Choosing A First Car For Your Teen

Watching your teen get behind the wheel for the first time on their own is an exciting moment — but it can also be overwhelming at the same time. Ease your mind by knowing they’re getting behind the wheel of a safe, dependable car that you’ve helped them choose.

So if you’re in the market for a new car for your teen, read these tips for picking out that perfect first set of wheels.

Size. Small sports cars and huge SUVs might seem like attractive options (especially to your teen!), but in reality, a midsized car is your best bet. The bigger and heavier the vehicle, the better it protects in the event of a crash.

Horsepower. Steer your teen away from vehicles with a high horsepower, as a more powerful engine can be tempting to test out.

New vs. used. Whether you choose to buy new or used largely depends on your budget and what you’re comfortable spending. If you do buy used, remember the later the model, the better. Consult The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety for the best used models for teens.

Safety. Of course, you’ll want to choose a vehicle with the best safety and crash test ratings possible. Also look for features like side airbags and electronic stability control (ESC), which helps drivers maintain control on curves and slippery roads.

Fuel. Unless you’re willing to cover the cost of filling your teen’s tank each week, be sure to look at a car’s fuel efficiency. The better MPG, the easier it will be on your son or daughter.

Extras. There are numerous safe driving programs for teens out there, so consider installing the app on both your own and your teen’s phones to keep an eye on their driving habits.

Buying A Car With Bad Credit

f you have previous credit problems on your record and need to purchase a car, you may need to apply for what is called a bad credit used car loan. A bad credit used car loan will allow you to purchase a vehicle, but you will usually be expected to pay it off in a shorter time frame and at a higher rate of interest.

Today many traditional car lenders are offering extended payment terms; some allow you up to seven years to pay off the vehicle. A bad credit used car loan usually must be repaid within a 48-month time frame. Since the vehicle you are buying is used and your amount financed will be less, the lender expects the loan to be paid off in a shorter amount of time.

Research the Prices of Used Cars

Before making an offer on a used car, you should research the average price value. By doing this you will know if a dealer has inflated the price in order to make an excessive profit. You will want to make sure you are purchasing the car from a reputable dealership.

There are a lot of companies who do most of their business with customers who have less than perfect credit scores. Some of these dealers may try to take advantage of customers. Just because you have had credit problems in the past, this does not mean you should pay an outrageous amount in interest rates or other fees.

Shop Online For a Lender

Online auto loan lenders make applying for a loan quick and convenient. By applying online you will have access to several lenders and their rates. Applications for online auto loans can be filled out in just a short time and the approval is almost always granted the same day.

An important point to remember when applying for a used car loan on bad credit is that banks have limits to how old of a vehicle you can purchase. The majority of banks will not grant loans to vehicles more than four or five years old. You should also try to make a substantial down payment when purchasing a used car. This will lower both the interest rate you are charged and the length of the loan.

Ways To Winterize Your Car

Vehicle safety is important during winter weather conditions, especially if you have to drive on icy or snowy road. Here’s how to winterize your car for colder days and make the driving easier on you.

Practice Your Winter Driving Skills

Be mindful of your driving habits and how they need to change on icy roads. Going slow around corners, tapping your brakes, giving other cars plenty of space and similar skills can help keep you safe.

Change Your Wiper Blades

Wiper blades can crack and split over time, leading to slow, squeaky blades that don’t perform well. And that’s the last thing you want for rainy or snowy winter weather. Change your wiper blades to winterize your car and consider buying more durable winter-ready wiper blades if you live in a harsher climate.

Track Your Tire Tread Durability

If you will be using the same tires during the winter months, check the treads to make sure they aren’t worn down. The classic test is to take a penny and insert it in your grooves, Lincoln’s head facing down. If you can still see all of Lincoln’s head, your tires are balding and it’s probably time to replace them to winterize your car. And there are also professional measuring tools you can use.

Switch Over to Winter Tires if Necessary

Snow tires and all-season tires provide extra traction to help cover icy terrain and to winterize your car. If your local city allows these tires, look to see where and when they are recommended. Changing your tires over a couple times a year is worthwhile in snowy areas. And this may be required by law in bad conditions.

Check Your Battery

Extreme temperatures can affect batteries, so you should make sure that your battery is clean. And that the connections are secure and not corroded. If it’s an older battery, consider getting it tested and possibly replaced before the weather gets bad to winterize your car.

Sometimes doors can get stuck in cold weather conditions. You can fix this problem by cleaning your doors thoroughly and applying a light layer of oil or another lubricant to the edge of your car doors. This works to winterize your car for your hood and trunk, too.

End Of Summer Car Care

The vacations are over, the kids are back in school and cooler evenings have begun. Take advantage of the lull to prepare your vehicle for the winter ahead, that way you can avoid breakdowns!

First things first

Read your owner’s manual and follow the manufacturer’s recommended service schedules. There are usually two schedules listed: normal and severe.

Engine Performance

Have engine driveability problems (hard starts, rough idling, stalling, diminished power, etc.) corrected at a good repair shop. Cold weather will make existing problems worse. Replace dirty filtersair, fuel, PCV, etc.

Fuel

Put a bottle of fuel de-icer in your tank once a month to help keep moisture from freezing in the fuel line. Note, too, that a gas tank that’s kept filled helps prevent moisture from forming in the first place.

Oil

Change your oil and oil filter as specified in your manual more often (every 3,000 miles or so) if your driving is mostly stop-and-go or consists of frequent short trips.

Cooling System

The cooling system should be flushed and refilled as recommended. The level, condition, and concentration of the coolant should be checked periodically. (A 50/50 mix of anti-freeze and water is usually recommended.) If you’re doing your own work, allow the radiator to cool down completely before removing the cap. (Newer vehicles have coolant reservoirs.) The tightness and condition of drive belts, clamps, and hoses should be checked by a certified auto technician.

Heater/Defroster

The heater and defroster must be in good working condition for passenger comfort and driver visibility.

Windshield Wipers

Replace old blades. If your climate is harsh, purchase rubber-clad (winter) blades to fight ice build-up. Stock up on windshield washer solvent you’ll be surprised how much you use. Carry an ice-scraper.

Battery

The only accurate way to detect a weak battery is with professional equipment. But do-it-yourselfers can do routine maintenance. Scrape away corrosion from posts and cable connections; clean all surfaces; re-tighten all connections. If battery caps are removable, check fluid level monthly.

A word of caution:

Be sure to avoid contact with corrosive deposits and battery acid. Wear eye protection and rubber gloves. Note too that removal of cables can cause damage or loss of data/codes on some newer vehicles so refer to your manual for instructions.

Lights

Inspect all lights and bulbs; replace burned out bulbs; periodically clean road grime from all lenses with a moistened cloth or towel. To prevent scratching, never use a dry rag.

Exhaust System

Your vehicle should be placed on a lift and the exhaust system examined for leaks. The trunk and floorboards should be inspected for small holes. Exhaust fumes can be deadly.

Tires

Worn tires will be of little use in winter weather. Examine tires for remaining tread life, uneven wearing, and cupping; check the sidewalls for cuts and nicks. Check tire pressure once a month. Let the tires “cool down” before checking the pressure. Rotate as recommended. Don’t forget your spare, and be sure the jack is in good condition.

Emergencies

Carry gloves, boots, blankets, flares, a small shovel, sand or kitty litter, tire chains, a flashlight, and a cell phone. Put a few “high-energy” snacks in your glove box.

Why Your Cars Trade In Value Is Lower Than The Market Value

When consumers buy a new car and sell their current vehicle to the dealership, that vehicle is called a trade-in. Almost always, the amount of money that a dealer will offer for the vehicle, the trade-in value, is less than the amount of money that you could get by selling it on your own, the market value. This article explains why.

Dealers accept trade-ins for two reasons. First, a trade-in may be a well-maintained example of a popular model that the dealer can recondition and sell on the used car lot for a profit. Second, the dealer is making it easier for the consumer to agree to buy the new car. Accepting a trade-in for any other reason results in extra effort, extra cost, and an uncertain outcome for the dealer.

When a dealer buys a customer’s vehicle, the dealer makes that customer’s life easier while adding complexity and uncertainty to his or her own business model. Paperwork regarding the transfer of ownership must be completed and filed. If the vehicle is going to be resold on the dealer’s used car lot, it must be inspected, reconditioned, and anything wrong must be repaired. If the vehicle is going to be auctioned, it must be transported to the auction and sold for an amount that covers the dealer’s costs. Sometimes, there is something wrong with the customer’s old car that the dealer discovers after the deal is completed, resulting in unforeseen expenses.

For all of these reasons, trade-in value is less than market value.

Keep in mind, consumers do not have to accept the dealer’s trade-in offer. If the dealership offers the consumer less for the trade-in than the consumer believes the vehicle is worth, the consumer has the option of selling the vehicle on their own in an attempt to receive more money for it.

Selling a car on your own is not easy. The seller must be aware of state and local laws governing the private sale of vehicles. To extract maximum value for the vehicle, the seller must clean the car, replace worn items, and repair anything that doesn’t work. Advertisements must be placed, and when interested parties call, the seller must arrange to meet strangers to conduct test drives. If an agreement is reached with a buyer, another meeting is required to handle transfer of funds and paperwork. Separately, a trip to the Department of Motor Vehicles may be required.

For all of these reasons, trade-in value is less than market value.