Tuneup Before You Head to the Beach This Summer

Memorial Day celebrations marked the unofficial start to summer, and many families are gearing up for weekend trips to the beach. Any seasoned beachgoer knows southbound traffic on the Garden State Parkway is slow-moving at best on the weekends, so the last thing you want is to have your car breakdown along the journey. Before you pack your kids, coolers and beach chairs into the family car, it's a good idea to get a tuneup and make sure your vehicle is ready for a trip to the Jersey Shore.

There are a few things you can do in your own driveway, but for messier and more skilled work, you can bring your car to the experts at New Jersey State Auto Auction's Total Car Care Center in Jersey City. They can change the oil and other fluids and inspect the car for any potential issues that could ruin a weekend getaway. Be sure to have them check the brakes and replace worn pads before you hit the road, and you'll appreciate the work when you're sitting in stop-and-go traffic.

When it comes to at-home maintenance, you should check the tire pressure and fluid levels. Top off the coolant and oil to reduce the risk of possibly overheating. If you suspect the coolant may be leaking, you might want to get a bottle of pre-mixed coolant to keep in the car. This way, you'll be able to add more along the way to your destination if need be. In extreme emergencies you can add just water, but this should be a last-ditch effort as undistilled water can damage the cooling system.

It is also important to check windshield washer fluid levels and the wipers themselves, replacing damaged wipers if necessary. This will ensure you have the best visibility possible along your journey.

Most Seniors Don’t Know When It’s Time to Stop Driving

As people age, there comes a point when it is no longer safe for them to get behind the wheel of a car. It becomes increasingly difficult for older adults to see at night, and AAA reports a 60-year-old needs three times as much light to see as clearly as a 20-year-old. Hearing loss and slowed reaction times can be contributing factors as well.

While it is necessary for seniors to give up driving eventually, many are unable to tell when their time has come. A recent survey conducted by researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) found most older adults (85 percent) think they are "excellent" or "good" drivers. However, 25 percent of this same group of drivers ages 65 to 91 also reported being involved in motor vehicle crashes in the past year.

"A large debate in driving research is whether or not at-risk drivers can self-regulate, and thus possibly reduce their crash risk," said study author Dr. Lesley Ross, an assistant professor in UAB's psychology department. "This research indicates that, at least for this sample, a previous history of four adverse driving outcomes has no relationship with the self-reported driving ability, thus possibly indicating a lack of awareness in regards to driving abilities. The majority of older adults can continue to drive safely well into old age. However, there is a group of older drivers who are at greater risk for crashing."

AAA provides an online assessment test that older drivers can take to determine if they fall into this at-risk category. They should also heed warnings offered by friends, family and physicians when they are told it may be time to hand over their keys. Those who don't have to give up this pastime can head over the New Jersey State Auto Auction to pick out their next ride. The dealer has a variety of makes and models at affordable prices.

US DOT Study Finds Most Drivers Approve Vehicle-to-Vehicle Technology

Most drivers are enthusiastic about advancements in automotive technology that can be used to improve vehicular safety. The U.S. Department of Transportation recently released the results of six pilot programs that were conducted across the country. These driver clinics, which are the first portion of the Connected Vehicle Safety Pilot Program, gave 688 drivers the chance to test out vehicle-to-vehicle technology. The majority (82 percent) said they wanted the technology in their own vehicles, and a whopping 90 percent believed introducing vehicle communication technology to cars would greatly improve road safety.

"Safety is our top priority, and we are always looking for ways that innovative technology can be harnessed to improve driver safety," said NHTSA's secretary of transportation Ray LaHood. "Connected vehicle technology offers tremendous promise – for improving safety, reducing traffic jams and increasing fuel efficiency. It's encouraging to see that most drivers agree and want this technology in their cars"

The next phase of the ongoing study will take place in Ann Arbor, Michigan, where roughly 3,000 cars and light trucks equipped with the connectivity technology will be driven for one year. These cars, much like those used in the pilot programs, will be able to alert drivers when there are potential oncoming collisions, when cars stop short in front of them and even when it is not safe to pass on the highway. The technology may still be in the research stages, but many vehicles are equipped with similar safety aids, such as blind-spot warnings and lane departure alerts.

Drivers who want to purchase used cars in New Jersey aren't entirely out of the loop when it comes to the latest safety technology as many devices are available as aftermarket additions. Plus, the cars at New Jersey State Auto Auction are all CARFAX certified, so drivers know they'll be starting out with safe, reliable rides.

Ford Announces Summer Test Drive Events for New Focus ST

Ford recently announced that performance fans will soon get the chance to get behind the wheel of one of the automaker's newest compact sports cars – the 2013 Ford Focus ST. This summer, the car company will host events in New York, Boston, Washington, D.C., San Francisco and Los Angeles where driving enthusiasts can test out the upcoming car. Each event will feature two separate driving courses sure to make anyone with a need for speed a bit weak in the knees.

The first course will be all about performance training and the second is a timed autocross. Those who sign up for the event, which must be done ahead of time, can learn how to better handle the sporty model and then put their new knowledge to the test.

"Our fans have expressed extremely high interest in this car, but we know the proof is in the pudding," said Lisa Schoder, Ford Focus ST marketing manager. "We want ST fans, as well as drivers of competitive vehicles, to be able to taste this car firsthand. What better way to do it than to bring the car to the people with the help of professional driver instruction on closed courses."

The Ford Focus ST hit showroom floors across the nation in May. It offers 252 horsepower and 270 lb-ft. of torque from a 2.0-liter Ecoboost engine. It was designed to work wonders as an everyday driver and still allow the motorist to unleash power on the track. The new car starts around $24,500, so not everyone will be able to afford this sporty new compact.

However, those looking for powerful used cars in New Jersey can head to New Jersey State Auto Auction. The used car dealer has a wide variety of makes and models, from traditional sports cars to the unexpected powerhouse. Drivers can always opt for something a bit more modest and tack on aftermarket accessories to enhance the vehicle's performance.

Alfa Romeo Steals Show at Concorso d’Eleganza in Italy

Italy's Lake Como recently hosted the 2012 Concorso d'Eleganza Villa d'Este, an annual event that celebrates and votes on the world's highest quality cars and motorcycles, much like the Concours d'Elegance in Pebble Beach, California. At the end of the weekend-long car show, officials choose the best vehicles and shower them with awards and praise, and this year Alfa Romeo came out on top.

The Italian automaker took home four awards for a few of its vehicles including the Coppa d'Oro (Gold Cup) and the Best of Show award, which both went to the 1933 Alfa Romeo 6C 1750 GS sports car.

"We experienced a high-caliber event with a unique field of competitors," said Karl Baumer, president of the Concorso d'Eleganza Villa d'Este and director of BMW Group Classic. "We are particularly delighted at the splendid turnout of almost 6,000 visitors on Sunday. We witnessed a Concorso that is second to none in terms of sheer class and quality."

The Alfa Romeo 4C drove away with the Design Award for Concept Cars and Prototypes because the concept embodies all the attributes the brand strives for – Italian styling, performance and technical excellence. This model is a two-seater sports car that features an engine that gets more than 200 horsepower, and technology borrowed from the automaker's 8C line. The 4C concept is soon to be a reality, and one that may reach American shores by 2013, marking the return of the Italian automaker to the U.S. market, according to AutoBlog.

While most people are not likely going to be driving Concorso-caliber vehicles, that doesn't mean their cars cannot run just as well. The professionals at New Jersey State Auto Auction's Total Car Care Center can perform routine maintenance and address necessary repairs to help keep vehicles running smoothly.

Why You Should Inspect Before You Buy a Used Car

When you're shopping for a used car in New Jersey, you should thoroughly research your purchase before making a final decision. This includes everything from determining the market value of a particular model and assessing the total cost of ownership to test driving and inspecting the vehicle itself.

Many drivers may not be aware of the importance of inspecting the vehicle, but doing so can help them spot and avoid a "lemon." Lemons are cars that have sustained significant damages or undergone repairs that drastically reduce their value, but many private sellers and some used car dealers may try to pull the wool over consumers' eyes to make money off their cars. Not all dealers are out to deceive car shoppers. New Jersey State Auto Auction, for instance, guarantees the quality of their vehicles, which are all CARFAX certified, so drivers know they're getting behind the wheel of reliable vehicles.

However, it is always a safe bet to give a car a once over, just in case something is wrong that may have gone unnoticed. The Wall Street Journal recommends looking for mismatched paint and checking for uniformity along any seams in the car's body. This can indicate major repair work was done. You should also check for signs of flood damage inside the engine. Look for water lines under the hood that could hint the vehicle has been exposed to water damage. This can not only impact the value of the car, but has likely caused a significant amount of damage and rust.

The best way to ensure a vehicle is in the condition the seller claims is to have a trusted independent mechanic inspect the car before you make a purchase. This typically costs between $75 and $150, according to the news source.

Tips to Extend Your Car Battery’s Life

In order to start a car, an electrical charge is needed to provide the spark for the ignition system to kick the engine into gear. This energy is supplied by the car battery, which is designed to wear out over time. The average automotive batter typically lasts for roughly two years, but this can be drastically shortened if proper care is not taken to maintain the car part.

The main factors that contribute the declining health of a battery include extreme temperatures, sulfation caused by lack of use, dirty battery connections and faulty alternators and starters that can prematurely drain the battery. Extreme temperatures, both high and low, can prematurely drain a car's battery. Parking in the shade during the summer and keeping a car in an insulated garage or insulating the battery itself can help protect it all year long.

Another thing you should keep an eye on is the state of the posts and the wires connected to them. Corrosive buildup is inevitable, but needs to be removed regularly. Otherwise, it can create electrical resistance that will prohibit the car from starting due to lack of enough electrical charge. Corrosive buildup typically appears as a white, powdery substance. This material is dangerous and you should not touch it with your bare hands. A hard bristle brush, baking soda and water are all you need to remove the corrosion, but be sure to wear protective gloves if you decide to perform this bit of maintenance yourself.

If you're experiencing trouble with your battery, it could be time to replace it. However, you can bring your vehicle to the Total Car Care Center at New Jersey State Auto Auction and have a certified mechanic make sure there are no other factors coming into play. If the alternator or starter are acting up, you may find battery problems will continue after a replacement.

Industry Experts Predict High Auto Sales in May

As May draws to a close, TrueCar.com predicts auto sales for the month will be the highest since 2007. The automotive website predicts sales in May will be around 1.4 million units, which is an 18.3 percent increase over April's numbers and an annual jump of 32 percent. The seasonally adjusted annualized rate remains the same at about 14.5 million new car sales.

"Pent up demand continues to fuel auto sales at a steady and sustainable level in may," said Jesse Toprak, vice president of market intelligence for TrueCar.com. "All major manufacturers will see double-digit growth this month. Toyota's recovery stemming from the natural disasters has happened at a breakneck pace and sales this month for Toyota will be the highest we have seen in a few years led by strong sales of the Camry and Prius along with strong sales from GM, which will be the highest since September 2008."

J.D. Power and Associates predicts similar success for automotive sales in May, including commercial and used vehicles in the estimates. The positive air around the automotive industry spells good things for those looking to buy used cars in New Jersey. As more people are buying new cars, there will be more used vehicles reaching the lots. This could lead to an average decline in the cost of used vehicles, which has been high due to increased demand. It doesn't hurt that gas prices have been dropping steadily in recent weeks, which has contributed to consumer confidence.

Drivers will be sure to find what they're looking for at New Jersey State Auto Auction. The dealer has a wide variety of makes and models, and every vehicle is CARFAX certified, so drivers know they'll be getting behind the wheel of a reliable ride.

Auto loan delinquencies hit their lowest levels

As the economy continues to pick up the pace, many people are opening their wallets once again in an effort to make the purchases they had been putting off. The auto market has experienced a surge in sales so far this year, and it seems as though consumers aren't in over their heads.

TransUnion reports the national auto loan delinquency rate hit the lowest level on record, indicating consumers are able to keep up with their car payments. The rate is measured by people who are 60 or more days past due on their bill. For the first quarter of 2012, the rate dropped to 0.36 percent, which indicated a 27 percent decrease from the first quarter of last year.

Analysts for TransUnion said these figures can be attributed to the fact that buying new or used cars is becoming a necessity for many people, particularly if they held onto their old model for longer than they should have. Peter Turek, automotive vice president of TransUnion's financial services business unit, indicates that the sector will continue to see an increase in lending and leasing, particularly in the non-prime risk segments.

"We anticipate national auto loan delinquency rates to remain relatively low for the remainder of the year, rising and decreasing with traditional seasonal patterns," Turek said. "However, a slight increase from this record-low level would not be surprising and should not be construed as a negative event, as lenders continue to originate more loans to consumers across all credit risk levels."

BusinessWeek reports that lenders are approving more auto loans now after pulling back the amount of money handed out due to the recession. As some people have faith in the improving economy, lenders are becoming more willing to help consumers afford their vehicle purchases, with many looking to expand their customer base.

Alternative Fuel Sector May Need Government Support for Growth

While many advancements have been made with alternative energy in relation to the automotive industry, sales of hybrid, electric and other alternative vehicles are still relatively low compared to overall sales. A recent survey conducted by Booz and Co. of original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) found many believe the sector will improve, but only if the government continues to provide support.

The report indicates 70 percent of OEM executives are more confident in alternative powertrains than they were last year, with the exception of fuel-cell and battery-electric vehicles. Roughly 71 and 75 percent of respondents claim they are less enthusiastic about fuel cell and electric technology, respectively. However, about 58 percent claim continued government support would boost non-gas vehicles to account for at least 10 percent of the total market share, while only 30 percent think it will succeed without federal backing. Government intervention includes setting up a nationwide charging station infrastructure for electric and hybrid vehicles.

"One of the challenges we've had is that there hasn't been a consistent energy policy for a long period of time," Scott Corwin, a partner at Booz and Co., told WardsAuto.

The news source indicates many consumers are choosing to purchase hybrids and electric vehicles for the tax incentives rather than for fuel efficiency. If the government removes these incentives, there may be a sharp decline in sales for this sector.

Another issue that may be turning drivers away from alternative energy vehicles is the overall design. Many hybrid and electric vehicles are given unique physical appearances that make them look, in a word, futuristic. But this may not be the best image for the new breed of automobiles, which is why many automakers have introduced alternative drivetrains on their popular models.

Those looking to get behind the wheel of a used hybrid or other vehicles that rely on alternative energy can head to New Jersey State Auto Auction. The used car dealer in NJ offers a variety of makes and models at affordable prices.