Auto Industry, Car

7 Tips on Buying a Used Car

Buying a used car is not a decision that should be made lightly. While they typically cost less than new cars of the same make, model and year, some used vehicles may have underlying problems. And purchasing one of these lemons could leave buyers stranded on the side of the road.

 

1. Define Budget

The first step in buying a used car is to define a budget. According to USA Today, the average sale price of used cars sold in 2014 was $15,900. Whether a buyer is willing to spend more or less, though, he or she should first define their budget.

2. Determine Needs

Buyers should consider what exactly they want or need in a used car. Considering that roughly 1.3 million people die each year from vehicle crashes, many buyers prefer cars with safety features like airbags, collision detection, anti-lock brakes (ABS) and electronic stability control.

3. Start Searching

After defining a budget and determining their needs, buyers should start their search for a used car. There are dozens of places that list used cars for sale, some of which include local classified ads, Craigslist and Autotrader. Alternatively, buyers may have success visiting local car dealerships.

4. Reach Out to Seller

The next step in buying a used car is to contact the seller. Time is of the essence; the longer a buyer waits to contact the seller, the greater the chance that someone else will buy it. So, buyers should contact the seller, preferably by phone, immediately after finding a used car that meets their criteria. During this call, the buyer should arrange a meeting to inspect and test drive the car.

5. Look Under the Hood

It’s always a good idea to look under the hood before buying a used car. If the engine bay is dirty with spilled fluids — oil, transmission fluid, coolant, brake fluid, etc. — the buyer should consider a different vehicle.

6. Test Drive

Assuming everything looks fine under the hood, the buyer should test drive the car. This will give him or her the opportunity to see how the car drives and whether it contains functional problems. If the vehicle slips when changing gears, for example, it may have a failing transmission, which can cost thousands of dollars to repair.

7. Negotiate Price

Even if a seller lists the used car for a specific price, he or she may accept a lower offer. Therefore, buyers should always offer a lower price first. The seller may still reject this offer, but he or she may also make a counteroffer that’s lower than the car’s original listing price.

 

Buying a used car doesn’t have to be a stressful experience. Following these seven tips can help buyers navigate this otherwise complicated process, putting them behind the wheel of a great car.

 

Mark Alexopoulos is a leading entrepreneur and technology expert in the automotive remarketing industry. Check out his automotive blog or follow him on Twitter!

Auto Industry, Car, Car Care

April is National Car Care Month: Check out these Spring Car Care Tips!

April is the National Car Care Month so what better time to give your vehicle the TLC you’ve been putting off during the cold winter months. Taking proper care of your car is vital to the longevity of your vehicle. Follow these simple and easy spring car care basics to extend the lifetime of your vehicle and save you money in the long run.

 

Wash and Wax

A simple but essential spring car care tip is to wash and wax. During the winter, sale, debris, and road grime will build upon your vehicle. Debris and dirt build up will affect your car’s paint and finish, but salt can do much worse damage, leading to rust and other serious problems. Spend a beautiful spring day outside washing your car or take it to your local car wash for a much-needed bath!

 

Change Oil and Filter

Changing your car’s oil and filter will help the engine continue to work at its best and prevent costly repairs to drivers down the road. As the weather begins to warm up, your air conditioning will be on more which means your engine will be working harder. According to Meineke, the average cost of a year’s’ worth of oil changes is approximately $120, which is much lower than the cost of not proactively maintaining a vehicle’s engine, $4,000. Furthermore, the U.S. Department of Energy found that with routine oil changes and the right kind of oil, gas mileage can be improved over time by one to two percent! Be sure to take the time to check when you need an oil change and do not push it off if the time is now!

 

Check the Battery

Your vehicle’s battery will drain quicker with colder temperatures, so it is essential to check if the battery is fully charged. Using a voltmeter, you will be able to determine if your battery is good or bad. If you want to test the charge yourself, remember always to wear a pair of rubber gloves and goggles because this will protect your hands and eyes from acid. You can also stop in at your local mechanic or car shop for a test!  Most car shops offer it for free!

 

Check Alignment and Suspension

Driving in wintry conditions and over potholes can damage your vehicle’s alignment and suspension. If you notice uneven tire wear, your car seems to fight against the steering, or if you are using more gas than you used to it may mean your suspension is not correct. Alignment is critical because it increases safety as well as determines how long your tires and gas will last. If you think your alignment or suspension needs correcting, contact your local car shop or mechanic.

 

April is National Car Care Month, which makes it a perfect time to give your car the TLC it needs. Winter weather can take a toll on your vehicle, so follow these spring car care tips for keeping your car in the best shape!

 
Mark Alexopoulos is a leading entrepreneur and technology expert in the automotive remarketing industry. Check out his automotive blog or follow him onTwitter!

Auto Industry, Car, Car Care

5 Car Maintenance Mistakes

In my previous blog, I discussed the importance of regular car maintenance and basic steps to follow. Routine car maintenance is essential for extending the durability and life of your vehicle; however, there are easy mistakes to make. Here is a list of car maintenance mistakes that are typically made and how to avoid them.   

 

1. Procrastinating Maintenance

Putting off scheduled car maintenance is a common trend because it saves money in the short term. However, your car and wallet will pay in the future. Car manufacturers recommend scheduled service for a reason, so it is best to keep your vehicle on that schedule. Additionally, there are small things you can fix yourself, avoid making costly errors by attempting to service your own car.

 

2. Neglecting Oil Changes

Car manufacturers used to recommend changing a vehicle’s every 3,000 miles. However, many manufacturers have lengthened this mileage frame. While you may be able to go longer before an oil change is needed, it does not mean that oil changes can be skipped. Old oil will break down and may damage parts of your engine. Maintaining routine oil changes will maximize the life of your engine.

 

3. Not Checking Tire Pressure

It’s difficult to gauge your vehicle’s tire pressure just from looking because even when your tires appear to be fine – air pressure may be high or low. Many factors change tire pressure, including weather, debris, potholes and more. Proper tire pressure not only boosts your fuel economy but also improves the car’s safety. It’s important to check your car’s air pressure regularly. If your tires are routinely losing pressure, be sure to check in with your mechanic for a diagnosis.

 

4. Skipping Other Tire Care

Since tire care is not something that has to be frequently done, it is often neglected. Regular rotation allows the tires to serve in both front and rear positions, which help to even out the wear. Additionally, tire alignment plays a factor in tire wear as well as fuel efficiency, tire performance, and vehicle maneuverability.

 

5. Not Changing Wipers

Windshield wipers are a necessity because they help us drive in adverse weather conditions. Even though wipers are easy and cheap to replace, many drivers neglect to purchase new ones. The fall is an excellent time to replace your wipers because it’s right before the harshest weather starts.

 

Taking care of your car is the easiest and best thing to do if you want to extend the life of your vehicle. Many owners will make these mistakes, but avoiding them will help keep your car in peak condition.
Mark Alexopoulos is a leading entrepreneur and technology expert in the automotive remarketing industry. Check out his automotive blog or follow him on Twitter!

Car Maintenance Basics | Mark Alexopoulos
Auto Industry, Car, Car Care

Car Maintenance Basics

Routine car maintenance can extend the durability and life of your vehicle. Preventative car care is essential for keeping your vehicle running smoothly and can also help prevent more substantial expenses down the road. Follow these necessary maintenance steps to help keep your car running in peak condition.

 

Change Oil Regularly

Checking and changing your oil is one of the easiest ways to take care of your car. Whether your vehicle has a dipstick or an electronic gauge to check the oil’s color and oil level, you should know how to test it. Understanding the difference between muddy, murky oil and clean oil will also help you determine if something is wrong with your engine. While there is no universal recommendation for how often you should change your oil, your car’s owners manual will have the answer. For years, many mechanics recommended oil changes every 3,000 miles, but due to modern engine technology, some vehicles can go 7,5000+ miles until a change.

 

Maintain Tires

Keeping your tires in the best shape possible is another easy way to save money and prevent accidents. It’s recommended that you check your tire pressure at least once a month and before any long trip. The correct tire pressure is generally printed on a placard found on the driver’s door, or it’s written on the inside of the glove-box. It is also important to routinely check tire tread, rotation, balance, and alignment. Rotating your vehicle’s tires maintains fuel efficiency and prevent irregular wear and tear.

 

Routine Brake Checks

Your braking system is one of the most critical safety features of your vehicle. Brakes will have normal wear and eventually need to be replaced, but be sure to check the braking system at least once a year. A thorough inspection includes brake fluid level, brake fluid level, brake and dash warning lights,  rotor thickness, and condition of hoses and brake lines. Additionally, keep an eye out for specific signs such as high-pitched squealing, slower stopping, and steering wheel vibration while braking because these are indicators that your brakes need to be checked.

 

Additional Care

Other car maintenance basics include checking your air filter, hoses, and belts, and replacing your wiper blades regularly.

 

Routine preventive care is the single best thing you can do as a car owner to keep your vehicle maintained. Following these simple and easy maintenance basics can extend the lifetime of your car and save you money in the long run.

 

Mark Alexopoulos is a leading entrepreneur and technology expert in the automotive remarketing industry. Check out his automotive blog or follow him on Twitter!

Car, Car Care

Winter Car Care

Winter is upon us, and for many drivers, that means challenging winter weather and road conditions. Snowy roads, icy streets, lots of salt and freezing temperatures can impede your driving and damage your car. However, following these preventative winter care can help you prepare for this winter season.

 

Replace Wiper Blades

Wiper blades are a necessity for winter weather, and unfortunately, need to be replaced more often than you think. Consumer Reports found that wiper blades lose their effectiveness in as little as six months, and you can improve their lifetime by cleaning the rubber edge periodically.

 

New Tires

Winter-grade tires are built to perform better in snowy conditions and are designed to grip ice and snow for optimum traction. Depending on your location, if you live in an area where ice and snow occur often, consider buying tires dedicated for winter. If your location gets occasional snow, all-season tires can also do the trick. Be sure to keep your tires in good shape, including keeping them properly inflated.

 

Keep Battery in Good Shape

Cold temperatures hurt your battery’s performance and cause a lot of stranded cars in the winter. You can have your battery professionally tested, or you can perform a check on your own. No matter what, be sure to know how to jump-start a car and keep winter essentials (gloves, scarf, hat) handy in case of a dead battery.

 

Gas and Washer Fluid

During winter months, be sure to keep both your gasoline and windshield wiper fluid full. Condensation can build if the gas tank is not full, causing fuel lines to freeze if the temperature is low enough. Additionally, if your gas tank gets low, it makes it harder for the fuel pump to keep cool. It is also important to keep your windshield wiper fluid full because it can clean salt off of your windshield.

 

Pack a Survival Kit

As previously mentioned, it is important to keep winter essentials handy in case of bad weather. Be sure to have a windshield scraper, flashlight, cold weather clothing, emergency flares, salt and water accessible in your car.

 

As temperatures continue to drop, be sure to follow these preventative winter car care tips. Planning ahead of time can prevent accidents or issues from occurring as well as being prepared in case of emergency.  

 

Mark Alexopoulos is a leading entrepreneur and technology expert in the automotive remarketing industry. Check out his automotive blog or follow him on Twitter!