How to Financially Prepare to Buy a New Car

July 9th, 2015

Don't plan your financing at the dealership

Photo courtesy reynermedia

You’ve done all your homework. You know exactly what make and model vehicle you want, even down to the wheels and tires. It’s time to head to a dealership to finalize the purchase. And that’s where most people make the biggest mistake in buying a car: not being financially ready.

Too many people leave it up to the dealer to arrange financing, and that can be a costly mistake. What people often save for the last step—arranging financing—should be the first step.

Stephanie Brinley, a senior analyst – Americas for IHS Automotive, said at U.S. News that doing your financial homework helps you determine the overall cost of a new vehicle. She said that should include not what you want your monthly payments to be, “but in total, factoring in things like loan costs, maintenance and insurance.” Her advice is to start this process about 3 months out.

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Are Convertibles Worth the Safety Risk?

July 9th, 2015

2015 ford mustang convertible

Yesterday we drove Highway 1 in California from San Simeon to Monterey. This is the most beautiful segment of the most beautiful road in America, but one thing started driving me crazy:

One in ten cars that passed in the opposite direction was either a red convertible Camaro or Mustang. That’s no exaggeration. I don’t know if there’s either a rental place that specializes in outfitting people with red convertibles or if people with red convertibles just like driving the 1, but it got to the point of being ridiculous. Every minute or two someone in the family announced the sighting of yet another convertible Mustang.

Without question, we have entered the season of convertibles. Warm weather brings dropped tops, messy hair, sunburned foreheads, and sun-bleached interiors.

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Highway 1: Where the Magic Happens

July 8th, 2015

highway 1 CA

My wife said it best:

“It’s like holding hands with the ocean.”

Driving Highway 1 from Los Angeles to San Francisco is one of those drives every human living in the United States needs to take at least once. The expansive ocean views, jagged cliffs, and exotic supercars make the drive an unforgettable experience.

I just wish my GPS would let me stay on it.

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The Case for Car Brokers

July 7th, 2015

2015 land rover discovery sport-pic-294091176881838782

Even rich people love to save money.

There are some people in this world who could walk into any car dealership they want and write a check for any car on the floor.

Sometimes, though, they just don’t have the time to spend at the dealer and go through the hours-long process of buying a car.

For those people, and for regular car buyers like you and me, auto brokers can be a true blessing.

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Own a Land Yacht? Get a Dinghy Instead

July 6th, 2015

1988 Honda Civic

Three cars sat in the driveway, and there was only one that I desperately wanted.

We were high in the Sierra Nevada mountains somewhere just south of Lake Tahoe. My aunt lives in the area, and in her driveway sat a Lexus RX 350, an Audi Q7, and a 1988 Honda Civic.

The two luxury utes looked like behemoths next to the diminutive Honda, but that’s the one I would’ve loved to take home.

Here’s why.

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Ten New Cars to Celebrate Freedom

July 3rd, 2015

2015 Chevrolet Suburban

With Independence Day this weekend, we thought it would be an ideal time to take a look at some of the most “American” cars on sale today. Sure, it would be easy to throw together a list of muscle cars and pickup trucks, but, like it or not, the United States isn’t the birthplace of the V8 engine or 4-wheel-drive (that would be France and the Netherlands, respectively), and anyway, that would have been too easy. Instead, when trying to define American culture, we’ve been drawn to the wide breadth of automobiles that have helped define our car culture. After being born from a nation’s version of youngest-child-style frustration (our revolution), the U.S. was initially kept afloat by—and then thrived because of—our penchant to innovate.

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Does Your New Car Burn Too Much Oil?

July 3rd, 2015

oil1

I’m going to describe a problem with my car, and I want you to take some guesses on what year and make of car I own.

I have the oil changed on my car about every 5,000 miles. I’m actually quite good at keeping to the schedule and making sure the maintenance is done on a timely basis. I use full synthetic oil in the car, and most of my family’s driving is on the highway. We live 30 minutes away from civilization, so the car rarely, if ever, does trips where it doesn’t reach operating temperature.

The problem is that the car burns at least a quart of oil between oil changes.

Any guesses on the year and make?

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Things to Consider Before Buying a Pickup Truck

July 2nd, 2015

F150-Trailer-Assist-50It’s a great time to be in the market for a pickup. Manufacturers have gone to great lengths to improve their trucks’ ride, interiors, and exteriors. With so many pickup trucks out there, how do you decide which truck is right for you?

The first factor to consider is new versus used. The needle is pointing to buying new if your budget can justify it. As CarGurus.com Used Car Price Trends shows, used pickup prices are up 7.79 percent year over year. (Only used convertibles and vans show larger increases.) New pickup prices haven’t demonstrated a similar increase. PickupTrucks.com reports, “…some U.S. dealerships are offering extended financing packages and huge discounts on half-ton and heavy-duty pickups. In some cases there are more than $10,000 in discounts on specific vehicle configurations and trim packages; the 2015 Ford F-150 is one example.” That means you’re going to find offers on new pickups that you won’t on used models.

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The New King of the Muscle Cars… For Now

July 2nd, 2015

2016 Chevrolet Camaro

How’d it feel, Camaro, to be the muscle-car sales king?

It lasted about 6 years.

You managed to outsell the Ford Mustang and Dodge Challenger while giving the automotive press and middle-aged gearheads aneurysms with your cartoon-ish retro looks.

The Challenger had never been a real contender sales-wise, even though the vicious Hellcat could take the other two cars and burn their rubber straight to, well, hell.

How do the numbers stack up, and does the Camaro stand a chance of reclaiming the throne?

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The Most American Car in America Isn’t American

July 1st, 2015

2015 Honda Odyssey

It seems the old days of American-made cars consisting only of Ford, Chevy, and Chrysler have faded into the past faster than this season’s Red Sox victories.

Today’s “most American” cars come from foreign car companies, which makes things difficult for the people who like to buy American and who still believe American cars come only from the traditional Big 3 automakers.

Our friends over at Boston.com have a story about the “most American” cars, and three out of seven of them are from Honda or Toyota, with the number-one car being the Toyota Camry. Number two is the Toyota Sienna, and number four is the Honda Odyssey.

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