4 things to consider when buying a vehicle
(BPT) - The pandemic changed our travel habits considerably, and forced us to reconsider how we get around safely. For example, the latest Hankook Tire Gauge Index found that three-quarters of Americans don’t feel comfortable taking public transportation because of the coronavirus pandemic, leading more people to get behind the wheel.
This increase in drivers is having an impact on our car buying decisions: Data showed that 44% of Americans have already considered a new vehicle purchase. Many are likely to be first-time car buyers, too, as over half of Gen Z and millennials are thinking about a new vehicle purchase.
In addition to the usual considerations when buying a vehicle — cost, performance, safety and reliability — the events of 2020 have raised new questions. After a year of significant change, here are four things to consider when buying a new vehicle.
Your vehicle is just as much about comfort as it is mobility
We’re spending more time in our cars, even when we’re not going places — waiting in parking lots for grocery orders, lining up at drive-thrus, or even taking a conference call when home gets a little too noisy! So a vehicle’s interior should be a nice place to spend your time.
The good news is that there are plenty of standard features and affordable options to make that possible. The Gauge Index found that Americans consider everything from Bluetooth connectivity (62%) and in-dash navigation (57%), to remote and keyless start tech (56%) as important factors when choosing their vehicles.
Self-healing tire technology was also rated as an important feature by 56% of Americans — a useful feature at any time, and crucial when one may not want to come into close contact with others for an emergency tire change!
Is it finally time to plug in?
With increased range, lower prices and expansions in charging infrastructure, electric vehicles (EVs) are increasingly becoming a choice for drivers, with 62% of Americans likely to consider an EV.
Deciding if it’s time to go electric means considering a few important factors. The first is range: What do you anticipate to be your regular mileage between charges? The average range of today’s electric vehicles should be more than enough for daily commuting, errands and even the occasional afternoon road trip.
Then, make sure you have access to charging infrastructure at home and at your frequent destinations. And calculate the true financial benefit, taking into account rebates, credits and a newfound freedom from the petrol pump.
Take time to kick the tires.
When buying a new vehicle, check the tires it comes with to ensure they’re best suited for the weather conditions where you live. This is especially important when driving regularly in inclement weather where an all-weather tire like the Hankook Kinergy 4S2 can save you money down the road. Less than half (47%) of Americans can accurately identify the difference between all-weather and all-season tires, so here’s the cheat sheet: All-weather tires manage rain and snow while also delivering year-round performance; all-season tires prioritize comfort and fuel economy over ice and snow traction.
If you’re switching to electric, your tire choice could impact your ride comfort, mileage and road noise. These are already important for a regular vehicle but for an EV, where range is key and there’s just the quiet hum of the electric motor, you’ll want to pay extra attention to these features on your tires.
Looking ahead, post-pandemic.
With a new year on the horizon and the hope of restrictions easing in 2021, it’s important to ask if your vehicle needs now will be the same in six to 12 months’ time.
That’s because a vehicle purchase isn’t just for a few months; it’s a lengthy investment that brings insurance, registration and maintenance responsibilities. If a new vehicle purchase only serves your needs now, it may be worth managing with what you have for a few more months.
The past year has been one of change and upheaval. So if that means it’s time for a new set of wheels, these questions will help you not only choose the vehicle you need, but the driving experience you want, for the years ahead.
“Should I buy or lease?” That’s a question most everyone has dealt with while searching for their perfect car. While there can be some hidden risks associated with leasing, there are also a lot of benefits depending upon your chosen lifestyle. Here are several things you should consider before making the decision to lease your new automobile.
Negotiating Your Lease Contract
Leasing a car is nothing like grocery shopping. When you go grocery shopping, there is no way you could negotiate with the cashier for a dollar off of your carton of eggs. However, when you are negotiating a lease contract, you can negotiate all you want. Here are some tips and tricks to become a pro haggler:
First, you will want to collect several different quotes for the same car ahead of time. That way, you can get a good idea of the true worth of the car, so you aren’t scammed. Second, do everything you can to bring someone you trust along with you. That way, your buddy can keep you in check in case you begin to fall for any sweet-talk. However, whenever you discuss the lease on the phone or in person, always talk negatively. Say things like, “I don’t know if we can afford it,” or “maybe we should keep looking.” That way, the sales associate will feel more obligated to haggle.
It is common wisdom that, if it seems too good to be true, it probably. You can end up being swindled into paying more than you think for your new car. Before you sign any contract, make sure that you know about all upfront fees and hidden fees throughout the term of your lease. For example, many people who lease cars fall victim to down payment fees, termination fees, and even interest and taxes.
Your insurance rates usually depend upon your driving record, but they can also change depending on your choice of leasing versus buying. Since leasing is higher risk than buying, you will most likely want to purchase gap insurance to protect you while you lease. This may increase your insurance costs by 3–10%.
Furthermore, if you are trying to decide between several different models or years, the cost of your insurance can also fluctuate even further. Make sure you research ahead of time if there would be an increase in insurance costs for your desired car or else you may get trapped into riding something past your monthly budget.
The great thing about leasing is that it can give you an opportunity to have a car that you would not normally purchase yourself. So, in a way, you get the chance to have more bang for your buck. This is because, when you lease a car, you are paying for the car’s depreciation and taxes rather than its actual cost to own. So, if you’ve been really wanting a luxury car but buying isn’t in the budget, you should consider leasing instead.
For example, there are several European car models you can choose from if you want to drive something other than what you’re used to. Yep, that could include Mercedes and Ferrari—and who wouldn’t want to ride one of those beauties for a time?
Taking Care of a Leased Car
As a general rule of thumb, take care of your leased car like you would take care of a rental car. In other words, you must remember that you are leasing your car, and that it does not actually belong to you. This means that you need to take very good care of it, especially if it is a luxury car, or else you could be hit with heavy reparation fees. Make sure that you clean the inside and outside often (that includes waxing!), and remember to check your tires and oil frequently.
While leasing may not have many adverse effects on your insurance costs, they do have the potential to drag down your credit score. When you lease out a car, you are taking out an installment loan. Fortunately, installment loans are treated differently than credit card debt; therefore, your credit card company will not see your car lease as adversely as credit card debt.
However, if you skip payments on your lease, your credit score will decline. So, make sure you keep this in mind as you go through the leasing process. You will want to ensure that you have the funds to pay your lease or else there will be consequences.
Want to Leave?
Unfortunately, ending your lease contract early is not an easy process. If it was easy, then your car lender would run the risk of people coming in to borrow a car for special occasions rather than for long term—which doesn’t make them any money. So, while it is a sticky business for the lessee to turn in their car before the end of their contract, it makes sense. Basically, if you decide to end your contract early, you will most likely have to negotiate a buyout price and your credit will probably take a hit. That is definitely something to remember before deciding to lease.
Benefits to Leasing
While there are always additional risks and costs to leasing, there are also a lot of benefits. Depending on your chosen lifestyle, leasing might just be the right idea for you. Those who tend to benefit most from leasing are usually those who enjoy trying out new vehicles or get bored of riding the same ride every year. If this sounds like you, then the monthly lease and extra fees may be worth a nicer car and greater flexibility.
Do Your Research
In the end, the best thing you can do before leasing a car is to do your research ahead of time. Nobody wants to get roped into a contract that they can’t keep. Make sure that you are aware of all the pros and cons associated with leasing. Don’t be the naïve customer who ends up losing more money than necessary.
Deciding to buy versus lease can be a tricky choice. However, if you take the time to consider all the points discussed, you will be adequately prepared to haggle like a pro, plan wisely, and make the right decision. Doing so will—hopefully—land you the car of your dreams.
Read this next: Fix It Good: Regular Vehicle Maintenance That Can Extend the Life of Your Car
Did you know that one in four Americans keep their cars for an average of seven years or more? Nearly another third (29%) say they typically own their car for three to four years. With Americans keeping their vehicles on the road for the better part of a decade, it’s important to implement consistent maintenance habits to ensure a smooth ride.
A car is often a person's second most expensive purchase, right after their home. Therefore, it only makes sense to be proactive and protect your investment. Vehicles take a lot of work to keep them running smoothly. Often these are done by professional repairmen. However, repairs can quickly accumulate and burn a hole right through your pocket. So, here is some regular vehicle maintenance that can help you extend the life of your car.
Unless you have a lemon car, maintaining your engine and fixing any needed repairs can help prevent further damage and keep your car running for years. The motor is the most expensive thing to replace and fix. Thus, it is crucial to make sure that everything is running smoothly. Don't worry; you don't have to make complicated repairs. One of the best ways to keep your engine looking and running healthy is to clean it at least once a year. Things like dirt, grime, and bugs get trapped down there throughout the year. This can lead to the engine overheating little by little until it either starts smoking or completely shuts off on you. In addition, keeping your engine clean will allow you to see any issues such as leaks or damaged parts better.
Leaks are very common and can be quickly defined by their color, texture, and location. You might be thinking that every car leak, what's the harm? Leaking of any type is something that should never be ignored. Besides the loss of fluids in your car, leaks such as oil can quickly become dangerous if flames are introduced. The most common of these leaks are oil leaks caused by a break in the gasket. This is located in the engine and can pose a dangerous risk to the longevity of your car.
Tires go through a lot of abuse. After a while, they begin to lose air and lose pressure. Although not directly tied to the car's performance, it can lead to you paying for brand new tires over and over again. Therefore, it is incredibly important to check your tire's air pressure every few months. This can be easily done at any gas station that offers air services.
Your vehicle is one of the most expensive things you'll purchase. Thus, it is important to keep it running for as long as possible. Utilize the tips listed above to prevent these common issues from arising within your own car.
Here’s another article you might like: Get Your Car Spring Ready
Caution is King When It Comes to Winter Driving
(BPT) - With the winter in full swing, ensuring your tires — the last line of defense between your vehicle and harsh conditions — are in working order may be the difference between an enjoyable or stressful travel season. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 17% of all vehicle collisions take place during winter conditions, many of which can be attributed to underinflated, over-worn or out-of-season tires.
“Being on the side of the road due to a preventable vehicle issue is both inconvenient and dangerous,” said Brandon Sturgis, product manager, BFGoodrich Tires. “Before winter arrives, make sure that your car is in its best condition to handle winter weather.”
Below are a few simple tips from BFGoodrich Tires to help ensure your vehicle and tires are better prepared for safe driving this winter.
Tire pressure will change with the weather
Many drivers neglect their tires until it’s too late and experience a tire issue, an inconvenience that only increases during the winter months. To avoid a winter accident caused by unsafe tires, drivers should proactively take measures to maintain their tires. An easy first step is to check the air pressure of all four tires at least monthly. This is especially important during the colder winter months as a drop in temperatures can cause tire pressures to decrease below a vehicle’s recommended inflation levels. To find the manufacturer’s recommended tire pressure, look at the decal in the driver’s door jamb or in the owner’s manual.
Checking your tread should be routine
Many drivers try squeezing as much life out of their tires as possible and run them even after the tread has worn below 2/32 of an inch — the minimum tread deemed safe under the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards. If this is you, be sure to stay honest about checking your tread. To do so, find a penny and insert Abraham Lincoln headfirst into the lowest tread on your tire. If any portion of Abe’s head is covered, your tread depth is sufficient. If Honest Abe is still fully visible, your tread is below 2/32 of an inch and the ability to perform in wet and winter conditions is substantially reduced.
The importance of seasonal tires
Understanding your driving environment is as important as understanding which tires best suit your circumstances. Geography is the most intuitive factor playing into one’s driving environment, but certain locations create a more nuanced experience. Do you know which tires are best for your situation?
For example, all-terrain tires such as the BFGoodrich All-Terrain T/A KO2 are suitable year-round tires designed to give you superior grip both off and on the pavement thanks to innovative tread design, tough sidewalls and long-lasting durability.
If you drive in an environment that is regularly below freezing with snow and ice, winter tires may be your best choice. For those yet to treat their vehicle to winter tires during the cold months, consider the BFGoodrich Winter T/A KSI a good starting point. Offering extreme traction in winter conditions and reassuring steering control and durability, your next set of winter tires may keep you from becoming another winter driving collision statistic.
“Tires play a key role in your winter weather mobility. Knowing what kind of tires you have on your car and knowing their condition are part of being prepared,” says Sturgis.
Parents and caregivers want to keep kids safe in the car, but keeping up with the latest recommendations can be tricky, especially as your child grows and their needs change. It's sometimes hard to know if you're doing everything you can to keep children as safe as possible. Regardless of your child's age and how often they ride with you in the car, you'll want to follow these guidelines to help you find The Right Seat.
(BPT) - Parents and caregivers want to keep kids safe in the car, but keeping up with the latest recommendations can be tricky, especially as your child grows and their needs change. It's sometimes hard to know if you're doing everything you can to keep children as safe as possible.
Regardless of your child's age and how often they ride with you in the car, you’ll want to follow these guidelines to help you find The Right Seat.
1. Under 13? Don't let them sit up front
Whatever a child’s height or weight, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) advises that children under 13 should never sit in the front seat, even for a short trip. Car safety standards and features like airbags are developed and tested for adult bodies, not the growing body of a child. Air bags can be inflated at speeds of 200-400 mph, which could seriously harm a child if deployed. Most car crashes impact the front of the car, so keeping kids in the back seat can help protect them from injury.
2. Tethers add extra protection
Most forward-facing car seats have tethers to secure them to the vehicle, in addition to using the vehicle’s seat belt or lower anchors. Tethers help keep car seats from pitching forward in a crash, reducing injury to the child’s head and neck. You can find the tether at the top of convertible, combination and all-in-one car seats. They’re adjustable straps that have a hook that connects to your vehicle’s tether anchors. Review your car seat’s instructions and vehicle’s owner manual to identify the correct tether location in your vehicle.
3. Don't move kids on too soon
The best protection for a child in a car is the car seat that’s right for their age and size. According to the most recent NHTSA data, nearly 1 in 10 children between 1 and 3 years old were moved on to booster seats too early. And roughly 1 in 5 children aged 4 to 7 were prematurely moved to just using a seat belt when they should have still been riding in booster seats. Booster seats help a child’s seat belt fit appropriately, which means crossing the center of their chest and not touching their neck.
4. Check car seat recommendations online
Tools and resources are available to help make it easier to check that your child is in the right seat for their age, height and weight. Visit NHTSA.gov/TheRightSeat to compare car seats and get helpful installation instructions.
5. Free car seat checks are available
Whether you’ve just installed a new car seat or just want a “checkup” for a seat your child’s been using for a while, you can get help at a car seat inspection station near you. Certified technicians will inspect your car seat free of charge and show you how to correctly install it and make sure your child is properly secured. Find a car seat inspection station near you at NHTSA.gov/TheRightSeat.
6. Tweens should always be buckled
According to a 2005 report by the NHTSA, most accidents in urban areas happen under 30 mph. Be consistent and stay firm if your tween or teen resists wearing seat belts. Set safe habits for life, help keep your child safe and obey the law by making sure your child is buckled up every time for every ride, no matter how few miles or how slowly you’re driving.
7. Car seats have expiration dates
Car seats expire, because technology improves and safety standards change. If you buy a used car seat or receive one as a hand-me-down, check it carefully and make sure you know the history and whether or not it has been involved in a crash. Most car seats have an expiration date stamped on the manufacturer’s label on the side or base.
Visit NHTSA.gov/TheRightSeat for more information and to search for a car seat inspection station or event near you.
(BPT) - If you were to take a quiz to test your ability to identify common emojis and road signs, how do you think you’d fare?
According to the results from a recent survey by Mercury Insurance, 1,890 respondents did not do so well. The meaning of the “yawning” emoji was correctly identified by 85% of the respondents, but only 31% of quiz-takers correctly identified the meaning of the “lane reduction” road sign. Additionally, 71% knew the “in love” emoji, but the “keep right” road sign was correctly identified by only 51% of quiz-takers.
Emojis are continually being added to our texting and messaging vocabulary, and for the most part, we’re able to keep up with this ever-changing landscape. Fortunately for the more than 200 million licensed U.S. drivers, road signs are highly regulated and consistent, and are designed to help keep drivers safe and easily guide them to their destinations. The bad news, however, is that far more people are able to identify emojis than road signs. And what’s worse is that many times they’re looking at these cute little icons while they’re driving.
“Sure, emojis are a fun, modern-day form of shorthand, and may be more intuitive, but there’s a time and place to use them, and behind the wheel of a car isn’t one of them,” said Kevin Quinn, vice president of claims and customer experience at Mercury Insurance. “A picture may be worth a thousand words in some cases, but it certainly isn’t worth getting into a collision and risking someone’s life. Most collisions are avoidable if drivers focus on their main task of safely operating a vehicle.”
Distracted driving — anything that takes a driver’s attention away from the road, including texting and talking on a phone — accounted for 3,166 fatalities in 2017, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Texting while driving is extremely dangerous, as it takes your eyes off the road for five seconds on average — whether you’re reading or sending the message.
The results of the quiz also highlight the importance of knowing what each road sign means, so you and those around you are safe. “These signs are instantly communicating to drivers what actions to take, much like emojis instantly communicate what friends or family members might be trying to convey in a text,” said Quinn. “It’s OK to only somewhat understand an emoji, but it’s imperative to know exactly what a road sign is telling you; otherwise it could lead to disastrous results on the road where no one can afford a misunderstanding. And being an attentive driver who knows the rules of the road and safely gets where they’re going might earn you a smiley face from your auto insurance company, just don’t read it while you’re operating a vehicle.”
Just as spring cleaning your house is a habit, so should a spring tune-up for your car, especially before that much-anticipated road trip. Even though more than one in three drivers (37%) say they want to stay on top of car maintenance this year, what many people don’t realize is that the snow, freezing temperatures and salt, as well as potholes that develop as the roads finally thaw, can do a number on your car. Make sure your car is in top shape for any trip with five spring cleaning tune-ups.
(BPT) - Americans are ready for spring weekend getaways and road trips. According to the latest Gauge Index survey from Hankook Tire, most of us are planning an outdoor getaway. The beach (51%) is the top vacation Americans are planning this spring, followed by a national park (39%) for the outdoorsy type and an amusement park (31%) for the thrill seekers.
Just as spring cleaning your house is a habit, so should a spring tune-up for your car, especially before that much-anticipated road trip. Even though more than one in three drivers (37%) say they want to stay on top of car maintenance this year, what many people don’t realize is that the snow, freezing temperatures and salt, as well as potholes that develop as the roads finally thaw, can do a number on your car. Make sure your car is in top shape for any trip with five spring cleaning tune-ups:
1) Check your oil
The survey found that a quarter of Americans would like to learn how to change their oil. While actually changing your oil is a bit more involved, checking oil levels before heading out is just a matter of looking under the hood. To do so, be sure the car is on level ground, let the oil settle for a few minutes, then pull out the dipstick — it usually has a yellow or red handle, but the owner’s manual will direct you where to look. Wipe the dipstick clean, then push it all the way back in, wait a second, and withdraw again. If the oil lands between the two markers, you’re ready to roll. Otherwise it’s time for an oil change.
2) Monitor your air pressure
A quick air check can be the difference between a bumpy road trip and smooth sailing. Begin by driving around for a couple of miles because tires that have been parked for a while won’t have as accurate of a pressure reading. Then remove the valve cap from the tire, place the pressure gauge on the valve stem, and press until the hiss sound disappears and the gauge offers a reading. This reading should match the recommended PSI, which you can find on the driver’s side door jamb or in the owner’s manual. If the reading indicates the tires need air, head to your local tire shop or gas station.
This is also a good time to check all four tires’ treads. Insert a penny with Lincoln’s head facing down — and if his entire head is visible, it’s time to replace your tires. For those who do need new tires, be sure to consider your driving habits and upcoming travel destinations, to ensure a flat tire doesn’t hold up any adventure. If you’re among the 44% of drivers who consider themselves adventurous like an SUV and are heading off the beaten path, consider rugged off-road tires, like the Hankook Dynapro AT2 All-Terrain Tire.
3) Replace your windshield wipers
Snow and ice can really wear down the blades on windshield wipers. Look for cracks, creases or imperfections in the blade’s rubber, or if you notice streaks or grime on your windshield when using the wipers, it’s time to replace! Make sure the washer fluid is topped off by looking at the white, translucent container with a windshield or water symbol on it. Then just remove the cap and check the fluid level in the reservoir so that you’re ready to handle any weather down the road.
4) Update your roadside assistance
Spring is a good time to make sure your roadside assistance plan is up to date — especially for the 42% of drivers behind the wheel of a vehicle six years or older. Be sure your service card is valid to give yourself peace of mind for any trip.
5) Wash your car
Snow and salt can leave a lasting impact, especially within the wheel wells of a car. Give your vehicle a thorough cleaning to prevent any rust or permanent damage. Besides, everyone wants their car to look shiny and clean in those road-trip social media posts as they head out for their spring getaways!
No matter what destination drivers are steering toward this spring, a few quick tune-ups will keep things running smoothly, all season long.
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