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Archive for March, 2013

Consumers Unhappy with Automakers Sacrificing Tires for Fuel Efficiency

Friday, March 29th, 2013

Fuel efficiency has been a hot topic in the past few years, as gas prices continue to increase and consumers demand getting more miles to the gallon. As a result, the government has stepped in the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards, which aim to lower the average fuel economy in vehicles.

Some automakers have fought the standards in the past, but a number are trying to find ways to reduce their models' gas mileage in different ways. J.D. Power and Associates reports one of the ways car makers are improving fuel efficiency is through low-rolling or run-flat tires. Unfortunately, customers do not appear to agree with this move, with many consumers reporting low satisfaction.

The report found that of the consumers who had run-flat tires, nearly one-third have had to replace one. For drivers with standard tires, only 19 percent had the same problem.

"Automakers are trying to reach the next level of fuel economy, and are looking to their suppliers – in this case, tire manufacturers – to help them get there," said Brent Gruber, director, global automotive division at J.D. Power and Associates. "The challenge is doing this while finding tires that meet customers' expectations. Run-flat tires are not currently meeting those expectations."

This could deter people who were interested in buying new cars but do not want to deal with low quality tires. One option is avoid this is to look at used models, which may have been made prior to the changes with the tires. New Jersey Auto Auction has several models to choose from, many of which offer good fuel economy ratings. This could be the answer gas price-conscious consumers are looking for.

AT&T Urges Drivers to Put Down Phones with New Campaign

Friday, March 29th, 2013

A recent poll sponsored by wire provider AT&T found that a whopping 98 percent of respondents knew the dangers of sending a text or email while operating a vehicle. Despite the odds, nearly half of commuters (49 percent) and 43 percent of teen drivers are still engaging in this reckless behavior.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, drivers are 23 times more likely to get into an accident if they text behind the wheel, which is why it is so crucial for drivers to give up this life-threatening habit. A big part of the problem is that while most people know how dangerous texting while driving can be, many often feel that they are capable of doing so safely while others are not, which couldn't be further from the truth.

In recognition of National Distracted Driving Awareness Month in April, AT&T is launching the "Texting & Driving-It Can Wait" initiative, in which businesses can join up and help spread the message to their employees. The hope is that employers and their staff will pledge to drive safely, and so far more than 1.3 million people have committed to keeping their hands off their phones and on the wheel while they're driving.

"Businesses can help keep their employees and others on the road safe by encouraging responsible behavior behind the wheel, including obeying all laws related to the use of electronic devices," said Thomas J. Donahue, U.S. Chamber of Commerce president and CEO. "We also encourage all businesses to consider joining the 'It Can Wait' movement to end texting while driving. Together we can help turn the tide on this serious issue."

Drivers looking to buy their next vehicle can find a number of safe options at New Jersey State Auto Auction, which carries a wide selection of CARFAX certified used cars, trucks and SUVs.

Volkswagen Golf Named the World Car of the Year

Thursday, March 28th, 2013

German automaker Volkswagen has always been a big seller, but a recent award for the company's Golf model could send sales skyrocketing.

Volkswagen Golf was declared the 2013 World Car of the Year during the New York International Auto Show. The automaker is no stranger to the event, as it has won the honor four times since 2009, with its Up!, Polo and Golf VI models all taking been given the title in the past.

"We at Volkswagen are all delighted that the Golf has been named 'World Car of the Year,'" said Dr. Martin Winterkorn, chairman of the board of management of Volkswagen Aktiengesellschaft. "To win this award again shows that the Golf is and remains in a class of its own all around the world. This car sets new benchmarks again and again, not least in terms of efficiency and environmental credentials. Soon, for instance, the Golf will also be launched as a plug-in hybrid and as a 100 percent electric car."

Other models up for the award included the Mercedes-Benz" target="_self">Mercedes-Benz A-Class, Porsche Boxster/Cayman, and a combined entry of the Scion" target="_self">Scion FR-S, Subaru" target="_self">Subaru BRZ, Toyota 86 and GT86. These finalists had been chosen from a list of 42 models. In order to be considered eligible for the most recent honor, the models had to be on sale in at least two continents between January 1, 2012 and May 30, 2013.

With Volkswagen's most recent recognition, a lot of drivers could set their sights on the Golf. People who are interested in the Volkswagen Golf may want to consider heading to New Jersey Auto Auction, which has a variety of different used cars at affordable prices.

Consumer Reports Looks at the Best Used Family Sedans Under $20,000

Thursday, March 28th, 2013

Families often have a lot of expenses, but there are ways to get some of the best products for a fraction of the cost. That can certainly be said for the automotive industry, as used cars are a great way to get a reliable vehicle that does not sacrifice quality.

Consumer Reports recently released its picks for best family sedans under $20,000. According to the source, people who buy used cars actually experience greater benefits, as they lose less money than drivers who buy new and experience higher depreciation rates.

In the report, analysts said that they looked for whether or not the sedans were comfortable, had proper driving dynamics and offered good fuel economy. As many people are concerned about gas prices, a good fuel economy is a crucial aspect of making a car purchase for a lot of families.

None of the models listed were older than 5 years, so families can rest assured that they wouldn't be driving in an outdated model if they choose one from the list. Brands that were heavily featured include Honda, Toyota, Nissan and Mercury. Among the top models were the 2009 Toyota Prius, 2010 Mazda6 and 2010 Honda Accord EX.

There are many benefits to buying a used car. Car and Driver reports that plenty of times, people in the market for one have a lot of choices available to them. That can be said for those who go shopping at New Jersey Auto Auction, which features many different models at affordable price points to meet any family's needs. Families that don't know exactly what they want out of a used car can come to New Jersey Auto and try out a few models until they find one that works for them.

Manhattan Makes Way for Daniel Craig and Land Rover

Wednesday, March 27th, 2013

Daniel Craig, a storied actor perhaps best known for his portrayal of the legendary James Bond, got a chance to cruise the streets of midtown Manhattan with no restrictions and no traffic. The city shut down a few blocks to make way for Craig, behind the wheel of the new Range Rover Sport. The actor was delivering the all new luxury SUV to its debut at the New York International Auto Show, which is currently holding press-only days and will soon open its doors to the public.

Craig's excursion on the streets of New York City was broadcast live as part of a short film aptly named "The Delivery," which began at the automaker's factory in the U.K. and followed the Range Rover to New York for its public unveiling.

"The all-new Range Rover Sport is an extraordinary car and we have revealed it in an extraordinary way -live on the street of its biggest selling market," said the company's global brand director John Edwards. "It turned heads and it stopped traffic in one of the most dynamic cities in the world."

Craig was not the only famous face in attendance when Land Rover revealed the new Range Rover Sport, as co-host of Live! With Kelly and Michael and former New York Giant Michael Strahan, lead singer of Duran Duran Simon Le Bon and Olympic athlete Zara Philips among others were on hand as well.

While Land Rover's vehicles tend to be on the more expensive side, drivers in the New York/ New Jersey area may be able to find used cars and SUVs that offer similar luxurious features at NJ Auto Auction. The dealer carries a wide range of vehicles, including many luxury brands like Land Rover, BMW and Lexus.

NHTSA SaferCar App Gives Drivers Easy Access To Safety Information

Tuesday, March 26th, 2013

Safety is a top priority for most drivers, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is making it easier for consumers to find out about recalls, safety ratings and the latest news from the government agency with its new iOS app. The app gives users access to a mobile version of the website SaferCar.gov, the NHTSA's go-to guide for all things related to automotive safety.

"Safety is our highest priority, and we're always working to find new and better ways for people to access SaferCar, one of the most popular programs on our website," said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. "This app takes advantage of the latest technology to ensure that consumers have the real-time information they need to buy safe, drive safe and stay safe."

Drivers who are researching their next new or used cars can browse NHTSA crash test ratings and even compare models right on their iPhones or iPads. They can also look up recalls and complaints about certain models, and users have the option to save particular vehicles on the app. If a recall or complaint comes up for that model, the user will be alerted right away, so drivers don't have to worry about missing important information about their cars.

The NHTSA's new app also allows users to get help with installing child safety seats. The app, which will soon be available for the Android platform as well, is designed to help consumers stay on top of the latest safety information so they can stay safe on the roads and protect their loved ones as well.

Drivers in the New York/New Jersey area can use the app to their advantage when they're looking to purchase their next ride. Once they've found a model they like, they can head to New Jersey State Auto Auction, which carries a wide selection of makes and models.

Routine Tune-Up Gets Your Car Ready for Spring

Tuesday, March 26th, 2013

It seems like the snow just won't stop falling, but drivers in the New York/New Jersey area can still get their vehicles ready for warmer weather. Some things, such as giving the car a good wash, can be done at home, but others like fluid changes and replacing worn parts will require the assistance of a professional, such as the mechanics at New Jersey Auto Auction's Total Car Care Center.

Do-it-yourself
Washing the car will remove all the road salt and grime that have built up over winter, which can protect your vehicle's exterior and prevent rust and chipped paint. Make sure to pay attention to the wheels and the underside of the car as well. You should also inspect the windshield wipers for signs of wear or damage – these are easy and inexpensive to replace. New wipers will ensure you have the best visibility when the "April showers" begin. Take a look under the hood to see if there is any visible damage. You might notice tears or rips in belts or hoses that could cause bigger problems if not addressed soon.

Seek professional help
For everything from oil changes to replacing worn hoses, belts and other parts, you might want to visit an auto show like NJ Auto's Total Car Care Center. Unless you know your way around the engine, it's best to leave major fixes to mechanics who have the proper tools to get the job done. They can spot problems you might not even notice and help get your car in working shape in time for warm weather. Plus, when you address small issues, you can prevent major damage that would likely be much more expensive. 

KBB Brand Image Awards Help Drivers Choose Cars

Monday, March 25th, 2013

When you're shopping for a new or used car, getting the opinion of other drivers can be a valuable resource for narrowing down your choices. Kelley Blue Book (KBB) recently announced the winners of its 2013 Brand Image Awards, and Honda came out on top. The Japanese automaker was named the Best Overall Brand, and also took the awards for Most Trusted Brand and Best Value Brand.

"The Kelley Blue Book Brand Image Awards are unique because they reflect the opinions of actual in-market new-car shoppers, providing automakers with a glimpse into what potential customers really think of their brand and showcasing their perception strengths," said Hwei-Lin Oetken, vice president of market intelligence for KBB."While other awards from KBB.com are based on data calculated by Kelley Blue Book experts, the information that comprises the Brand Image Awards comes directly from the opinions of thousands of new-car shoppers over the period of an entire year."

MINI, the British car company responsible for the quirky subcompact Mini Cooper lineup, was named the Best Performance Brand, and Porsche took the awards for Best Performance Luxury Brand as well as Best Car Styling Luxury Brand. Among non-luxury vehicles, Ford took the prize for Best Car Styling Brand, and Toyota was named the Best Overall Truck Brand for its award-winning Tundra and Tacoma.

The Brand Image Awards can help you decide which vehicles would be best for you, as the car companies that won awards have proven themselves to be reliable and trusted among consumers. Whether you're in the market for a sedan like the Honda Civic or you're hoping to get behind the wheel of a luxurious model such as a Porsche Cayenne, you can head to NJ State Auto Auction. The dealer has a wide selection of makes and models to choose from.

3 Used Vehicles Under $10,000 Perfect for Your Tax Return

Friday, March 22nd, 2013

April 15 is just around the corner, which means you'll soon be filing your taxes if you haven't already done so. If you're expecting a big check from the government this year, you might want to put it toward the purchase of your next vehicle. You may even be able to cover the entire purchase price with your return if you're looking at used cars, trucks or SUVs when you trade in your current vehicle as well. This can save you the hassle of securing financing, but even if you need a car loan, your return can serve as a down payment. Finding the right car for the right price can be a challenge with so many options, but here are three vehicles that cost less than $10,000 that could suit your needs.

2005 Toyota Corolla
Compact cars are growing more and more popular, as they are especially fuel efficient and can help you save money at the pump. The 2005 Toyota Corolla could be a good choice. It gets an estimated 35 miles per gallon on the highway, which is comparable to many new models. Kelley Blue Book prices this small sedan at around $8,800, making it a good deal for a great value.

2006 Honda Civic
Another small car that has stood the test of time is the Honda Civic. According to Consumer Reports, the 2006 model has an average retail price of about $9,300, and the car gets up to 36 miles per gallon on the highway. Honda also built the '06 Civic to be roomy for driver and passengers, making it a viable option for taller motorists.

2004 Subaru Forester
If you're looking for a bit of extra cargo space, you may want to test drive the 2004 Subaru Forester, which can be found for around $8,200. The sporty wagon is especially ideal for drivers in the New York/New Jersey area, as every trim level comes standard with all-wheel drive.

There are plenty other affordable options waiting for car shoppers at New Jersey State Auto Auction, and every model on the four-acre lot is CARFAX certified.

Iconic ‘Breaking Bad’ Car Goes Up for Sale

Thursday, March 21st, 2013

Anyone who's ever seen the AMC hit "Breaking Bad" knows that Walter White (played by Bryan Cranston) drives a light green Pontiac Aztec, and his partner in crime, Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul), tools around in a beat-up, old Toyota Tercel. Now fans of the drug-infused drama have the chance to own a piece of the action. TMZ reports a mid-1980s Tercel that was used in the show recently went up for sale at a small used car dealership in Albuquerque, N.M.

The Mike Faris Auto Wholesale LTD Facebook page shows photos of the vehicle. In one of the pictures, it is easy to read an enticing offer that has been scrawled across the windshield. It reads, "Jessie's car as seen on 'Breaking Bad' make offer." The dealer is likely hoping to rake in the big bucks on the old beater, as its regular retail value would come in under $1,000 if it didn't have celebrity status, according to New York Daily News.

"We've already been getting bids on the car," dealership owner Mike Faris told the NY Daily News. The dealer's Facebook post has also seen comments with offers ranging from $500 to $8,000, but it's unclear just how high the bidding will go for this piece of TV history.

Those hoping to be the next owner of the wagon will have to wait, as Sony Pictures Television won't allow the vehicle to be sold until after the final episode of the show airs this summer, TMZ reports.

While only one lucky "Breaking Bad" fan will be able to drive away in the Tercel, East Coast drivers in the market for slightly newer, and probably more reliable, cars can head to NJ State Auto Auction to check out the wide selection of makes and models. While it is unlikely that any of these vehicles have had any camera time, they all come with full CARFAX vehicle history reports, so drivers know they're getting a reliable ride.

2013 Toyota Avalon Hybrid Turns Heads and Wins Awards in Atlanta

Thursday, March 21st, 2013

Toyota has won many awards for its innovative and environmentally friendly vehicles over the years, and it can now add another to the trophy case. The 2013 Toyota Avalon Hybrid was named the "Best Green Car" of the year at the Atlanta International Auto Show, marking the fourth year in a row it has claimed the honor.

With a combined 40 mile-per-gallon fuel economy, a 17-gallon tank and hybrid engine, the sedan gets nearly 600 miles per tank. The special Hybrid Synergy Drive engine is designed to reduce energy losses in the combustion process, so the car can get more from every drop of fuel. It also helps that the vehicle is lightweight for its class, without sacrificing passenger room or luxury.

"The 2013 Avalon was built to be a world-class sedan, with new levels of excitement, dynamic capability and refinement," said Bryan Robinson, area sales manager for Southeast Toyota Distributors. "Toyota wanted to make a big statement with this car, and awards like this and the sales numbers tell us that we've made the right combination of superior styling, exciting design and comfort, all in a very 'green' vehicle."

Toyota has been at the forefront of the "green" market for many years, as its first hybrid, the Prius, changed the game when it debuted in the U.S. back in 2000. These days, Toyota has a number of hybrid models for sale, and many of these models have been on the market for a few years. This means drivers looking for environmentally friendly used cars have plenty to choose from. They can find Toyota Prius models and other hybrids on the lot at NJ State Auto Auction, which carries a wide selection of cars, trucks and SUVs.

Cellular One Enlists Help of Rachel Holder to Fight Against Distracted Driving

Wednesday, March 20th, 2013

Cellular One, a major wireless provider in the U.S., recently announced it would be working with country music singer Rachel Holder to help spread awareness about the dangers of distracted driving. The new campaign, No Texting & Driving, will work to teach people about safe driving through video and audio public service announcements.

"I am very excited to help Cellular One with this important reminder message, especially to those in my age group," Rachel Holder was quoted as saying in the press release. "Through campaigns such as these, Cellular One proves how much they care about people in their communities. Wireless phones have revolutionized our everyday lives, we want to encourage people to use them wisely. I am proud to team up with Cellular One in support of their safe driving campaign."

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, approximately 18 percent of injury-related accidents in 2010 were affected by distracted driving, which includes texting, talking on the phone, adjusting the radio, eating, drinking and using navigation systems. For example, when a driver takes his or her eyes off the road to read a text, they are looking away for approximately 4.6 seconds. At 55 miles per hour, the car can cross the length of a football field without the driver's eyes on the road.

Drivers can find vehicles that have cellphone connectivity options like Bluetooth, so they can safely access certain features of their phones like navigation apps without having to take their hands off the wheel or look away from the road. This technology can be found in new and used cars, giving motorists options no matter what their budgets may be. Drivers looking for used cars can head to NJ State Auto Auction, which has a number of makes and models that are all CARFAX certified.

New Vehicle Donation Program Benefits the Blind

Wednesday, March 20th, 2013

If you're thinking of getting rid of your vehicle so you can buy your next used car, you have plenty of options that go beyond selling or trading in your current ride. A popular choice is to donate your car to charity, and you now have a new choice of charities. The National Federation of the Blind (NFB) recently announced it is partnering with Vehicles for Charity to accept donations in the form of cars, trucks, SUVs, boats, motorcycles and any other recreational vehicles you might have lying around.

"We are pleased to announce this new vehicle donation program. By donating your vehicle to the National Federation of the Blind, you are helping to improve the lives of blind people across the country," said Dr. Marc Maurer, president of the NFB. "Your donation will go toward our work to increase the number of blind children learning Braille, to advocate for blind and other disabled persons to receive a fair working wage, and to ensure a brighter future for all blind Americans."

This can be an especially appealing way to unload your vehicle if it is very old or not in great condition, as you won't likely get a lot of money for it by selling it or trading it in. By donating the car, you'll be helping out a good cause and saving some money when it comes time to file next year's taxes.

Whether you have a clunker that has been rusting in your garage or you're getting ready to purchase your next car, you can donate your current vehicle as a tax-deductible way to give back. When it comes time to pick out your next car, truck or SUV, you can head to New Jersey State Auto Auction. The dealer has a wide selection of makes and models that are all CARFAX certified, so you can feel good about getting behind the wheel of a reliable ride after doing something charitable with your former vehicle.

Parents Can Help Their Teens Stay Safe on the Road

Tuesday, March 19th, 2013

Teens are at higher risk of getting into motor vehicle accidents than any other demographic of drivers. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, motorists between the ages of 16 and 19 are three times more likely to get into crashes than older drivers. Car wrecks are the leading cause of death among teenagers, and recent reports have shown the rate of accidents is on the rise for this age group.

Recent research from the Ford's Driving Skills for Life (DSFL) program found that parents play an integral role in how their teens operate vehicles. Not only can parents teach their youngsters the rules of the road, but they should also set a good example by always obeying the laws and observing safe driving practices when behind the wheel.

"By setting a good example behind the wheel, parents can increase the chances their children will adopt safe driving practices," said Jim Vella, president of Ford Motor Company Fund and Community Services. "While state laws and educational programs are critical, ultimately, parents are the most critical component to keep their teen drivers safe."

DSFL recommends parents talk to their teens openly about driving and dangerous behaviors like drinking and driving. They should also spend time practicing with their kids during the learning process. It would be a good idea to make it clear that unsafe practices, whether not using seatbelts or texting while driving, will result in punishment. Parents should also abstain from unsafe practices, such as speeding, engaging in distracted behaviors like eating and drinking behind the wheel and operating a cellphone​ to enusre their kids follow the same rules.

It's also important to make sure kids are driving safe vehicles, and parents can take their teen drivers to New Jersey State Auto Auction to check out the wide selection of used cars, trucks and SUVs. Every model on the lot is CARFAX certified, giving parents additional assurance that their youngsters will be driving reliable vehicles.

EPA Report Shows Fuel Economy Is Better Than Ever

Monday, March 18th, 2013

With high gas prices and a growing concern for the environment, more drivers than ever before are placing emphasis on fuel economy when they buy new and used cars. The need for even better fuel efficiency is highlighted by the most recent Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards that require all automakers to have a fleetwide economy of 54.4 miles per gallon by 2025. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently released a report that indicates the industry is moving in the right direction.

"Today's report shows that we are making strides toward saving families money at the pump reducing greenhouse gas emissions and cleaning up the air we breathe," said Gina McCarthy, assistant administrator for EPA's Office of Air and Radiation. "The historic steps taken by the Obama administration to improve fuel economy and reduce our dependence on foreign oil are accelerating this process, will spur economic growth and will create high-quality domestic jobs in cutting edge industries across America."

From 2007 to 2012, the EPA found overall fuel economy values improved by 16 percent, marking the highest average fuel economy of 23.8 mpg. The report also showed that carbon dioxide emissions have dropped 13 percent over the same five-year period. 

Things are expected to continue improving, as the Obama administration established the National Clean Car Program, which includes the new CAFE standards as well as efforts to continue cutting back greenhouse gas emissions and reducing dependence on gasoline.

Those who are in the market for vehicles, whether new or pre-owned, have plenty of options if they want something that will get the most out of every drop of gas. Drivers looking for used models can head to NJ State Auto Auction, which carries a wide selection of makes and models.

New Program Aims to Teach Teens and Parents About Safe Driving

Friday, March 15th, 2013

Learning to drive is a rite of passage into adulthood, but many young motorists and their parents may be unaware of just how dangerous it can be for a new driver to get behind the wheel. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, car accidents are the leading cause of death among teenagers, and teens are three times more likely to get into fatal accidents than drivers 20 and older.

A recent survey conducted by The Allstate Foundation indicates that more than two-thirds of parents expressed their regret in not spending more time teaching their teens about driving in high-risk situations, such as traffic jams and bad weather. Helping someone learn to drive can be a difficult task, but Allstate will be lending a hand with the launch of its new program, "Drive it Home." The initiative will offer vital information to teens and parents through the use of videos and graphics.

"We know from our research that parents are the No. 1 source of information for teen drivers, yet 40 percent don't know car crashes are the leading case of death for teens," said Vicky Dinges, vice president of corporate social responsibility at Allstate. "Drive it Home can help protect teen drivers, educate parents on the crucial role they play in the driving process, and help ensure our sons and daughters return home each and every night."

Once young drivers are armed with the know-how to stay safe behind the wheel, they will need a car that offers the utmost of safety. There are plenty of used cars that feature technology like lane departure warnings and backup assist, and drivers in the New York/New Jersey area can head to NJ State Auto Auction to check out the wide selection of makes and models.

Used Car Prices Increased Slightly in February, Will Hold Steady Through Spring

Thursday, March 14th, 2013

Conditions are in favor of the buyer for anyone looking to purchase a used car this spring. The most recent report from the NADA Used Car Guide indicates that the average price for a used vehicle up to 8 years old only rose 0.8 percent in February.

In previous years, the price increase in February was closer to 3 percent, showing that rising used car costs have slowed considerably. Federal financial issues like the fiscal cliff and sequester have contributed to the slow but continuous growth, as has the increased demand for used models following Hurricane Sandy.

"Price growth for used vehicles through early spring will be weaker than what is typically seen for the period," said Jonathan Banks, NADA Used Car Guide's executive automotive analyst. "Consumers and businesses are beginning to react to the expiration of the 2 percent payroll tax holiday as well as political activity surrounding the federal budget sequester and debt ceiling extension. These factors will have a negative impact on household income and reduce spending."

NADA also predicts that prices will remain flat in March and possibly even drop slightly come April. This means it could be a good time for motorists to begin researching their options. They can take their time finding the right car to suit their needs and be fully prepared to head to the dealership in the coming weeks to take advantage of the buying environment.

While used car prices have increased slightly, drivers looking to get behind the wheel of their next ride can head to New Jersey State Auto Auction to find their next ride. The dealer carries a wide selection of affordably priced makes and models, and every vehicle on the lot is CARFAX certified. 

Consumer Reports Features Best and Worst Used Cars

Wednesday, March 13th, 2013

When you're in the market for a used car, you might feel overwhelmed with all of your options and wonder how you can possibly weed through years' worth of makes and models to find the right vehicle for your budget. Thankfully industry experts often compile lists of the best vehicles for certain criteria, and Consumer Reports recently released its picks for the Best & Worst Used Cars for model years 2003 through 2012. This list can help drivers see which cars, trucks and SUVs are worth considering and which might be better to avoid.

"With so many choices, shopping for a used car can be overwhelming," said Rik Paul, automotive editor for Consumer Reports. "Our report provides a much-needed cheat sheet that Americans can refer to for help getting the best and most reliable used car that fits their budget."

Drivers who are looking to spend less than $20,000 on their next vehicles can check out models like the 2009 Mazda CX-9 and the 2007 and 2008 Honda Pilot. These choices offer ample seating, legroom and storage space, making them good choices for big families. Those on the lookout for fuel efficient vehicles can find hybrid models that are reliable and affordable, such as the 2010 and 2011 Toyota Prius, which Consumer Reports indicates has the best mileage of any used, non-plug-in, five-passenger model.

Models drivers may want to avoid include the Kia Sorento with a V6 engine, Mini Cooper S and Ford Explorer with a V6 and four-wheel drive. These and other models on Consumer Reports' "Worst" list rated poorly due to continued reliability ratings that fell well below the average.

Lists like this can help vehicle shoppers pare down their options in the search for used cars. Once they've eliminated all but a few options, drivers can head to New Jersey State Auto Auction to see some of the possibilities firsthand and take them for test drives before making a final decision.