quarter life-life crisis…

This may be in the middle of your twenties. It’s when you realize every day you wake up you’re closer to 30 than 20. There’re three schools of thought here:

1) If you can pull it off, this is the time to get the car of the dreams. It doesn’t have to be practical when you’re established in your early career and splitting rent with friends. Well, work with your budget that’s the only solution. If you can’t get something like the Ford Mustang, go with a car slightly more reasonable option. Having said that the Mustang is better on the old finances than a Beamer…

2) This is the time when you can really impact your financial future. Buy something reliable, fuel economical, eight to ten years old with a reputation for living a long time. Pay it off in four years and make that car last for a decade.

asia-2179107_19203) Go for something strange in car, truck, or motorcycle. If you dance to the beat of your own drum, well go ahead and buy that surplus meter-reader mobile that get 60 miles to the gallon and has just enough cargo space for a bag of groceries. Maybe buy that scary van from the guy down by the river so you have a place to crash if you lose your apartment. If all else fails you can buy something practical in five years when you hit your next life milestone.

When you get married…

There must be an unwritten law that you must buy an SUV. You need something with a third row of seating and you just can’t make yourself go “full minivan.” You’re not really fooling anyone. It’s just today’s equivalent of the station wagon. Unless…you go for it and get something that actually can go off-road if needed…maybe a jeep grand Cherokee, Toyota FJ, or an H2. Another option might be a crossover. Something like the Grandland X SUV which combines both agility with brilliant design. And it’s useful even if you aren’t on the school run. What you have to watch for here is gas mileage. Some of these guzzlers drink a gallon every ten miles.

In all seriousness, think about a car that can get your kids to soccer now and that you don’t mind loaning them in a few short years. Unless you’re one of those mean parents who insist on driving your teens to pizza. (Assuming they still eat pizza when our kids are teenagers.)

 

ford-63930_1920The mid-life crisis…

This is when the temptation sets in to buy something sporty and impractical, but it’s really not worth it. I get it, your kids have left home and you want a car to relax in. If you can avoid it don’t buy either the luxury car of your dreams and the street racer. You’ll save money and avoid looking ridiculous. Kids have an annoying habit of moving home. You may not be as financially free as you think you are, and you sure don’t want to loan them either kind of car.

That Ferrari won’t hide your belly fat anyway, and the BMW won’t make your hair grow back. On the other hand, if you’re going in for a regular prostate exam, you probably deserve a comfortable ride…maybe a Mercedes is just what the Doctor ordered. You certainly deserve it.

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When its time to retire…

Well, we would never tell you to wait until you retire to live your dreams. BUT in our highly unprofessional opinion, it’s finally time to be impractical. Go ahead and buy the car of your dreams. You know the one teenage you couldn’t afford because your parents wouldn’t buy it for you. Sure it’s now called a classic car but just ignore all that. The point is, it’s yours and you don’t care what anybody thinks. Enjoy it. At least until one of your kids decides you need to be chauffeured.

 

How New Are The New Years Features?

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Ever notice that every year we get a new model of the same line each automaker made the year before? Well, it’s not a coincidence. When car designers and marketers collaborate to create the new models of car for sale they often start with the features in the last model to see what might be incorporated in a new design.

Why Not Start From Scratch?

While an automaker may decide they have identified a market segment they haven’t yet exploited which requires a whole new model of car, there’s a reason you generally just get a new year’s version of last year’s model. The reason is they’ve sunk a lot of money into establishing that model, creating name/style recognition and reputation, for that model and a certain number of people will buy it simply because they’re looking to replace their old version of that same vehicle.

20180725_111838It’s a big decision to discontinue a model line and it’s not always replaced with a new model in that category. Sometimes it signals a retreat from that category entirely. One example would be when, in 2008, Ford announced that they would no longer continue to produce minivans for sale in the US market. The Aerostar line seemed plagued with reliability issues and sales were lukewarm compared to competitors. Ford needed to start from scratch and that included letting the consumer forget the bad taste in their mouths around the failed minivan.

Then in 2010, Ford returned to the minivan market with their Transit Connect Eurostyle model of delivery van. Given the trend of a family vehicle from Station Wagon to Minivan to SUV, the gamble y Ford to return to minivans seemed a bit crazy. But their strategy included manufacturing the vans as cargo vehicles outside the US and then importing them to be retrofitted as passenger vehicles domestically. This lets them tip their toes back into the minivan market without a full-blown commitment. It also gave them a way to introduce a vehicle that looked so different from it’s predecessor that it didn’t bring the failed Aerostar back to mind. The gamble seems to have paid off.

The Goal is Reinvention:

Selling a car is a strange type of alchemy, as with anything else, it’s impossible to know whether a new style of car or even a new brand will sell. Usually, it’s safer to simply update and add features while staying within the same price point and target market.

car-2220039_1920There’s always something that can be tweaked, for instance, color. Can we upgrade the suspension and add a roof rack and call it a sports package? Silver is currently the most popular color for cars, but that changes decade by decade. It’s quite tricky to know when tastes in car color will change.

However, the most frequent type of big change is to reinvent the existing line. When creating a new car it’s all about the little improvements, can a two-door work as a four-door? Can a gas car work as a diesel, or maybe as a hybrid? The cars may have similarities to what has gone before, but the small differences make the car.

The First Thing to Look at is the Consumers Need:

Consumer need and desires will change over time. What sells now will not be what sells in a decade’s time, or even in five or six years. This is why new models need to be designed. Even bigger shifts occur though when the actual consumer make up changes.

In the 1980’s it was all about bigger audacious cars, perhaps because automakers were still targeting predominately the male, young-urban-professional. Even though women had been entering the workforce in droves the car industry still perceived that men made the car purchase decisions for families. Cars targeted at women were sporty for single women or second vehicles. This has now changed.

Nowadays, with mass transit, we aren’t so interested in people who live in the bigger cities, though we are still interested in those who work for the big companies. Fuel economy is a winning consideration regardless of gender but the primary family vehicle needs to appeal to women regardless of who actually ends up driving it. The second vehicle is often a truck which may still need to have room for four or five passengers.

In other words, the best sellers are going to be gender neutral small, easily parked cars, or big max passenger vehicles cars, but either way with the best gas mileage possible.

It’s Not All About Size:

The biggest changes may be on the inside. The general trend from year to year is making the car easier to operate. To make it interesting let’s go way back to the earliest Ford’s.

When Ford went from the Model “T” to the Model “A” the outside differences were mainly:

  1. The Model T has a straight line across the top of the radiator core; the A has a double curve dipping in the middle that looks somewhat like the top of a valentine heart.
  2. The vertical sides of the T radiator shell are perpendicular and parallel; those of the A slant outwards going down and are not parallel.
  3. The A has a gas cap in the middle of the cowl; the T has a rectangular vent door there.
  4. The A has smoother, rounder front fenders.
  5. The T headlights are painted; the A headlights are shiny metallic.
  6. The A usually has a black horn immediately below the left headlight.

And so one…pretty small stuff really.

ford-164406_1280On the inside, however, the car went from having a pedal for every gear including “reverse” and “reverse slow,” to having a transmission and stick shift. The ease of drive move didn’t reduce the cost to build the car, this was a direct result of the consumer base expanding when the car became easier to operate.

Of course, the 1927 “T” and the 1928 “A” were more alike than the 1928 “A” was to many of the later “Model A’s.” The Model “A” Ford had so many different styles that it wouldn’t be considered now one make of car. Some versions had two doors, some had four doors, some were a sedan (that is, had an obvious trunk area). Because the car had so many different functions (mail car, taxi cab, etc.) it wasn’t practical to make all the cars the same.

My How Things Change:

traffic-3404254_1920Compare those early models to the current successful model is eye-opening. The most popular car in 2018 was the Honda CR-V, which according to carandriver.com, is a compact car which uses some of the features of a hatchback. Described like that, it’s clear Honda’s not trying to break new ground when they could just give the American public what they like at the moment.

Although what is in vogue in car design changes all the time the Honda CR-V went on the market in 1997 so that’s a good deal of staying. It only really caught on in the American market in 2007, whereas people in Japan or the UK have begun looking for a different make of car. A car maker that can ride a successful design from one country to another without making a significant redesign is a company that’s making money hand over fist.

One Trend Above All:

How does the Honda CR-V and the Model A compare to drive? Well both need gas and oil and new tires once in a while. But the Model A has strange arrangements of levers and rods (such as the choke rod), as with all modern cars, with the Honda it’s mirror, signal, maneuver and then put the key in the ignition. So an automaker is never wrong to focus on easier driving in new year models.

Over ninety or so years many things have changed about a car but they are still about getting from point A to point B in relative comfort and quickly. What never changes is the need to new your customer.

The Car as a Commodity

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For many people, a car is not a means of transportation; it is a commodity. You may have pondered a vehicle as an investment, in recent years, instead of a loan being financed against your house, many people have used their car as collateral. But in order to think of it as a commodity you’d have to consider three things:

  • Is it an asset or a liability?
  • What’s its current value vs cost
  • What’s the likelihood of future appreciation or depreciation?

Asset or Liability?

We’re car people here at the Kicker, not certified financial advisors. So let’s take a moment to state the obvious—the purpose of this post is to get you thinking about the impact your car has on your finances and some smart moves you might choose to make regarding your car.

That said, every physical asset is also a liability. Vehicles are status symbols, toys, and a source of joy, but they’re primarily a tool you use to transport yourself and your loved one’s places you need to go. Often if you don’t have a car you can’t earn an income. So its an asset. It can also break down or you can get into an accident which could cost you a lot of money and leave you’re physically injured.

Current Value vs Cost?

This consideration includes getting a good deal on a car purchase, but it’s more than that. Fuel economy is a big thing to think about. Do you really need a truck for your daily driver or would it be better to get an old truck to drive mainly on weekends and a smaller daily driver?

Do you need a car at all? Sometimes in a city, with rideshare, bus lines, mass transit and all. You might be better off with a minimal investment for your occasional use. Maybe buy something older that you don’t rely heavily on so you aren’t stuck in a bad way if it breaks down occasionally.

Maybe your needs warrant buying new to get a low maintenance car, that’s safe and reliable.

Retained Value?

But do you need a brand new car or a classic car? What happens to the price of a used car?

Imagine that there is a brand new car, a used car about 5 years old and a classic car from the 1960s. For them to be the same price, the used car might be low mileage and luxury vehicle. A lot of the value of a new car is the warranties offered to the first owner. Sometimes special financing is available on a new vehicle. Maybe the brand new car isn’t popular and is discounted to make room for the next year model. Generally, a slightly used car will have a much better value for the price.

But what about the classic car? Of course, mileage, service history, condition, and popularity really come into play with the classic car. Well, that would also need to be a good make and comparatively well-serviced. For the classic car having not much mileage on the clock may be a disadvantage, it could indicate a history of sitting broken. It can also be bad for cars to sit if not properly stored. A considerable amount of mileage would be expected and wouldn’t do much with the price of the vehicle.

The used car and the classic car may have the problem with obtaining parts in common, with the difficulties tending to stack up with the classic car. Another point in the used car’s favor is that it would probably not break down, but the classic car may break down all the time.

The classic car is the car almost like a commodity in one respect, not bought to be used, but as a status symbol and perhaps the most likely to gain value. Of course, if you actually use the classic car as a family car it won’t retain its value as well as if it’s babied.

How it usually stacks up:

The real problem with the new car is that its value decreases extremely quickly. A car can lose 10% of its value simply through being driven home. That’s a big hurdle to overcome. The sales price is only one factor, however, and very soon the used car and the classic car will be the more expensive to maintain so the carrying costs are higher.

When you factor purchase price and carrying cost (likelihood it’ll break down and cost to fix), plus cost to operate, it’s not looking good for the future of these three vehicles. Which is the best choice?

It always comes down to your needs and intended use. Most of us need a slightly used car, with a fair upfront price and spread the expensive maintenance over the next few years. However, if you buy a lemon you’ll regret it, so have your car inspected.

You might ask when these three cars will be the same price again.

Certainly not when they are sold for scrap. The classic car has a much higher scrap value – the parts are novel, the standard of the interior much more likely to be worth preserving. Certainly, it will be a long time before the new car is scrapped, but when it does there will be nothing remarkable about the parts.

So which car would you have?

 

Negotiating for a Vehicle with Diminished Value

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You’re in the market for a new ride, and negotiating is nearly a requirement. When you first check out a car, make sure you get the full vehicle report. If the vehicle was in an accident—even if it was “just” a fender bender—there’s diminished value. That means that the car isn’t worth the blue book price, even if it was completely repaired.

Let’s say that the vehicle was in a small parking lot accident. The bumper was dented but has been replaced. That’s good news for you. It still has diminished value, even if the entire part that was damaged has been replaced.

The reason for this is simple, repair shops do what makes the insurance company happy and not the car owner. They may very well have repaired the vehicle to its pre-loss condition, but that’s the exception, not the rule. So, value standards companies discount value based on the standard practices.

Quick Plug for Independent Car Inspection

A good inspection service like our sponsor, Tire Kickers, will help establish a car’s true value along with verifying it’s safety. By examining the cars history for you, along with what similar cars have sold for nearby, and the actual condition of the vehicle they can give you a true value to use as a club during negotiations.

Your Opening Argument

headlamp-2940_1920You might not know about diminished value claims, and the seller might not either. Many insurance policies actually have a diminished value claim as an option, but they don’t advertise it. When you’re in an accident, you can file this claim in order to make up for the loss of value. There’s usually no time limit for filing this claim.

You might have to educate the seller a little. They can still file that claim, even when they’re about to sell. This way, you can pay less for the car and the seller still gets the money. It’s a win-win situation for both of you, but this isn’t always a possibility since their policy might not have the option.

crash-test-1620600_1920Get the Facts

You should have the full vehicle report and a 150-point inspection before purchasing a car. If you’re considering a classic or collector car, a specialty inspection is in order. You need to consider the dollar value loss that an accident caused. Whether or not the car was repaired doesn’t matter.

You’ll be the one dealing with the diminished value when and if you sell the car. You weren’t the one in the accident. It’s not fair that you’ll be taking the loss down the road. The seller might not think it’s fair, but nobody can argue with an inspector’s bottom line.

Is it a Smart Move?

You need to decide if it’s a good decision to purchase a vehicle that’s been in an accident. The car will always have a diminished value. However, you also have to consider safety. It’s generally accepted that cars that have been in a collision might not be as safe.

Consider the accident, where the car was impacted and decide wisely. Remember that it’s not just your money that’s on the line, but also the safety of yourself and your passengers. You might be able to score a great deal on a car with diminished value. However, just make sure that it’s still up to snuff in the safety department.

4 Checkpoints When Buying a Classic Car

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Classic car restoration can be a beast, even for DIY mechanics with plenty of experience. Depending on the needs of your classic ride, there’s bound to be at least a few areas where you’re not skilled—working out dents, re-upholstering or simply having connections to the right dealers who have original parts. For many people, owning a restored classic car is a major item on their bucket list. However, it’s easy to get stuck with a lemon.

It’s also easy to spend several thousand dollars on restoration, ultimately getting you a car that (albeit close to perfect) you’ve dumped way too much money into. When shopping for a classic car project, there are a few checkpoints to carefully consider. Simultaneously, you should also have a restoration shop in your corner who provides quality results that work with your budget.

  1. Rust=no go

jaguar-3366957_1920.jpgRust is fairly common, and when it’s minimal and just on the surface, you might be able to power wash it off. However, if the chassis has been destroyed or if you’ll need to totally replace steel panels, it’s not worth it. It’s not unusual to strip the chassis, sandblast it, remove sections and weld brand new pieces together. This isn’t just expensive, but ultimately means it’s not an original car. Only the lucky few can find replacement panels, but most need to create makeshift panels themselves. Rust buckets should be reserved for only the very skilled (or the very wealthy).

  1. Focus on value

auto-3351802_1920There are tons of old cars out there, but age alone doesn’t make a car a classic. While there will always be niche markets for pretty much every car, you deserve one that retains its value. Never let impulses control your purchase, and spend some time researching the most reliable classic cars that won’t lose their value. Bonus points if you snag a car that appreciates—and remember that upfront costs are only a small portion of what you’ll be spending.

  1. Check for replacement parts

auto-3352982_1920Assuming the worst case scenario happens and you have to replace a lot of parts, how easy are they to find? How affordable are they? Purchasing a really rare car is a thrill, but if they don’t make it anymore (or the manufacturer no longer exists), it’s going to be tough to find aftermarket parts. Pretend like you’re searching for parts well before making the purchase, and experience first-hand what might be in store.

  1. Power up

abandoned-3401168_1920At the very least, you need a car that easily starts and runs. If it overheats during the test drive, is cranky to start or the current owner promises “all it needs is a new battery,” be wary. If the battery story is true, most owners would spring for that cheap part in order to sell their car. A more likely scenario is a seized or otherwise destroyed engine that needs replacing.

Ideally, you have an expert on hand who can run diagnostics on the car before you make an offer. If the seller is on the up and up, they’ll be happy to let a pro take a look. If they resist, they’re probably hiding something and you’re better off continuing your hunt elsewhere.

Dangers of a Flood Car

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After the flood waters of Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy retreated, a flood of another kind began–the flood of brand new vehicles that were totaled by insurance as a result of flood damage hitting the car auctions.

“Flood cars” flood the market (literally) following most natural disasters. Unfortunately, it can be pretty tough to spot a flood car without a trained eye. It takes not only inspection but a bit of detective work. After collecting an insurance payout, or sometimes while waiting months for insurance to do the right thing, dealerships can accept a settlement for a totaled vehicle and “buy” it back from the insurance company. The title will have a salvaged title, aka rebuilt title. Sometimes it won’t and we’ll come back to that.

Local Disasters

First, let’s address localized flood incidents. As a general rule of thumb, avoid vehicles which are being sold close to recent disaster sites and always trace the origin back to the previous owner’s address. Chances are if you buy a car that was recently registered near a massive flood, it sustained some damage that’s invisible to the naked eye.

After Big Disasters

Disasters on the scale of Katrina leave entire lots full of brand new vehicles totaled. Insurance companies are overwhelmed and slow to respond. These are cars with hardly a scratch and less than ten miles on the odometer. The temptation is to dry them out and clean them up, then sell them at auction and write off the loss. Unprincipled middlemen will snap them up and transport them to a part of the country far from the flood where they auction them again for large profit.

It’s important to note that auctions allow almost no pre-bid inspection. Most large dealerships that accidentally buy a “bad” car simply re-auction them. It keeps there name clean but creates a glut of cheap cars that go to other dealerships that don’t care about reputation.

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The Good News

The good news is that flood damage isn’t always invisible, but you might need to check some otherwise strange locations. The upholstery is going to be the first place water damage is noticeable, with rot, mold or mildew being present. You may have to lift some of the upholstery to get a peek, but remember that a good cleaning (from a shoddy dealership) can temporarily keep visible signs of water damage at bay.

Here’s how to avoid a flood car and why you should never take a gamble.

 

Only Use Honest Dealers (Trust but Verify)

 If you buy a car from an owner, they can stretch the truth as much as they like with no real repercussions. However, a car doesn’t need to be in a disaster zone in order to get flood damage. If you’re considering a car from an owner in an area you’re unfamiliar with, do a brief search of recent floods in the area to see what the odds are of ending up with a flood car. If the car has been auctioned repeatedly in a short period of time that’s a warning sign. If the asking price is too good to be true, it’s for a reason.rolls-royce-3366960_1920

Otherwise, research dealerships, check testimonials and trust your gut. If there are high-pressure sales, a sudden influx of cars or other red flags, it’s best to stay clear.

No matter what, rely on a third party such as a lemon busting company to do a full inspection. When you’re paying the inspector, their allegiance is to you. You’re mechanic is often to busy to do an inspection at the drop of a hat when you find the right car for you and they may not do the online legwork to get a good picture of the cars history.

Bottom line, don’t depend on a dealership to provide comprehensive information; they should welcome a third party unless they have something to hide.

Flood car dangers

 When talking about device failures it’s important to note three things:

  1. What’s likely to fail?
  2. How catastrophic the results of the failure?
  3. How expensive it is to fix (to prevent or repair damage)?

The full impact of flood damage might not come to light until weeks, months, or even a couple of years later. However, the internal damage can be severe and not noticeable even to a skilled mechanic.

One of the most common dangers is brakes that suddenly go out months after flood damage from rust. Obviously, a vehicle is made up largely of metal parts which are prone to rust. Brakes can fail with no sign if they were submerged in water.

Other common flood car problems are electrical issues (and resulting fire hazards) as well as black mold which hides in hard to reach spaces and can be fatal to humans.

So the issue here is less about what could fail, it’s about how bad the results are when they do. There’s no point in risking the purchase of a flood car. They’re simply unsafe and unpredictable.

Used Car Buying? Take a Look at the Goods…

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(Editors Note: What other topic could we possibly cover on Friday the 13th?–that’s rite, buying a used car…)

You can get a used car salesman’s costume off eBay, which might consist of dodgy hair, dark glasses and a Hawaiian shirt. Perhaps the trousers are white Teflon. There are tales of plaid jackets, multicolor shoes and much more. In the old days, they would include a half-smoked cigar, but this might be the one thing that has changed.

As for the dealerships, they seem to crowd into the same corner of the wrong side of town. It becomes a metaphor for the whole experience. We know that we shouldn’t be going down there across the railroad track; we feel likely to get robbed, but we go anyway, and never do shake the feeling even after we buy. But what choice do we have?

This idea of a used car salesman with all the patter, who will rob you blind, seems to be an old one. Of course there’s a big difference between one used car dealership and another, but there’s a few things in common–they all know more than you do about the car business, they all use negotiation tactics in their daily lives when you probably don’t and they are all in the business of making money.

When it comes to buying used, our fowl impression may also be linked to so many things going wrong with second-hand cars. It seems some used car dealers in this country have given up. “You buy something used, it is bound not to go right” is their mantra.

They may have a point. You could try buying new if you can afford it—then at least its under warranty. Though the moment you buy it, it becomes a used car and half the value is gone. So we’re all looking for the same thing–an effective second-hand car at a good price.

Even dealerships which sell new cars make incredible profits from back-end deals, having you pay for warranties, organizing a loan and so on. This is hardly a new story though for the big money in selling cars is not taking the customer’s cash, but how to organize the deal.

road-sign-464654_1920Most people feel that they will always be sold a car in the same way, but it doesn’t have to be. There are hundreds of effective ways to sell a car and the most effective words occur in the closing argument or pitch. So no matter what type of car they are selling, or the type of customer you are, you can learn the gist of their tactics and avoid being taken.

Some good ways to avoid the hucksters include:

  • Don’t let the dealer know you are desperate for a new car. (Don’t say you need to get one for work on Monday for instance!) Keep your guard always up and plan to outlast them. They will ultimately meet your price but it might take a couple hours.
  • Don’t talk payments, talk actual total price. Talking installments means talking about the combo of price and financing. The price of the car shouldn’t depend on your credit score.
  • Don’t just buy the first car you see from the first dealership you see. Shop around. In fact, if you want to see your salesmen sweat, use your cell to look up the actual value of the car in front of you. (https://www.truecar.com/#/ )
  • Get to know what you might actually get for your buck. This may be a lengthy process, but it is ultimately worth it. Look up the type of car your looking for in advance. Know that the salesman will introduce extra factors like, undercoating, ignore this entirely.
  • Don’t let your trade-in become part of the negotiation about the price of the car you’re buying. They may offer to value your car higher than KBB said it was worth even. But this is a bargaining tool in their toolbox. After a couple hours of sticking to your price and turning down extras you say, “so we’re agreed this car is $XX,XXX.” They say yes, you say, “now you said my trade in is worth…”
  • Make sure you go for a test drive before paying for the vehicle. You may need to visit the lot a couple times. When they’ve determined that you’re wasting their time they may turn you over to a junior salesman who might give you an advantage when you’re actually ready to buy.
  • Get the history of the exact vehicle through an internet search of Carfaxx.com or similar  But the trick here is that you may not be able to interpret what you’re looking at. Was the car sold at auction? What’s that really mean?
  • Get a pre-purchase inspection at an independent inspection service. An inspector can run the reports above, along with a visual inspection and test drive to paint a picture of your vehicle’s condition. Know the car your buying better than the salesman and your negotiations will go your way.

You can find more tips about dealing with the unscrupulous car dealer: https://adequateman.deadspin.com/how-to-buy-a-new-car-without-getting-ripped-off-1682148797

http://www.urbo.com/content/car-salesman-secrets-to-know-before-you-buy-a-car?rtg=mhwhm-4Mc13R&param4=urbo-fni-fbss-2856-demo

Kicker recommends that you have the car inspected by a professional (that is not just the dealer/ mechanic) before you buy the car so you have a nonbiased idea of what the car is worth. If you do a bit more digging you can prevent the common problems that most people who buy used cars run up against.

If you follow this advice, you will be better prepared against anyone trying to take advantage of you!

V8 vs. V6

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Ah, the V8 vs. V6 debate – it’s as classic as a second generation Trans Am. Which one is better? Is there really a big difference in these muscle car parts? The answer is that the “best” option is up to you, the driver. What will you be using your ride for? There are a lot of racing enthusiasts who are only happy with the V8 option because of the power and speed. However, for many “regular” drivers a V6 is (way) more than enough power. Consider what you really want from your machine to make the best-informed decision.

What’s the Difference?

Overall, V6 cars will be less expensive to purchase, insurance will likely be lower, and your pocketbook will thank you at the gas station. This can mean more cash flow for those must-have accessories. A V6 can easily handle the daily commute and the occasional road trip, packing enough punch to inject a good amount of speed and power into an open road ride. The downside? Well, it’s not a V8 and doesn’t have the power of that monster.Mehta_V6 Emblem

Yes, a V8 will likely cost more in every department. Is it worth it? That’s up to you. Are you jonesing for weekends at the track, car show hopping, or heading to that favorite stretch of open road? Then a V8 may well be worth it. Sure, it might be a little trickier (ahem, expensive) to modify and those with lead feet might be tempting fate, especially with highway photo radar systems, but you only live once.

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So, How Do I Choose?

Test driving many different V6’s and V8’s is the only way to get a real feel for the difference – and your preference. Many of the newer V6 models are extremely (and sometimes surprisingly) powerful and people realize that’s “all” they need. Others instantly fall in love with the rumble of a V8. There’s no way to predict which way you will lean until you get behind the wheel.

Some Things to Keep in Mind

Some racing pros suggest that a V6 is the right choice for someone new to the muscle car family. Others are more the “do what feels right” type. It’s important to keep practicality in mind, even though it may not be the most fun part of buying a new ride. If you’re shopping for an (extremely lucky) teen’s first car, they likely won’t need a V8 and that’s asking for trouble anyway.

However, if it’s a second “just for fun” car that won’t be eating up gas in a long routine commute, it might be the perfect pick. Think about financing, the often unpredictable gas prices, and insurance premiums when making a selection. Choosing power is a big deal, so do your research, test drive as many machines as possible, be reasonable, and most of all, enjoy.

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Things to Look for When You Buy a Used Car

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By S. Larson

Buying a new car is both exciting and nerve-wracking. A new car has a lot of draw. However, a pre-owned vehicle is a great investment. Cost is not the only factor you should look at when buying a car. Below are 10 recommended things you should consider when shopping for your next vehicle.

Mechanical Checklist:S Larson_Things1

Mechanical issues can take a pre-owned vehicle from a valuable purchase to a horrible investment. Be sure to inspect your vehicle for the following to ensure you are purchasing a mechanically sound car.

  • Carefully inspect the interior and exterior of the car. Look for any rips, stains or smells that may indicate problems inside the car. Check the exterior for existing damages. Rust can indicate problems down the road. Vehicles that have been in minor accidents are not without value. It is important, however, that any repairs have been professionally done. Custom paint jobs can mask damages. Be wary of them.
  • Take the car for a test drive. It is best to take the car out on local roads as well as highways. A test drive is the clearest indicator of how the car drives and handles. Pay attention to any noises, odd sensations, lights or smells that occur while test-driving the vehicle.
  • Be sure to check for any leaking fluid. Black fluid can indicate an oil leak. Green fluids typically are anti-freeze leaks. Transmission fluids should be pink in color. To check for these, park in a clean area and allow the car to run for 30-seconds. Move the car and do an inspection of the area.
  • Having a mechanic inspect a vehicle may be a costly test, but it can go a long way in preventing you from buying a lemon. This is especially true when you are not buying from a reputable used-car dealer.

 

Research Checklist:

Researching a potential vehicle can help save you a lot of money and keep you informed. Be sure to follow the below to ensure you get the best value from a potential car purchase.

    • Read up on the make and model you are interested in. Consumer reports can help you understand potential problems or defects known to affect that type of car.
    • Compare prices of similar vehicles. Kelley Blue Book and dealership prices are all easily available online. While every used car is different, these sources can provide a reasonable estimate for comparison.
    • Be sure to investigate the VIN. A VIN decoder chart can help avoid scams. A VIN is like a vehicle’s fingerprint. It is unique; the title and record for a specific VIN will only apply to one car. Often, stolen cars are given VINs from legally owned cars. Do your homework and check to be sure that the VIN on your potential new car belongs to it.S Larson_Things3.jpg

 

  • After decoding the VIN, check the vehicle’s history report. This will allow you to review any title problems and previous accidents reported on that car. If buying from a dealership, the history report should be readily available. CARFAX also offers a report that can be purchased online.
  • A certified pre-owned vehicle may be for you. They often come with more quality assurance and offer extended warranties.
  • Do not rush into buying a car. Take your time and do your research. If something does not feel right or seems off, pay attention. Some salespersons will try to push you into a sale. This is your investment! Make sure it is one you are happy with in the end.

Editors notes:

While everything above will help you screen out vehicles that aren’t worth buying, in the end, the only way to know for sure that the vehicle you are buying is safe and priced right is to have it independently inspected. It can be difficult to and expensive to involve a mechanic that specializes in repairs to check out a car pre-purchase.

We strongly recommend finding a local inspection service that specializes in pre-purchase inspections as they will include things like VIN searches, CarFax, etc. and help establish accurate value. Because car buying is such an emotional decision and salesmen play to emotion to make a sale, you need to walk into a negotiation with a paper in hand that says the true value of the car or you’ll overpay.

Will You Own the Car of the Future?

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Tim Higgins wrote an article for the Wall Street Journal (June 20, 2017) entitled, “The End of Car Ownership.” If you recall our article about the coming Apple Car then you’ll recall that we’ve mentioned the theory before. While it’s hard to imagine an end to the American love affair with owning a car, Higgins makes a compelling case.

Everyone, including Higgins, is crediting self-driving cars and ride-sharing companies like Uber and Lyft with the coming shift. It seems more likely that both of these are symptoms of a larger change in how we do things. But since we’ve already written extensively about both ride share and automated cars we’ll include them in our quick look at the end of car ownership. But first…

Andy_End Car Owner6Before discussing a mega shift lets step back from the topic and give it a quick review. Culturally in America, owning a car was a rite of passage for young people. When you reached 15 you started learning how to drive and as soon as you could legally work you started saving for a car of your own. It was independence itself. A driver’s license is the way most Americans prove their identity and having a car meant your schedule didn’t depend on your parents anymore. Want to get a better job across town? Better have a car. Want to date your gal/guy? One of you needs a car. Want to hang with your friends? One of you better have a car. Having a car meant popularity, power, and freedom.

America has 46,876 miles of interstate, which doesn’t include State Routes and surface streets. The tenth amendment governs interstate commerce, which means essentially most of the power of the federal government is derived from the need to regulate what passes from one state to another.

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Most of those people & items don’t go by rail like they do in Europe. Whether it’s Henry Ford’s Assembly Line innovation or the Detroit powerhouse of industry and economy cars are an American thing, synonymous with growth. Nascar is an American phenomenon founded by bootleggers trying to outrun prohibition revenuers. We are a younger nation and our cultural values involve the car. How does all that just go away in one generation?

 

It doesn’t. It’s actually been changing for a while now. As populations crowd into cities, property values explode and providing customer parking becomes a bigger expense for businesses. Mass transit costs can be shared across more wage-earners per mile. More residents live in high-rise apartments and condos without room for a garage. If you have to take a taxi to a separate place you rent so your car can live there, you tend to fall out of love. Or so I’m told.

The internet has also impacted things. Less business is conducted face to face through telecommuting and video conference but the mobility of internet access has had its biggest impact on young people who gain a sense of connection through social media instead of in person. People have been “cocooning” for over two decades. Pizza delivery nearly made pizza restaurants out of business entirely and now you don’t have to grab a VHS on the way home, the internet streams it to you. Amazon is seen as the great evil by private bookstores because they let you buy books online, but now everything is sold online and all brick-and-mortar stores are suffering. Malls are sitting empty because even when people go there to look at goods, they make their purchase online where it’s cheaper. Goods now move to the customer, not the other way around.

Society has become more litigious as well. Car insurance costs have risen, in part due to the rising cost of repair and in part the rising likelihood that you’ll be in an accident because roads are crowded and infrastructure is long neglected. The push to incorporate more safety features has created a base cost to manufacture of about $7,000. As the price climbs automakers throw in more features to increase the sense of value which makes cars more expensive, more likely to fail in non-catastrophic ways, and more difficult/expensive to fix.

While fuel costs are lower than they’ve traditionally been, our relationship with the Middle East is more tenuous than ever. Generation X was profoundly affected by the attack on 9/11. People are looking for less dependence and technology companies are seeing the writing on the wall.Andy_End Car owner2.jpg

While auto manufacturers are heavily invested in perfecting a product, tech companies understand the need to keep your finger on the pulse of trends. Cars are getting more technical and the need and desire to own a car is waning. That leads companies like Apple to invest heavily in the ability to expand into the car making business. That leads us full circle to rideshare and driving automation.

Traditionally, when you rent a car its because you’re traveling, or because your car is in the shop. Cars are the second most expensive thing a person typically buys. The first is a house and lots of people see renting a house or apartment as a long term option. They may harbor a quiet desire to own a residence, and only see renting as a matter of cost/benefit ratio, but few people thought that way about cars. But cars seldom sold for over $100,000 traditionally. Even in housing folks are turning to a more minimalist approach trying to avoid big debt during turbulent employment times. So finding ways to economize in automotive choices might get as creative as we’ve gotten with housing.

Why pay for a garage or parking space 24/7/365 when you only need the car a few hours a day? And much like someone might choose to rent an apartment when they aren’t sure how long they’ll be living in that location, or they might have to change houses as their family grows and shrinks, what we need a car for changes. A car share service could allow you to have a truck on the weekend to grab a load of bark dust for your yard, then get a mini-van for a trip to the beach, then a small sedan to commute to work. This concept is called a car subscription service and so far one start-up, called Faraday Future, is attempting to provide it.

This is why I held self-driving cars and rideshare until the end. There are several reasons often listed for their impact on car ownership but it’s more likely that car ownership is on it’s way out and these technologies are only hastening the inevitable. Availability of taxi and mass transit is an issue in cities below a certain size. Rideshare has made not owning a car a possibility in a lot smaller city because they’re cheaper than taxis their model works in places too small for mass transit. Self-driving cars drive the cost and complexity of owning a vehicle up. That’s really it.Andy_End Car Owner3

When you combine self-driving cars with ride share you get even cheaper Uber for riders, but that’s really just more of the same impact. The rideshare model is only one type of car sharing anyway. There’s also literally renting your car to another driver.

So will cars become like boats, something most people own for recreation? Well, long before that happens, it’s likely to become like home ownership. More and more people will look at it as a source of expense, responsibility, and opt for the flexibility of a shared situation. But others will see it as an investment. For decades, single-family rental homes were owned by private individuals. Corporations stuck to multifamily type residences. In 2008, the crash created opportunities for banks to go into single family homes en masse. Likewise, while corporations like Tesla and Apple are hinting at fleet ownership with individual buying the product as a service, it’s likely that private investors will see their vehicles as an investment. Once they are able to make one car pay for itself they’ll buy another, and another.

Companies like RVShare have sprung up to combine the idea of Airbnb with the subscription based car sharing of privately owned vehicles. Car sharing service, Turo, is already working with cars and has had millions of people sign up for it already. They aren’t alone.

Lexus, by Toyota, has created Getaround in an attempt to convince young buyers to subsidize their payment by helping them find renters for their vehicle. BMW is experimenting in some markets with Reachnow, a subscriptions-based service where you get a BMW for a time and then drop it wherever when you’re done for a flat monthly fee.

The Economic Vacuum Drawing People toward Car Sharing:

We’ve discussed a number of forces that push Americans toward car sharing, but from a business standpoint, there’s a significant draw. The humble, in-car stereo, could soon step aside to other forms of entertainment, and I’m not talking about Satellite radio. In June, Intel released a study estimating that up to $800 billion could be made (by 2035) on what they call the “Passenger Economy.” When most commuters aren’t driving they’ll need to have something else to do and that could explain companies Apple trying to take the car plunge.Andy_End Car Owner5

One industry sure to boost is alcohol. When driving isn’t a consideration anymore, drinking is likely to go up. So let’s toast to the coming robot taxi industry and all hope that they’re more accurate than the spell check on my cell phone.