Things To Consider When Shopping For A New Car

Kia

My wife and I both commute about 50 miles each day round trip, in opposite directions. We own two SUVs, but found ourselves spending so much money on gas and repairs each month, it only made sense to find a vehicle that was better on gas and newer than ten years old.

I couldn’t help but think, “What is it that we’re trying to accomplish and what do we own?” These are the questions to ask yourself. After all, buying a new vehicle is a huge investment, but do it right and the process will be a lot easier.

When you’re shopping for a new vehicle, keep in mind what your needs are and what it is you’re trying to accomplish.

Before the hunt, ask yourself:

What’s your current situation?

We own a two SUVS. They’re both very good in inclement weather. They just tend to gobble up parts once in a while, and use a ton of gas. We had to have a vehicle that was low-cost and four-wheel-drive because we had to sell one of the SUVs that we own, or at least, so we thought.

How much space do you need?

Do you have kids? Do they typically like to bring a friend along on a family excursion? And could this new vehicle safely accommodate an extra person in the back? Do you have a family of four or greater, or is there room in the cargo area to fit groceries? I did find limited space to be an issue while looking at some of the crossovers or compact SUVs on the market.

What features are you looking for?

Are you looking for a new vehicle that’s better on gas? Or maybe a vehicle that has all-wheel drive (AWD) or four-wheel drive (4WD) to get you through your winter commutes? Here in New England, the winter months can get downright treacherous while commuting during snow storms and blizzards. Those were the features we were looking for, but your needs may be different. Keeping those needs in mind will help narrow down your search.

How are the reviews?

What type of a warranty does the new vehicle come with? What are the crash test ratings and customer reviews of that vehicle? Magazine reviews are great for going in depth, but customer reviews can tell you a lot about what a car is like to live with, day to day.

Does it make sense financially?

What is the typical cost to buy? If the model has been around for a couple years, you can look for cost of ownership and cost of repairs, too.

After some major sticker shock, I realized with one SUV that’s seventeen years old, and another that’s ten years old, at this point in the game, it doesn’t cost much to register them every year and keep them on the road. And with trade in values being what they are, I decided to keep the two SUVs. It never hurts to have an extra vehicle on-hand. In case one of them breaks down, you now have a backup vehicle to commute to work in while making repairs on the vehicle that’s down for the moment.

So instead of a new SUV, we decided to look for a new economy car to commute in that is awesome on gas, but it had to have a killer warranty (since the SUVs already tended to ask for a their share of wrenching time) and, more importantly, it had to be low cost!

Shop Smart

Armed with dealer invoice figures (I used the TruCar app on my iPhone), along with some automotive review and crash test rating knowledge, I was ready to hit the new car lots.

If you’re shopping for an economy car that has great gas mileage, you don’t have to spend a ton of money. While weighing the options, I quickly noticed that you can find economy cars starting at around $12,000 dollars that have fuel economy ratings of over 30 city and 40 highway miles per gallon.

Technology has come such a long way over the years that some of the new fuel economy ratings on gas engines are where the hybrid vehicles used to be at.  That’s enough to make anyone smile.

After shopping around and making some tough decisions I ended up purchasing a new 2014 Kia Rio, which gets around 27 city and 37 highway for gas mileage and also comes with all kinds of fun gadgets that make the ride to work a little more enjoyable. This allowed me to cycle-in a new vehicle, while still keeping costs low.

 

 

 

Top 10 Tips and Tricks For Winter Wrenching

 

Being a gearhead in a cold and wintery environment is the absolute worst!  Without some kind of heat source in your garage, you won’t even know that half of your knuckles are missing. You say you don’t have a garage at all? I know that lifestyle all too well. In that case, you might as well forget that the outdoors even exists until March 11th. That’s when the 2018 daylight savings finally rescues us from never ending darkness and unproductive evenings.  Now, I’m not trying to be Debbie Downer here. I’m just writing what every single sub-30-degree-living car enthusiast is thinking. Being a Massachu…setts…ite(?) and hardcore wrench spinner for my entire life, I’ve learned a few things that may (or may not) help you survive another depressing winter.

Here is my top 10 list of things that all gearheads need to survive winter:

Carhartt Jacket:

I don’t know how people survived before these existed. I prefer the heaviest one that they make, with the hood, and all black in color. That way you can go straight from the junkyard to the class reunion and nobody will have a clue (other than the smell) that you’re covered in oil stains and gasoline. Most importantly though, these jackets keep the wind and cold out. In late January, when everybody else around me is crying about the cold temperatures, my jacket allows me to feel like I am on a beautiful Caribbean island.

Carhartt Overalls:

No, I am not getting paid to brag about this stuff, I promise you. Same deal as above, but I do recommend trying these on in a local store before buying them. You want a size that will slide over your jeans easily, and not bunch up, and not show off your ankles to old man winter.  Obviously, I also prefer a dark color for its filth-hiding properties. Combined with the jacket, these basically make you unstoppable in a winter environment.

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11 Common Jeep Problems & Complaints You Need to Know

Exasperated owners may say “it’s a Jeep thing,” but the truth is, every car or truck you can think of has its own unique quirks and issues and Jeeps are no exception.  That being said, Jeepers are known to run into certain problems time and again. In fact, the Cherokee and Grand Cherokee have been singled out by Consumer Reports as the least reliable vehicles in their respective classes, and the Renegade made their top 10 Least Reliable Cars list.

Of course, I don’t want to discourage anyone from driving a Jeep. When you want a Jeep, there really is no substitute. But knowing what pitfalls might lie ahead can help you be ready to deal with problems as they arise. So, to help you out, here are some common issues that affect Jeeps and some tips on how to fix or even prevent them.

1. The Death Wobble

Death Wobble is probably the most infamous problem in the Jeep community. At high speeds, especially after hitting a bump, the steering wheel may start the shake and vibrate violently, to the point that some drivers report that the Jeep becomes hard to handle. Usually, if you slow down or stop, the wobble will go away. Despite the scary name, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), reports that there have been no fatal accidents associated with the condition. You can see a close up example of what death wobble looks like, in this video:

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Formidable Car Collections & Their Famous Owners

Car collections. When you’re rich, bringing all the toy cars you had as a kid to life is an actual possibility. Who wouldn’t take their Testarossa out to lunch and then switch over to the 442 for groceries just because they can?

These celebrities have made that dream a reality. Some of them you may know, others you may have forgotten about, but their collections are cool, big, and treasured by their owners.

Jay Leno

The most obvious on the list, Leno’s garage holds cars and bikes alike, and his collection is so big he stores it in a hanger known as his “Big Dog Garage.” He even has his own show, Jay Leno’s Garage, on CNBC where he gets to show them off, review others, and have guests show theirs.

His collection include a 1963 Jaguar E-Type Coupe, 1955 Mercedes 300 SL Coupe, 1994 McLaren F1, 1955 Buick Roadster, 1986 Lamborghini Countach, and a steam-driven 1906 Stanley Steamer.

Also, he got to drive Batman’s Tumbler.

Ralph Lauren

This fashion mogul also has a strong passion for vintage cars and their designs. And can you blame him? Lauren’s cars have the beautiful, classic and curvy look absent from most cars today, and he’s featured them beside the runway in a recent fashion show and has exhibited parts of his collection in museums throughout the years.

Lauren prefers European cars, as seen in his D.A.D. Garage. Some of the rarer models he has includes a 1937 Bugatti Type 57SC Atlantic Coupe, a 1950 Jaguar XK120, and a 1965 Aston Martin DB5 Volante Drophead Coupe.

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Complete Guide for Buying Tow Mirrors

tow mirror attached to pickup sunny day

 

Towing mirrors give such an extended rearward view, they’re essential for any towing job.

But there’s no one-size-fits-all. How do you know what’s right for your truck?

Deciding which options are most compatible with your vehicle can make the upgrade go a lot smoother. Let’s review what’s available.

Snap-On, Suction, and Clip-On Tow Mirrors

If you don’t want to remove the side view mirrors, there’s a few ways you can transform them into a towing aide. These extensions will take minutes to install, no tools needed.

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Complete Guide for Buying Shocks & Struts

DIY auto repair - man changing his shocks & struts

When your shocks or struts wear out, you’ll notice a difference in ride quality. You’ll feel the bounce as you drive down the street, and you may lose some control of the steering. Without shocks and struts, your wheels would bounce freely as they make contact with the road, springing the body of your car up and down like a bouncy house on wheels. While this sounds fun, it is dangerous. It’s important to replace worn shocks and struts before the driving worsens and becomes unsafe.

So where do you start? There are so many different options to choose from it can get confusing out there. This is a guide to help you make sense of the different kinds available so that finding the right one for your vehicle can be easier and a little stress free. But first, in case you didn’t know, it’s important to understand the difference between a shock and a strut.

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Did a Tax on Chicken Change the Pickup Truck Industry?

Subaru Brat in a Brook with a Bridge Featured in Background
Subaru Brat Created as an Attempt to Circumvent the “Chicken Tax”

 

It sure did. A German tax on imported chicken from the 1960s is still affecting where and how trucks are built and what trucks are available in the US – even though the original German tax has expired! International trade is complex and the results can be strange. Cheap chicken in the ‘60s is the reason you can’t get a Ford Ranger in the US today.

Why was there a Tax on Chicken in the ’60s?

Following World War II, US chicken farms became extremely productive, bringing down the price of chicken not only in the US, but in Europe. Cheap imported chicken led West Germans to eat 23% more chicken than before. That was great news for German chicken eaters and American chicken farmers, but bad news for German chicken farmers, who couldn’t produce chicken cheap enough to compete. In 1961, to keep German chicken farmers from going out of business, Germany imposed a tax on imported chicken. France, in a similar situation, followed suit.

The tariff became a point of contention between the US and Germany. German Prime Minister Konrad Adenauer later reported that most of his conversations with President Kennedy were about chicken.

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