Weekly auto rail, with car-buying tips, Car Q&A with Junior Damato and more.
Tip of the Week
If you're in the market for a new car (or used car), you're probably ready to visit a couple of dealers and take several test drives to get the feel of the car. But there are other details you really should consider before you make a purchase - things like potential auto repair costs while you own the car, if the manufacturer has recalls posted for any parts of the car and even what your new insurance costs will be. Here's a checklist to help you research the car you're interested in buying, just to make sure you're getting the best deal you can get.
- Before going to the lot, determine which car model(s) you are interested in. Then research them online - and this works if you're purchasing new or used. Check safercar.gov for consumer complaints and government notices about recalls - especially if you're shopping used. See if there are any articles about the manufacturing company that could affect your purchasing decision.
- Determine how expensive it will be for you to replace auto and body parts on the car as it ages. For example, will replacing the shocks or struts cost you around $200 or $1,400? Or will replacing the belts, brakes, headlights or radiator cost more than they would on a different model? For a great resource to compare the cost of replacement auto parts, look up the Repair Index at online auto parts retailer RockAuto.com.
- If you're buying used, check out the car's history. You can opt to purchase a vehicle history report from a number of different companies, or visit the National Motor Vehicle Title Information System at nmvtis.gov for additional information and resources.
- Check with your insurance agent about the potential higher expenses you may have to pay when you purchase your new car. A car model that is less safe or more expensive to repair will have higher insurance premiums, as will cars that are high on the theft list. Make sure those expenses don't go over your budgeted amount for insurance.
Here are the five safest automobiles, according to a report from ABC:
- Ford F150
- Honda Civic
- Subaru Impreza Outback Sport
- Volvo XC60
- Volvo S80
Did You Know
Volkswagen reported a loss of $1.3 billion in net income in 2009 from the previous year.
Q: I own a 2008 Ford Fusion. The Ford dealer uses an oil blend of part regular oil, part synthetic for oil changes. When I inquired about whether I should go all synthetic (having read your advice), the service manager said I could, but that their blend is “good enough.” What do you think – stick with the blend, or go all synthetic? I have 18,000 miles on the car. Is it OK to make a switch now?
A: Full synthetic oil will be the best choice. Over the years both engines and oil additives have changed. I would recommend the switch and oil change intervals of 5,000 miles or twice a year if you drive less than 10,000 miles a year. The full synthetic will improve economy and is better for the engine.
- Junior Damato, Talking Cars columnist
GateHouse News Service