Top 7 Keys to Cleaning, Detailing Your Car

Popular Mechanics, a publication that knows a little something about mechines and their maintenance, has looked into how we, Joe and Jill Q Public, can clean and detail our cars like the pros do.

The magazine’s research turned up seven key steps we can all follow to keep our vehicles pretty. Talking about the importance of keeping cars shiny and clean, Mike Schultz, head of new products at Turtle Wax, said, “Think of the surface of your car as you would your face. It needs to be properly taken care of in order to have a healthy glow.”

The top seven ways to clean and detail your car are (beware, these steps do require a bit of elbow grease):

1. Use compressed air and stiff scrub brushes to clean your car’s carpets and upholstery. The air will expel the dirt and grime from your car’s nooks and crannies, while the brushes will loosen stubborn dirt.

2. Clean the ducts behind your car’s vents with compressed air to keep your car from stinking.

3. Clean your tires and wheels with non-acid-based tire cleaners before you wash and protect your car’s body. This will ensure that you remove any tire cleaner that accidently gets onto your car’s paint.

4. Wash your car by hand using a car washing solution instead of a dishwashing soap. Doing this will give you the opportunity to examine your car’s surface. After the car’s final rinse, dry it with a rubber-blade squeegee.

5. Smooth out your car’s paint by polishing either by hand or with an oscillating buffer.

6. Protect your car’s paint with a coating of wax. You need to wax your car at least once a season to protect it from stains and small scratches. You can use either liquid wax or paste wax.

7. Clean your car’s glass surfaces last of all. They will have picked up dirt and grime while you were cleaning the rest of the car. Once they are clean, buff them with a microfiber cloth.

Remember, many buy here pay here dealers require down payments.  So if you plan to sell your old vehicle in order to get cash for a down payment, then these tips could be especially helpful for making that sale.

Ford Fiesta SFE, Chevy Volt: Great Ways to Feel Good While Breaking Your Bank

Filling up hurts. Prices are at near record highs and those numbers on that dial just flip by so fast, fast, fast. It’s no wonder that fuel economy is at the forefront of the consumer’s mind as she’s walking the showroom floor.

However, according to a recent story in the New York Times, it is not wise to choose a car based solely on its fuel economy. In fact, the paper argues, doing so is a costly mistake since it takes years’ worth of not pumping gas to make up the difference between, say, a Chevrolet Cruze and a Chevy Volt. Writing about this, the paper said, “The Volt, which costs nearly $40,000 before a $7,500 federal tax credit, could take up to 27 years to pay off versus a Chevrolet Cruze, assuming it was regularly driven farther than its battery-only range allows. The payback time could drop to about eight years if gas cost $5 a gallon and the driver remained exclusively on battery power.”   

Shockingly, the Volt with its 26.6 years to break even was not the worst investment. The Ford Fiesta SFE at $16,170 would take 26.8 years to break even with the $15,557 Ford Fiesta. Though nowhere near as poor of a choice as the top two, the Honda Civic Hybrid, $23,999, takes 12.1 to break even with the (non-hybrid) Civic, $18,675, while the Ford Escape Hybrid, $30,204,requires 11.5 years to match the cost of the (non-hybrid) Escape, $23,048.

In this way, buying an affordable, fuel-efficient yet non-hybrid pre-owned vehicle from a used or buy here pay here dealer may be a better option than forking out the big bucks for the latest in hybrid/EV technology.

Car Dealers Challenged by the Internet

While there is no doubt that the Internet has benefited the average consumer. After all, it has simplified the shopping process in many ways, while at the same time arming consumers with pricing information and product reviews.

However, this same technology has made survival much tougher for a number of dealers and automakers. In fact, the ongoing shifting border between consumer education offered by sites such as TrueCar.com and the need for the car industry to make a profit has possibly lead to some honest-to-goodness conflict between TrueCar and American Honda.

TrueCar makes a profit by earning a commission from dealers for each buyer it directs to that dealer. The rumor is that Honda has threatened its dealers that if they use below-invoice price sites, such as TrueCar, they could possibly lose the marketing assistance money that the parent company normally provides to its dealerships.

Fighting this rumored battle, both TrueCar and Honda have distributed releases clarifying their relative positions while failing to name the other.  Fortunately, this should have little impact on buy here pay here dealers, as the whole issue is only relevant to the sale of new vehicles, not used ones.

Which Cars Maintain Their Value Over Time?

These days we’ve simply got to do what we can to be smart with our money. That doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t buy new vehicles, but instead it means that when we are in the market for a new or used car, we need to look for one that offers a great purchase price and also keeps its value for the long haul.

Two reports listing the brands and cars with the best resale value have just been released by Kelley Blue Book and ALG (formerly known as Automotive Lease Guide) to help prospective car buyers navigate the crowded and sometimes confusing new car market. 

Making things as simple as can be, both listings named Lexus as the luxury brand that held its value the best. The reports did not agree regarding mainstream brands with Kelley Blue Book giving this honor to Toyota and ALG to Subaru.  Still, if you are going to purchase a new vehicle via buy here pay here financing, these are two brands to seriously consider.b

Other names earning spots on the pair of lists are Audi, Jeep Wrangler, Ford F-Series Super Duty Full-sized pickups, GMC Acadia, Chevrolet Camaro V-6, Traverse full-sized SUVs and Volt.      

California Lawmakers Targeting Buy Here Pay Here Used-Car Lots

Buy Here Pay Here used-car lots may soon find themselves under new regulation in California. The proposed legislation, SB 956, aims to stop the practice of what some are calling predatory lending that occurs each time these dealers finance car purchases through the offering of payment plans.

While introducing the bill on January 9, State Senator Ted Lieu (D-Torrance) said, “What Buy Here Pay Here dealers are doing is in fact a form of lending. They’ve been able to fly under the radar and not comply with lending laws.”

Opponents to the lending that is done by these used-car salespeople say that consumers are often charged up to triple the value of cars and asked to pay interest rates that can be more than 30% per annum. If the bill passes, which is likely in California, the buy here pay here car lots in question will be forced to file annual reports to the Department of Corporations and pay annual license fees of amounts that have yet to be determined.

Remember: Lemon Laws Affect You as a Seller, Not Just a Buyer

Many people know that selling their used car can bring in more money than trading it in to one of the local buy here pay here car lots will. What they don’t know is how the lemon laws in their state can affect private sales.

Lemon laws have been enacted to protect buyers. They became necessary because of the widespread habit of selling a car that was potentially unsafe, immobile, or had issues affecting the value of the vehicle. The lemon laws vary by state. Some do not cover used vehicles and others closely define what constitutes a lemon. The best way to understand the laws in your state is to use the internet. All you need to do is type ”lemon laws (your state)” into the search bar and plenty of links will come up.
 
Even if your state does not have used car lemon laws that you must deal with, honesty is still the best policy when selling your car. Mention any problems to potential buyers. After all, the money they are spending could be all they have. Do you want to be responsible for stranding a family just to make a few extra bucks?

GM Retaining Former Pontiac Buyers


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Since the end of the Pontiac era, GM and industry experts have wondered if the company could retain former Pontiac loyalists. After all, the only place you can now get yourself a Pontiac is through a private seller, used car dealership, or via buy here pay here car financing.  Well, those worries have been unfounded so far. According to new stats released by Edmunds.com, as many as 40% of Pontiac owners are staying within the GM brand.

The numbers from Edmunds are a little lower than an earlier R.L. Polk & Company study. Still, Edmunds says GM is keeping more former Pontiac buyers than it has since 2007. A majority of these buyers are turning to Chevrolet vehicles,. There was quite a surge in January and February of 2011, when GM tossed an incentive package at Pontiac owners to encourage them to stay under the umbrella. The incentives worked, since 28.1 percent of the Pontiac owners who traded up over that period made the jump into a Chevy.

Those buyers who abandoned GM have stayed loyal to domestic automakers, with less than 17% buying a  foreign product. This is good news for an automaker needing all the help it can get. If former Pontiac buyers had jumped ship enmasse, GM may have taken much longer to emerge from government control.

Not Servicing Your Car Regularly Could Lower Its Resale Value

Times are tough and money is tight. People are looking for reasonable ways to lower their expenses. One way that some chose is to delay or skip service appointments for their car. While that may save money today, it will cost you more than it is worth in the future.

On the resale value front, a recent study by research group ICM showed that a car with a complete service history could sell for up to 26% more than one without. That could be as much as $3,000 out of your pocket when you trade in your car to a buy here pay here dealership or sell it to a private buyer.

From a repair aspect, skipping service appointments could cost you thousands of dollars while you own the car. Failing to change your oil on time could cost you an engine. Not rotating your tires can cost you as much as 15% more in fuel. A dirty air filter can rob an additional 15% of your car’s fuel efficiency. That doesn’t even take transmission issues, belts, or your battery into consideration.

Delaying or skipping service appointments for your car only make sense if you can not look past today. Your car is an investment that must be protected and regular service is that protection.

Association Wants To Preserve Historic Cars

The Historic Vehicle Association wants cars, trucks, and vehicles of all descriptions to have the same historical preservation status as homes, boats, and planes. The Association, started in 2009 by Hagerty Insurance, is lobbying for laws that protect historically significant vehicles, allowing them to stay on the road.

These are not the typically used cars that show up on Buy Here Pay Here lots.  But problems arise when the group tries to decide which vehicles are historically significant. Is a milk truck from the 30s as significant as an 1898 Sears and Roebuck two cycle or is a Marmon Meteor more important than any Nash or Hudson still running?

Another question is this: will new laws help encourage more cars to be preserved. Unless someone is going to pony up some mullah, restoring a car is an expensive hobby. Perhaps only time will tell.

You find out more at Hagerty Insurance.

Car Loans Galore Ruffles Used Car Feathers

Car Loans Galore specializes in arranging auto loans for people with poor credit. The company, in a move to help people make responsible auto buying decisions, launched a series of educational videos. That video series seems to have ruffled more than a few feathers within the used car dealer segment.

The company has received a large volume of letters requesting that they stop producing the videos. The next video is set to focus on the tricks that used car salesmen use to boost profits. ”We did not enter into this endeavor to slander or demean an entire industry segment, what we are aiming for is the proper education of the consumer. We don’t just stick to instructions and warnings on buying a used car; we cover new car buying, car loans, etc. Our intention was truly not to ruffle anyone’s feathers, but if these guys are getting riled up at us telling the public the truth; then perhaps they are afraid of being exposed. They apparently have something to hide from the consumer,” said a company spokesman.

With Car Loans Galore digging in its heels about the video series, it may be interesting to see how things shake out. Be sure to stop back here for future updates on the story.