Save Money When You Buy Your Next Car: Part One

As a former car salesman for over 17 years, I have had a lot of experience with buying and selling cars.  There are many factors involved in determining the actual car you buy, where you buy it, when you purchase it, and at what price you pay for it.

There are two basic vehicle purchase scenarios.  One is the traditional route of going to an automobile dealership and dealing directly with the salesperson and, two, is the more and more popular method of buying “online” and basically, by-passing the salesperson until it is deemed absolutely necessary to visit the showroom.

Let’s follow the traditional route for this article.  Many prospective buyers of this scenario come into the showroom to “look around”, ask a lot of questions, and ask for exact pricing.  At this point in the buying process, this consumer seems to have no idea what they are looking for, whether their selection will be a Toyota, Honda, Chevy, or Ford; whether it might be a used or new car, whether to choose a sedan or SUV, whether they have considered financing type, and when they want to buy the car.

I am mentioning all of this because all salespeople are paid almost entirely by commission, and since they are paid on commission, their income is based primarily on how many units they sell each month.  Sales managers set monthly quotas for each salesperson.  Therefore, a salesperson is entirely focused on the buyers who have a good idea which car they are interested in and who tell you that they are looking to buy a car fairly soon.

A salesperson’s job is to demonstrate one or two vehicles, and they guide the customer into selecting the “right” car for them, based on their needs and budget.  But, the customer should come into the dealership with a fairly good idea as to which vehicle they would like.  The salesperson encourages the customer to take the car for a test drive and points out the features and benefits of the particular model.  Upon return, it is customary to “negotiate” a “fair price” for both the customer and the dealership.

Read more »

How to Maintain Your Car’s Resale Value

I have seen a lot of cars and trucks in my lifetime.  It was part of my job as a car salesman to observe and evaluate the condition of customer’s cars.  Through experience, I got a “feel” for the trade-in value of cars.  Cars that had been well maintained, mechanically and cosmetically, were valued hundreds, even thousands of dollars more than the same make, model and year of cars that had been neglected.

This article will tell you how to maintain your car so that when it is time to sell or trade it you will receive the maximum value.

Guideline#1:  Clean the exterior of your  car – wash, clean and wax.

Keeping the finish of your car clean from bird droppings, dirt, chemicals and acid rain, cleaning the exterior at least twice a month will minimize any damage to its finish.

Guideline #2:  Buy and use auto protective sprays to protect and preserve the exterior vinyl (plastic) trim.

Armor  All Outlast is an excellent product for this purpose.  Use Turtle Wax Bug and Tar Remover to remove tar and bugs from body panels and bumpers.

Guideline #3:  Keep interior clean and shiny.

Try to avoid getting scratches in the dash, doors and instrument panel.  Here are some examples of protective interior sprays:

Armor All(tm): Interior Detailer Spray and Armor All(tm): Outlast Interior Restorer Cream.

Vacuum upholstery, carpeting and mats.  Use Turtle Wax: Power Out Upholstery Cleaner to remove stains and dirt from fabric and leather seats.  After vacuuming, wash and dry floor mats.  Use car carpet cleaners to remove dirt from carpeted mats.

Another very important consideration when maintaining your interior is to keep it smelling clean.  There are numerous auto deoderants available to keep the interior smelling clean and pleasant.  Avoid smoking inside the car as cigarette smoke is a major deterrent to potential car buyers.


Guideline #4:  Dings and Dents

Have exterior dings and dents repaired by an auto professional before selling or trading-in car.

Guideline #5:  Keep the car in good “running” condition.

Have the oil and filter changed every 3000 to 4000 miles.  Keep fluids at the proper level.  Periodically check all belts and hoses for wear and replace when necessary.  Replace spark plugs at 105,000 miles or check in owner’s manual for your car’s time table to change spark plugs.  Any unusual noises or vibrations should be investigated.  Of primary concern are noises emanating from the engine, transmission and suspension system.

Guideline #6:  Have minor issues resolved before they turn into major problems.

Major problems equal major expenditures.  By keeping up with small issues you will avoid spending a lot of money on repairs “down the road.”  I know some people prefer to fix their own cars in order to save money.  I advocate this if you have the time available to do the work and if you know how to professionally repair your car.  But, most people realize that many mechanical problems require the use of diagnostic computers that pin-point the problem, and this can only be done at the car dealership.  Minor problems can be repaired by a trusted and reputable repair shop.

Guideline #7:  Keep your alloy wheels clean and shiny.

Before selling your car, have scratches and dings removed by professional alloy wheel re-conditioners.

Guideline #8:  Keep your lights clean.

There are special cleaners such as Turtle Wax Headlight Lens Restorer, that give your lights that “new car look.”  For “very clouded” lights you can go to repair shops that can recondition the light bezels (covers).


Guideline #9:  Maintain records.

Keep all repair bills, oil changes, parts bills, emission reports, history of ownership and title documents.

Summarizing:

These are simple guidelines to keep your car properly maintained.  A well-maintained car runs smoothly and looks great, which equates to a car that, when ready to sell or trade, will command a considerably higher resale value than a similar model that has been neglected.  If you follow the nine guidelines laid out in this article, you are virtually guaranteed the highest resale value for your car.

Happy Motoring!

Remember for your auto parts, please shop online from Amazon.com, Tirerack.com, and Vividracing.com.

Thank you.

Kreativecars.com

All Electric (Plug-In) Cars (EVs): A Brief History And Overview

What is an all-electric car (EV)?

An electric car is a car that is propelled by an electric motor, or motors, that run on batteries that have “stored” electric energy.  The batteries use energy according to the types of driving and the driver’s input (via acceleration and braking).

Electric cars are not a new idea.  Crude electric vehicles originated in the 1830s, and the first successful electric vehicle in the United States was introduced around 1890.  It was, essentially, a six-seat electric wagon.  By the early 1900s, electric vehicles accounted for approximately one third of the vehicles on the road.

But, because of advances in gasoline powered cars, demand for electric vehicles fizzled after the early 1900s.  Electric cars were, for a long time, more expensive to produce and they had a limited range.  Ford’s gasoline powered model T, introduced in 1908, was a break-through in the mass production of automobiles, selling for around $650 compared to an electric car selling for $1750.

There were few advancements in electric cars until the late 1960s to early 1970s.  Gasoline powered cars were dominant because of advances in engine technology and because gasoline was cheap.  And, the limited range of electric cars along with their much higher prices, suppressed demand for the vehicles.

Gas shortages, and escalating oil prices, in the late 1960s and 1970s, resulted in manufacturers and consumers to look for alternative sources of energy to power automobiles.   In 1976, Congress passed the Electric and Hybrid Vehicle Research Development and Demonstration Act.  This bill authorized the Department of Energy to support research and development of electric and hybrid cars.

There were modest advances in electric cars from the 1970s to the early 1990s.  The biggest obstacle was the limited range and top speed of the electric cars.  Conventional gasoline engine technology produced much more efficient and cleaner engines, so electric cars drew little interest during the time period.

In 1990, with the passage of the Clean Air Act Amendment and the 1992 Energy Policy Act, coupled with stricter California and Federal Government transportation emissions regulations, manufacturers started modifying existing cars and improving electric cars.  Electric cars now had better performance and many had extended their driving range to 60 miles, and, they were now better able to compete with the conventional gasoline powered cars.

The introduction of the Toyota Prius Hybrid in 1997 was the major breakthrough of mass production of electric cars in the United States.  In 2006, Tesla Motors announced plans to manufacture an all-electric luxury sports car that would go more than 200 miles on a single charge.  In 2010, Tesla received a $465 million loan from the Department of Energy toward establishing a manufacturing plant in California for the sole purpose of producing all-electric cars.  In the same year, Chevrolet introduced the Chevy Volt and Nissan introduced the Nissan Leaf.  The Volt was the first mass produced plug-in hybrid and the Nissan Leaf is an all-electric vehicle, or EV, meaning that it has an electric only propulsion system.

With the Recovery Act of 2009, The Energy Department invested over $115 million to help build a nation wide system of more than 18,000 charging stations in the United States.  The major auto companies, and other private businesses, installed public electric chargers at more than 8,000 separate locations with over 20,000 charging outlets.

The Department of Energy’s Vehicle Technologies Office supported new battery technology that improved plug-in electric battery range.  Their research helped develop the lithium-ion battery used in the Chevy Volt.  Over the past four years, The Department of Energy’s Investment in battery research has directly contributed to 50% savings in the battery costs of all electric vehicles which in turn has lowered the cost of producing all-electric cars (EVs).  This has resulted in making the all-electric cars more affordable to the average consumer.

 

There have never been as many choices of electric cars as there are today: 23 plug-in cars and 36 hybrid models available in all shapes and sizes.  Examples are the 2-seater Smart Ed, the mid-sized Ford C-max energy and the luxurious BMWi3 SUV.

With gasoline prices soaring, and the cost of EVs dropping, the demand for all-electric plug-in cars has escalated  There are now more than 234,000 plug-in electric cars, along with 3.3 million hybrid cars   on the road.

In summary,  the all-electric cars are here to stay because:

  1. There is a nation-wide system of charging stations with many more locations and chargers planned in the near future
  2. The ability to charge your car, in the the convenience of your own home, using the same 13 amp power supply as your vacuum cleaner or TV.
  3. They are more affordable.
  4. They have much longer battery range.
  5. They are virtually maintenance free.
  6. They are environmentally superior to gasoline powered vehicles because of their zero emissions.                                                                                                 * The future of  automobiles is here, now. *

Happy Motoring!

Remember for your auto parts, please shop online from Amazon.com, Tirerack.com, and Vividracing.com.  

Thank you,

Kreativecars.com

 

 

When Buying a New Car Follow These Simple Guidelines

Buying a car is a major investment and sometimes a stressful process. It can be exhilarating when you find the perfect car at a reasonable price. Though there is great value in purchasing a used vehicle, buying one “fresh off the lot” is a personal aspiration of many.

A new car has state-of-the-art engineering, the latest style, better fuel efficiency, and newest innovations. It will also have the latest safety devices. Then there’s that new car smell!  It’s thrilling to own a car that is truly yours, one that’s never been driven by anyone else!

With a new car comes peace of mind. You need not worry about the car’s history or question its accident history. Dealerships will offer you attractive incentives for buying a new car. It can be anything from a cash rebate to 0% financing. Manufacturers also offer incentives for new car sales.

There are several ways to search for a new car. Dealerships typically advertise in local newspapers and television.  There are many websites that offer new cars for sale and others who provide detailed reviews of new vehicles. Safety reports are available on the Internet from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).

Consider the resale value of the car. Every car loses its value once you drive away from the dealership. Some vehicles maintain their value very well. You will want that virtue when you are ready to replace your vehicle. Refer to the Kelley Blue Book website to get an idea of the vehicle’s resale value.

Once you go to a dealership, don’t pick the first car you like. Visit other dealerships and look at more vehicles. Take your time. Once you know that you have found your perfect car, begin negotiating the price. The “sticker price” is always higher than the actual worth because the dealer will then have room to negotiate down in price.

Buying a car is not a one-time expense. You should think of its cost as the total cash outflow over its lifetime. You will have also have registration, insurance, maintenance costs. So do not spend all your money on the purchase of the vehicle itself.

2019 Toyota Rav4: Review and Commentary

The new 2019 Toyota Rav 4 is the best Rav 4 since its introduction in 1995.  It has state-of-the art technology, a better quality interior, an array of safety features and the most comfort and convenience features ever in a Rav 4.

The new Rav 4 is slightly shorter, a bit wider and has a longer wheelbase.  It is available in front-wheel drive or all wheel drive.  Its standard engine is a 2.5 liter 4-cylinder, and, a new hybrid model will be arriving soon.  The new Rav 4 is slightly lower than last year’s model.  An 8-speed automatic is standard on all models.  The hybrid version will have a continuously variable transmission (CVT).

  • New Exterior Styling

Exterior Styling is more aggressive and edgy – more truck like.  There is a strong resemblance to the 4 Runner and Tacoma pickup.  Because of its longer wheelbase, it has a shorter front and rear overhang.  It has more “rugged” styled roof-rails.  The new Rav 4 has higher ground clearance.  Some models have a contrasting roof color.

 

  • All New Interior

*  The Rav 4 interior has higher quality materials, and it too has more “edgy” styling

*  7″ touchscreen is positioned on top of the dashboard

*  8″ touchscreen is included in an upgrade package.  The 8″ screen has an infotainment system with built in navigation

*   A digital display rear view mirror switches from a conventional mirror to a rear view monitor

*   Other upgrades include a panoramic roof, ventilated seats and hands-free power lift gate

  • Technology

*   Rear camera with a wide angle picture in the rear view mirror

*   7.0″ touchscreen is standard and comes with:

  • Apple Car Play
  • Amazon Alexa connectivity
  • Wi-Fi antenna

*   8.0″ touchscreen (optional and/or as part of upper trim levels) has

  • JBL audio system
  • Up to 5 USB ports and charging pad for Qi compatible devices
  • Higher trim levels have a 7.0 inch TFT display in the instrument cluster (driver’s line of sight)
  • Climate and comfort controls are located below infotainment screen
  • A control knob for different off-road drive modes is positioned next to the transmission lever.  This is a standard feature on all Rav 4 trim levels

*  Engine

  • Engine has been revised to produce 15% more horsepower than last year
  • The hybrid model will be more powerful than the standard 4-cylinder models
  • Expect considerably higher MPG than 4-cylinder models

*  Transmission

  • 8 – speed automatic on all 2.5 liter 4-cylinder models
  • Continuous variable transmission (CVT) on hybrid models

Note:  As of this writing, there are no specifics as to the different trim levels, and, there are no specifics as to which features go with each trim level.

*  Safety

All new Rav 4’s come with Toyota Safety Sense 2.0 that has a bevy of safety features including:

  • Forward collision warning and mitigation with pedestrian detection
  • Advanced adaptive cruise control
  • Lane keeping assist with lane-trace assist
  • Lane departure warning
  • Auto high-beam headlights
  • Traffic sign reader
  • Optional blind-spot monitors, surround-view camera and rear cross-traffic braking

*  All-Wheel Drive System

  • New, all-wheel drive system features a rear drive train disconnect that deactivates the rear wheels when demand is low

– Benefit:  Improved highway MPG

Note:  Available on upper trim levels

  • The Hybrid All Wheel Drive model will feature its own all wheel drive system that sends more power to the wheels than the 4-cylinder (gasoline) models.

What Do We Like?

  • The new technology and safety features
  • The overall smoothness of the engine, transmission and ride quality
  • The terrific hybrid model’s MPG
  • The better quality interior materials and improved interior layout
  • The new multi-terrain control knob select system
  • The more rugged styling
  • The outstanding quality, fit and finish and reliability
  • The new all wheel drive system
  • More luxury features
  • One of the largest interior volumes in its class

Overall, the new 2019 Rav 4 is improved in every aspect.  It has a myriad of safety and comfort features.  It has more power and increased MPG.  It offers a new, top-of-the line hybrid model that incorporates all the new features and the highest MPG.  Above all, it is a Toyota:  highest reliability, high MPG, high resale value and equipped with an assortment of comfort, convenience and safety features.

Bottom line – You cannot go wrong with a Toyota.  Check out the new Toyota Rav 4.  They should be in Toyota showrooms now.

Happy Motoring!

Remember for your auto parts, please shop online from Amazon.com, Tirerack.com and Vividracing.com.

Thank you.

Kreativecars.com

Hybrid Cars: A Brief History – How They Work – Advantages

The Toyota Prius Hybrid, introduced in Japan in 1997, was the first mass produced hybrid car.  Honda’s Insight Hybrid came out in the United States and Japan in 1999.

A hybrid car is an automobile that combines an internal combustion engine and electric propulsion drive train.  Most hybrids employ a conventional 4-cylinder gasoline engine and electric generator.  This  combination is more efficient system in delivering power to the drive wheels.  The electric motor is superior at supplying torque,  that is, getting the car moving quickly.  The gasoline engine is best suited for maintaining the car’s momentum at higher speeds.  The combination of the two propulsion systems yields better fuel economy and cleaner emissions.  This “hybrid” system “switches” the two motors at optimum speeds to maximize fuel efficiency and performance.

Initially, hybrid cars were not that popular because they were priced considerably higher than conventional gasoline powered cars and production capability was limited.  Toyota and Honda had very few factories dedicated to producing hybrids.

I sold the Toyota Prius between 2000 and 2007 and the typical buyer was a high income customer who liked the idea of using less gas and expelling lower emissions.  The Prius was usually three to six thousand dollars more than comparably equipped, 4- cylinder gasoline Toyota Corollas.

But, the hybrid cars gained popularity as gasoline prices went up and down.  The hybrid cars became more comfortable to drive and came better equipped;  The idea of much better fuel mileage “caught on” in the eyes of the consumer.  The hybrid batteries are more compact in size and more powerful and, prices have moderated in that they are more “in line”  with non-hybrid cars.

Today, every manufacturer, including Toyota, Honda, Ford, GM, Fiat/Chrysler, Hyundai, Kia, Mazda and all the luxury brands offer sophisticated hybrid models.

An example of the efficiency of a hybrid automobile vs. a conventional 4-cylinder gasoline equipped car:

  • A 2018 Toyota Corolla LE
    • City:  28 mpg
    • Hwy: 36 mpg
    • Overall 32 mpg
  • A 2018 Toyota Prius (base model)
    • City: 54 mpg
    • Hwy: 50 mpg
    • Overall: 52 mpg
  • Hybrid cars are here to stay because:

(A)  They get far superior gas mileage.

(B) They give off far fewer emissions.

(C) Their batteries are smaller in size and more powerful.

(D) They are very well equipped.

(E) They have state-of-the-art interiors and beautiful exterior styling.

(F) Their pricing is more “in-line” with conventional powered cars.

Do yourself a favor;  Before you buy your next car, check out the new 2018/2019 hybrid models.  I think you will be quite happy in what you’ll find.

Happy Motoring!

 

Remember for your auto parts, please shop online from Amazon.com, Tirerack.com, and Vividracing.com.

Thank you.

Kreativecars.com

 

Car Maintenance

Whether it is a brand new car or a used car, buying a vehicle can be expensive. For this reason, you must do what you can to keep it in good condition and retain its value. To achieve this, you must focus on providing the proper maintenance and repair work for your vehicle.

Proper maintenance and repair can be quite costly and time-consuming. You should find a qualified, skilled, and knowledgeable mechanic from a car maintenance shop. However, there are also certain maintenance tasks which you can easily do on your own.

Car maintenance is typically the replacement and inspection of wearable parts and the repairs performed on already worn parts. The regular maintenance tasks are needed to ensure that the vehicle will stay in good condition and offer its maximum performance.

Among the most important regular maintenance which you can do on your own are to check the oil level and the brake fluid of your car. Checking your oil level is essential since the oil is like the blood of your vehicle. If the oil is too low, your car can be seriously damaged and it won’t go far.

For this reason, you should always check your oil level. To check your oil level, you must first open the hood and look for an oil dipstick. Clean the dipstick with a rug and place it deep into the chamber then pull it out again. The oil level usually falls in between the upper and the lower limits.
Read more »

Save Money When You Buy Your Next Car: Part Two

As a follow up to Part One, I want to make it clear how knowing what you want saves you money when purchasing your next car.

There are basically three reasons why people go to an automobile showroom.  One, they are there solely to look at different models on display.  Two, they are there to gather information, i.e., fact finding, and, three, they have already finished steps one and two and are ready to buy the car, either today or soon.  The trained sales person qualifies potential customers to find out why they are in the showroom, and, since it is this third group of people who are the ones most likely to buy a car, the sales person’s focus is directed exclusively to them.  Customers who are “just looking around” or strictly there to gather information are least likely to get a competitive price from the salesperson because they are not willing, at this time, to commit themselves to purchasing a car today.  The customer who is “looking around”, getting information and asking for prices and not committed to buy, will not get a competitive price: the sales person will quote (and I know this from personal experience as a retired car salesman) an approximate price.  For example, the 2018 Toyota Camry LE is “around” $25,000 plus taxes and fees.  If a customer was not ready to purchase the car that day, some sales people are instructed, by their managers, to not quote prices at all unless the customer disclosed they were ready to buy the car today.  This was the conclusion of Part One:  No customer commitment to purchase equals no competitive price.

Commitment means that the customer tells the salesperson, up front, that they are interested in purchasing a car today; or, that they have already received quotes from other dealers and are ready to buy, now, if your price is competitive.  Note: it is the salesperson’s job to find out what the customer’s time frame is for buying a car, if the customer has not disclosed this.

This brings us to another way in which the customer can save money: get at least three quotes, in writing, from the salesperson at three different dealerships, make sure that each quote has the make, model, trim level desired equipment and/or packages and MSRP of the exact car you are interested in.  By doing this, you are guaranteeing that you get each dealer’s best price on the car that you want.

I also purchased many cars before I became an auto salesperson and for years I didn’t know that this was the best course of action in securing a “good” price, and, as a result, I paid too much for the car.  Being in the car business for many years, I learned that the best way to get the best price from each dealer was to get at least three quotes on the exact car you are interested in.  Many customers purchase from a dealer with the lowest price.  But others, like myself, will compare quotes and purchase the car at the dealer whose price is competitive and whose salesperson I preferred because the salesperson treated me with respect.

In conclusion, saving money when purchasing a car is: (1) a commitment by the customer to purchase the car (2) getting three quotes from three dealers and (3) then deciding which dealership and salesperson you feel the most comfortable with.  If you follow these simple guidelines, you will definitely save money and you will have peace of mind when purchasing your next car.

Remember for your auto parts, please shop online from Amazon.com, Tirerack.com and Vividracing.com.

Thank you.

Kreativecars.com

The Evolution of 4-Cylinder Engines

Four cylinder engines became popular in the 1970s and 1980s, primarily because of several major gasoline shortages.  Prior to that, American manufacturers traditionally offered V6 and V8 engines in their cars as American consumers were accustomed to powerful, gas consuming cars.

It wasn’t  until Toyota and Honda imported “econo boxes” into this country, starting in the 1970s, did American manufacturers realize that they had better change their thinking regarding engine size and fuel economy.  Toyota introduced the Corolla and Camry and Honda countered with their Accord and Civic.  The “sub-compact” Toyotas and Hondas all came with small block, lightweight 4-cylinder engines.

The Toyotas and Hondas were extremely popular, and, within a few years, captured up to 30% of the American auto market.  Their cars were in demand because they offered consumers an alternative from the large, heavy gas guzzling V6 and V8 cars that were the only cars on the market up until this time.  The imported Toyotas, Hondas, and Nissans were very reliable, low maintenance and, because of their small 4-cylinder engines, were much more fuel efficient and they were fun to drive!

Because of the tremendous sales gains of the imported cars in the 70s, 80s, and 90s, GM, Ford and Chrysler revamped their small car line-ups to compete.  Chevrolet introduced the Vega, Citation, Chevette and Cavalier.  Ford came out with the Pinto and the Maverick, while Chrysler offered the Plymouth Valiant.  What do these new American made cars have in common?  One, they were more compact in size and two, they all featured small displacement, more fuel efficient 4-cylinder engines.

Four cylinder engines have become more and more popular.  They are more refined and sophisticated and starting around the late 1990s and early 2000s, every manufacturer featured 4-cylinder engines as standard equipment in their sub-compact and compact models, and some mid-size and luxury models offered 4-cylinder versions as well.

As a result of advanced technology, the 4-cylinder engines in today’s cars are more powerful, are quieter, have higher displacement, more horsepower and torque and, at the same time, have considerably higher EPA fuel economy ratings.

Over the past fifteen or twenty years, Ford, Chevrolet (and GM),  Chrysler, Toyota, Honda, Mazda, Hyundai, Kia and others have developed “state-of-the art” 4-cylinder, turbo-charged engines.

Read more »

Observations On Current Auto Exterior Design

Is it just me or have the auto designers gotten together and compared notes regarding auto exterior design?  Have you noticed that many of the major brands have incorporated similar design “cues”?

Design Cue 1:  Sculpted Side Body Panels

Upon close examination, you will notice that every auto brand – as of 2018 – has sculpted side body panels (doors).  Here is an example:

 

Design Cue 2:  Front End Styling

Lexus and Toyota emphasize the “radical” or “far out” front end design.  The 2018 Toyota Camry and Avalon have blacked-out front grills in the shape of a large “shark’s mouth”, giving the car a “mean”, almost menacing effect.  The 2018 Ford Focus, 2019 Hyundai Veloster, 2018 and 2019 Audi A6, 2018 and 2019 Audi A4, 2019 Chevrolet Cruz, and 2018/2019 Honda Accord are a few of the many models that tout this popular styling trend.

 

 

Read more »

Powered by AWS