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.
A car accident is scary enough to deal with, without having complications in the aftermath. The tips in this article should help you handle things calmly and smoothly.
According to the insurance industry, the average motorist will file a claim for some type of auto collision accident once every 17.9 years. That seems like a good amount of time in between accidents. However, most of those first accidents happen between the ages of 16 and 35. Hopefully, the next accident you get into won’t be too severe. Here are three tips for handling the aftermath of a car accident.
Get Your Car Repaired
You’ll need to get your car repaired. First, check in with your insurance company. If they don’t deem your car to be “totaled,” then your collision coverage should cover the repairs. Most mechanics work with insurance companies and get paid directly by them. It might come as no surprise that the mechanic’s estimate for the repairs will be the exact amount that the insurance company is willing to pay. If the car is totaled, then you might be paid off with the current value. The smart move would be to take that check and apply it as a down payment for a new car.
Decide If an Attorney Is Needed
The first priority after any accident is to make sure all involved are okay. You might feel fine in the immediate aftermath. However, the pain of an injury could show up a few days later. That is when you want to seek immediate medical attention. From that moment forward, you need to document and keep all records pertaining to your injuries. Also keep a record of any lost wages for your injury and any future medical expenses. You will need this information to determine if you are injured enough for a settlement, which will help you decide if you need an attorney on your side.
Follow Your Doctor’s Orders
You should follow your doctor’s orders for your recovery. This is especially vital if you enter into a lawsuit claim. The insurance company involved will be paying close attention to your recovery and assessing the extent of your injuries. If the doctor prescribes ten physical therapy sessions, then you need to go to all ten even if you start feeling fine after the third session. You would also be advised to stay off social media for the duration of your lawsuit. There are many ways your postings can hurt your case.
A car accident is scary enough to deal with, without having complications in the aftermath. Following these tips should help you handle things calmly and smoothly.
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5 tips when buying a car for a teen
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.
(BPT) - New to ridesharing? So are most people, both drivers and passengers alike. Ridesharing matches you with a nearby driver who will pick you up and take you where you need to go. Calling a ride is as easy as opening up a ridesharing app and tapping a button; a driver will then arrive within minutes. By using a ridesharing service, you can help your community by reducing traffic, connecting with your neighbors, and keeping your local economy strong.
One major player is Lyft, the fastest-growing on-demand transportation service in the U.S., covering 94 percent of the U.S. population. Once you have the app downloaded, all you need to do is enter a prepayment method, designate your pickup and dropoff location, and you’re set! In just a few minutes your driver will be at your location ready to go. The app allows you to track the location of your driver so you will always know exactly when to be ready, and if you can’t find your driver you can easily send them a text or give them a call.
1. Riding shotgun -- Front seat or backseat? That is entirely up to you! Looking to be social and connect with your driver a little more? The front seat is the place for you. If you prefer a little more solitude, then the backseat might be best. There isn’t a wrong answer — just go with whatever feels right. Here is an easy conversation starter: Drivers often make excellent recommendations if you’re visiting a new city. As a local, they know the hot spots best.
2. Feeling TIPsy? — After a night of socializing, you should rely on ridesharing to get you home safely. And if your driver provided stellar service, got you to your destination in record time or had a sick ride, you might want to tip them for their hard work. Tipping is always optional but always appreciated.
3. Safety first -- Is ridesharing safe? Yes! Ridesharing is a safe and reliable way to get from point A to B with a little help from someone in your community. In fact, 87 percent of Lyft drivers have given a ride to a neighbor. Good thing that companies across the industry are dedicated to safety. For instance, Lyft ensures that every driver is screened before they’re permitted to drive on their platform, starting with professional third-party background and DMV checks. In addition to the background check, Lyft has a dedicated Trust and Safety team on call 24/7.
4. Ride your way — You have another wedding next weekend and you want to arrive in style, but you also want to save a little money on the ride home. Are there options in ridesharing that cover both types of service? Yes! Across the ridesharing industry there are a wide range of options to suit a wide range of needs. If you're looking to save some money, try sharing your ride with someone else. If you have a special date or an important meeting, you can splurge for a luxury black car.
5. Best of both worlds — If you happen to have a qualifying four-door car, you are totally able to use your free time and spare seats to make some extra cash. Driving on a platform like Lyft is great because you can seamlessly switch between rider and driver. Going to that hip area of town that never has parking? Call a ridesharing service! Have a few hours to spare because your mom’s flight is delayed? Open the driver app and make the most of that time.
Tire tips for those in the fast lane
(BPT) - The weather's finally warming up, the roads are dry and your sports car is beckoning you to hit the road for a fun trip. The question is: Are your tires up to the task?
"Tires influence braking, steering, comfort, handling and even fuel efficiency," says Bob Abram, consumer tires product planning manager for Yokohama Tire Corporation, manufacturer of a variety of tires for passenger cars, SUVs, buses, trucks and yes, race cars, too. "Whether you drive a sports car, minivan or high-end luxury vehicle, it's important you have the right tires because choosing the wrong ones can result in a disappointment with the handling, ride and treadwear."
When it comes to fast and fun vehicles, Abram said ultra-high-performance (UHP) tires might be the best bet, depending on driving styles and vehicle performance. Finding the best one could be daunting, so he has some quick tips to get you rolling.
1. Take extra time to research.
When conducting online research, make sure the reviews (and reviewers) are using the vehicle the way you do. If you need to drive in snow, but the reviews don't mention winter driving, then that tire might not work best for you. In short, don't look for the top-rated tires in regards to just "performance"; make sure to add in how and where you drive.
2. Look for a mileage warranty.
The best UHP all-season (A/S) tires now have a mileage warranty to give you peace of mind about a balance of performance and tread life. For example, the ADVAN Sport A/S has a 50,000-mile limited treadwear warranty for W- and Y-speed models.
3. Look for balanced performance.
Most drivers will be happier with a tire that handles well in all seasons, but also offers a smooth, comfortable ride and good treadwear. Usually the best UHP all-season tires do many things well, not just one or two. This is where your research will really pay off.
Abram says to check sites like www.tirerack.com, www.discounttire.com and tire company websites like www.yokohamatire.com for more help.
Once you decide on the right UHP tires for your vehicle, Abram says, maintaining them is essential to get their full benefits. "It always starts with checking your tire pressure regularly, which is at least once a month. It only takes 5 minutes and can really help, because a tire that is underinflated by only 8 psi can reduce fuel economy up to 2 percent. This will affect your drive and the vehicle's fuel efficiency, so keeping them properly inflated will give you a better ride and save you some money."
The Rubber Manufacturers Association (RMA) recommends checking the tires when they are cold - at least four hours since the vehicle was last driven. Abram says to always use an accurate tire gauge and make sure the valve is free of debris and water.
"The correct tire pressure is specified by the manufacturer of the vehicle, not the tire manufacturer," Abram says. "The proper inflation levels can be found on a placard on the inside of the car door and/or in the owner's manual."
Abram offers more tire tips that will help you throughout the year:
* Check your tread depth by placing a penny upside down into a tread groove. If you can see all of Lincoln's head, your tire's tread has worn down to the legal limit and you need to buy new tires.
* Tires must be replaced when the tread is worn down to 2/32 of an inch (the lowest legal limit). It's best to replace them before they reach 2/32 depending on your drive (geographically and based on the type of streets).
* Rotating your tires regularly promotes even wear of the tread. Tires should be rotated every 5,000 to 8,000 miles.
* Check your alignment at least once a year or sooner, especially if the vehicle is pulling to one side. This will help avoid uneven wear on tire tread. Tire balance should also be monitored.
For more tire care and safety tips, visit www.yokohamatire.com/tires-101 or www.rma.org.
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