If you are one of the millions of Americans looking to buy a car, here are the five things you need to know before you step foot on a dealer’s lot.
(BPT) - Car buying - It's crucial to know how to navigate what can be an overwhelming and exhausting process.
“USAA helps members find, finance and insure vehicles that are right for their personal needs and financial goals,” says Heather Pollard, vice president of Auto Experience at USAA. “We want to avoid you ever having to regret your purchase decision, or worse, lead to financial hardships where you can no longer afford to keep your vehicle.”
If you are one of the millions of Americans looking to buy a car, here are the five things you need to know before you step foot on a dealer’s lot.
Know what you can afford.
The first and most important question to answer before launching into the car-buying process is “how much can I afford?” Figuring this out will help you determine whether you are in the market for a new or used vehicle. A good starting point is to use 15-18 percent of your take-home pay as a gauge for your total vehicle budget including the loan, insurance, gas and maintenance.
Next decision, how will you pay for it? There are numerous ways to manage the financial burden for purchasing a new car, including taking out a loan. If you have decided to go the loan route, determine how much you can afford in monthly payments. Banks or another financial institution might offer lower interest rates than a car dealer. Aim to pay off the loan within three to five years.
“Get pre-approved for an auto loan amount and interest rate so you know where you stand before you begin shopping,” says Renée Horne, vice president of Consumer Lending at USAA Bank. “Look for low loan rates and flexible terms to fit your budget needs versus being steered by dealers into a decision solely based on monthly payment, which often results in paying more in interest for the overall loan term.”
Another idea is to sell or trade in your new graduate’s current vehicle. If you plan to do this, factor in the cash value of that car and then add your planned down payment, typically 15-20 percent. You can use online tools such as USAA’s Auto Loan Calculator to get an estimate of what the end price tag will be.
Determine the total cost of ownership.
It is important to understand the total cost of ownership before surprising your graduate with the car of their dreams. Everything from gas to auto insurance will be an extra expense added on to the monthly cost for a new or used car and something everyone in the family needs to consider.
When receiving an auto insurance quote, note that collision and comprehensive coverage generally cost less for used cars. If purchasing an older car, consider getting pricing for Extended Vehicle Protection coverage before you go to the dealer.
Keep an open mind.
Once you have established what you can afford and the total cost of ownership, it is time to discover what features and styles you or your teen want in a car. Prioritize a list of the features you would like to see. For the teen in your life, safety is usually at the top. Next, assess how much they will be using this car and what for. Are they commuting to school or a job? Remember to keep an open mind and be flexible — stay open to two or three models that would meet your teen driver’s needs and your or their budget.
Do your research.
Everyone can agree that dealerships can be overwhelming and intimidating. Research your market first. Try the USAA Car Buying Service to see what’s out there and find vehicles that come with exclusive member discounts.
If you are looking into the used car market, always run a background check. You can get a vehicle history report from Carfax, which can help verify ownership history, mileage and accident history. Also, make sure the used vehicle has never been salvaged by entering the vehicle identification number into the National Insurance Crime Bureau’s system.
Go for a test drive.
After picking out a few of your top favorites, it is time to see how the car operates on the real road. Hit the highway to properly gauge a car’s performance, and inspect the car for mileage, tread, etc. If possible, run the car by a trusted mechanic for an under-the-hood inspection to forecast longevity and maintenance needs. Remember, factory warranties usually transfer depending on the mileage.
You can celebrate springtime by spending some time enjoying the fresh outdoor air and showing your car some love ahead of upcoming family vacations and summer road trips with friends. Start with these smart and simple tips to improve your ride.
(BPT) - The colder weather is fleeting, flowers are blossoming and the grass is just a little greener, which means spring is finally here. While most of your time will be spent preparing your home, clothes and family calendars for the warmer weather, it’s important not to forget about your car.
In fact, you can celebrate springtime by spending some time enjoying the fresh outdoor air and showing your car some love ahead of upcoming family vacations and summer road trips with friends. Start with these smart and simple tips to improve your ride:
Freshen up the interior
Interior and exterior cleaning makes a big difference in keeping a car looking and driving its best, but that doesn’t solve odor issues. To finalize spring car prep and maintenance, make sure to use a product that will leave the car smelling as good as it looks. Innovative and discrete vent sticks and mini diffusers from Refresh Your Car! come in a wide variety of scents, like Lemon Lime Sunshine, and are an affordable, long-lasting way to keep a car smelling great!
Clean and protect your interior
The interior, especially leather, is the most used and abused part of a car. Over time, constant use and sun damage can result in you leather interior drying out, causing it to fade, crack and rip. A quick and trusted way to address this issue is to use Lexol Leather Cleaner & Conditioner. The easy two-step process will help clean, restore and protect a car’s interior, keeping it looking and feeling like new.
Check your battery
The colder the weather, the harder a battery and charging system need to work in a car. Start by making sure the battery is mounted correctly and the connections are free from corrosion. Also, consider replacing the battery if it’s older than five years, which will ensure you don’t get stranded out on the road.
Check and replace basic car items
Before heading out on any lengthy adventures, make sure the car is up-to-date on oil changes. During the oil change a technician should also check and replenish other fluids like the brake, transmission, windshield wiper and power steering fluids, as well as your coolant. This often forgotten about maintenance will help a car run smoothly for months to come.
Wash and wax
No matter the season, a car that is driven daily is constantly battling the elements, which can cause damage to its exterior. Washing regularly and waxing at least twice a year is an easy way to keep a car looking its best, protecting it from damaging UV rays, road debris, tree sap and rusting. When washing and protecting, don’t forget about tires and wheels. The Eagle One A2Z All Wheel & Tire Cleaner is an affordable, easy-to-use spray that clings to the dirt on the surface of most wheels and tires, easily removing brake dust, grime and grease; giving your wheels and tires a spotless, professional look.
These simple tips can keep a car clean, fresh and running smoothly throughout the hectic summer driving season.
Summer is a time for sunshine and road trips. No matter the length of the trip, you’ll want your car safe and functional, especially with your family and friends in the passenger seats. No matter if you’re worried about safety or showing off your ride in style, there are specific steps you can take to prep your car for warmer temperatures.
Prepare Your Car for Summer
(Family Features) Summer is a time for sunshine and road trips. No matter the length of the trip, you’ll want your car safe and functional, especially with your family and friends in the passenger seats.
With summer weather approaching, it can be a great time to inspect your vehicle and make sure everything is up to par. No matter if you’re worried about safety or showing off your ride in style, there are specific steps you can take to prep your car for warmer temperatures:
Inspect your brakes and tires
Check your oil level
Wash your ride
Check your fluids
Test the air conditioning
Add safety essentials
Install new windshield wipers
Look at the coolant
For more tips to prepare for summer fun, visit eLivingToday.com.
5 Tips for Summer Road Trips
For many people, summer means setting out on a road trip in search of bucket-list-worthy excitement or a relaxing vacation.
Whether you’re going down the road to visit family or across the country to see a national monument, it is important to prepare your vehicle – and its tires – before you pull out of the driveway.
These five safety tips can help get your family ready to hit the road this summer:
1. Check Your Tread – A tire’s tread depth can determine a vehicle’s safe stopping distance. You can check your tread depth by sticking a penny upside-down in a tread groove. If you can see President Lincoln’s head, it’s time to replace your tires.
2. Ensure Proper Tire Pressure – Low tire pressure can lead to poor handling and gas mileage, excessive wear and overloading. Drivers should check their tire pressure at least once a month, and especially before any long trip. Use a dependable air gauge or stop by an automotive store like Discount Tire or America’s Tire to take advantage of complimentary air checks.
3. Rotate Often – Tires should be rotated at least every 6,000 miles or earlier if irregular or uneven wear develops.
5. Don’t Overload – The combination of heat and overloading a vehicle, which can be common during summer travel, is one of the most dangerous conditions for a vehicle’s tires as overloaded tires can overheat and possibly fail.
When it comes to summer driving safety, it can be imperative to check your tires early and often. Knowing the condition of your tires can keep your family safe and your vehicle in quality condition.
To learn more about tire safety before a summer road trip, or to schedule an appointment for a tire safety check, visit tires.com.
Photos courtesy of Getty ImagesSOURCE:
(BPT) - As you drive down the street, the threat of potential distractions is everywhere. Federal research shows that distracted driving is a factor in one out of every six crashes, and accounts for 5,000 automobile crash-related fatalities each year.
While teens are commonly associated with distracted-driving issues — particularly texting — the issue affects drivers of all ages. To help reduce distracted driving crash-related injuries, and loss of life, the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons and the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers (Auto Alliance) offer these tips to help drivers keep their eyes on the road and hands on the wheel.
* Gear up before you go out. Whether it’s your sunglasses, your Bluetooth(R) earpiece or your favorite hat, putting accessories on before starting your car allows you to keep your hands on the wheel, and not your wardrobe while driving.
* Stop for a bite. A quick bite for lunch should be enjoyed in a restaurant, or your non-moving vehicle, instead of on the go while you're driving. This allows you to take a break, enjoy your food and not worry about spilling beverages on yourself.
* Don’t be afraid to pull over. If another matter begs your attention — such as settling a disagreement between your children — pull the car over to handle the situation properly rather than trying to attend to it while you are driving.
* Have a plan in place. Sometimes this is easier said than done. However, if you are traveling somewhere for the first time, you should understand your route before starting the drive. Program your GPS, or share printed directions with your navigator before you depart.
* Call them back. Cell phone usage is one of the leading causes of distracted driving-related crashes and not all of them are related solely to texting. If your phone rings while you’re in the car and you do not have a hands-free headset already on, let the caller go to voicemail. You can always call them back when you arrive at your destination or your next stop.
* If you don’t need it, store it. Sporting equipment, kids' toys or groceries, your car is the transport home for many things and sometimes those items can jostle back and forth while you're driving — particularly on those sharp turns. And when things start moving, your natural reaction is to take your eyes off the road and reach for them. Instead, secure items in the trunk or in another storage compartment before the drive.
Keeping your eyes on the road and your hands on the wheel is one of the most important things you do every single day you choose to drive so be sure to apply the tips above and make driving your No. 1 priority. Your loved ones and those you share the road with will thank you for it. For even more helpful tips and strategies to minimize driving distractions, visit www.decidetodrive.org.
(BPT) - The next time you find yourself pumping gas, don't be surprised if Miles offers to keep you company. He's not an attendant and he isn't a friendly good Samaritan.
Miles is the name given to the first ever BP Personality Pump, an interactive smart pump that will first start appearing at BP stations this year. Miles uses proprietary technology allowing him to "speak" with consumers as they are filling their tanks. Miles receives responses in real-time through a touchscreen tablet allowing consumers to interact with him via an array of entertainment options.
"We know that most people don't enjoy pumping gas. So we asked ourselves, how can we make those moments spent at the pump more fun," said Donna Sanker, chief marketing officer of BP Fuels North America. "With the BP Personality Pump, we hope to redefine perceptions of the routine fill-up and build a meaningful relationship with our consumers, giving them a fulfilling and entertaining experience during the time they spend with us."
Miles is programmed to interact with consumers in several different ways. During their visit, consumers will have the opportunity to engage Miles by playing music trivia, selecting songs to play through Pandora or even by recording a video e-card that they can then share on their social media channels. And, upon finishing filling up their tank, consumers will also have the opportunity to send themselves a text message with the content they created during their interaction with Miles. This message will include a link to the Pandora station they chose as well as a special return offer.
The goal, according to BP, is to make the otherwise routine task of filling a gas tank more fun and memorable.
Miles will first appear in November, 2016 in the Chicago and New York Metro areas.
To showcase more of Miles' capabilities, BP has teamed up with The Onion Inc.'s creative services agency, Onion Labs, to develop a series of videos capturing customers' interactions with Miles. You can watch this video, titled Laura & Miles, to learn more about the first-ever Personality Pump. You can find more videos at www.theonion.com/special/innovation.
Interested in Publishing on The Auto Idea?
Send your query to the Publisher today!