Archive for February, 2009
Statistics show that more people are shunning new cars and making purchases of used cars in this tough economy. But according to Consumer Reports, some used cars are better than others.
Looking at cars between 1999 and 2008, the magazine identified the most and least reliable vehicles among the 1.4 million that were compiled by its Annual Auto Survey.
The company says that Honda and Toyota dominated the list with the Honda Civic and Toyota Echo topping the small car list and the Honda Accord and Toyota Prius leading the pack of best used family cars.
The state of the economy has made it a good time to make a used car purchase. According to the National Automotive Dealers Association, used car prices fell in every category in the last year and Dow Jones recently reported that prices for used cars fell 8 percent in 2008.
The cost of gas has hit many Americans where it really hurts – in the wallet. But one man was recently in for the shock of his life when he was charged $81 billion to fill up his tank.
According to Tri-City Herald, Juan Zamora filled his 1994 Chevy Camaro at a local Conoco station and used a PayPal debit card to pay the $26 in gas.
Zamora says he later got an email saying his debit card was overdrawn and called a customer service representative to see what was wrong. That’s when he got the news that a flaw in the system had mistakenly charged him $81,400,836,908.
“That’s a B, as in billions!” Zamora wrote in an email to the Herald.
He told the paper that it took some time to get customer service to believe his story with the representative asking him at one point if he got the gas. “Like I had to prove that I didn’t pump $81,400,836,908 in gas,” Zamora wrote to the paper.
According to the Lundberg Survey released earlier this week, the average price of unleaded rose 2.6 cents in the past week to $1.94 a gallon. At that price Zamora would have had to pump almost 42 billion gallons into his Camaro.
If the country is to truly get away from fossil fuels to run its automobiles it’s yet to be determined what alternative energy source will take its place. But if hydrogen is the way of the future it’s likely that New Jersey will lead the way.
According to Jim Henry, writing for Examiner.com, the home of BMW North America is in Woodcliff Lake, New Jersey where the company is in the process of building the first hydrogen refueling stations in the U.S. which will service the company’s test fleet of hydrogen-powered cars.
The proponents of hydrogen say it’s the cleanest of all the alternatives, producing only water as a byproduct. But critics say the technology is not yet feasible and question the safety of the fuel.
Iceland is already working towards using the product as the main fuel in the country. According to the Christian Science Monitor, Iceland had hoped to convert the entire country to hydrogen by 2040, but delays in car manufacturers producing hydrogen-powered cars has placed them behind schedule.
“If somebody were to say to me today, ‘I’ll bring 20,000 hydrogen cars to Iceland every year for the next five years at the same cost as a conventional car,’ it would not be a problem for us,” Jon Bjorn Skulason, general manager of Icelandic New Energy told the news provider.
Family-friendly features to look for in used cars
When looking for a new vehicle, families on a tight budget might be in the market for a used car to ease the financial burden. MSN Autos says there are some features every family should be on the look-out for.
From safety to entertainment, even used cars today have a number of family-friendly features that can keep the kids occupied while easing parents’ minds.
Some of the latest features to save the sanity of parents and keep kids occupied during long trips are entertainment systems like rear seat DVD players and television.
For a few dollars a month, Chrysler vehicles equipped with Sirius Backseat TV can keep the children quiet as they watch programs from Nickelodeon, Cartoon Network and the Disney Channel. The website says more mainstream channels like ESPN may be offered soon.
Another factor is safety. Most late model cars will come equipped with air bags, anti-lock brakes and stability control, but concerned parents can go the extra mile and look for cars with side curtain airbags and even a rearview camera which can help make sure the little ones are not behind the vehicle as you back up.
Earlier this month Edmunds reported that a half million people who would have normally purchased a new vehicle bought a used car in the past three months.
The credit crunch has made it more difficult for potential car buyers to get funding to make the purchase of a used car. But that doesn’t mean that it’s impossible.
According to TheDay.com, banks small and large say it is getting easier to get a loan to purchase a used car, although some lenders are being more conservative with their funding.
Cheryl Dunaj, vice president of retail services at Groton, Connecticut-based Ledge Light Federal Credit Union says the lender has contacted sellers in the area to let them know they have money to lend.
“We’ve been able to do loans that otherwise would not have been able to get done,” Dunaj told the website.
The company’s CFO, David Sacco said that more goes into the decision to lend than just a person’s credit rating. He says the lender will “still look at people and make decisions on what is going on in people’s lives and not (just) their credit score. Unless we give them money and try to get them back on their feet, the economy is not going to change.”
If people can get funding it’s a good time for them to buy a used car as the National Automotive Dealers Association recently announced that used car prices fell in every category in the last year.
As more and more people head to used car lots over new they are increasingly looking at fuel-efficient cars that won’t break their bank at the pump. When considering what used car to buy Cars.com says there are a few fuel-friendly vehicles to consider.
It should be no surprise that at the top of the list is the Toyota Prius. The site says that the 2004-2008 Prius is the best bet when looking for fuel efficiency as it averages about 45 miles per gallon.
Coming in second and third on the list are a pair of 2004-2008 Honda Civics. At 42-45 miles per gallon, the Civic Hybrid gets slightly better gas mileage than its traditional twin. Both models were redesigned in 2006, which included side curtain airbags as a standard.
Finishing out the top five are two more Toyotas as the Corolla and Camry Hybrid both get better than 34 miles per gallon on average. For the Corolla, the site suggests the 2004-2008 model, while the Camry Hybrid was just introduced in 2007 meaning there are a limited number available.
The 2010 Toyota Prius is expected to get even better gas mileage that the current incarnation. According to the company the car should get close to 50 miles per gallon when it hits the road next year.
Morgan Freeman is being sued by a woman who accuses the actor of negligence when they were involved in a car crash in which she was a passenger.
Demaris Meyer also denied that she was Freeman’s mistress, saying the two were not involved in a romantic relationship.
Last August, the 71-year-old Freeman was driving Meyer’s Nissan Maxima while she was in the passenger seat. Authorities say the couple was driving through a dark highway in Mississippi when the car went off the road, flipping several times before landing upright.
Meyer says the crash, which left her with a broken wrist and torn labrum, has changed her life.
“I could not take care of myself for several months. I have not been able to go back to work and still am suffering both physically and emotionally as a result of the accident,” she said on Wednesday at a news conference at the office of her lawyer, Gloria Allred.
Meyer did not announce how much she was seeking in the suit, but said she was looking to recover medical expenses, lost wages, property damages, permanent disability and pain and suffering.
In President Barack Obama’s address to the joint session of Congress earlier this week he said the U.S., as inventors of the automobile, needed to give support to U.S. automakers. But it turns out that’s not historically accurate.
On Tuesday, the president said, “I believe the nation that invented the automobile cannot walk away from it,” a statement that has been critiqued not for its promise of spending, but for its accuracy.
Although American Henry Ford helped to bring the automobile to the masses in the 1890s, it is widely accepted that a German, Karl Benz (of Mercedes-Benz fame) invented the combustion-powered vehicle in 1885 that led to the cars we see on roads today.
The carmaker Daimler, which was born from the work of Benz and fellow German Gottlieb Daimler, says the president needs to brush up on his auto history.
“It’s a fact that Daimler invented the car,” Han Tjan, U.S. spokesman for the company told USA Today. “If someone says the U.S. invented the car, either it’s an incomplete statement or sloppy research.”
During awards season, hundreds of A-list stars are driving – or being driven – to events like the Golden Globes and the Academy Awards in rented cars, which has given one company the idea of lending “green” cars to Hollywood stars.
The “green” movement in cars is popular these days not only for its cost savings at the pump, but because many people are trying to reduce their carbon footprint. The environmental impact is probably most important to the Hollywood elite who want to at least look like they’re doing their part.
It’s no surprise then that GreenSUV, a California company that rents hybrid and alternative fuel vehicles to celebrities, is getting attention from stars like Penelope Cruz.
According to TheDailyGreen.com, Cruz and fellow actress Meryl Streep used the car service to get the Academy Awards on Sunday and a number of stars used the service for the Golden Globes.
“I felt it was time for a luxury car service to take part in eliminating gas-guzzling, high-emission vehicles from the roads,” Green SUV CEO Damien Breen told the website. “We realize many people want to contribute to the environment, but can’t see themselves being driven around town in a Prius.”
As Americans take measures to cut costs and save as much money as they can, more and more people are turning to used cars as a way to make a purchase without breaking the bank. But it appears that a lot of people are looking for the same used cars.
According to the last study done by Cars.com which looks at used car searches during the third quarter of 2008, a couple of Hondas topped the list.
The Honda Accord and Honda Civic took the top spots on the list, which was established after the company looked at email requests to dealers and private sellers for used vehicles. The two Honda models swapped places from the previous quarter when Civics were number one.
In terms of years, the 2005 models of both the Accord and the Civic were most popular.
With the exception of the Ford Mustang (which came in third), the Ford F-150 (which came in sixth) and the Jeep Wrangler (which came in seventh) the remaining cars on the list are fairly fuel-efficient cars from foreign automakers.
People searching for these cars should be able to get a good deal as Dow Jones recently reported that used car prices fell 8 percent in 2008.
When most people talk about “green” cars they’re referring to hybrids or alternative fuel vehicles, but apparently Toyota is taking the word literally in its attempt to build a car from seaweed.
The car Toyota is considering building would run on the 1/X (pronounced “one-xth”) platform the company is developing which takes advantage of lightweight materials to get the car down to 926 pounds.
Seaweed is one of the ideas that would replace the carbon-fiber used in the current incarnation of the 1/X and if everything goes well, the company hopes to have it hit the roads in 15 years.
Tetsuya Kaida, project manager on the design, says the car is one more step away from the dependency on oil.
“We used lightweight carbon-fiber reinforced plastic throughout the body and frame for its superior collision safety. But that material is made from oil,” he said. “In the future, I’m sure we will have access to new and better materials, such as those made from plants, something natural, maybe something like paper. In fact, I want to create such a vehicle from seaweed because Japan is surrounded by the sea.”
The influx of quality used cars on the market makes it a good time for people to purchase a used car at a reasonable price, but there are some things to look for before handing over the cash.
According to Car and Driver, there are some telltale signs of a bad used car that every car buyer should know.
The first tip from the magazine is to avoid any car without a service history. It’s very easy these days to get the background history on a used car, but if a car doesn’t have one it should raise a red flag.
“Look for a long service history in any used car, with most of the servicing done by the same mechanic or dealership over time,” suggest the magazine. “There are simply too many good used cars out there with such a background to settle for anything less.”
Another thing to look for, according to the magazine, is brush strokes on the paint. If a car looks like it hasn’t been maintained well on the outside, that’s probably a sign of the same on the inside, says Car and Driver.
It appears that now is a good time to make a used car purchase with the Dow Jones recently reporting that used car prices dropped 8 percent across the board in 2008.
Recent reports show that the number of people turning to used cars instead of new is up as people try to get more for their money. But when making a used car purchase, there are some good cars and some bad cars to keep in mind.
Consumer Reports recently released its list of the best and worst used cars from 1998 to 2007 and one thing the magazine noted is the increase in reliability of used vehicles.
This is a result of the rise in reliability of new cars which should make consumers more comfortable buying a used car than they would have a few years ago.
The magazine says that it did not say that any particular carmaker is better than others, with some making the best and worst lists.
“We have the Buick Lacrosse as a good bet, but we have the Buick Rendezvous and Terraza as bad bets,” Jeff Bartlett, deputy editor online for Consumer Reports told AOL Auto. “And with Nissan, some good bets are the Altima, Maxima and Murano, but we have the Armada and Titan listed as bad bets.”
It should be a good time for most people to look into purchasing a used car as Edmunds reported last week that more than half a million people bought used cars last year who would have normally bought new.
With the economy continuing to struggle, many people who would normally buy a new vehicle are turning to used cars for their purchase. For those in the market for a luxury used car, Motor Trend has some suggestions.
The economy is making it a buyer’s market even for used cars with the Dow Jones recently reporting that used car prices fell 8 percent in 2008. With that in mind, Motor Trend says it might be possible to snag a great luxury car at a not so luxury a price.
In the supercar category, the magazine picks the 1990-2005 Acura NSX. Motor Trend says the car’s marriage of “supermodel personality with Girl-Scout reliability” forced Italian carmakers to up their game when the car was released.
For those looking for a car that can carry the groceries along with the kids and the dog, the website suggest the 2001-2007 Volvo V70 or XC. Volvos are known for their safety and this wagon is no exception but for people just driving in the city, the site says they might want to go for the “prettier” V70 version.
The Wall Street Journal reported yesterday that luxury used car sales are up across the country and says the already good market should get better soon as three to four-year-old leases begin being turned in.
For the second time in a month the same home was hit by an out-of-control car, leading authorities to call for the city to install a barrier to stop the crashes.
The owners of a home in Etobicoke, Canada saw a car crash into their house for the second in less than three weeks on Saturday when a 25-year-old man hit a curb sending his car flying into the home’s master bedroom and landing on the bed.
Earlier this month an elderly couple in their late 80s hit a snow bank which sent their car flying into the home’s living room and caused massive structural damage, according to the Star.
No one was injured in either of the crashes.
The couple who own the home said they have often thought of being hit by passing cars because of the sharp corner outside their home.
“We have joked from time to time that a car coming down Parklawn Road coming at high speed, if they didn’t make that corner, was going to end up in our house,” John Johansen told CityNews.ca after the first crash.
Unfortunately for the couple, everything they owned was being stored in the master bedroom following the first crash, according to the Star.
This year’s model marks the 20th anniversary of the car that brought back a fascination of driving a roadster with the top down, which means it might be a good time to look into buying a used Mazda Miata.
At this year’s Chicago Auto Show, Mazda showed off its 2009 MX-5 “Mazda” roadster along with cars from the previous 20 years. Although the 2009 model is not a radical transformation from last year’s edition, it did receive a facelift which harkens back to the original car – an immediate success when it hit American roads in 1989.
The success of the Miata has not been lost on the people who keep some of the most important records in the world. According to Mazda, Guinness World Records certified the car as the world’s most popular production two-seat open-top sports car in 2000.
It doesn’t appear that that record will be broken anytime soon as the company says the Miata has sold 857,201 units through last December.
MSN autos says that one of the reasons why the car has remained so well-liked is that it has stayed true to its initial form throughout two decades.
“The popularity of the Miata is largely due to the fact that Mazda has never changed the underlying idea behind the MX-5 – it’s still a lightweight, sporty, fun-to-drive sports car,” writes the site.
A number of industries across the country are struggling because of the economy, but one that that seems to be booming is luxury used cars.
Industry analysts say that while the new car market continues to dwindle, the luxury used car market continues to stay strong, according to the Wall Street Journal.
The strong market will get even stronger later this year, according to J.D. Power and Associates’ used-vehicle market analyst Stephan Schroeder, who told the paper that a number of luxury car leases will be turned in this year.
“There’s going to be a great supply of these three and four year old vehicles,” he told the Journal.
But price point isn’t the only factor increasing the sales of luxury used cars. According to Mike Jackson, CEO of AutoNation, the largest U.S. auto retailer and the largest U.S. seller of Mercedes-Benz vehicles, some people don’t think it’s right to buy a new car in these tough economic times.
“[I]t’s more socially acceptable to buy a pre-owned luxury car than to show up in a completely brand new luxury car,” he told the paper. “So they buy a used car.”
It would seem that this is the perfect time to make a purchase of any used car. Dow Jones recently reported that the price of used cars dropped 8 percent in 2008.
Jillian Barberie-Reynolds is mostly known for her weather segments on every Sunday during football season on Fox’s NFL Sunday and daily on Good Day LA, but it’s her 2007 Mercedes-Benz S550 that might get her the most attention on the road.
“My front grille is all blacked out, it’s super sexy and it’s a matte black,” she recently told Motor Trend. “It’s not for everybody, my girlfriends are like, ‘It’s so gangster looking’ but I love that.”
The S550, which Barberie-Reynolds calls the Batmobile, is her second Mercedes and she tells the magazine that while she’s had Porches and BMWs in the past, they just didn’t fit her lifestyle.
“The last car I had was the Porsche, it was 6-speed Tiptronic, I loved it but it wasn’t practical for the amount of driving I do, it wasn’t luxurious,” she told the magazine.
It seems that the S550 does match Barberie-Reynolds’ idea of luxury. In reviewing the 2009 model, Edmunds’ Left Lane website called the car a “living room on wheels.” Yet it’s still likely faster than any living room you’ve been in as it’s clocked at 0-60 in 5.4 seconds.
However, Barberie-Reynolds likely spends a lot of time filling up the gas tank, as the website says the car gets about 14 mpg in the city.