Buying/Leasing a Vehicle

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.

Softening the Impact of an Accident

Liability insurance can be likened to a financial airbag, softening the impact of an accident on your wallet. Liability insurance is something that all drivers are legally required to have, but do they really understand what liability insurance does? This short video from our friends at Allstate explains what liability insurance is and what it covers.

Quick Tips for Buying a New Car

Does the warmer weather have you dreaming of hitting the road in a new ride? If you’re thinking about buying a new car this spring, you don’t want to miss these key steps!


Research is the most crucial part of the process and it is multifaceted. There’s a lot of research that needs to happen before you even step onto the dealer’s lot.

Know what your budget is. Go to to see what you should pay for a car. From there, figure out your budget, think about what types of makes and models you can afford. Don’t forget to take into account the sticker price vs. what you’ll end up paying over the years in interest if you finance your new vehicle.

Know your credit score. Don’t go in wondering what the number will be. You credit score could make a world of difference in the amount of interest you’ll pay over time.

Research the kind of car you want and need. A sales person’s job is to get you to sign on the dotted line before you walk off the lot. They’re going to tell you that the car you’re looking at is the best car for you. But what you need to know is the facts about all the cars you’re interested in before you head to the dealership. This also means knowing the difference between what you want and what you need. Knowing which specs are would-likes and which are must-haves will make your position stronger during the entire experience. This will also make sure you come home with the car you want and not be victim to crafty upselling.

Make sure you’re going to a reputable dealership. Lots of dealers sell lots of cars and if you’re too focused on the lowest price, you could end up with a bad deal. Look at reviews from customers and the Better Business Bureau to make sure there isn’t a pattern of bad business practices.

Have a plan of attack with your buying partner (and don’t go alone). It helps to have a partner as you go into the car buying experience. It will make you feel more confident to have a teammate, which will help you stand your ground and negotiate a better price. While it isn’t exactly battle, it is similar to a game of chess. The better your strategy and preparation, the better negotiating you’ll do. Here is a list of things NOT to say when shopping for a car.

Test Drive

Test drive the car more than once. The excitement of driving a new car will last through the first test drive, but you will own this car for years and it needs to be more than just exciting. If you’re going to be mostly commuting to work alone, then that’s how you should test drive it. But if you have children, commute in a group or go on trips with friends a lot, you’ll need to bring the whole crew to make sure they comfortably fit in the vehicle. They will notice things that you might not have seen from the driver’s seat. You also need to know you can drive the car as safely with no passengers as with a full group.

Have a list of things you want. And when you’re looking over the cars and test driving them, double check the car against your list. Some people have a tendency to plan well beforehand then get caught up in the emotion and excitement of the car buying process. However, with list in-hand, you’ll make sure you cherish your investment for years to come because you’ll get everything you know you wanted.


Negotiate, negotiate, negotiate. Now that you’ve done the research, driven the car a couple of times, have compared it to your other cars, you’re ready to sit down and talk about price. Like it says in the list of things not to say, don’t tell them you want to keep your payments low. Be firm about a reasonable price. If you have the time, go to a couple of dealers and see who has the lowest price. Remind them you have a lot of options and be ready to walk out if you feel you’re not getting a fair price.

Ask them how much the dealership paid. Pros say the dealer must provide the dealer’s price vs. the manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP) upon request. Start your negotiations at $500 above that price. They don’t need to sell it to you for that, but it’s a good place to start.


Spring Cleaning to Sell: How to Maximize Your Car’s Curb Appeal

Even though it might not quite feel like it, Spring is finally, officially here! With the winter we’ve had, you–and your car–are probably ready for more than a change in season. If you’re thinking about switching up your ride this Spring, you’ll need to do a little Spring cleaning to get rid of all the salt, snow and grime. Here are our top tips for maximizing your car’s curb appeal and getting your car spruced up and ready to sell.

Spruce up the Exterior

The last thing a prospective buyer wants to see is a dirty car, so make a strong first impression and keep the outside of your car sparkly clean. You can take a nice afternoon to scrub and wax it yourself or take it to a local detail shop to get it ready to sell. In addition to cleaning, make sure you have taken care of any scratches or dents to the body of your car. For smaller dings, this can be done cost-efficiently at home with a touch up kit and dent removal kit. If you have larger body damage, you want to have it taken care of by a professional.

Clean the Interior

Think about how a potential buyer will feel when they slide into the driver’s seat. To ensure this is a good experience for them, make sure your car is free of any junk, dirt, or odors. Start off by removing any clutter from your car’s glove box, trunk, and other storage spaces. After removing any personal items, vacuum the carpet and seats, making sure they are all free of crumbs and other dirt. You’ll also want to wipe down the dash, center console and other hard surfaces. Once the car is cleaned, make sure there aren’t any odors that might be off-putting to the potential buyer. Removal of odors can be a real challenge, but spraying an odor eliminator throughout the car as well as into the vents can help. After you spray, run the air conditioning system to help air out the car.

Check the Tires

With your best outfit, you need the perfect shoes. The same logic is true for your car. Once you’ve shined up the interior and exterior of your car, you’ll want to make sure your tires match. Worn-out or half-deflated tires will not do. New tires don’t come cheap, so prospective buyers will be looking to make sure your car’s tires are in good shape so that they won’t need an extra purchase after buying your car.

Ensure All Lights are Working

Before showing your car, make sure that all of the headlights, brake lights, and turn signals are in proper working condition. If not, the potential car buyer could be easily turned off by thinking that a malfunctioning light is a small sign of more significant problems with the car. Lights are quick and cheap fix to avoid this pitfall, so make sure you check each and every one.

Organize Service Paper Work

Any car buyer is going to want reassurance that the car has been properly maintained. Having your stack of receipts and paper work showing the essential car maintenance has been performed for the potential buyer to look at is exactly the assurance they need. These receipts should include services and equipment purchases such as tire rotation, oil changes, brake pads, and air filters, as well as any repairs made to fix any damages your car sustained during your ownership of the vehicle.

Perform Necessary Repairs

Used-car buyers want to spend as little as possible after purchasing your car, so make sure any necessary repairs are fixed  before you put your car up for sale. Minor repairs such as replacing missing items or fixing broken ones are simple and indicate that your car has been well-maintained. Be careful when making major repairs, though. You’ll want to make sure that you’ll be able to recoup the amount of money you spend when you sell.

Even if you are very good with keeping up your regular car maintenance, it is important to remember these tips to polish your offering when getting ready to sell your car. Good luck, and remember that even these little changes will make a big difference!


How to be an Eco-Friendly Driver

Being conscious of how our everyday lives affect the environment is an important step towards protecting it. One of the most significant things we do in our everyday life that has a direct impact on the environment is driving. Our cars have a major impact on the environment and there are many things we can do to make our cars more eco-friendly.

Driving a hybrid car is a great way to reduce your carbon footprint but using battery power instead of fuel. However, you do not necessarily have to drive a hybrid car to be a “green driver”. There are a lot of other simple things you can do to make any car more eco-friendly.


Plan Ahead

By sharing rides, you can help cut down the number of cars on the road decreasing overall emissions. It is easy to carpool with others and there are several websites that help you find other commuters in your area to share rides with. Check out this website to help you find carpools in your area.


If your work schedule allows, plan your commute to peak avoid rush hour traffic. If you stagger your hours, you can spend less time stuck in traffic and use less fuel.

On the weekends, combine your trips by making one long trip instead of several smaller trips in one day. If you can, go to shopping areas where you can park your car and walk in between your destinations.

Car Maintenance

Regular maintenance of your vehicle is critical for reducing your car’s impact on the environment. Routine oil changes can help boost your fuel efficiency up to thirty percent. Keeping your tires properly inflated will help to reduce drag along the road, and driving smoothly reduces the engine’s effort and overall carbon emissions.

Don’t forget to change your air filter and fuel filters at regular intervals. This is important for keeping your engine running cleanly and smoothly. The cleaner your engine runs, the less emissions your car produces.


Be an Eco-Conscious Driver

Fuel consumption can go up by forty percent with sudden breaking and acceleration so try not to start and stop too frequently. Stay focused on the road so that you can more easily adjusting to changing traffic conditions. The smoother your driving is, the less fuel you will use.

Keep Your Car Clean

It’s easy to accumulate junk in your car as we all go about our busy daily lives. But, keeping the clutter to a minimum can actually  reduce the weight of your car. When your car is lighter, you will have better fuel efficiency. This means you will save gas and reduce overall emissions. So clean out your trunk!

When your needs a good cleaning, consider visiting an eco-friendly car wash or doing it yourself using environmentally friendly cleaning products. You can even try some of these “green” car washing tips.

Consider Your Options

If you’re in the market for a new car, consider the benefits of a hybrid car. If hybrids aren’t for you, check out the DOE website and the ACEEE website to help you pick a fuel-efficient car that meets your needs and is good for the environment.







All of these tips can make you a more eco-friendly driver. You do not necessarily have to own a hybrid to be a “green driver”. These simple tips can help reduce any driver’s carbon footprint and help the environment by reducing emissions from your car.



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