Tag Archives: car


buy a carI'm not a big fan of shopping. Some purchases are much more difficult than others, which is why I'm a big fan of online shopping. My wife and I recently had to buy a car after hers was totaled, and the experience left me wondering why the process is so difficult.

I know there are services such as Carvana, which delivers a new car to your door with a seven-day, no-questions return policy.

I may give such as service a try some day, but for now I'm old fashioned and figure if we're going to spend thousands and thousands of dollars on a car, I'd prefer to take it on a test drive before buying.

Before I get to the tale of woe and offer ideas for making the chance to buy a car easier, I should explain two things:

1. We only decided to buy a new car after doing plenty of research that showed that a new Toyota Prius was only about $4,000 more than a used one. My normal inclination is to always buy a car used because a new car's value depreciates 9 percent when you drive off the lot.

2. I don't consider myself an expert in car price negotiations — mainly because I've only bought one new car — so before buying the Prius I hired a car broker to buy a used car. The broker not only saved me money, but it took a lot less time and I'm sure less hassle than I would have had at an auto dealer. Eventually, we went with a broker to buy a car for my wife.

Start with a price report

To get a feel for our local market to buy car, I got a free TrueCar report for its estimate of how much the car would cost. I then used a link from my Consumer Reports magazine subscription that allowed three area car dealers to send us price quotes through email.

The offers were all reasonable, based on the prices we found online. But one offer was about $2,500 less than the others. That kind of set off a red light for me, but I called the salesman anyway to make sure the price was accurate and that it included any out-the-door fees, taxes and anything costs they planned to charge me.

He assured me it was, and sent me an email confirming the price as the final price. This is where things started to fall apart. ...continue reading

Takata airbag recallNearly 34 million vehicles — or about one in seven vehicles on American roads — are being recalled in the Takata airbag recall for possibly being defective. It's the largest automotive recall in American history.

Takata, the largest supplier of airbags, admits that its airbags can explode violently when they deploy, sending shrapnel flying into the passenger compartment. Six deaths and more than 100 injuries have been linked to the defect.

Steps to check for Takata airbag recall

What should consumers do? There are four easy steps, according to the Consumer Federation of America:

1. Get your vehicles's Vehicle Identification Number, or VIN, from the outside of the dash on the driver's side, or on the outer edge of the driver's door. Your registration card and insurance card should also have the VIN.

2. Go to www.safercar.gov/vin and type in your VIN.

3. If your vehicle is part of the Takata airbag recall, contact any dealer of your vehicle immediately to schedule a replacement appointment. The repair is free.

4. Ask your dealer or vehicle manufacturer for a "loaner vehicle" while parts are being manufactured.

If your vehicle isn't currently listed as being part of the Takata airbag recall, check back to see if it is added.

Typical consumer response rates for recalls is around 70 percent, according to the CFA. If consumers don't respond to this recall, more than 10 million vehicles with this defect could be on the road.

Other ways to look for Takata airbag recall

There are other ways to check for a recall. The Safercar.gov site is run by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The NHTSA has its own section of its website to check for recalls and defectsRecalls.gov also lists recalls.

Drivers can also look technical service bulletins, or TSB, for their cars. Automakers use these to inform dealers about problems.


In an effort to save some more money, J and I have started to carpool to work on the days we start at the same time. His truck is a gas guzzler, my car a fuel efficient practicality, so together we take the Honda to work at least three days a week.

A couple of weeks ago, at 5:45 AM on a rainy Wednesday, we hit a small lake puddle hidden in a curve of the road, causing us to hydroplane and come thisclose to hitting an oncoming vehicle. Our little car was careening out of control, and while we were able to avoid disaster that time, we might not be so lucky the next.

buying car tires

The first thing out of J's mouth, after the both of us had calmed down, was "these tires cannot handle the rain". I reminded him that I told him to be careful in that corner seconds before the incident, and the situation wouldn't have happened if he didn't shrug off my warning, but I knew he was right. We needed new tires.

In late 2011, I bought tires for my twenty-five year old Mercedes 190E. The tires cost me $550 installed, and a similar incident but with snow instead of rain was the catalyst for the purchase. That and many patched holes in each tire from driving over stray nails at work.

I was sure that my Mercedes would last for at least a year after the tire purchase. I'd maintained it quite well and while it was an old car, it had a lot of gusto. Plus, who knew how many kilometers were on it. The 190E had an odd defect that year of the odometer stopping at 146,000, where it had settled god knows how long prior to my acquisition of it.

Three months after I dropped hundreds of dollars on the tires, my beloved trooper broke down a foot from my driveway. After a quick assessment of the issue and some price comparisons and research, and I resigned myself to the fact that it would cost far more than the car was even worth to fix it.

The car was dismantled and shipped away and I bought my trusty Honda, excited for the air conditioning and windows that actually rolled down. The used car dealership where we bought her told us that the tires weren't in the best shape, and that we'd need to get new ones fairly soon, but I pushed it off, thinking that I'd had enough of tire shopping to last me a decade.

We went camping a couple of weekends ago, and J pointed my tires out to a friend, who told me that they were the baldest he'd ever seen. Then, as if a message from the tire-Gods, we picked a big, sharp chunk of metal from one.

Needless to say I had to make that dreaded phone call to our local tire store today to book an appointment to get new tires on. We did a lot of research and found the right ones, but the last thing our budget needs right now is more large purchases, considering we have a wedding coming up.

$545 later, and our new tires were installed and we were ready to take on the wet roads. Despite my disdain for the necessary purchase, one of us needs a vehicle, if not both (as a condition for our jobs), and as they say, safety first.

When was the last time you bought tires?

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