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Tips for safe driving

June 11th, 2012 / / categories: General Tips /

For some people, being a safe and conscientious driver only lasts as long as it takes them to get their driver’s license.  Safe driving means more than obeying traffic laws, it also means maintaining your car as well as making smart decisions on what you should and should not be doing while you are driving.  The numbers of cars on the road today and the advent of technology have made it even more important to be a safe driver. The younger generation as well as most adults are so dependent on their cell phones; they have become a part of their daily life, which unfortunately should not be part of it when they are driving. Almost every new car has integrated technology to allow you to use your cell phone through the car itself.

They are promoting safe use of cell phones while driving, the problem is some people choose not to take advantage of these systems and use their cell phone as they normally would. Maintaining your car is also important to safe driving, keeping you out of situations that could cause accidents or injury. Something as simple as watching the amount of gas you have can be the difference between a safe an unsafe situation as well. (more…)

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Used cars buying tips

May 24th, 2012 / / categories: Used Car Tips /

If you are not ready to put out a large amount of money, or just need a second car, buying a used car is the most affordable option. There are many places to buy used cars from car dealers to private sellers to public auctions.  If you have the cash to buy a used car, a private seller or public auction are good options. If you have enough for a down payment, but do not want to pay a new car price, going to a car dealer is the best idea. You can sometimes buy used cars for cash at a dealership, but keep in mind that you will still pay for any repairs or money they have invested in the vehicle, so you will probably end up paying more than you would from a private seller.

No matter where you buy a used car, you need to be an educated consumer and do your homework before you even start searching for a car. Making sure you know what you want to pay and should be paying for a used car is your best way to get a good deal.

Buying from a private seller

If you have the cash to buy a car from a private seller, you can search websites such as Craigslist and eBay for a car that you want. If you are looking for a specific vehicle, looking online can help you compare prices as well as options and condition. You also want to look at a car valuation site once you have a few cars to choose from and check their selling price versus the valuation of the vehicle. Once you narrow down the field to a few cars, you want to contact the seller and arrange to look at the vehicle. Although they may post photos on line with the advertisement, it does not mean that they are recent photos. The picture you see online may be when the car was new, not what it looks like today. Once you make an appointment to look at the vehicle, make yourself a checklist of things to pay special attention to on the vehicle. You want to make sure that you are not buying someone else’s problem. Be sure to inquire why they are getting rid of the car, if the reason does not sound legitimate, there is probably more to it than they are telling you. Make notes on the car so you are prepared to negotiate if you find any problems with the car. Take the vehicle for a test drive, if the seller will not allow you, you probably just want to thank them and move on to the next car. Cars are not cheap, new or used, so make sure that you are getting a good car for what you are paying.

Buying from a car dealership

If you choose to go through a dealer and finance a used car, you can start your search for one you want online as well. If you are looking for a specific make, search for dealers in your area. Try to find dealers that offer “certified” used vehicles. What this means is that the vehicles are in above average condition and in some cases will automatically qualify for an extension of the factory warranty if it has run out. Keep in mind that you will obviously pay more at a dealership for a used car, but in most cases, you will have a warranty or have the option of purchasing an extended warranty. This will save you money in the end if you require major repairs. However, you do want to make sure that you are not overpaying for the vehicle, as when it nears the end of the loan you want to make sure that you do not owe more than the car is worth. Buying a used car from a dealer and financing it is also a good plan for someone who wants to establish or repair their credit, as you will more than likely have a lower payment and a shorter loan period, which makes it much easier to pay off.

Buying from a public auction

Another option for those who are mechanically inclined or have a good mechanic and do not mind getting dirty is purchasing a used car from a public auction. Cars end up at public auctions for many reasons. They can be trade-ins from a dealer that are not eligible to be sold on their lot, they can be repossessed vehicles finance companies need to sell, or they can be city, county or state vehicles that they have replaced with new ones. You can search online for a public auction in your area, as well as read all the rules of the auction on the site as well. You want to check to see if they offer viewing of the cars before the sale to give you an idea of what you might be getting yourself into. You will usually not be allowed to drive the vehicle, but you can look them over and see what is available as well as the general condition of the vehicles. Keep in mind these cars are usually not in the best mechanical shape and are usually not clean either. In some case the auction will write on the windshield any known mechanical problems so you know what cars to stay away from unless you want to invest in the repairs. Remember you will need cash in your pocket in order to bid on auction vehicles. Most auctions have a set price or percentage of the sale price that you have to give them to hold the car, and you then have a set amount of time to pay the balance. This is not a good option for anyone who just wants a car they can drive home and not worry about; at the least, these cars require a thorough cleaning and basic maintenance before they are ready for the road.

Summary

No matter where you buy a used vehicle, weigh your options and decide which the best is for you. You always want to check prices online and check car valuation sites to make sure that you are getting the best price you can. You also want to be sure that the vehicle is not only in good condition outside, but in good condition mechanically as well if you just want to drive it away and not have to worry. If you can fix your own car and do not mind cleaning up a car and investing some money in it, you can get a great deal at an auction, but it is not for everyone by any means. Be an educated buyer and treat a car the way it should be, an investment.

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Reasons why your car is not starting

April 20th, 2012 / / categories: General Tips /

It is a sinking feeling when you get in your car, turn the key and your car does not start. There are various reasons a car that started and ran yesterday will not start today. It is very important to listen when you turn the key, as it gives you a clue as to what may be wrong. Some things are simple and you can handle yourself, others are signs that you need to get your vehicle to a mechanic, either driven or on a tow truck.

Owning a vehicle is not just starting it and driving it, you need to be in tune with your car and know when something is wrong so it does not lead to additional damage and repairs to the vehicle. A vehicle that does not start can be caused by anything from a loose battery cable to a seized engine, so it is important to know what to do when you turn the key and the car does not start.

No sound when you turn the key

What you hear and see, or do not hear and see when you turn the key can give you clues to what the problem may be, as well as if it is something you can take care of or you just need to call a tow truck. If you turn the key and hear nothing at all, and none of your dash lights come on, you need to open the hood and check your battery. Make sure the cables are connected properly, then try to jump start the car. If you get the car started, great, you solved your problem, if not, there may be some type of electrical or wiring problem and you will probably need to call a tow truck. If you turn the key and hear nothing, but your dash lights come one, you might have not put the vehicle completely in park gear. If you have an automatic transmission and the vehicle is not completely in park, it has a safety mechanism that will not allow the vehicle to start. With your foot on the brake, switch the vehicle to neutral then back to park and try starting it again. If you have a manual transmission, make sure the vehicle is in neutral, depress the clutch all the way to the floor and try starting again. If in either one of these situations, it still will not start, there is a good chance it is an electrical problem involving the ignition switch or neutral safety switch, and the vehicle will need to be towed. In most cases, hearing no sound when you try to start your car is better than hearing something; usually no sound means it’s a problem you may be able to handle yourself.

Sound when you turn the key

If you turn the key and hear a clicking sound, but you have lights on the dash, this is an indicator that your battery is low. A low battery can occur due to an old battery that is wearing out, or a sign of an alternator problem. You should have no problem jump starting the car, but as soon as you get it started, your first trip should be to your mechanic to get it checked. If you turn the key and hear a clunk, it is a sign of a bad starter, or at the worst, a seized engine. Turn you headlights on and try to start the car again, if they dim when you try to start the car it is more than likely a bad starter, if they do not dim, you might have a seized engine, either way, you will need to have the vehicle towed to your mechanic. If you turn the key and hear a grinding or scraping sound, this is an indication of a bad starter as well. Try to start the vehicle no more than twice, if it starts, take it to your mechanic immediately, if it does not start you will need to have it towed and repaired. No matter what sound it is you hear, it is likely to be a problem that requires a mechanic, and if not repaired will lead to further damage to your vehicle.

Summary

Being able to assess a problem with your car is very important for any driver. A vehicle not starting is a common problem, but if you know what to listen and look for, you can save yourself a tow bill, or save yourself from causing more damage to your vehicle. No matter what reason the car does not start, if you get it started the first time but it does not start again, take it to your mechanic. A small repair when the problem starts can eliminate large expensive repairs in the future.