Monday, November 16, 2015

Things to Consider when Shopping for a Vehicle

What features in your new car features can help you save?
If you are looking for a new or used car, there is a lot more to consider than the sticker price. Long-term expenses, from gasoline to repair bills, can turn into a big financial headache. If you want to keep your costs low, both up-front and over time, here are a few things to consider when you’re shopping for a vehicle.
Gas mileage.
One of your biggest expenses over time is going to be gas, but fortunately it’s especially easy to find out what kind of mileage cars get and how much you’re likely to spend on gas. If you are browsing cars on the lot, pay attention to the window sticker: under the “Fuel Economy and Environment” section, you’ll find out how many miles per gallon the vehicle gets, what you’ll pay for fuel in a year, and how much you’ll save on fuel compared to the average vehicle. Though all of these numbers are based on average driving statistics, they still offer a good rule of thumb for how economical it will be to pay for gas for a particular car.
If you’re shopping online, you’ll want to head to, where you can search for specific vehicles, browse classes of vehicles, or take a look at which vehicles offer the best mileage.
Hybrid or electric vehicles.
The biggest way to save money on gas is to buy a hybrid or all-electric vehicle. But while these vehicles can save you money over time, they have a higher up-front cost than a traditional vehicle—some a much higher up-front cost. Weigh the cost difference between the hybrid or electric vehicle and the gasoline vehicle you are considering, and then consider the difference in mileage each gets. You will probably want to break out a calculator to determine how many miles you’ll have to drive before the hybrid or electric car pays for that difference—if it’s longer than you’re likely to keep the car, it’s not worth it.
However, also bear in mind that sometimes you can find hybrid or electric models that are a few years old at a more moderate price—and, additionally, you may qualify for tax rebates that could make going green more appealing.
Insurance rates.
The insurance rate you will get isn’t the same for every vehicle, as newer cars with better safety ratings tend to get lower insurance rates. Once you’ve narrowed your search for the perfect car down to a few specific models, call your insurance company to see what it would cost to insure them. You may find that a lower rate makes you prefer one model over another.
You should expect warranties with new and, sometimes, used cars (especially used cars that are sold “dealer certified” off a dealer’s lot). A warranty can cut down on out of pocket expenses if something goes wrong, so you will want to take a look at what kind of warranties are on offer for any vehicles you consider. How long do they last? What do they cover? Can you purchase an extended warranty that will expand coverage? Though you don’t necessarily want to be upsold on an excessive warranty plan, depending on the price and the coverage that extended warranty could be a good buy that will save you money over time.
Repair costs.
Different makes and models of vehicle can have vastly different repair costs—and if you’re looking to keep your costs down, you’ll want to consider how much you could spend on repairs over the life of the vehicle. Is it reliable or does it break down often? Are parts reasonable or pricey? If you have a trusted mechanic to talk to, they can be a great resource for information on this. If you aren’t buying new (and it’s not a car that comes certified from a dealership), you will want to take the car by a mechanic regardless to give it a thorough once-over before you buy: this will help ensure you’re not getting a lemon.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Four Questions to Ask in Financing a Vehicle

When it's time to buy a vehicle, one of the big issues to deal with is how to handle financing. Here are four key questions that you can use to help put yourself in the best buying position.  

1. What's the right amount of cash to pay upfront?

Buyers with substantial savings sometimes decide to pay cash for their vehicles to avoid car payments or interest. But kicking out $30,000 or more may not be the best idea. If paying cash leaves your emergency fund depleted and something bad happens, you may have to borrow money at much less favorable terms. Many buyers need a loan just to afford a car. But financing the entire purchase also may be unwise.
Taxes and fees add to the sticker price, so with no down payment, you'll owe more than the car is worth as soon as you drive off the lot. And depreciation could leave you further "upside-down" on your loan. If you need to sell the car or if it's totaled in an accident, you'll get less money than you need to pay off the loan and may have to pay thousands of dollars out of pocket.
Many financial experts suggest making a down payment of 15 to 20 percent of the purchase price.

2. What's the best place to get a loan?

The dealership is one place to secure vehicle financing, but experts say it's good to shop around.
It's possible that you'll get lower interest rates at your credit union or other lending organizations where you're a member and they might be more likely to work with you on the terms. 
It can also be helpful to get preapproved for an auto loan before you're ready to buy. With a loan lined up, you can focus on negotiating the price and not fall prey to slippery sales tactics. If the dealership offers you a better financing deal, that's even better. Make sure you look for application fees, other miscellaneous fees and your loan term so you are making an apples-to-apples comparison between loans.
Be on the lookout for offers to lower your interest rate through a lender, vehicle manufacturer or dealership. 

3. What length of time should the loan be for?

The longer the loan period, the smaller the monthly payments will be. That tempts many car buyers to finance their cars over five, six or even seven years. But that's not always the best choice, experts say. 
Choosing a vehicle that you can pay off in three to five years is preferable, they say. 
Longer term loans are risky for two reasons. First, stretching out your payments means you'll pay more interest and typically, a longer loan term comes with a higher interest rate. Second, since new vehicles typically depreciate quickly, a longer loan increases your likelihood of being upside-down. It's not a good idea to finance a vehicle for longer than you plan to own it. 
4. What incentive should I look for?
Many dealers will offer either low-rate financing or a hefty cash rebate on a new vehicle. Which is better?
Basically, choose the one that will most lower your payments.
Use this auto loan payment calculator to guide your decision. And if you can take the dealer's rebate and find a low-rate loan from a third-party lender, it might be possible to have your cake and eat it, too.
-With contributions from USAA 

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Sneak Peek at Mazda CX-3

The Beat got a look at the all new Mazda CX-3 subcompact crossover today at a luncheon in Atlanta. Mazda officials talked about the Zoom-Zoom qualities of this CUV, which makes 146 horsepower and 146 pounds-feet of torque. It starts at around $20,000.


Thursday, October 8, 2015

2015 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter: Great Commercial Vehicle to Haul People, Cargo

If your organization is in the market for a passenger or cargo van, the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter comes with a choice of diesel engines and is available in three lengths. Our tester was a 12-passenger people hauler that was comfortable and provided a surprisingly smooth ride. 
The available diesel V-6 engine can be paired with four-wheel drive instead of just rear-wheel drive, as was previously the case. Mercedes also offers a super high roof on the Sprinter.
The Sprinter features 16-inch steel wheels with 16-inch aluminum wheels available, optional fog lamps and headlight washers, a sliding passenger-side door and dual hinged doors in back with a 270-degree opening.
On the inside, there is seating for up to 12 people, air conditioning, tilt/telescoping steering wheel, multimedia system with 5.8-inch screen, Bluetooth, an SD card slot, a USB port and an MP3 jack and an available navigation system.
The Sprinter is powered by a turbo-diesel 2.1-liter four-cylinder that makes 161 horsepower with 265 pounds-feet of torque mated to a seven-speed automatic transmission. But also available is a turbo-diesel 3.0-liter V-6 that makes 188 horsepower with 325 pounds-feet of torque and is linked to a five-speed automatic transmission. Rear-wheel drive is standard; four-wheel drive available with V-6.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Nissan Unveils new Titan Pickup in Atlanta

Nissan gave automotive journalists

 a look at its newly designed

 2016 TITAN pickup truck

 at the College Football Hall of Fame

 in downtown Atlanta this week.

 Nissan has ties to college football

 as the presenting sponsor 

of the annual Heisman Trophy award.

 The new truck XD creates a

 "new class" of full-size pickup

 with commercial strength components,

 according to Nissan. It features

 a 555 lb-ft Cummins 5.0l V8 turbo diesel engine.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Five Tips for Lowering Your Auto Insurance Rates

The price you pay for auto insurance can vary by hundreds of dollars, depending on what type of car you have, where you live and how much coverage you need.

There are many ways to save on insurance, but make sure you don't cut too many corners. The appropriate policy can potentially save you plenty of money should you face liability for an accident. 
The minimum liability requirements mandated by each state may not cover personal injury claims or claims resulting from damage done to other's vehicles or property. Don't get such a bare-bones policy that you put your financial assets at risk. You're basically spending money to prevent a financial catastrophe, so don't skimp.
That said, check out these money-saving tips from the Insurance Information Institute.

1. Before you buy a car, compare insurance costs.

Whether considering new or used cars, check into insurance costs. Your premium is based in part on these factors:
  • Make and model of the vehicle.
  • The cost to repair it.
  • Its overall safety record.
  • The likelihood of theft.
Insurers generally offer discounts for features that reduce the risk of injuries or theft. 

2. Ask for higher deductibles.

Deductibles represent the amount of money you pay before your insurance policy kicks in. By requesting higher deductibles, you can lower your costs substantially. For example, increasing your deductible from $200 to $500 could reduce your collision and comprehensive coverage cost by 15 to 30%. Savings can be even higher for selecting a $1,000 deductible.

3. Reduce your coverage on older cars.

It may not make sense to keep collision coverage on low-value cars because the insurance costs could exceed anything you get back on a claim. 

4. Take advantage of other discounts.

Many insurers offer savings if you have more than one policy. You may also be able to find additional discounts for accident-free drivers and some defensive-driving courses.

5. Maintain good credit.

In some states, your credit score could impact your auto insurance rates. While good driving habits are the best way to keep your insurance costs low, repairing a damaged credit rating through consistent bill paying and responsible use of credit can help you on and off the road. Examine your credit report for any mistakes and fight to fix them.

Monday, August 31, 2015

Money-Saving Commuting Tips

With back to school season in full swing, Georgia’s Clean Air Force (GCAF), a partnership with the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD), reminds motorists of some easy tips for saving time and money on their commute, while contributing to cleaner air in the Atlanta metro region.
“Parents who drive their children to and from school, and even commuters who don’t have children, are impacted by the changes in traffic whenever a new school year begins," said Pamela T. Earl of the EPD. "And this year is no different. Fortunately, there are ways that motorists can save time and money, while also curbing the impact that their driving habits have on the environment.”
Using the acronym “GA AIR,” the experts at Georgia’s Clean Air Force offer five simple tips for motorists during the back-to-school season:
§  Get Your Trunk Cleared. Late summer is a good time to evaluate what you have in your car and remove any unnecessary items. The heavier the vehicle, the more fuel it consumes. Dropping 100 pounds from your car can increase your fuel economy from two to five percent. Don’t carry bulky items like sports equipment unless you need to, and remove the roof rack unless you plan on using it.
§  Alter Your Commute. Inevitably, high traffic areas become even more congested as the school year begins. Drivers can avoid getting stuck in traffic by altering their commute. Ask your boss if you can arrive for work later in the morning, when school related traffic is minimal. Or even better, look into whether your company allows telecommuting, and skip the traffic entirely.
§  Avoid Idling. For parents who are waiting to pick up their children from school, it may seem convenient to keep the car running, but it is not. Not only does it waste gas, but it is extremely harmful to the environment. For every 10 minutes of idling you cut from your commute, you can save one pound of harmful carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere. The general rule is to turn off your engine if you’ll be idling for more than 30 seconds.
§  Initiate Carpools. Consider setting up a back-to-school carpool with the parents of four other kids in your neighborhood. This way, you only have to make one trip to school a week, instead of five. You can save even more money by carpooling to work on the days that you don’t lead the kids’ carpool.

§  Ride the Road Less Traveled. Many commuters get stuck in school traffic while traveling to work. To save gas and time, research some additional routes to your workplace to avoid school traffic. Google Maps and MapQuest offer interactive mapping options to explore alternate routes that bypass school traffic.

For additional information or to download an infographic with back-to-school commute tips, visit Georgia’s Clean Air Force website or contact the GCAF Call Center at (800) 449-2471.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Gasoline Prices Remain Relatively Low

Last week, gasoline prices dropped again, to their lows not seen since April, as a result of declining oil prices. In Georgia on Sunday, the average price of a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline was $2.39, down 4 cents from the prior week, according to AAA. Analysts have said low fuel prices are likely to remain in effect through the end of the year.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Free Child Safety Seat Check

safety seat

The Dunwoody Police Department’s Certified Child Safety Seat Technicians will help you safely and correctly install your child's safety seat FREE! The event takes place Saturday August 15 from 10am to 2pm at Freedom Orthopedic and Rehab located at 6840 Peachtree Industrial Blvd (SOUTH ACCESS ROAD) Atlanta, Ga. 

It could save your child’s life. Enjoy free refreshments, bounce house, music, a visit from the Chick-fil-A cow and more fun activities!
Please bring the following items with you:
• Child safety seat
• Child (if possible)
• Child safety seat manual
• Vehicle in which child safety seat will be installed
• Vehicle manual
Click here for more information on this beneficial program.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Tips for Recent Grads Who are Buying a Vehicle

If you're a recent college graduate, you might be thinking of buying a vehicle. Shopping for a new or used car can be fun, but can also be a little intimidating. Here are a few things to keep in mind as you embark upon your car-shopping adventure.
What’s your budget?
The first step to smart car shopping is setting a budget for yourself — and if post-grad life is the first time you’re away from home and supporting yourself, this could be a new concept. To make sure you aren’t spending more than you make (and thus racking up debt), you want to take careful stock of what all of your expenses are and consider how much cash you have to spare to spend on a car. Though you may be tempted by models out of your price range with all the latest features, you should set a budget before you start shopping and be sure to stick to it.
What will a car cost?
When you’re setting your budget, it’s important to remember that a car will cost you more than just the sticker price. You’ll also have to insure it, pay for gas, pay for maintenance, and pay for repairs. Costs for all of these can vary depending on make and model — some will recommend using higher quality fuel, others will have higher repair costs and thus higher insurance rates — so be sure to keep that in mind when you’re shopping.
Before you make a final decision, it’s a good idea to check with your insurance company about what it will cost as well as doing some research on repair and maintenance costs for that particular model.
Can you get a deal?
Many car dealerships offer discounts or other incentives to encourage recent grads to buy. If you’re buying a new vehicle, be sure to keep any potential discounts in mind as you weigh the cost.
Do your research in advance
Once you’ve figured out how much you can afford, it’s time to start looking at models. Whatever you need a vehicle for, you’ll want something that suits your needs. If you’re commuting to work every day, you may want something with good gas mileage (or a hybrid) to keep your ongoing costs down. When you find a model you’re happy with, be sure to check for similar models from other manufacturers — many make cars in the same class and prices can vary wildly between manufacturers.
Can’t afford new? Buy used!
Though you may want to buy a brand new car with all the bells and whistles, a slightly older vehicle may fit your pocketbook more easily. Most cars depreciate rapidly, meaning their value drops the moment you drive them off the lot. Though that’s bad news for new car owners who want to protect their investment, it’s good news for used car buyers who can get a significant discount on cars that are a few years older. When buying used, though, you want to be sure to give the vehicle a thorough inspection to be sure you aren’t getting a lemon.
There’s no right or wrong answer when it comes to buying a new or a used car, so be sure to weigh your options and do the math to be sure the vehicle you’re looking at is the vehicle that makes the most sense for you.
How will you finance your car?
It can be difficult for recent graduates to finance a new car purchase due to lack of credit history (though a car loan can be a good way to build credit for the future). Still, you may find some financial institutions, dealers, and even manufacturers willing to offer special student rates for recent graduates. If you can’t find any deals and are having trouble being approved for a standard loan, talk to your parents about co-signing for you, which can help give your credit the boost it needs.
Whatever you do, take the time to shop around for financing before you decide to make a purchase. Though a dealer will offer their own financing, it won’t necessarily be the best deal — but you won’t know that unless you’ve taken the time to compare offers and check rates on auto loans from different lenders.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Get Your Car Road Trip Ready for Summer Fun

By Brian Rose
With one of the biggest travel weekends of the year upon us, it’s officially summer road trip season! This Fourth of July weekend, AAA projects over 41.9 million Americans will travel for the holiday – the highest number since 2007. Of those, over 85 percent of Americans will be traveling via car. 
Before you brave the holiday traffic, make sure your car is road-ready with these tips from Brian Rose of Kaufmann Tire
1.     Penny Test: Start where your car meets the road, your tires! Proper tread depth is crucial to maintaining control on the road, particularly during unexpected summer downpours. Testing your tread depth is quick and easy, and all you need is a penny. With this video demonstration from Michelin, simply hold Lincoln’s body between your thumb and forefinger and stick the penny upside down into the grooves. If you can see all of Lincoln’s head, you’re below the legal and safe tread amount, and it’s time to get new tires.
2.     Pressure Check: Tires don’t carry the weight of your vehicle, the pressure inside them does. Underinflated tires offer less traction, can reduce fuel efficiency and wear out prematurely. Don’t forget to check the air in your spare!

3.     Check your fluids: A quick look under the hood can go a long way to ensure your car stays healthy. Be sure to check all fluids, including your engine oil, coolant and transmission fluid.

4.     Test your battery: According to AAA, dead batteries are one of the most common reasons for stranded motorists. The intense summer heat can kill an older battery, so be sure to test it and make sure it’s in working order.
5.     Carry an emergency kit: Even the most experienced drivers will come up on unexpected detours, especially with summer road construction. Carrying an emergency kit in your car with items such as jumper cables, a first aid kit, flashlight, batteries and extra water will ensure you’re prepared for any unpleasant surprises on the road.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Heading on a road trip?

The Buick Encore might be just the vehicle for you, if you've got a small crew without too much to carry.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

How to Avoid Buying a Lemon

In the market for a used car? Follow these tips to avoid buying something you'll regret.
- Obtain a vehicle history report. Getting a glance at a car’s registration records can tell you if it has been stolen or brought in from another state or country by unscrupulous sellers who have “washed” the title or scrubbed the salvage status that shows a car has been totaled and then rebuilt.
Carfax is the most popular used car report provider. For $40, Carfax checks a vehicle’s registration, title information, odometer readings, total loss accident history, frame-structural damage, accident indicators, service and repair information, vehicle usage (use as a taxi, rental, or lease vehicle) and recall information. If you’re considering several vehicles, you can get five reports for $50 or an unlimited number within six days for $55.
Or if you're buying from a dealer, it's possible that the dealer will provide you with a free Carfax report.
- Check for liens. Check to see if any liens exist on the vehicle to ensure you won’t find your vehicle being repossessed due to bad debt by the previous owner. You can check for liens by calling the Department of Motor Vehicles and providing the car’s make, model, year, and Vehicle Identification Number (VIN).
- Get the car professionally inspected. You can get a top-to-bottom inspection (usually called a 150-point inspection, or something similar) from any reputable garage or car dealer. Services like Carz Inspection and Carchex will send an inspector to the car wherever it is for a curbside inspection and test drive. At $125 or more, that’s a pricey option, but it’s worthwhile if you have no other way of getting it looked at by a pro.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Dealers Having to Adjust to Competitive Pressure of Online Car Shopping

Auto dealerships are still trying to figure out how to handle the Internet's impact on the car-shopping process.
It's estimated that about four in five shoppers now do most of their preliminary car browsing online, and many of those try to secure the best price on their vehicle before they even set foot in a dealership.
That presents a challenge for dealers who need to keep the bottom line as high as they can on their inventory of vehicles.
How much of your vehicle shopping process is handled online?

For more information, check out: