Car Buyer's Checklist
6. Fuel Efficiency
How many miles per gallon a car gets is high on everyone's list of priorities these days. But it's important not to split hairs over small differences in fuel economy.
According to the website fueleconomy.gov, the difference in yearly fuel costs between a vehicle rated at 16 mpg city/22 mpg highway, or 18 mpg combined, and one rated at 17/24 mpg, or 19 mpg combined, is a scant $122 per year.
So unless there is a significant efficiency difference between two autos (5 mpg or more), don't get too worked up about it.
7. Safety Rating
Safety is a big issue, no matter what the car's cost. While a bigger, heavier vehicle will usually be able to withstand more damage, technology has gone a long way in making even today's smallest vehicles safer than ever before. Everything from simple passive restraints to front and side airbags to high-tech collision avoidance systems all factor into the safety equation these days.
8. Financing Rates
Know your credit score. We quizzed a number of finance officers from dealerships around the country and they all said the same thing: Availability and cost of financing come down to the buyer's credit rating.
A score of 720 and up will garner the best interest rates, currently 3 to 4 percent, while a score below 620 will result in much higher rates, from 10 percent up to the state-allowed maximum. So get your financial house in order before you begin negotiating.
9. Rebates and Incentives
Some amazing discounts are available in today's depressed car market. Offers are usually posted on automakers' websites. Rebates and cash incentives are given to military personnel, loyal customers, recent college graduates, teachers, law enforcement officials and others.
They are even offered just for walking through the front door. Typically, these buyers are given a choice between a low finance rate or cash back, but rarely both. The catch is you'll need good credit to qualify for the low rate. All buyers, no matter their circumstance, will get the "cash back" incentive.
Warranties provide peace of mind to the purchaser. Generally speaking, they cover defects in material or factory workmanship, under normal use and maintenance. Automakers are offering warranty durations from three years/36,000 miles up to 10 years/100,000 miles.
As you might imagine, not all warranties are created equal. The most quoted warranty is for the powertrain. But automakers also offer new-vehicle warranties that cover items such as the audio system, exterior paint, air conditioning, battery, etc., as well as anti-perforation warranties for rust and corrosion. The ones that offer both are ideal.
Evan Griffey served as an editor of Turbo & High Tech Performance, a pioneering publication about sport-compact tuning. Today Griffey freelances for Import Tuner, Sport Compact Car, Car Audio and Siphon.
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Cars today are for the most part a plastic box with front wheel drive and pretty blah for the most part. On the plus side they are cleaner and more reliable than anything produced in the 60's or 70's. I wish they would make cars fit people over 6' tall with some leg and head room. I have to coil up and try to make room for my well over 6' frame. That's one reason i tend to drive my truck over a car most of the time.
Another improvement would be to have an onboard code reader to tell owner's where a problem is when the check engine light goes on. We should not have to take a car to a mechanic's shop for each and every time the check engine light goes on.
Number 1 should be: Check the Part 583 - AALA Report at the NHTSA web site to see how much US part content is in the vehicle.
Every percentage point equals about 1000 US jobs.
Did you know that if Chrysler and GM brought back their foreign part production it would create millions of jobs and turn our economy around?
With all the Chinese and Mexican part content in every vehicle sold here, why aren't we paying a LOT less for cars? The answer is corporate greed.
Bring those jobs back and I'll pay whatever they ask for a car that is 100% US made.
Would be nice if the car makers brought back to the public for a limited trial run a few of the most sensational cars of the '50's, (I do lean a lot towards GM) Chevy, Olds, Caddy, Buick, Ford, Chrysler, Plymouth with all the modern tech. that we have today and being able to use regular gas. For you guys that were not growing up in the 50's you may very well have missed the big wave. I can only say that most of the models that are available today not only look the same and have that Euo look that doesnot set any of them apart. (This is only my feeling). I had a '59 Olds 98 4 dr hardtop with the new panoramic front and rear windows with quad headlights and all the goodies that were available from the factory (this was my first new car) and the feeling was just the greatest in the world. You needed too be there to understand that feeling. Thanks for letting me share a part of my youth with you guys and girls. Good luck on an new car you choose but make sure you get that feeling that only comes with a great car and feel.
The features we think no one should live without are anti-lock brakes, electronic stability control, front and side airbags, air conditioning, Bluetooth hands-free technology, an audio system with iPod connectivity, and power windows and door locks.My 09 Cobalt 2 door: no ABS, no ESC, no Bluetooth, crank windows, non power locks, and just a simple stereo input jack. At least it has side airbags front and rear.
There is such a system. It's called Onstar and has been around for many years, but you never hear the "car experts and intellectuals" talking about it because GM has it and not one of the "beloved" imports. If they were really concerned with safety, they would at least acknowledge it.