The best and worst used cars to insure

When you're shopping for a high-quality used car, there are several factors that you must take into consideration. Obviously matters such as price, reliability and gas mileage will come into play, but it's important to also do your best to root out "hidden costs" before purchasing or leasing a car to ensure you don't end up paying more than you were planning on later.

One such hidden cost is insurance. Your monthly premium is likely not going to be brought up at the dealership – after all, dealers have very little to do with insurance. Still, while premiums are frequently determined by things like driving history, age and other factors, don't overlook the car itself.

As far as insurance goes, not all cars are created equal. Some cars are an insurance company's dream, while others are certain to be little more than a nightmare when it comes time to shop for a plan. Here are some of the best and worst cars in terms of insurance rates.

"How popular a car is with auto thieves can also impact how much you end up paying in insurance."

The high
Lots of things can influence a car's average insurance rate, and many of these factors have little to nothing to do with you as a driver. If you're shopping for a used car, you'll need to accept the reality that you're already likely to pay a bit more for insurance, since older cars tend to add money on to your monthly premium. But aside from age, any number of factors such as reliability, the frequency with which a given model is stolen and even the color of a car can affect your premium.

That's right – you can pay more to insure a red car than you would a car of the same model that comes in a different hue. This is due to the same reason sports cars cost much more on average to insure than sedans – people tend to drive them faster and can statistically be more accident prone.

According to Business Insider, the most expensive car to insure in 2015 is the Nissan GT-R NISMO. This sporty ride may feel great to drive, but it comes at a price. The news source indicated that owners of this particular model can expect to shell out an average of $3,574 every year just on insurance.

How popular a car is with auto thieves can also impact how much you end up paying in insurance. Kelley Blue Book compiled a list of the 10 most- and least-stolen cars. Topping the list was the Cadillac Escalade, the Ford F250 and the Dodge Charger. At least car thieves like to buy American, right?

If your car is attractive to thieves, that will likely reflect on your insurance premium. If your car is attractive to thieves, that will likely reflect on your insurance premium.

The low
If minimizing your monthly insurance payments is a priority, then you'll want to consider a whole separate set of criteria when shopping for your car. Granted these premium-friendly rides aren't necessarily going to take anyone's breath away, but when it comes to practical, reliable cars with reasonable premiums, this list is a good place to start.

Starting from the assumption that sports cars cost more to insure, shifting your sights to sedans is a good starting point. As an added bonus, sedans tend to carry much lower sticker prices than their sportier counterparts as well.

AutoBytel reported that the Buick Lucerne topped the list for used car model with the lowest insurance premium, and it's not difficult to see why. The car's relatively high reliability rating, the broader availability of parts and its average performance make it a perfect middle-of-the-road car that's excellent for those drivers who aren't looking for flash, but are trying to save cash.

When you're ready to shop for a used car, head to New Jersey State Auto Auction. You'll find hundreds of Carfax-certified cars on the lot, and a knowledgeable sales and finance team to assist you through every step of the process.

What to do after an accident

Accidents happen. There's no way around it. But while to err is human, when cars and other motor vehicles are involved, there is a whole other level of confusion, chaos and worry that comes along as well.

Especially for newer drivers, car accidents can be an incredibly stressful. Between making sure everyone involved is ok and planning for the next steps regarding insurance and car repairs, dealing with the aftermath of an accident is overwhelming.

Here are a few tips to help you get through this experience as painlessly as possible.

Immediately following the accident
You're stopped at a traffic light or making a left turn through an intersection when suddenly, your whole world is shaken up – literally. You've just been in a car accident. Now what? The most important piece of initial advice may also be the hardest to follow: Don't panic. Sure, you're stressed, but the additional chaos caused by panic can make you overlook otherwise important details.

First things first – get your car off the road either by pulling into a nearby parking lot or moving your car to the shoulder of the road if you're able. This will ensure you stay out of harm's way and can give you the time you need to navigate the rest of the situation. It's also a good idea to have emergency equipment in your trunk like cones, flares and reflective triangles so you can cordon off a safety zone.

Once the dust settles
Now that you've gotten your car out of the way of traffic, assess yourself, your passengers and the people in the other car or cars to find out if anyone is injured. You should always call the police when you're in an accident, but if you need emergency medical services, you'll need to know immediately. 

While you're waiting for the police to arrive, it's the perfect opportunity to gather as much information as possible. Of course you'll want to do the normal "exchange of information" with the other party, swapping insurance details, license plate numbers, phone numbers and addresses. But you'll also want to make as many notes as you can as to the details of the accident. This will come in handy when you're talking to the police or to the insurance company. In the age of smartphones, it's also a good idea to take as many pictures as possible, both of damage to any vehicles as well as any injuries. 

Nobody likes getting into an accident, but remaining calm is crucial.Nobody likes getting into an accident, but remaining calm is crucial.

The aftermath
Once the immediate panic of the accident is over, you'll need to take care of the loose ends. Perhaps the most important thing to do during this period is file a claim with your insurance company. You'll want to do this as quickly as possible, as it's possible the company may want to send a claims investigator to speak with you before determining fault. 

Above all, be honest when speaking with the insurance company. You may think you're saving yourself money and headache by stretching the truth to omit what you think is a small detail, but insurers will investigate accident-related claims extensively, and if their investigation uncovers that you were dishonest, you'll be in even more trouble. 

"Even low-speed collisions can impact important things like your car's alignment."

Taking care of your car
It goes without saying that you'll need to get your car repaired after an accident. This may require you to wait for the insurance company to complete its investigation before you'll be able to cover the maintenance. 

Even if the damage to your car seems minor or negligible, it's highly recommended that you take your car in for an inspection. Even low-speed collisions can impact important things like your car's alignment or any number of other internal components that you may not be able to see.

For more tips on purchasing and owning a high-quality used car, head to New Jersey State Auto Auction.

Equip yourself with this useful first-time car-owner’s checklist

Purchasing and owning your first car is more than an important milestone. It's also a rite of passage for many. Whether you're a teen driver looking to celebrate a freshly minted license by heading to the used car dealership or a long-time city-dweller finally looking to add an extra bit of mobility to your life, the sheer volume of information you'll encounter when researching and buying a car can be overwhelming. 

There's more to car ownership than just paying your loans and filling your gas tank. Vehicles can be costly in terms of both time and money if you don't have the proper knowledge. Fortunately, with the following tips, you can ensure that your vehicle ownership experience is a positive one from the time you start doing research into which model is for you until it's time to trade in your car for a new model.

Shop smart
Choosing the right car for you isn't anywhere near as simple as picking out produce or selecting a new outfit to wear. Cars aren't purchases. They're investments. That means that you should be thinking years down the road when deciding what model is right for you. 

The key thing to keep in mind is to do your homework. Don't rely on dealers to tell you everything you need to know, as their focus is more likely to be on closing sales than on ensuring you get the best value for your money. Don't be afraid to shop around and compare prices, and never, ever buy the first car you find. 

Financing a car for the first time doesn't have to be scary.

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Start saving
You already know that you'll need quite a bit of money to make your purchasing dream a reality. Aside from the down payment, you've got insurance, monthly payments, gas and regular maintenance costs all piling up as soon as you drive off of the lot. 

Making a budget is crucial to your success, not just to prevent you from overspending, but simply to ensure you have the clearest picture of what your expenses are going to be in the first place. Calculating car costs can be difficult due to a variety of factors that must be considered, such as loan terms and total cost to own, but fortunately there are many reputable sources such as Edmunds and Kelley Blue Book that can provide you with the right information you need to make an educated decision.

Get your hands dirty
Even if you aren't a mechanic or particularly handy, familiarizing yourself with some of your new vehicle's basic components and maintenance tasks is a good idea. You may not be planning on doing much under the hood yourself, but at least being able to recognize which problems certain symptoms may indicate can be a huge time- and money-saver.

At the very least, you should know how to check your oil, where to find your battery – and how to jumpstart your car if needed – check your tires' air pressure and interpret the warning lights on your dashboard. 

"You should shop for a mechanic the same way you do for a car."

Make friends with your mechanic
Your mechanic is like your doctor – the better relationship you have, the more effectively he or she will be able to address your needs. You should shop for a mechanic the same way you do for a car, as not all auto body shops are created equal.

Many dealerships offer on-site mechanical service, especially if they're a licensed vendor for a given car company, but it may be more convenient for you in the long run to find a local mechanic who is capable of handling smaller to medium-sized repair tasks on site. Just be sure that the mechanic you choose is certified to work on cars of your make and model, and that he or she will be able to get any necessary parts for repairs easily if needed.

When you're ready to turn your dreams of car ownership into a reality, head to New Jersey State Auto Auction. You'll find hundreds of Carfax-certified cars on the lot, and a knowledgeable sales staff ready and willing to help pair you with your dream vehicle. 

Consider these models when shopping for a used car

Shopping for a car can be a stressful experience. There are so many factors to take into consideration, like your budgetary circumstances, the needs of your lifestyle and even plain old luck.

First-time buyers may be particularly nervous, spiraling into a black hole of comparison charts and online consumer reviews in the quest to find "the perfect car." While every model, individual car and driver is different, in general, there are a few guidelines to help you feel confident. That way, you can drive home from the dealership comfortable in the knowledge that you've made a smart choice.

Here are a few suggestions based on what the most important factor is for you when choosing a car.

Cost is one of the most significant factors for nearly everyone when shopping for a set of wheels. After all, there are few other elements that can have so immediate an impact on what decision you ultimately end up making. Of course, everyone has heard the old adage that you get what you pay for, so while a lower sticker price certainly holds some appeal for your wallet, you want to make sure that you aren't ending up with a lemon.

According to Kelley Blue Book, if you're on a shoestring budget, you'd be hard-pressed to find better value for your dollar than a Honda Civic. This popular and reliable sedan topped the publication's list of the 10 Best Used Cars under $8,000 for 2014, epitomizing a perfect mix of affordability and function. KBB highlighted the 2007 model in particular, which boasts an average 36 miles per gallon on the highway, making it an incredibly fuel-efficient buy. This efficiency, combined with the Japanese manufacturer's legendary reliability, make it a good choice for cash-strapped buyers.

Purchasing the right model can help keep your car out of the shop.Purchasing the right model can help keep your car out of the shop.

A common concern when shopping for used cars in particular is reliability. Not only are pre-owned vehicles older, but they can sometimes have histories and pasts that could affect their performance. Once again, it's important to note that every car is different, but there are some brands that have established reputations for being notably reliable.

In particular, many of the big U.S. manufacturers tend to top many mechanics' lists of reliable rides. If you're less concerned about initial investment and more worried about keeping your cost of ownership low down the road, consider a Chevrolet Cavalier or Ford Escort, Popular Mechanics suggested. What these tried-and-true models lack in luxury and luster they make up for with reliability and, importantly, cheap and readily available parts. You likely won't have to take these cars into the shop often, but when you do, you can count on not spending a fortune on replacement components. 

Fuel efficiency
With gas prices fluctuating wildly, driving to the pump can be a car-owner's worst nightmare. Fortunately, the past several years have seen tremendous strides made in fuel efficiency, and used-car enthusiasts will be happy to hear that these pump​-side savings can accompany cars at just about every price level. 

According to Consumer Reports, if you want the best bang for your gasoline buck, you're going to be hard-pressed to find a better deal than a Toyota Prius. The 2004-2007 models averaged an impressive 44 overall mpg, making it the publication's top choice for gas-sipping cars under $10,000.

"When it comes to used cars, specific make and model may not be the most reliable final indicator of performance."

The outliers
These suggestions can be helpful, but it's important to note that they're just that – suggestions. Just like any rule, there are plenty of exceptions, and when it comes to used cars, the truth is that specific make and model may not be the most reliable final indicator of performance.

In fact, a car's previous owner and his or her driving and maintenance habits can have an enormous impact on a vehicle's overall performance. Years of poor treatment can turn even the nicest model into a clunker. For this reason, it's crucial that whatever car you ultimately end up choosing, you get it inspected thoroughly before signing on the dotted line. If possible, try and narrow your search to certified pre-owned cars. These carry an additional warranty from the manufacturer, and receive in-depth inspections before hitting the sales floor, so you can feel better about your choice.

If you think a used car may be in your future, head to New Jersey State Auto Auction. You'll find hundreds of Carfax-certified vehicles on the lot, and the helpful sales staff are on hand to make your experience as pleasant as possible. 

Helpful ways to keep your ride feather-free

The sun shining overhead without a cloud in the sky, and you in your freshly washed car ready to hit the open road for an exciting summer adventure. Could anything possibly ruin this perfect moment?

As it turns out, absolutely. 

There are few things that can put a damper on your plans and your road trip spirit more than making your way out to your car to find that it's already been "claimed" by a nearby flock of birds. Not only can these annoying avians create a serious aesthetic headache, ruining the shiny like-new look of your car, but if left unchecked, they can also have a serious maintenance impact that can end up costing you money. Here are a few things to keep in mind to prevent your car from going to the birds. 

Make your car off-limits
Birds are a lot like small children – they'll go pretty much anywhere they can get away with. This means that when it comes to de-birding your car, prevention plays a significant role. Just like when you're preventing a precocious toddler from grabbing the cookie jar, if you want to keep feathered friends away from your ride, make sure it stays off-limits.

As much as you may be tempted to use your garage to store your old Halloween decorations, unused sporting equipment and a whole host of other items that never see the light of day but that you can't bring yourself to part with, resist the temptation to cave in to clutter. Instead, use your garage for what it was intended for – keeping your car safe. If you don't have a garage, you can accomplish a similar effect by purchasing a cover for your car. As an added bonus, this can help you keep the sun out.

"Many urban birds swallow gravel, which makes their droppings particularly abrasive."

Get it washed
You walk to the parking lot only to find that during the work day a wayward bird has seen fit to mark your car. Better add it to the list of things to take care of this weekend, right?

Wrong. It may not seem like a big deal, but bird droppings can be far more than just an eyesore for your car. Droppings are highly acidic, and if left sitting on your car, these caustic chemicals can eat through your car's clear coat and paint, and may even begin to rust the body. To make matters worse, many urban birds swallow gravel, which makes their droppings particularly abrasive. These damaging effects are even more pronounced in the heat of summer, so be sure to get your car cleaned as soon as you can.

Polish carefully
For those tough stuck-on jobs, you'll likely need to polish your car after you wash it to remove any additional traces of unpleasantness. Just be careful when doing this. The average bird damage area is around 2 millimeters thick, while your car's paint and clear coat is only about 4-6 mm thick. Buffing the affected area is necessary for blending the affected area with the surrounding parts of the car, but if you go too far you may end up damaging the overall paint job. 

For more tips on maintaining or buying a high-quality pre-owned vehicle, head to New Jersey State Auto Auction. You'll find hundreds of Carfax-certified cars on the lot, and a knowledgeable sales staff committed to helping pair you with the car of your dreams.

Ride sharing ruffles more taxi cab feathers

If you own a smartphone and live in a city, chances are you're familiar with Uber, Lyft and similar "ride-sharing" services. These apps, which allow users to hail a cab and pay automatically, have skyrocketed in popularity lately due to their incredible convenience, not to mention the significant cost-savings over conventional taxi services.

Not unsurprisingly, while consumers and bar-goers the world over are singing the praises of these services, cab companies are viewing the intrusion of ride-sharing into their market share somewhat less favorably. 

This tension has recently come to a head in numerous places across the globe, with strikes, protests and even new laws coming out of the war between the cabbies. What's going on, and what might the future of everyone's favorite cab-hailing app look like?

"Ride-sharing services have grown tremendously even over the last year."

Equalizing cab rides?
The purported benefits of services like Uber and Lyft swing both ways. Not only do commuters have reliable and cost-effective access to transportation without having to worry about having cash on hand, but these companies also offer enterprising individuals a chance to essentially work for themselves by turning their cars into their livelihoods. 

In fact, the popular ride-sharing service has grown tremendously even over the last year. According to Inc. magazine, Uber employed around 550 people in 2013 – that number was expected to jump by as much as 200 percent in 2015, and with the company expanding out from the Bay Area to places as far away as France, it's a projection that is likely very accurate.

This tremendous growth is facilitated by the fact that Uber jobs are remarkably accessible. According to the company's official site, prospective employees only need to be 21 or older. As long as they meet the age requirements, have a commercial driver's license (or equivalent) and have a recent-model car with up-to-date insurance, there's nothing stopping them from joining the Uber team.

What about the cabbies?
As is the case with anything that sounds too good to be true, Uber isn't without its share of hiccups. Cab companies all across the world are rallying to protest against the company that they claim is driving them out of business. In fact, a recent cab strike in France has set the stage for similar demonstrations elsewhere. Boston has become the latest city whose cabbies have banded together to try and regulate the ride-sharing giant, though Massachusetts and U.S. federal government officials seem reluctant to pass new laws restricting the operation of ride-sharing giants in cities.

While this may not be great news for conventional cabbies, it's an encouraging fact for anyone who may be interested in experimenting with a life on the road. Even those with pre-owned vehicles can be eligible to be Uber drivers, so long as their cars aren't too old and are kept in good condition.

If you've been flirting with the idea of being a self-employed Uber driver, let New Jersey State Auto Auction help. You'll find hundreds of reliable, Carfax-certified cars on the lot, and a helpful and accommodating sales staff ready to help you drive away happy.

How to avoid overspending on your car payment

The decision to buy a car is a big life step. While having your own wheels can be exciting and liberating, it also requires a great deal of financial responsibility if you want to ensure that you don't end up in trouble later on.

There are a lot of figures to take into account, like loan amounts, monthly payments and estimated cost of ownership, so planning your finances around your car purchase will be more complex than just you might think. Here are some tips to help you avoid punching above your financial weight.

Use a monthly payment calculator
Determining your actual monthly payment will be a huge part of planning your spending. Fortunately, there are numerous tools available for free online that can help you figure out how much you'll be spending every month. All you need to do is enter in a few basic values, such as the cost of the car, your down payment, the loan term and the interest rate, and you'll be provided with a monthly payment value.

Do note that these tools aren't "official," and as such, the information they provide may not be exactly the same as what you get at the dealer's office. With that in mind, an online payment calculator can still be a useful tool.

Cost of ownership takes things like taxes, insurance and other "hidden costs" into account.Cost of ownership takes things like taxes, insurance and other "hidden costs" into account.

Figure out cost of ownership
Cars are unlike many other products in that you don't simply pay once up front. Vehicles carry hidden costs with them in the form of cost of ownership. Sometimes called "true cost to own," this value includes expenditures you may not have originally thought of, such as insurance premiums, depreciation, and estimated fuel and maintenance costs.

This is more than just an exercise in economics. Often, the cost of ownership can be a significant deciding factor in choosing which car to buy. For example, a car may have a higher sticker price than another, but if its total cost of ownership is lower, due to being more fuel efficient or reliable, for example, it may end up being a more cost-effective purchase in the long run.

Putting it all together
This may seem like a lot to take in, especially if you're new to the process. But don't fret – it's still possible, even simple, to use this data to put together a fairly accurate and simple picture of what your prospective car is going to cost you. 

While monthly payment calculators offer a glimpse into your short-term expenditures, the cost of ownership adds a longer look at anticipated costs. Many true-cost-to-own calculations are based on a five-year ownership period. Depending on the term of your loan – three to four years, usually – prorating that value and adding it to your monthly payments over the loan term can help you narrow down the amount you should be putting away for your new ride. It may not be perfect, but if you're heading to the dealership, having as much information as possible will help make the process easier.

When you're ready to purchase a high-quality used vehicle, head to New Jersey State Auto Auction. There are hundreds of Carfax-certified cars on the lot, and you'll find the sales staff helpful and eager to assist you with finding the car that's right for you.