Thursday, November 13, 2014

Prepare Your Car for Winter

When it's freezing outside, a breakdown could become far worse than a mere inconvenience. To help prevent car trouble, the Federal Emergency Management Agency suggests you or your mechanic follow these 12 checkpoints to winterize your vehicle:
  1. Engine antifreeze. Check levels and add more, if necessary.
  2. Battery. When starting the car, pay attention to see if it starts without hesitation. Check positive and negative terminals for corrosion and powdery buildup. The terminals may need to be cleaned, or it could be time to replace the battery.
  3. Brakes. Check for excessive wear and add brake fluid, if necessary.
  4. Exhaust system. Repair or replace any leaks or crimped pipes.
  5. Fuel and air filters. Replace them according to your vehicle's maintenance schedule.
  6. Fuel. Always keep plenty of gas in the tank, both to avoid running out and to prevent fuel lines from freezing.
  7. Heater and defroster. Test both systems to make sure they blow warm air. Testing an electric defroster (found in many rear windshields) might require the help of a mechanic, or you could simply wait for the next time the windshield fogs up.
  8. Lights and flashing hazard lights. Check and replace any that are dim, fogged or not working.
  9. Oil. Check the level and add oil, if necessary. You can find the recommended level in your owner's manual.
  10. Thermostat. Watch the temperature gauge on your dashboard; it should stay near the center line under normal driving conditions. If the needle goes much higher or lower, it could be a sign of a faulty thermostat, which could lead to engine trouble.
  11. Windshield wiper equipment. Repair any problems and maintain the proper level of washer fluid. Fill the windshield washer reservoir with a solution for cold weather, which can be purchased at most auto parts stores.
  12. Tires. Replace them if they are excessively worn. All-weather radials are usually adequate for winter conditions, though some especially inclement regions have laws requiring vehicles to be equipped with chains or snow tires.

Friday, November 7, 2014

2015 Honda Crosstour: A Roomy, Functional Sedan

The Honda Crosstour is a midsize hatchback sedan that is roomy, powerful and functional.
For the 2015 model year, not much changes with the Crosstour. It still comes with a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 193 horsepower, or a 3.5-liter V-6 that makes 278 horsepower. The four-banger comes with a five-speed automatic transmission, while the V-6 has a six-speed automatic.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Electric Vehicle Sales Surging in Georgia

Electric vehicle sales have risen rapidly in the past couple of years in Georgia, thanks to tax incentives and the money that is saved from not having to visit the gas pump.
In the first six months of 2014, electric vehicle sales accounted for one out of every 60 vehicles sold in the state, according to Solar Energy USA.
The group cited the increasing number of electric vehicles on the market (think Nissan Leaf, Toyota Prius plug-in), the ability to drive in HOV lanes regardless of how many passengers you have, an increase in the number of charging stations and a $5,000 state tax credit that, when combined with a $7,500 federal tax credit, makes electric vehicles very affordable.


Thursday, October 30, 2014

Keep Your Old Car or Buy a New One?

Most of us find ourselves in a losing battle at some point trying to keep an old car on the road, even with the most conscientious maintenance and determined repairs. But the decision to put down the wrench and put your money into a more reliable vehicle can be agonizing. Wouldn’t it make more sense to patch things up instead of starting monthly car loan payments again? How do you know when the time is right?
Figuring out when to give Old Nellie the heave-ho is a highly personal decision. You may have a strong sentimental attachment to your car. You know its history and how it’s been maintained, and you know what costs and maintenance to expect in the months ahead. Still, most of us justifiably lose patience in the face of repeated breakdowns and bills. Consider these objective factors to help you see more clearly into a decision to repair or replace your old car.
It’s probably time to replace your old car when:
  1. Your maintenance costs are higher than 50 percent of your car’s value. If you’re essentially re-buying your car every other month, you’re pouring money down the drain. Time to shore things up.
  2. You’re due for a big repair or major maintenance. If your car’s value has shrunk and you know you have a major outlay coming up, trade up now. Don’t hope against hope that a big infusion of cash will solve your issues. Again, consider whether the money you’re about to spend on your car represents more than half of its current value. If so, it’s time to go.
  3. Your car has become unsafe or unreliable. When getting from Point A to Point B has become a roll of the dice, it’s time to get a new vehicle. If your car can’t pass a safety inspection or run reliably, that’s a no-go. Even intermittent mechanical issues can become liabilities if they risk stranding you or your loved ones in the wrong place at the wrong time.
  4. You can afford to upgrade. Use a car financing calculator to run the numbers on how much your payments might be. Does that fit into your monthly budget? Put a pencil and some thought to the figures to help decide how much car you can actually afford.
Replacing your old beater with a brand new vehicle is the ideal fix for a never-ending stream of breakdowns and repairs. If payments for a new car loan don’t fit into your budget, consider the alternatives instead, including buying a more affordable used car.
Still, the value of a new car drops by 20 percent the moment you drive it off the car lot, according to That means buying a used car sometimes makes more sense. Because you don’t want to trade one set of mechanical troubles for another, look for a certified pre-owned car from a dealer. You’ll get a warranty that gives you peace of mind and protection for your wallet.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Tips for Passing the Vehicle Emissions Test

Each year in Atlanta’s 13-county metro region, more than 2.5 million cars are tested for emissions. Georgia’s Clean Air Force (GCAF), a partnership with the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD), offers five key tips for motorists to help them ace their next emissions test.


Thursday, October 9, 2014

Get A Sneak Peek at Kia's New All-Electric Vehicle

Kia has turned heads with its Soul five-door small wagon since its introduction a few years ago, both because of the way the vehicle looks and the cute TV ads with the hamsters.
But now, the Korean automaker wants to get a little more serious with the Soul by introducing the Soul EV, an all-electricvehicle that gives Kia some serious green credentials.
As Kia rolls out its Soul EV, it can continue to boast of the affordability of the vehicle. Compared with a number of other all-electrics, the Soul EV is much more within reach of those with modest incomes who want to be green on wheels.

Friday, September 26, 2014

2015 Volkswagen Passat: Practical Sedan with some Driving Fun

The 2015 Volkswagen Passat comes with impressive driving dynamics, a few engine choices and a roomy interior.
You won’t be blown away by the Passat’s looks. It has understated styling, on the outside and inside. But in that sense, it sets itself a bit apart from other midsize sedans, which in recent years have rushed to embrace the sweeping, slanting body style that has become so popular.
The Passat’s base engine is a 1.8-liter turbocharged four cylinder that makes 170 horsepower. Another choice is the 3.6-liter V-6 that makes 280 horsepower. And there’s a 2.0-liter four cylinder turbo diesel that makes 150 horsepower.
The base engine gets a very solid 24 mpg city, 36 highway, with its six speed automatic transmission. But if you want really great efficiency, get the diesel and its 30 mpg city, 44 highway with a six-speed manual or 30 and 42 with the automatic.
Clearly, Volkswagen continues to demonstrate a penchant for fuel economy.
Safety ratings favor the Passat as well.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gives it a five star rating and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gives it a top safety pick plus award.
On the outside, you’ll find 16-inch wheels standard, with 17 and 18-inchers optional.
The headlights and tail lights get a nice bit of angular styling, but other than that, there are just clean lines and no dramatic slopes to the Passat’s body style.
On the inside, the roomy Passat seats five comfortably. Optional amenities include push-button start, dual zone climate control and navigation.
The Passat starts at around $22,000 and ranges to about $37,000.

If you’re looking for a midsize sedan that’s fun to drive yet practical, the Passat is worth a look.

Friday, September 19, 2014

2014 Infiniti QX60: Safety, Technology and Luxury

If you’re looking to carry your crew or your cargo in style, the seven-seat Infiniti QX60 is a good choice.
This crossover SUV made its debut in 2013, when it was called the JX35.
But as Infiniti made the questionable move to identify each of its vehicles with the letter Q, this one gets the new moniker.
What remains is a choice of front or all-wheel drive, a number of technology features and distinctive styling.
The QX60 is powered by a 3.5-liter V-6 engine that makes 265 horsepower and 248 pounds-feet of torque. That is mated to a continuously variable transmission, with front-wheel drive standard, all-wheel optional.
Front-wheel models get 20 mpg city, 26 highway and all wheels get 19 and 25.
The safety technology of the QX60 is outstanding. There is a backup collision intervention system that senses objects that are sitting low behind the vehicle or other vehicles that may be crossing the rear path and warns the driver or applies the brakes when needed.
There’s also an around view monitor that gives an overhead view of the vehicle to reveal any objects that may be to the sides or in the blind spots of the driver.
And as you might expect there is blind spot warning, lane departure warning and adaptive cruise control, which slows the vehicle when it closely approaches a vehicle ahead of it.
·         For exterior styling, the contoured rear window is a nice touch, giving it an imaginative design feature that goes a step beyond the usual SUV look.
·         A power liftgate and moonroof are standard.
·         The interior is comfortable and nicely appointed. Front and second row passengers get a decent amount of head- and leg room, while the third row is a bit more snug, but not bad for children.
·         The rear cargo area has 15.8 feet of space, which isn’t huge, but is certainly serviceable.
·         Three zone climate control, heated front seats and leather seating are standard features.
·         Available options include cooled front seats, heated steering wheel and second-row seats, a navigation system and two-screen rear entertainment system.
·         The QX60 starts at around $43,000 and ranges to about $45,000.

·         For great safety technology, distinctive styling and nice amenities, the QX60 is worth a look.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Extended Warranties: To Buy or Not To Buy

Car buyers face the decision of whether it’s worth it to purchase an extended vehicle warranty. Some say the prolonged protection is worth it, but others say that it often does not pay off.
If you’re facing this choice, there are a few factors you should keep in mind.
Some extended warranties are better than others. Factors such as who is selling the warranty, when you purchase it and its particular terms can make a big difference.
Beat The Press
When you’re signing all that paperwork at the dealership, don’t be pressured to buy the warranty at that moment. You might do better to find a third party, or after-market, seller. That’s because dealerships frequently
substantially mark up the cost of their warranties.
Try To Anticipate
If you think there’s a good chance that the car you’ll buying will have a problem that will cause a major repair bill, and that you’ll have difficulty handling that bill, an extended warranty might be a good idea. Of course, it’s very difficult to predict such occurrences.
If you’re buying a new car, which typically is covered by a three year/ 36,000 mile warranty, think about your plans for after that period. If you think you’ll be getting rid of the car at about that time, don’t buy an extended warranty. If you might hold onto it for a long time, the warranty might be worth it.
Shop Smartly
A major auto maker or a highly regarded financial services company are probably the best places to buy warranties, if you choose to do so. Local dealers and other third parties might not be as reputable.
Know The Terms
It’s important to get a full accounting of what’s covered and what’s not, and to know the payment terms and conditions.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Lexus RX 450h: One Fine Hybrid

The Lexus RX 450h is a great crossover hybrid SUV that is roomy, luxurious and fuel efficient. If those are qualities you're seeking, it's hard to beat this model.


Tuesday, September 2, 2014

A Quick Look at the Lexus IS 250 F- Sport

  • Lexus has a 2.5-liter V6 in the IS 250 F-Sport, producing 204 horsepower and 185 pounds-feet of torque. The all-wheel-drive version will get to 60 mph in a reported 8.3 seconds.
  • The IS 250 AWD get fuel economy numbers of 20 mpg city /27 highway. 
  • Lexus is said to be developing a four-cylinder turbo engine, as it seeks to step up its competitiveness against other luxury sport sedans. 

Friday, August 29, 2014

2015 Acura TLX is on the Way

Acura is combining its midsize sedans, the TL and TSX, for the 2015 model year to create the new TLX sedan.
We got a look at the car that will be hitting showrooms shortly at an Atlanta event.
The new model has some of the features of the bigger RLX sedan, such as LED headlights and emphasized fenders with 20-inch wheels. The base model will have a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine, and the higher model will have a 3.5-liter V-6.
We didn't get to drive this one, but we hope to soon so we can give the full rundown.


VW Beetle Convertible: Free-spirited fun

The Volkswagen Beetle convertible is fun to drive, fuel efficient and roomy inside. Read more.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Buying Auto Insurance? Know These Terms

If you're buying a new car, you'll probably also be buying auto insurance, which protects you financially from physical damage or bodily injury in the event of a car accident, theft, or natural disaster and any liability that you may face as a result.
 There are lots of types of coverage, and sorting through them can be confusing. Do your research and consult with an agent to determine which type of plan is best for you.
Meanwhile, here are a few terms that will help you sort through the insurance buying process. 
1) Premium
A premium is a payment (typically monthly) made to an insurance company in return for insurance coverage.
2) Deductible
A deductible is the out-of-pocket amount you agree to pay for damages resulting from a car accident. Typically, the higher your monthly premium, the lower your deductible.
3) Bodily Injury Liability Coverage (BI)
If you cause an accident, bodily injury liability coverage pays the medical costs for injuries (including rehabilitation, pain and suffering) or death to people involved in the accident other than the insured driver. It also pays for legal costs.
4) Comprehensive Coverage
Comprehensive coverage pays for damages to your car due to an event other than a collision, such as natural disasters, theft, and vandalism.
5) Collision Coverage
If your car overturns or is involved in a collision with another vehicle or object, Collision coverage pays for the damage to your vehicle, and can be extended to cover a non-owned vehicle or rental the insured is operating.
6) Loan/Lease Payoff Coverage (GAP Insurance)
If your car is declared a total loss (the insurance company determines that the cost to repair the car is more than the actual value of the car) as a result of an accident or is stolen, gap insurance pays the difference between what you still owe on your vehicle and what your insurance determines is the actual value of your vehicle, less your comprehensive or collision deductible.
7) Personal Injury Protection (PIP) Coverage
Personal Injury Protection Coverage reimburses the insured driver, passengers, and any person struck by the insured vehicle (within the specified limits) for medical, hospital, in-home care, or funeral expenses incurred as a result of an accident.
8) Property Damage Liability Coverage (PD)
Property damage coverage pays for damage to others' property resulting from an accident when an insured person is legally responsible for the accident. Property damage coverage may also pay for legal defense costs.
9) Uninsured/Underinsured Motor Vehicle Coverage
Uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage pays for medical bills, rehabilitation, pain and suffering, and funeral costs for the insured driver and passengers in the car in the event of a hit-and-run or when an accident is caused by a driver without insurance or with insufficient policy limits to fully reimburse you for damages they caused.
10) Medical Payments Coverage (Med-Pay)
This covers medical expenses for you and your passengers, regardless of who is at fault in the accident.
According to Consumer Reports, bodily injury liability, property damage and uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage are must-haves, while collision, comprehensive, personal-injury protection, and medical payments coverage are deemed as coverage you’ll probably need.

Study Before You Buy 

When you're familiar with these terms, you can get the coverage you need and compare quotes from different insurers.Sites like compare premiums, so you can do much of the research online.

Monday, August 18, 2014

3 Good Back-To-School Vehicles

It's back to school time again, and if you or a loved one will be heading to a campus, you might be in need of some wheels.
The Beat has selected three good choices for heading back to school, based on affordability, fuel economy and reliability, key factors for students.
Take a look at our list, then make suggestions for your picks for back-to-school rides.

The Corolla got a nice style makeover for the 2014 model year, making it look sportier and more upscale. Yet it retained an affordable price tag, topping out at about $22,000. There's also a new continuously variable transmission and better fuel economy - up to 42 mpg highway.

The Jetta is available in a number of different trim levels, including a diesel model, a hybrid and a sport wagon. For this model year, it received a new engine - a 1.8-liter turbocharged four-cylinder. It also gets up to 42 mpg highway.

The Civic comes with a new continuously variable transmission, replacing the five-speed automatic. For this model year, the coupe model received a style refresh. It gets up to 41 mpg highway, and has long been known as one of the most reliable cars on the market.