Carfax.com, which is the gold-star service for vehicle history reports, has announced a new service for used car buyers. Is it a good thing? Possibly but only if people practice good consumer awareness.
As I explain in an article about the new Carfax service, the vehicle history service is letting used car buyers search for used cars with a clean report, no accidents and other conditions that would indicate the vehicle is safe to buy.
Buyers are referred to used car dealerships that have partnered with Carfax. It's a great idea for the company because it's a new source of revenue. I have no qualms with companies wanting to grow their bottom line.
I just don't want consumers to automatically assume just because a dealer is affiliated with Carfax that everything is going to be 100% smooth sailing. Don't let your guard down. Be a wise consumer regardless of who's name is on the deal.
Remember the old saying, "In God We Trust - All Others Need ID"? In the used car world consumers should say, "In God We Trust - But All Used Cars Get a Good Working Over."
So, I have a Google Alert set up for topics like "used cars" and certified pre-owed," which is how I stumbled upon a site called DamageMAX. It's dedicate to buying used cars from folks who have been in accidents.
DamageMAX has an interesting report on the value of used cars that have been declared salvage. I gleaned some facts from it and wanted to share them with you.
Most interesting to me was how much a used car, used truck or used SUV can decline in value once it has been declared salvage. The average is 66% and a pickup truck declines the most in value at 74%. DamageMAX does a good job explaining why you might want to avoid having your used car declared salvaged and instead sell it as is.
Of course, they are in the business of buying damaged used cars so their perspective might be slightly different. Do any of you have experience with DamageMAX? If so, share your thoughts.
It's no secret that I am no fan of used car warranties. I frankly think most of them aren't worth the paper they are printed on.
However, some people still find them reassuring, which is why I have come up with 5 questions to ask about used car warranties. It includes research from Consumer Reports, Intellichoice.com, and Lauren Fix, one of the top female automotive writers in the industry.
The best hedge against used car repair expenses, in my view, is a little fiscal discipline. Simply sock away $40 a month so you have almost $500 a year on hand for last-minute repairs. That's better than financing a used car warranty that you may never end up using.
Under my plan, after three years you will have $1440. If you're fortunate you have no repairs and money set aside for a down payment on your next used car. That seems like a better way to go.
Here at About.com, I can't cover every recall notice that goes out but I do try to cover the significant ones like Toyota for its sudden acceleration problems and now GM for its ignition switch woes.
How bad is it? GM has recalled 1.37 million Saturns, Chevys and Pontiacs. That's a lot of vehicles and even more distressing is it appears 13 people may have died because of the problem.
There's been some good reporting on the issue by USA Today including the news that GM fixed the problem for the 2008 model year, which could suggest the company has known about the issue for more than five years and didn't think it worth brining up before.
I'll let an attorney familiar with issue have his say on the delay. "It's about time," said Lance Cooper, attorney for the estate of Brooke Melton of Hiram, Ga., who was killed in a 2010 crash of the 2005 Cobalt she bought new. "If you go back to when they knew, in 2004 and '05, that's not the way a responsible manufacturer behaves," Cooper said in the USA Today article.
Lists are beautiful things, as I've written before, for driving page views to websites. But sometimes lists are helpful, such as the list of the Top 20 used vehicles most likely to hit 200,000 miles.
Lets face it. Used cars, trucks and SUVs with more than 100,000 miles on the odometer make folks nervous. That's why it helps to know there are used vehicles out there that could hit 200,000 miles, according to information compiled by iseecars.com.
Trucks and SUVs dominate the list. As I said in the article, that's not too surprising because 10 to 15 years ago trucks and SUVs were the big money makers for manufacturers. A lot of time was invested in their manufacturing processes because quality was important to keep the money flowing in.
That wasn't so much the case with small cars. They were low-profit vehicles and were offered up almost as an afterthought. After all, with low gas prices and a booming economy, nobody wanted to buy small.
However, I expect 10 years from now we will see more and more small cars making the list. And, maybe, European manufacturers will start to sell vehicles that high the 200,000 mile mark, too.
That headline is kind of a blanket statement but it appears that 2011 model year used cars are proving to be less reliable than 2010 model year used cars, according to a new report by J.D. Power and Associates.
In this case it seems as if you might be better off looking at a four-year-old used car, truck or SUV and that Lexus continues be your best bet for reliable used cars from 2011. Then again, when is Lexus ever not the most reliable used car for most model years?
Of course, not all of us can afford to buy used Lexuses, especially automotive journalists covering the used car business. So, what are your alternatives? You may want to look at a Honda CR-V or Toyota Camry if you want something less expensive.
And, don't fret, you can even buy American and get reliable used cars. J.D. Power gives high marks to the Chevrolet Camaro and Buick Lucerne among other models.
As I've said before, I live in Connecticut. We are just getting slammed with winter storms. If it's not snow, it's freezing rain or ice or frigid, polar vortex temperatures. Makes me glad I'm not trying to sell a used car right now.
In case you are, though, I have five tips that are going to help you sell a used car in winter. The advice comes via Valvoline Instant Oil Change centers (where I happen to also be a customer).
One of the tips is something I've never heard before: vegetable oil. Normally, I would make you click through to the article but it's too good to make you wait. Basically, coat the rubber seals of your doors and they won't freeze. It's so simple, yet so brilliant.
Of course I do wonder who thinks of these things. Kind of like the first guy who drank milk I ponder who first thought to slather door seals with oil?
I just finished reading the Edmunds.com quarterly used car report or as I like to call it: Used Car Trivial Pursuit. Well, that's probably not fair because it does include some helpful information on the used car marketplace.
Can you name the most popular selling used car, truck or crossover in the United States for the fourth quarter in 2013? I've been writing about used cars for almost six years and I was surprised that I didn't know the answer. Check on my article on the Edmunds.com quarterly used car report.
By the way, don't confuse it with the blog post below that talks about the most popular used cars in January. This was for used cars actually sold and not just researched.
It was also surprising to me that the top selling used pickup truck is not the top selling new pickup truck. I just assumed there would be some kind of correlation but boy was I wrong. I wasn't far off but I was still wrong.
Lists are popular things online, but what's not that common is a list of alternatives as in the case of the list of the most popular used cars. Alternatives do exist that could save you money.
That's the gist of my article on the most popular used cars for January 2014. Don't automatically shop the best used cars when there are alternatives out there.
For example, consider the fact there are four crossover utility vehicles in the top nine spots on the list that was compiled by kbb.com for autoremarketing.com. There are lots of great crossovers out there, so there is no need to focus on just the top four if you're shopping for a used crossover vehicle.
As the article demonstrates, there are other brands out there besides Honda and Toyota! I say that somewhat facetiously but it amazes me to see Hyundai and Volkswagen, for example, and even Chevrolet, being overlooked on the list. They both provide alternatives in many cases.
What makes a good extended used car warranty program? In my opinion, only certified pre-owned programs - and maybe Volkswagen World Auto - are good programs but Intellichoice.com went to the trouble of ranking the top programs.
It's an important tool for people considering an extended used car warranty. As I've said on more than one occasion, I'm not in favor of the programs and think consumers would be better socking away some money under their mattresses as a hedge against future auto repairs.
One of the strong components of any used car warranty program is the vehicle checklist that goes into certifying a used car. Measure them against what the new car manufacturers do with their programs. All of their checklists are usually available online.
Of course, even when buying an extended used car warranty, it's always a good idea to have a pre-purchase vehicle inspection. No warranty is worth the hassles of a used car that sits in a service bay about as often as it does in your own driveway.