Automotive Spring Cleaning: The Car Wash

While the last remnants of snow melt and the rains wash away all the salt and deicers from the roads, it's a great time to give your car a springtime makeover. After months of driving over icy roads and getting road salt and other debris all over your vehicle, one of the first things you can do to welcome warmer weather is to wash your car from top to bottom.

What you'll need:
There are a few different items you will need to give your car a thorough bath and dislodge all the debris and dirt that have accumulated in the past season. First, make sure you have a hose with a working spray nozzle. You'll also need plenty of clean rags and sponges. Don't use dirty cloths that could contain particles that may damage the paint job. For the soap, you'll want something mild – dish detergent can be a bit too strong for this job, so make sure to water it down substantially if that's what you plan to use. There are plenty of automotive cleaners out there, but you don't need to use them to get your car shiny and clean like new.

Washing the car:
Choose a shady spot so the soap doesn't dry while you work and leave unattractive soap stains, and rinse the car off entirely before you begin washing. Don't forget to spray the undercarriage of the car as well, since this is where most of the debris will build up. This removes any loose dirt, so you don't accidentally rub it into the surface and leave scratch marks. Then, you can start washing, but take it one section at a time, rinsing off the soap when you're done. 

A clean car is also ideal if you're planning to sell it or trade it in at NJ State Auto Auction for your next used car. When a car looks good, it reassures a buyer that the previous owner took care of it and can help boost the resale value a bit.

Getting Your Car Ready for Spring

Winter is finally drawing to a close, and while there may be a few snowfalls left to get through this season, there's no doubt that spring is just around the corner. For many, this means it's time to break out the cleaning supplies and get their homes ready for warmer weather, but car owners should be sure to include their vehicles in this year's spring cleaning plan. Here are a few things you can do to get your car ready for spring.

Throw out your garbage
If you're the type who doesn't worry about leaving an empty soda bottle or an old receipt on the floor of your car, chances are you could stand to do a bit of tidying up. Go through everything you have in your car, throw out the trash and take the stuff you don't need in your car into your house, like the five extra pairs of shoes you've had in the backseat all winter. Not only will clearing the clutter make the car look (and probably smell) better, but removing excess weight can also improve fuel economy, helping you save at the pump.

Clean everything really well
Head to an automotive store to pick up a few car-specific cleaning products and get to work. Clean the interior and exterior thoroughly to get rid of the dust and grime that have built up over the winter months. When your car is as clean as the day you bought it, it can increase the value if you're thinking of selling it to get your next used car before summer begins.

If you're looking to get behind the wheel of a new ride, NJ State Auto Auction has plenty of affordable used cars, trucks and SUVs to choose from so you're ready to hit the beach come Memorial Day.

Check back soon for more helpful spring cleaning tips for your car.

Most Car Shoppers Should Look to Spend Less

It may not surprise many to know that most people with median incomes can't afford to buy expensive luxury vehicles. Recent research conducted by looked at the median income for those living in 25 major U.S. metropolises, including New York City, and found the affordable vehicle purchase price for city dwellers typically did not cross the $30,000 threshold. Washington, D.C., was the exception, with an average affordable price of $31,940. Those living in NYC can afford, on average, to spend $21,464 on a car. However, the average amount people spent on new cars in 2012 was closer to $31,000.

"What this research indicates, more than anything, is that a lot of Americans are spending too much money on their cars," said Mike Sante, managing editor of "Car costs are one of the most controllable parts of a household's budget. "For example, if you live in New York City or San Francisco, you're probably going to have to pay a lot for housing, but you don't have to pay a lot for a car. You're better off driving something more affordable and saving or investing the difference."

Drivers in the New York/New Jersey area who want to save some money on their next purchase can head to NJ State Auto Auction. The dealer carries a wide selection of used cars, trucks and SUVs, ensuring that car shoppers will have plenty of options to choose from that don't break the budget. Plus those who need help financing their purchase can take advantage of NJ Auto's many partnerships with major lenders like Capital One and Citibank. 

Century-Old Mercedes-Benz Models to Appear at Upcoming Auto Show

Car racing has been around almost as long as vehicles themselves, and one of the earliest events was the Prinz Heinrich Tour. Named for automotive enthusiast Prince Albert Wilhelm Heinrich of Prussia, the early 1900s race featured production cars, one of the first road rallies to do so, according to the Revs Institute for Automotive Research. Automotive history lovers will be happy to know that two of the Mercedes-Benz models used in these races will be on display at the upcoming Amelia Island Concours d'Elegance March 8 to 10. Not only are these 1910 models still presentable, but they have recently been restored to working condition and will be driven onto the field at the event.

"History has been made when a vehicle fades into oblivion and can be salvaged and restored after more than 100 years of hibernation," said Michael Kunz, manager of Mercedes-Benz Classic Center in Irvine, California. "The presentation of two Prince Heinrich cars at the Amelia Island Concours not only reunites two vintage Mercedes-Benz vehicles from the early 1900s, but also restores what is considered to be a major high point in the origins of racing history."

According to a Mercedes-Benz press release, this is the first time two of these iconic vehicles will be together in one place since the races were held a century ago. Their very existence in such good condition is a testament to the ability to keep cars running well past their expected lifespan.

Drivers who want to do the same with their used cars can bring them to NJ Auto Auction's Total Car Care Center. Open to the public, this auto garage can handle everything from routine maintenance to major repairs. Taking care of a vehicle is the key to longevity, and absolutely crucial whether drivers plan to keep their cars until the end or they want to trade them in for newer models in a few years' time.

Tips for Researching Used Cars Before You Buy

Purchasing a car is not like buying a pair of jeans – you can't just walk into the dealership and pick out the one that looks the best. It takes a considerable amount of planning and research to ensure you find the perfect model to suit your needs and desires. Remember, you'll likely be driving this car for at least a few years, so you'll want to make sure it is safe, reliable and comfortable, and that you like the way it drives. Here are a few things that you should research before heading to the dealership.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) each put all new cars through rigorous testing to evaluate how safe they are. The results can be found on their respective websites, and you can search through the archives to find older models if you're looking to buy a used car.

Cost of ownership
In addition to the purchase price, you'll also be faced with maintenance and repair costs, insurance payments and fuel costs. It can be a good idea to speak with your insurance provider to get a rough estimate of your monthly payments for the car you want. You can also go online and search customer reviews to determine if the model you like has a tendency to break down or is expensive to repair.

It's a good idea to head to the dealer armed with knowledge about the price typically paid for the used car you're considering. You can visit industry websites like Kelley Blue Book and find out what others have paid for the same model. If the dealer's asking price is set too high, you can try to talk the salesperson down to an acceptable amount. A price that is too low should raise suspicions, as this could indicate the car has serious damage or other problems.

When you're ready to buy, you can head to NJ State Auto Auction, which carries a wide selection of used vehicles.

Luxury Brands Offer More Affordable Options in Their Lineups

Owning a luxury-brand car like a Lexus or BMW used to be a symbol of status among the wealthier, but many brands are beginning to introduce more reasonably priced options in order to keep business going and engage a new generation of upscale drivers. Not only does this increase competition among brands, but it gives more drivers access to new options when they are searching for their next models.

"It puts us in a whole different market that we haven't been in before," Tom Tassie, general manager at Mercedes-Benz of St. Clair Shores in Michigan, told The Detroit News. "You can have younger buyers in Mercedes-Benz that hopefully will become Mercedes-Benz buyers for life."

Mercedes recently debuted its newest model, the CLA 250, which has a starting price of $29,900 that puts it in competition with higher end models offered by non-luxury brands. This is just one of many luxury models that carry a smaller price tag on the market, but drivers may be able to save even more on their next vehicle if they opt to buy used cars.

Pre-owned luxury models will cost less up front, but it is important for shoppers to take the overall costs into consideration. They might want to check with their insurance companies to find out if insuring a luxury model is more expensive. They should also research the maintenance and repair costs associated with certain models, as some parts are far more costly to replace on luxury vehicle than on other models.

Car shoppers in the New York/New Jersey area can find plenty of affordable luxury options at NJ State Auto Auction, which carries a wide selection of makes and models. They can choose from previously owned BMW, Lexus, Mercedes, Audi and other luxury brand vehicles.

NHTSA Will Look Into Ford Engine Issue

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is currently investigating reports of engine failure among three Ford models that could result in a recall. Detroit News reports the agency has received 123 reports of engines stalling and power loss among a number of Ford Escape models. This is just the tip of the iceberg, as there have been 1,400 complaints made directly to the manufacturer and 27,500 warranty claims for the problem. Among these reports, there have been three crashes resulting in injury to one person so far.

The affected models include the Ford Escape and Fusion along with the Mercury Milan and Mariner from the 2009 to 2011 model years. The rough estimate of affected vehicles comes in around 724,000 units. USA Today reports that the issue likely stems from an problem with the throttle body system, which regulates air flow to the engine. The glitch tells the engine to reduce power to a "limp-home" mode that is used in emergency situations, except this occurs when nothing is wrong.

According to Detroit News, the North Carolina Consumers Council pushed for the NHTSA to launch an official investigation into electronic throttle body failures in August, and the ball is finally rolling. If the NHTSA concludes that this issue warrants further investigation, it will advance to an engineering analysis. From there, the agency may require the manufacturer to issue a recall and fix the problem in all affected vehicles.

Drivers who are considering purchasing used cars should take note of this and other recall news. Any recalls should be taken care of by the seller or the previous owner before car shoppers buy used vehicles. The CARFAX vehicle history reports that accompany every model on the lot at NJ State Auto Auction can make it easy for car buyers to find this information.

Fewer Young Adults Own Cars After Recession

While the recent recession has ended and the U.S. economy is slowly recovering, the aftereffects of the economic dip are still making waves, and the most recent report reveals car ownership is down among those 35 and younger. The Pew Research Center analyzed Federal Reserve Board and other government data that spanned 2007 through 2010 and then compared it to the numbers from 2011.

The researchers found that the amount of debt among those under 35 fell 29 percent between 2007 and 2010, while those over 35 only saw a decline of 8 percent. This is believed to be due in part to the fact that those in the younger group are less likely to own homes and cars, which means they are not paying off auto loans or mortgages. In 2007, 73 percent of those younger than 25 owned or leased cars, but this fell to 66 percent by 2011. 

As the economy continues to recover, the lending environment is more welcoming to those looking to purchase cars. The federal interest rate remains low, which means banks and other lenders are willing to be more lenient with those who don't have perfect credit. Car shoppers in the New York/New Jersey area who are in the market for used vehicles can ask about their financing options at NJ Auto Auction. The dealer accepts all credit backgrounds and partners with a number of major lenders to help customers get approved for financing. 

Once a driver secures his or her financing, it is time to pick out the perfect ride. NJ Auto has a wide selection of makes and models for shoppers to choose from, whether they're looking for SUVs with lots of cargo space like the Chevy Tahoe or they would prefer smaller, more fuel-efficient models such as the Honda Accord.

Rising Rate of Traffic Fatalities Highlights Need for Awareness

The National Safety Council (NSC) recently reported that the number of traffic fatalities and serious injuries increased in 2012. The news is especially alarming, as the rate of traffic accidents resulting in death or injuries that require medical treatment has trended downward in recent years – this is the first time the rate has increased since 2004 to 2005.

According to the NSC report, there were roughly 36,200 crash-related deaths in 2012, which is 5 percent higher than in 2011. The agency suggested that the increase could be linked to both distracted driving and the fact that people across the country are traveling more.

"NSC is greatly concerned with the upswing in traffic fatalities on our nation's roads," said Janet Froetscher, president and CEO of the agency. "Although we have improved safety features in vehicles today, we also have new challenges, especially as it relates to teen and distracted driving, that need to be addressed on a national scale. We must work together now to reverse this latest trend to prevent needless tragedy."

Drivers can take many steps to stay safer on the road, including traveling at the speed limit, keeping their vehicles in good condition, and avoiding dangerous behavior like texting or adjusting the radio. A car that runs well is less likely to break down and cause an accident.

Many vehicles that have come out in recent years are also loaded with safety features like brake assist, rearview backup cameras and lane departure warnings. Those thinking about purchasing used cars can head to NJ State Auto Auction to find vehicles that offer these and other safety technologies. The dealer carries a wide selection of makes and models from subcompact cars to large SUVs.

Mercedes Argues It Bested BMW in 2012

Early in January, the final sales numbers for 2012 came out, and the results showed that BMW had the highest sales in the luxury automotive sector. However, Mercedes recently argued that their numbers actually put the brand ahead of BMW.

According to Bloomberg Businessweek, Mercedes was actually in the lead right up until the end of 2012, when BMW got a 45 percent sales boost in November, narrowing the gap between the two German automakers' numbers. By the end of the year, BMW climbed just a bit higher than Mercedes, selling 347,583 vehicles over the year including MINI sales. Mercedes' tally came in at 305,072 units in the U.S., The New York Times reports.

When looking at new vehicle registrations, however, Mercedes-Benz claims it has earned the title of best-selling luxury nameplate in the U.S., AutoBlog indicates. Registration data provided by Polk shows that Mercedes posted 274,123 registrations, while there were only 268,498 BMW registrations in 2012. Steve Cannon, chief of Mercedes-Benz North America, explained at a monthly Motor Press Association meeting that the discrepancies between the sales and registration numbers are vastly different for the two companies – Mercedes' numbers were only off by 11, while BMW's numbers were separated by about 13,000.

Official data has not yet been released, so the jury is still out about which of these two luxury car providers is the real top dog of 2012.

While the automakers duke it out, drivers looking to get behind the wheel of used cars can head over to New Jersey State Auto Auction to find the luxury ride they've been dreaming of. The dealership has a wide selection of makes and models, whether drivers are looking for a BMW 3 Series or they would prefer a Mercedes SUV.