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January 2019

A Guide to Selecting The Best Used Car Over $10,000

What are the best used cars? This is a “loaded” question because what’s best for one person is not necessarily the best for someone else. A person on a very limited budget may only afford a $2000 car as compared to someone who has $2000 to put down as a down payment. For purposes of this article, I am referring to the “best” used cars as those that are considered the most reliable by Consumer Reports and have purchase prices of $10,000 (retail price) or more.

Since 2003, I have purchased only used Japanese cars. I am a firm believer that the most reliable cars present the best overall “value” to the consumer. What do I mean by “value?” It equates to those cars that offer the most quality and product for the money. I admit to having a bias for Japanese car brands, but that bias is based upon research and many years of experience buying and selling cars.

Consumer Reports, which is my “bible” for rating the reliability of automobiles, has consistently rated Honda, Subaru, Mazda, Toyota, Hyundai, and Kia as the top rated new and used cars. For luxury brands, they rate Infiniti, Lexus and Acura as the most reliable, although it varies by each model year. Toyota has a popular advertising slogan: “The best new cars make the best used cars” which directly reflects the findings of Consumer Reports.

So, reliability is the most important factor in selecting the brand and model of a used car. Once you have chosen a brand, here are the most important things to look for when purchasing a used car:

1.  Electronic Stability Control (ESC)

ESC is computerized technology that improves a car’s stability by detecting and reducing loss of traction. In essence, ESC regulates the degree of traction and helps prevent skidding in inclement weather. I recommend that the used car that you purchase have ESC. (most cars after 2012 have ESC standard.

2. Anti-Lock Braking Systems (ABS)

ABS is a safety anti-skid system that operates to prevent wheels to lock up during braking. This is a “must-have” feature and is standard in many used cars from 2012 on.

3.  Thorough Examination

Have a “trusted” mechanic, or technician, check out the used car before you buy it. The mechanic will check all operating systems to make sure that they are in good running order. The most important things are: to check the engine and transmission for cracks and leaks; check transmission to make sure it is not slipping; check brake pads and rotors for wear; check axle and suspension for wear – look for cracked ball joints and leaking wheel bearings; check all belts and hoses for wear; check to make sure heating and air conditioning are in proper working order; check tires for wear; check flasher and lights; and, check exterior and interior for wear. This is a vitally important check on the overall condition of the car to make sure it was well maintained by the previous owner(s).

4.  Certified Cars

Certified cars are the most recent model year offerings that have had 120 to 160 point dealer mechanical inspections. They have the best exterior and interior condition and offer certified limited power train warranties that extend the standard manufacturer’s power train warranty to 7 years or 100,000 miles, whichever comes first (from date of original ownership when new). There is, in addition, a 12 month or 12,000 mile bumper-to-bumper warranty with most certified warranties. I recommend certified cars because they offer security to the buyer in that the car has been thoroughly inspected and serviced, and, as such, protects the buyer from mechanical problems for a specified time and mileage.

5.  Reliable Dealer

Buy from a reliable dealer rather than a private owner. Why? Because when buying the car from a dealer you are protected by the manufacturer’s, dealer’s and state’s warranty. You get no warranty when purchasing a used vehicle from a private party. You buy the car “as is.”

6.  Mileage

A good tip is to always purchase a used car with low mileage. 12,000 to 15,000 miles per year is the normally accepted benchmark for a used car.

7.  Ask for a Car Fax

A Car Fax gives the service history, lists the owner(s) and any recorded accidents. All Certified Cars come with Car Faxes.

In conclusion, I thoroughly agree with the year-by-year findings of Consumer Reports that the best used cars are those manufactured by Toyota, Honda, Mazda, Subaru, Hyundai, Kia, Lexus, Infiniti and Acura. The “best” means the best value and the most reliable. After you have decided on make and model, make sure the used car you are purchasing has: ESC, ABS, a thorough mechanical inspection by a trusted technician, a manufacturer’s certification and, has low, or normal mileage. It is also very important to buy from a reliable dealer rather than from a private party. The above facts are based on my many years of car ownership and over 17 years of experience as an automobile salesman. If you utilize the information above to serve as a guide to purchase a used car, you are insuring yourself a quality car and trouble free driving for many years to come.

Happy Motoring!

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Why Today’s Cars Are Better Than Cars Manufactured 50 Years Ago

Today’s cars are superior to the cars of 50 years ago for many reasons. I grew up during the era of 1950’s and 1960’s automobiles. Back then, cars were not expected to last more than 100,000 miles and, quite frankly, you were quite lucky if your car had 50,000 or 60,000 miles and didn’t have engine and/or transmission problems.

The gas shortage of 1973 changed everything. The Japanese started exporting inexpensive “econo boxes” – compact sedans and hatchbacks- cars that were cheap to buy and maintain. The Toyotas, Hondas and Datsuns (later Nissans) didn’t break and they got excellent gas mileage from their small 4-cylinder engines. Within a few years, the American “big three” auto companies, in order to compete with the Japanese, introduced completely new cars that were smaller, lighter and more fuel efficient. So, taking the lead of the Japanese companies, American auto manufacturers designed more efficient and higher quality cars.

Today’s cars, which includes the American, Japanese, German and South Korean brands, have evolved into the highest quality automobiles ever produced. Many of today’s cars run virtually trouble free in excess of 200,000 miles, especially true of the Japanese models. The following are the reasons that make today’s cars better than cars manufactured 50 years ago.

1.  Quality Control

Pioneered by Toyota, today’s cars are manufactured in factories that place the emphasis on quality control The principal objective is quality : sales are very important but do not sacrifice quality for sales goals. A direct result of this focus on quality is reflected in the better “fit and finish” of today’s automobiles versus cars produced 50 years ago.

2.  Superior Tires

Many tire brands have a 30,000 to 50,000 mile lifetime and, because of their better quality, have virtually eliminated “blow outs.”

3.  Better Quality Dashboards

The cars of 50 years ago had dashboards made out of metal. Today’s dashboards are contoured, padded and made from softer vinyls that are considerably safer than their predecessors.


4. Fuel Mileage

Most older cars were gas guzzlers. Their big 6 cylinder and V-8 engines rarely got more than 15 to 18 mpg, and, muscle cars got 8 to 12 mpg. Today’s engines are refined and sophisticated and many cars get upwards of 30 mpg.

5. Seats

The cars of years ago had seats constructed of plastic and vinyl and were hard and uncomfortable. They were stiff bench seats with few contours. Today’s seats have come a long way. They are contoured and made of durable and dirt resistant fabric and/or leather trimmed material that is washable and very durable.

6. Motors and Transmissions

Today’s cars have refined and technologically advanced motors and transmissions capable of lasting 200,000 miles or more. In addition to much longer lifetimes, today’s engines are more fuel efficient. In addition to the conventional gasoline powered engines, hybrid, all-electric and fuel cell powered motors are ultra high mpg alternatives. The introduction of fuel injection is an example of advanced gasoline engine technology. Fuel injection made carburetors obsolete. Fuel injection atomises the fuel through a small nozzle under high pressure where the carburetor uses a suction method. Fuel injection provides a smoother delivery of fuel and increases fuel efficiency.

7.  Synthetic Oil

Today’s synthetic oils are so good that oil changes are recommended at 5000 mile intervals. Mobil 1 Extended Performance Synthetic Oil is recommended for oil change intervals up to 15,000 miles or one year, whichever comes first.


8. Windows

Many cars of 50 years ago had clear glass and were hand cranked. Today’s cars have tinted glass that keep the car cooler in the summer and help to deflect sunlight. Also, power-operated (electric) windows are far superior to manual cranked windows.

9. Infotainment

Cars of 50 years ago were basic AM or AM/FM radios. Today’s car radios are highly sophisticated. They have AM/FM, satellite, GPS, internet access and CD and Video players. The radios produce state-of-the-art sound due to the advances in audio technology.

10.  Rust Resistance

Older cars were “rust buckets.” Today’s cars are dipped in rust inhibitor chemicals and are virtually rustproof.

11.  Safety

The difference in safety between cars of 50 years ago and today’s cars is like “night and day.” Today’s cars have crumple zones, are constructed of higher strength and lighter weight steel, have advanced air bags, superior seat belts, reinforced bumpers, safety cage passenger compartment, ABS (anti-lock braking systems) and state- of -the-art active and passive safety systems, such as adaptive cruise control, forward-collision warning, automatic emergency braking and lane-departure warning with lane keeping assist. Another advanced safety feature of today’s cars is that they feature brighter halogen and xenon headlights compared to the dimmer electric headlights of cars from 50 years ago.

In conclusion, due to many years of advanced engineering and technological improvements, today’s cars are vastly superior to models produced in the 50s and 60s. Specifically, better quality control, superior tires, more durable and efficient engines and transmissions, high fuel efficiency (high mpg), synthetic oils and state-of-the-art safety systems all contribute to make today’s cars far superior. And, they will continue to get better due to continued advances in technology.

Happy Motoring!

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