Questions to Ask When Buying a Car

Black Friday is fast approaching. While many will work off their Thanksgiving meals running around a mall, others will head to the car dealership in hopes of getting an end-of-year deal. Before you rush to the car lot, do your homework.

Our Consumer Auto Advocate appeared on FOX45 to share a few of the questions you should be asking when buying a car.

  • If you’re buying a used car, ask if you can have the vehicle inspected by an independent mechanic. If there is something that comes up, ask if the seller can have it fixed before you purchase.
  • Ask to see the history of any used car. This can be service records, CARFAX reports or whether the vehicle has ever been in an accident.
  • You’ll also want to know the average cost of maintenance for the particular vehicle. Some cars are much more expensive to maintain and service than others and you don’t want to be shocked when you see the bill for your first oil change.
  • For used cars, ask if it is a “Certified Pre-Owned Vehicle.” This means the vehicle has been inspected and certified by the manufacturer. The benefit of buying a Certified Pre-Owned vehicle is that it typically comes with an extended warranty or special financing.
  • For dealers that offer warranties, ask questions to help you understand what is covered and more importantly, what is not. Also find out how long the car is covered, the total cost and whether its transferable should you want to sell the vehicle before the contract period is over.
  • If the car is no longer under contract, there are vehicle protection plans, also known as extended auto warranties, which help avoid expensive repairs.
  • Safety ratings are important too. Ask about the vehicle safety ratings and what safety features are included. This will give you piece of mind – and can also lower your insurance costs.

Make sure you do your homework to make sure you’re buying the car that’s right for you. If you don’t, you may be in for some costly surprises.

Winter Car Care Tips

As we near the end of fall and clear up the remaining leaves in our yards, it’s hard not to think about the cold winter weather that’s just around the corner. While most of us are busy preparing for the Thanksgiving holiday, it’s important to make time to prep your car for winter.

Owen Murray, our Consumer Auto Advocate, appeared on FOX45 to share some advice for making your car winter-ready.

Here are his top 5 tips:

  1. Clean, flush and put new antifreeze in the cooling system. As a general rule of thumb, this should be done every two years.
  2. Make sure your heaters, defrosters and wipers work properly. Consider wiper blades designed for winter weather and use cold weather washer fluid. Keep in mind that wiper blades should be replaced every six months.
  3. Rotate your tires and check the alignment. When tires are never changed or aligned, they develop uneven tread, which limits your vehicle’s ability to grip the road and maintain control.
  4. Check the tire tread depth and tire pressureIf snow and ice are a problem in your area, consider special tires designed to grip slick roads. During winter, tire pressure should be checked weekly.
  5.  Have your brakes looked at by a professional. The braking system is the vehicle’s most important safety item – especially on icy roads.

Owen also recommends having the following pieces of equipment in your car in the event of an emergency: ice scraper, tire chains, warm boots, a jacket, blanket and gloves. And for more intense winter weather, it doesn’t hurt to have a shovel, flares and a cell phone charger.

(Pumpkin) Spicing Up Thanksgiving Travel Plans

Thanksgiving’s right around the corner. Families across the country will be hosting relatives or traveling to them for the long weekend.

For those hosting, the holiday can be stressful. You need to clean up the house and stock the pantry beforehand – don’t forget there’s a canned pumpkin shortage this year. For those traveling, there’s the horrific traffic you try (and probably fail) to avoid. Whether you’re hosting or traveling, there’s always that relative you dread talking with at the dinner table.

 relative(Photo Credit)

While it might be too late to duck out on this year’s plan, there are many Thanksgiving getaways that allow you to enjoy the holiday minus the stress of cooking and hosting. This year or next, plan on hopping in your car (or on a plane) and heading to one of these Thanksgiving getaways.

The St. Regis Aspen Resort – Aspen, Colorado

Enjoy Thanksgiving while also getting in the winter spirit at the St. Regis Aspen Resort in Aspen, Colorado. Work up an appetite by skiing on one of the many surrounding mountain slopes. Then return to the resort to enjoy Thanksgiving dinner at the Trecento Quindici Decano restaurant. The Thanksgiving offering includes carving stations, pan-seared Colorado bass and pumpkin cheesecake along with your Thanksgiving favorites. Who wouldn’t skip a year of Grandma’s famous green bean casserole for this delicious spread?

 st. regis resort(Photo Credit)

PGA Resort – Palm Beach, Florida

For those looking to hold off winter a little longer, there’s the PGA Resort in Palm Beach, Florida. Swap skiing for golfing on one of the resort’s five – yes, five – golf courses. If you’re not much of a golfer, you can always spend the day relaxing by the pool.

PGA resort(Photo Credit)

On Thanksgiving Day, PGA National’s acclaimed chef-driven Ironwood Steak & Seafood puts together a lavish buffet. If you spring for the individual eight-pound turkey, you’ll also receive carving tools and a PGA National apron.

Mountain View Resort – North Conway, New Hampshire

Looking to keep the kids out of your hair this Thanksgiving? The Mountain View Resort in North Conway, New Hampshire comes with an indoor waterpark that will surely keep them occupied. While the kids stay busy on the waterslides, mom and dad can explore Wildcat Mountain or one of the other nearby peaks.

 waterpark(Photo Credit)

The resort offers a Thanksgiving Package, which includes breakfast, Thanksgiving Dinner and unlimited access to the water park. No cooking for mom and lots of waterpark time for the kids sounds like a win-win.

Affinia –New York City

Maybe you’re not quite ready to forego all Thanksgiving tradition. If you’re a fan of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, consider the family-friendly Affinia in Manhattan. The hotel offers a Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade package that includes a three-night stay, to-go breakfast before the parade and Central Park grandstand parade tickets. The package also includes a $100 food and beverage credit.

macy's(Photo Credit)

Whether you stay home for Thanksgiving or give of these alternative trips a try, we wish you a very happy, safe and filling Turkey Day!

Here’s How to Win Football Tailgating Season

It’s the most wonderful time of the year for football fans. There’s almost always a game on TV, fantasy football is in full effect and, best of all, there are tons of tailgates to attend. Here’s how you can dress up your car and be the star of your next tailgate.

Gear Up

Before you head to the tailgating lot, make sure your car is decked out in team gear. We’re talking window flags, decals, window paint, antenna toppers…you name it! This will help the other fans in the lot know where your allegiance stands. The more outrageous, the more friends (or perhaps enemies) you will make.

 tailgatecar(Photo Credit)

Get Creative

If you really want to stand out, there are endless possibilities for how you can transform your vehicle. If you live in the South, for instance, it might still be warm enough to create the classic makeshift pool in the back of your truck. If you’re in a cooler location, you can create a hot tub instead.

hottub(Photo Credit)

You can also convert the back of your vehicle into a bar. If you really want to win over the crowd, find some of your team’s branded cups. And remember that it’s okay to make friends with fans of the opposing team too. You might just want to keep a few standard Red Solo cups on hand for them….

 trunk(Photo Credit)

Make Fun Snacks

What in the world could be better than guacamole? Answer: a guacamole football field.

20110131-stadium-23(Photo Credit)

Bringing themed foods to your tailgate will make you a celebrity of the parking lot. Sweets shaped like a football are a classic crowd pleaser. However, if you’re not much of a baker, you can always pick up some football-themed snacks at the grocery store. For example, Snyder’s of Hanover makes fun football shaped pretzels your friends will love munching on.

Football Game Cookies(Photo Credit)

Bring Games

While food and drinks are typically the stars of a tailgating party, fun games are another vital component. No tailgate is complete without a corn hole set. Corn hole sets are fairly easy to construct yourself, but if you’d rather leave it to a professional, opt for a set that showcases your team spirit.

il_fullxfull.375875044_tcvk(Photo Credit)

Besides the classics, there are some new games out there that we’re starting to see at tailgates. One of these games is called Sholf, which is a hybrid between shuffleboard and golf. The object of the game is to putt your golf balls farther into the scoring end than your competitor.

 sholf(Photo Credit)

Whether you’re a veteran tailgater or new to the party, we wish you a very happy football season.

Top 5 Fall Foliage Road Trips

The weeks after Labor Day can be a drag. The neighborhood pool is closed, temperatures begin to drop and you start bringing out extra layers of clothing. It can be a brutal time for those who love warm summer months.

Maybe it helps to remember the fun seasonal events and products that fall brings. We have Halloween to look forward to as well as crisp apples, pumpkin carving and the beautiful fall leaves. And of course, pumpkin spiced everything. No one can hate on Starbucks’ new and improved Pumpkin Spice Latte too much, right?

To offset the autumnal blues, we’ve put together a round up of our favorite fall foliage road trips in the United States. The views on these trips might convert even the most devout summer lover.

Shenandoah National Park, Virginia

Take a drive along the Blue Ridge Parkway to Shenandoah National Park in Virginia. Once there, you can choose to leave the car and explore one of the many hiking trails, or continue driving along the famous Skyline Drive. The road runs for 109 miles and has been named a National Scenic Byway.

As you travel along Skyline Drive, there are over 75 scenic overlooks to view the surrounding valleys. Be warned that as you travel along this road during the early morning and late evening, you might see some wildlife. The Shenandoah National Park has one of the largest black bear populations in the U.S.

Skyline Drive, Rip Rap Area, Shenandoah National Park, Virginia, USA(Photo Credit)

Aspen, Colorado

You’ll have to get moving if you want to experience Aspen’s fall colors. The leaves start changing color mid-September and begin falling very quickly. By the second week in October, there won’t be any color left to see.

Start your road trip in the town of Ridgeway and take Colorado 62. This’ll take you over the Dallas Divide mountain pass. Then head towards Telluride on Colorado 145 to reach Lizard Head Pass where you’ll drive through a forest of white-barked aspens and see beautiful panoramic views of Wilson Peak.

aspen(Photo Credit)

Green Mountain Byway, Vermont

Vermont’s Green Mountain byway (otherwise known as Route 100) runs for nearly 200 miles. It takes you through charming towns, along river valleys and the peaks of the Green Mountains. The route’s most popular natural feature is Mount Mansfield, Vermont’s highest peak.

If you want to make a trip out of it, check out Hamilton Falls, where Cobb Creek falls nearly 125 feet over the granite structure. If you cross to Interstate 89, you can visit the town of Stowe, the village where the Sound of Music’s Von Trapp family attracted worldwide attention and fame for over 50 years.

vermont(Photo Credit)

Enchanted Circle Scenic Byway, New Mexico

Maybe New Mexico wasn’t your first guess for a fall foliage road trip destination. However, the Enchanted Circle Scenic Byway is full of stunning fall colors in late September and early October. The 83-mile loop showcases yellow and deep orange aspens as it circles around Wheeler Peak, which at 13,161-feet is New Mexico’s highest point.

If you want to see some different colors along the route, keep an eye out for the purple cinquefoil. There are also a number of cottonwoods that turn a fiery shade of red and yellow.

Sangre de Cristo Mountains, north-central New Mexico, as seen from US Route 64.(Photo Credit)

Upper Peninsula, Michigan

This is another destination that strays from your average fall road trip. Take a drive to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, where you will find over twenty forested state parks. The ash, aspen, beech, birch, maple, oak, sycamore and tamarack trees look absolutely stunning by the water.

The best time to catch the fall colors is from mid-September to mid-October. If you want to extend the trip, check out one of the historic lighthouses in Keeweenaw, located at the northernmost part of the Upper Peninsula.

 (Photo Credit)

Take one of these road trips to help ease into winter. If that doesn’t help, we wish all you summer lovers a peaceful winter hibernation.





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