Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Buying New vs. Used Cars

After reading the article "Am I Ready for a New Car" and finally coming to the decision to replace your current car, often the next question to ask yourself is this: should I buy a new car... or a used car?
Unfortunately, there is no one-size-fits-all answer; everything is subjective. However, here are several advantages of each that can help you with the decision-making process.

New cars:
  • Peace of mind. New cars are less likely to break down and remain mechanically sound for many years after purchase. The new vehicle likely won't need new tires, a battery, exhaust system or brakes during the first few years of ownership or longer. Competitive warranties can help cover repair costs, and can range from 3-5 years or cover a certain number of kilometers. In addition to a comprehensive warranty, virtually all mainstream new cars come with free roadside assistance while the vehicle remains under warranty. Furthermore, if you encounter significant problems, state lemon laws allow you to replace your new car or get your money back, if you can prove that your car is a "lemon" (a defect). 
  • Features. New cars often come with the latest, coolest features. For example, they are more likely have better safety features, be more fuel efficient, and emit fewer and less harmful chemicals into the environment. They can also be made to order and customized according to your individual needs. 
  • Financing. Loans for new vehicles are easier to secure and come with cheaper rates, since its current value is absolute and its eventual value is easier to gauge (which means less guesswork involved for lenders). If you have good credit (720+), you may have fewer problems buying a new car with little or no down payment, and many manufacturers offer rebates, cash incentives, and discounted financing. 

Used cars:
  • Increased choice. There are thousands of used cars available for purchase, ranging from newer models to collectable cars to well-maintained and serviced older cars. The key is in the research, most of which can be accomplished online. 
  • Better prices. There are multiple reasons why used cars are cheaper than new ones. First of all is depreciation, since most cars lose up to 20% of its value the first time it is driven out of the dealer's parking lot, and up to 40% of its value within its first three years. Dealers also need to make a profit and pay for overheads such as premises and staff; used cars are often bought privately, which allows you to bypass the dealer mark-up. Furthermore, insurance rates are often lower for used cars. However, be sure to take ongoing motor costs into account when comparing prices, since replacement parts and maintenance can be costly.
Picture courtesy: https://blogger.googleusercontent.com/img/b/R29vZ2xl/AVvXsEgfkxZf4XMM8305hADJlC2RsVUZvSVvqNiK1-rg4R3Prd6lo86-Bnah-crfXEe0RUuBj-tkmgdD2-w3l23YwtBkkg203BiL4hBFPC0mBtLL-bdJRG7kiTjyDmGLJStDQ4ygTFuiSmCs-hE/s1600/old+and+new.jpg

Thursday, August 22, 2013

How to Set Your Rear View Mirrors

You may have set your rear view mirrors years ago and have since forgotten all about their position. Additionally, there are several different preferences on how to set you mirrors in correct positions. Here is our suggestion on where and how to set them to help improve visibility of your car's blind spots.

Step 1: Set your interior rear-view mirror as you usually would with the center of the road in the center of your mirror.

Step 2: Learn your head to the left so it is touching/nearly touching the drivers side window. From this position adjust your drivers-side side mirror so you can just see the back quarter panel of your vehicle. When you return your head to its normal driving position you should see very little to none of the side of your car in the mirror.

Step 3: Lean the same distance to the right (until your head is nearly in the center of the front seats) and adjust the right side mirrors in the same manner. And that's it!

If you are not accustomed to your mirrors being in this position, it may feel odd at first. However, once you learn to rely on your rear-view mirror and what your side-view mirrors are showing, you will find that they provide you with a whole lot more useful information about the space around your vehicle. Ultimately, your car's blind spots should be eliminated and provide you with a safer ride. In addition remember to check over your shoulder and signal before you change lanes as well. As always, drive safely and obey all traffic laws.

Picture courtesy: http://www.markdroberts.com/images/ipc-sideview-mirror.jpg

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

How to Jump Start a Car

Whether it's because you left the car lights on, the radio running, the keys in the ignition, or simply because it is old, almost all car owners will face the problem of a dead car battery at some point or another. However, this is an easy problem to solve through jump starting your car, and this article will walk you through how to do just that.

What you'll need:
  • Jump leads/cables
  • Another functional car with the same voltage as your own
  • Safety glasses
The steps:
  1. Park the two cars close enough so that the jumper cable can reach both batteries, and turn both cars off (especially the electrical equipment such as lights and radios).
  2. Make sure your battery isn't corroded, leaking or damaged (do not attempt to jump start if any of these conditions hold true; call a professional). Keep metal objects and flammable items away from the battery, and remove all loose clothing (such as long sleeves or scarves). 
  3. Attach one of the red clips of the jump cable to the positive (+) terminal of the dead battery.
  4. Attach the other red clip to the positive terminal of the good battery.
  5. Attach one of the black clips of the jump cable to the negative (-) terminal of the dead battery.
  6. Attach the other black clip to any unpainted metal surface under the hood of the dead car; this can be as small as a bolt of bracket. Do not attach it to the negative terminal.
  7. Start the working car and let it run for 2-3 minutes to build up the dead battery.
  8. Start the dead car, which should have a working battery now.
  9. Remove the jump cables in the reverse order to the way you connected them. Make sure you do not touch them together or against any metal surfaces.

Voila, you're done! Remember: the hardest part is simply remembering which end of the cable goes where. If your car still doesn't start, you may have a more serious problem than a dead battery and should call your mechanic. 

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

How to Spray Paint Your Car

There are several reasons you might want to spray paint your car yourself, such as to save money or to achieve a personalized look. This article will provide some things you should know – both in preparation and in application – before you are ready to simply grab a can and go for it. The task will take some time, money, and devotion, but if you are prepared with the correct guidelines, your car can achieve the same perfect professional look, even if you do it yourself.

What you will need:
  • Newspaper
  • Large-grain sandpaper or sander
  • Painters tape
  • Car spray paint (using spray gun or aerosol paint)
  • Primer
  • Car wax
  • Safety goggles, dusk mask, disposable gloves, old clothing or overalls
What to do:
  1. Preparation. Warm and dry weather conditions are ideal; if this is not possible, a well-ventilated garage can suffice. Using newspapers and tape, sure the surrounding area is well-covered from any possible overspray (such as the floor).
  2. Sand the car. Use the sandpaper or sander to rub over the surface of the car, since paint won't stick to a slick, shiny surface. Finer sandpaper can be used to remove scratches or corrosion. If there are any holes, you will have to use some putty to repair the damage. Apply a rust treatment product if needed; rusted areas should be sanded down to bare metal to prevent it from spreading. Ensure that the car is fully dried and free of dust, dirt, and debris (completely wash the car if needed); any trace of water will mess up the paint later on.
  3. Primer. Apply the primer to help the paint adhere well and make sure you get an even coat. Spray in thin coats and allow some time for drying in between (about 15-minute intervals). Pay special attention to areas with  bare metal and areas near the door and door handles.
  4. Cover your car. Using painters tape and newspaper, tape off any part of your car that you do not want painted. This may include windows, chrome, bumpers, license plate, mirrors, trim, and tires. 
  5. Paint your car. Put on your safety goggles and gloves. Stand with your spray gun about 10 inches away from the car, and spray using a consistent, even motion from side to side, allowing the paint to slowly build up. Multiple light coats are better than one or two thick ones, which can look uneven, and wait about 20 minutes between each application. You should spray different parts of the car at a time – for example, finish the hood first, then the fender, then a door, et cetera.
  6. Finishing touches. You should finish off the painting with one or two clear coats not only for a glossy, finished look, but also for protection from the sun and natural elements (make sure the car is completely dry between coats). As a final touch, you may want to apply a layer of car wax.
Final tips: Take your time and do not rush or take shortcuts during any part of the process, or you may make a mess. When it comes to spray painting, it is wise to practice on a piece of cardboard or sheet metal first. Remember to use good-quality equipment and products, as well as proper safety equipment.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

How to Prevent Rust Damage

Not only is rust unsightly, unsafe, and undesirable, but it also drastically depreciates your car's resale value. Once it begins to form, it continues to spread and is difficult to remove and repair. Therefore, it is important to know how to prevent it from happening, as well as identify the problem and repair your car when it does.

Rust is iron oxide, the product of corrosion, and consists of natural elements such as salt, water, and heat. Rust usually begins through the chips and nicks that tend to appear in unnoticeable locations on your car from daily driving. Salt (usually from the road during winter months) absorbs water and carries it through these small cracks and abrasions into the metal. With sufficient amount of heat, oxidation causes water to react with metal, producing rust and forming rust holes that eats through metal. The parts of your car that are most susceptible are the wheel wells, fenders, engine, exhaust, and trunk.

The best way to maintain a rust-free car is, of course, stopping rust before it can start. Here are some tips to prevent rust on your car:
  • Cover your car with a plastic covering when not in use, and try to drive further away from other cars to avoid the pebbles that kick up.
  • Wash your car approximately every two to three weeks, or once a week if there is a lot of salt on the roads or if you live near the ocean. Pay special attention to the wheel wells and the underside of your car.
  • Wax your car every four months
  • Keep the interior (especially the rug and upholstery) clean from spills that can start rust from the inside.
  • If you chip the paint of your car and bare metal is exposed, clean promptly and apply touch-up paint.
  • Always protect and keep the metal surface dry if possible.
  • If you are spraying your car with a flammable substance, make sure your engine is cold and give the car some time to dry before turning it on again.
  • If your car is seriously at risk for rust (i.e. very old or regularly exposed to salt), you may consider cleaning and spraying with an appropriate rust-preventing lubricant or repainting.
  • Examine your car frequently for rust. It will show directly on metal surfaces, and will show a small bubble or blister on the painted areas.
Picture courtesy: http://t2.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcR-pvLIWbkkUc_jBFRFDhkjdav0eIoIs9fkw-6GVIfhHEcqwD7GXA

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

How to Test Drive a New Car

With so many options for car shopping online and so many good deals, it is tempting to simply walk into the dealership and purchase your dream car on the spot. However, buying a car without test driving  it first is like marrying someone without even a first date; no matter how good a car looks and how great of a deal it is and how well received it is by critics, there are still crucial flaws – mechanical, personal, or otherwise – that can be found during the test drive.

Step 1: Do your homework
  • You should do your research and know exactly what models you are potentially interested in before stepping into the dealership; do not let the salesperson talk you into getting a car that is not right for you. Consider what your needs are, what qualities or features you're looking for, and what your price range is. Make a descending list of your "must-haves" and your "preferred/optionals."
Step 2: Get acquainted
  • Bring both your driver's license and insurance with you to the dealership, since they will want to make copies. Be sure to get both back before you leave for the test drive.
  • Bring a friend, family member, or significant other with you for an outside opinion. If the new car is to be a family car, be sure to bring your family as well, so you know how the new car would function with kids in the backseat.
  • Drive your potential candidates back-to-back so you can accurately compare them. 
  • Some tips to determine fit:
    • Comfortable seats?
    • Enough head, hip leg room, both in the front and back seats?
    • Easy entry and exit?
    • Fit, finish, and general build quality?
Step 3: Take it for a spin
  • Take your time. Allow at least half an hour and drive on all kinds of roads, ideally not just the salesperson's predetermined route. Your test drive should match your driving requirements: will you be driving on hills, highways, locally, et cetera?
  • Turn off the stereo so you can pay attention to the sound of the engine and the driving experience.
  • What to look for:
    • The engine should be cold before you start. If it is hot, there may be a starting problem. When driving, it should be quiet and pull smoothly, with no smoke. Listen for unusual noises, especially from the suspension, or excessive wind noise.
    • Steering should be responsive with no vibration, and brakes should be smooth.
    • How is the acceleration and passing acceleration (pay attention to downshifting).
    • Is it capable of climbing hills with relative ease?
    • When cornering, does it hug the road or wallow about?
    • How is the visibility (using the rear and side view mirrors)?
    • Are the controls and instruments easy to reach/use?
    • How is parking - is it easy to parallel park, are there big blind spots, is it easy to maneuver?
Always take the time to reflect on the vehicles and determine which suits you best. Put yourself in control of the test drive. While this level of preparation may not guarantee your absolute perfect car, it is due diligence for a major purchase and one you will certainly not regret.

Picture courtesy: http://www.theautochannel.com/news/2011/07/08/539880-so-cal-ride-and-drive-new-car-show-test-drive.2-lg.jpg

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Using Your Emergency Brakes

When To Use Them
Using the emergency brake outside of a complete brake failure is not recommended. Doing so can damage your emergency brake, rendering it useless in times of a true emergency. Likewise, driving your vehicle with the parking brake engaged can also cause numerous damages to the emergency brake cable, service brake, brake shoes, and even rotors.
For most manual transmission drivers, the parking brake is used persistently. Automatic transmission owners, however, are not always as consistent with their usage of the emergency brake. It is recommended to practice using the emergency brake as a parking brake as often as possible. Whether parking on a flat surface or on a hill, the parking brake should be engaged. But why?

Not Using Your E-Break Can Cause Them To Fail
As odd as this may sound, it is also simple to understand. Although the emergency brake cable is housed in a protected sleeve, infrequent use can result in a build-up of corrosion. As a result, the cable becomes weak over time. As the cable becomes weaker, it is more prone to breaking when put under the stress of a real emergency situation. Normal use prevents this build-up and keeps the cable in good condition.

How To Use Them
If you are ever in the situation where your hydraulic brakes fail and you must use the emergency brake, be sure to use it properly. If the brake is pulled too quickly, it will cause the brakes to lock up quickly and the car will fishtail or skid, thus removing your removing your control over the vehicle. If you do have to use the emergency brake, be sure to pull it up slowly and steadily. This will bring the car to a safe and controlled stop.
Remember to use safe roadside practices in the event of a roadside emergency. Occasional check-ups on your car's emergency brake can help prevent or notify you of any wear and tear it might have.

Picture courtesy: http://image.motortrend.com/f/34229022+w786+ar1/2010-nissan-sentra-SE-R-emergency-brake.jpg