Losing an Automobile: The First Car is the Deepest


I am in mourning– the passing of a loved one is never easy. I lost my first car six months ago. She was a beauty. A 1996 Buick Skylark Custom, greenish-blue and magnificent. Words cannot adequately express how much I miss that car. Two months after I left for my first year of college, my dad was in a horrible car accident, that left him in critical condition, and left the car…well, I’d rather not say. Thankfully, my father has recovered, and I’m more grateful for that than anyone can imagine. It is a wonderful thing, to be afforded the luxury of mourning a car instead of a family member.

Indeed, the Buick was responsible for saving my dad’s life. If he had been driving his other car, a very old Ford Tempo, there’s no telling what would have happened, but it probably would have been even more awful; the Tempo didn’t have airbags, the Buick did.

So, as I sit here in my college dorm, safe from any rogue drivers, I allow myself to miss that Skylark. And that gets me to thinking about all the other cars that have been significant in my life. In fact, I could draw a time line from car to car, of the most key things (pun intended) that have happened in my brief but important stay on earth so far. For example:

When I was very small, both of my parents drove Volvos. They were always old, and very rusty, but my parents both had a strange affinity for them. And when my parents divorced, my dad got a yellow Volvo station wagon. It was hideous, and I always knew who it was coming up the driveway. We called it the banana wagon. And my step-dad drove an Explorer. It was white and perfect looking. And my very first crush, well, he rode the school bus, but my first crush who could drive drove a maroon Bonneville, and my first boyfriend (who I dated for two entire weeks) had a white Mercury Sable, who witnessed my first kiss. The person I thought was my first love drove an old BMW, who witnessed a few more kisses. And then I got my first car-the Buick. And when that happened, I moved out of my mom’s house and into my dad’s. The person who turned out to be my actual first love drove an old black Audi, and then a maroon Achieva, and finally a silver Honda Civic. And now my both of my parents drive Honda Accords. I guess everyone finally came to their senses, and started buying cars that were good on gas.

The thing is, I didn’t have to think too hard about who drove what, and in what order it happened. It’s surprising how much I remember just because of the automobile involved. Everyone take a second now to remember your first car. Wasn’t that the best? And now try to think of other significant moments that involved automobiles. Easier than you’d think, isn’t it?

It’s hard, losing the most important car that comes up in your time line of autos. I know in time I’ll have a new car, and I’ll love that just as much, but for now I remain car-less, and deeply missing the noble Buick Skylark Custom, who was and always will be, my very first.

Lexus ’07 Auto Hub Bub – Savvy Car Maker Scores Big and Lists New Prices


There’s no doubt when a Lexus automobile is on the road it gets noticed as a unique driving machine. From a smooth drive to comfort and style, these cars are real beauties within the automobile market. With 50-years of forerunner experience, Toyota takes credit for its brainchild Lexus cars in Japan as early as 1989. The first facility outside of Japan was introduced in Cambridge, Ontario, Canada, in 2003. The current award-winning LS Sedan and the best-selling ES 350 Sedan are both built in Japan.

The flagship car was the LX Sedan, a first model manufactured during 1989. Lexus cars are classified as luxury cars perfected for enjoyable driving and living experience which is a Lexus Covenant concept. One of the newest hub bubs is that the new manufacturer sale retail prices of the 2008 RX 400h, the SC 430, GX 470, IS 250/350, ES 350 and the LS 460 have been announced by the company’s executive management. And, all of these new cars have been designed to meet the new EPA regulations. The Lexus LS, GS and IS are classified as sedans, the SC is a luxury coupe.

The Top Choice 2007 Motorist Award has been designated to the Lexus 07 LS Sedan manufactured in Tahara, Japan. This car’s current list price is $61,000 to $71,000 and includes 4.6L V-8 engine with 380 horsepower, an eight speed sequential shift, rear-wheel drive, and can climb from ignition to 60 mph in 5.4 seconds during test runs. The best-selling Lexus is the ES 350 is manufactured in Kyushu, Japan, and has a list price starting at $33,470 including 3.5L V-6 engine, 372 horsepower, six speed sequential shift with front-wheel drive and can climb from ignition to 60 mph in 6.8 seconds during test drives. Both of these cars currently feature mobile phone system options. Featured in Lexus Magazine, the top choice LS Sedan and the best-selling ES 350 models are shown along with great photographs, art and cool tips. According to the magazine, Silicon Valley, Calif., has been the true U.S. hub of Lexus life and features. At top choice in that area includes the LS 600 hsl hybrid, a very new state-of-the-art and top-of-the-line model. The company’s magazine also includes recommended roadside stops, barbecue advice, golfing information and gallery shows. Yield Industry Journal rates the Lexus distributor Toyota with very high ratings for its executive and top management, product and manufacture. The estimated ball-park sales figure of Toyota and Lexus during 2006 was approximately 8.5-million automobiles.

Lexus owners can also enjoy percs such as reservations at The Peninsula in Beverly Hills and Montagne Resort & Spa, Laguna Beach, Calif.; The Peaks Resort in Lake Placid and The Point, Sarancac Lake, N.Y.; XV Beacon, Boston, Mass.; Blackberry Farm, Walland, Tenn., NYC and Colorado resorts.

If you’re a true motorist and want perfection, Lexus is notorious for it’s innovative production and design, engineering and meticulous quality of workmanship, something their manufacturers and salesmen take great pride in. Management has also announced summer sales continuing until Sept. 4, 2007, an event a serious car buyer won’t want to miss.

Car Shopping Secrets


Tips from an Ex-Car Salesman

Congratulations! Now you have decided on the best vehicle for you and your family, and are about go into the finance office to sign papers…

Some Thoughts for Preparation
If the salesman hasn’t found out what payment you would be comfortable with yet, believe that they will want to find out as soon as you start talking to the finance officer. Let’s think about this first…Why would they want to talk payment with you now? Haven’t you already decided on a final price, and shouldn’t the payment work itself out anyway? The reality is that they want to know the highest payment you would be comfortable with, so that they can sell you extra things, and work them all into the payment, so you will be pleasantly surprised that your payment can come with all those extra items! That way, you can finance a few extra thousand dollars of extras, and it will only work out to be about an extra $60 per month or so. You need to not start spouting off numbers. You need to just say something like, “What is the interest rate? The payment will be what it is going to be.” This is where you need to do your homework, and find out what payment it should be, based on the financed amount, and the expected interest rate. Not everything is a bad deal that they sell you, but you should know what the prices should be, and prepare yourself to not just be sold something without knowing much about it, or buying on impulse. Make your money work the way you want it to.

Interest Rate
You should know before you go into the office, what your credit is like, and what rates you would likely qualify for. Your local credit unions would probably have published rates based on a certain credit score, as well as a stipulation for the year and miles of the vehicle. Even some banks will publish a rate, or tell you if you call them. You don’t really need to feel obligated to talk with a banker directly for the car loan, because most of the time, car dealers can get you a better rate at the local bank than you can get yourself, unless you have a personal connection with a loan officer at a bank. The main reason I am including this general information is to say that some car dealers will get a certain rate from a bank or lending institution, as a rate given to them, and then mark up the rate for you. That way, they make profit on the loan as well, not just the price of the car! Let’s say you have marginal credit, and a bank will respond to the loan request and give them a buy rate (their dealer rate) at 9.5% APR interest. The dealer might turn around and quote 11.5% or 12% to you, making the extra 2% + from the interest. You need to be informed about the rate.

Warranty Packages
I am not going to tell you that certain extended warranties are good or bad. Some are good, and some are probably a rip-off. You should check with friends or family that have had experience with used- or new-car extended warranties before you go to the dealership. Find out if anyone had any experience with certain warranties. If you find one that seems reputable, and you don’t want to have to have to save up lots of money for expected maintenance repairs, it might be a good idea for you to pay the upfront fee for the warranty. But, you need to know that there can be HUGE markup in these warranties, and they ARE negotiable. A lot of people don’t ask for a discount on these. You might be able to get $500 or more knocked off of the price. Sometimes, on the bigger packages, the dealer might mark it up $1000-1500 or more from cost! Just try your best to research the PUBLISHED price to the dealer before you agree on a package or price. They will try to just quote you a price from some “list”, but you should ask to see an advertised price on their computer screen if possible, so they can’t just read off a price to you. Think of the endless profit possibilities there!

Other Packages

Gap Insurance– They will try to sell you “Gap” if you are financing a big purchase. Gap insurance is designed to cover the rest of your loan if you owe more than the vehicle is worth in the event that your vehicle is totaled. Gap insurance will pay off your balance of the loan, if the insured amount isn’t enough. You should check with your insurance company or agent, on the cost that they charge per month. Sometimes it is only about $8-15 per month extra with your car insurance policy. The dealer sometimes wants to charge $400-600 (one time charge) or so for Gap insurance. It would be really smart to check with your insurance agent first, and maybe get it from them.

Tire warranties– Most of these are designed to provide coverage for if a tire malfunctions or blows out. If you are buying a used vehicle, and need to probably replace your tires soon anyway, you can buy your tires at an establishment that warranties for those things as included in the tire purchase. You wouldn’t need the extra warranty from the dealership in that case. Some of the warranties are hard to file claims with as well.

Life/Accidental Death/Dismemberment, Etc.– These things are designed to help you make your payments in the event of you either losing your job, becoming unable to work, giving you payments in case of the loss of a limb, paying off your car in the event of your death, etc. If you have a great life insurance benefit through your work, or that you purchased elsewhere, this might be unnecessary to you. Just make sure that you get all the information, and you might read the exclusions to some of the policies. They might not benefit you in the way you think they will or should.

And finally…Undercoating/Vehicle Interior Treatment– Just to let you know, vehicles normally have a corrosion warranty that lasts for quite some time. That is designed to protect you in the case that a frame starts rusting through, or the body starts rusting out, or something terrible like that. Some of the undercoating that dealerships use is pretty good, but you need to decide if it is worth it to you to pay a lot of extra money to get it done. Some of the package treatment options can range upwards of $1000 dollars or more. The interior treatment might help you with some stains, but again, you might think if it is worth the extra money. Especially if you buy a new car, they will try to talk you into it as a “protection of your investment”. Well, I don’t know that a new car is totally an investment. You wouldn’t put your investment money into something that always is guaranteed to depreciate, would you?

I hope that some of these tips help you in your car buying experience. Let me know if you need any more help in your quest for a new or used car. I would love to help people more, especially if they have specific situations they need help with.

5 Tips for Used Car Buying


Use These Tips to Avoid Getting Burned

Buying a used car can be overwhelming. It’s common to feel overwhelmed; to feel like you’re missing something, but not be able to figure out exactly what it is. But by following a few tips, you can make sure that the car you do choose is reliable and at a good price.

Set a Budget

Setting a budget is a big step. It will determine what kind of car you should be looking for, what kind of cars you should not even consider, and possibly even help you identify the best possible deal. The budget you set aside for this car should represent how much you value getting a replacement. You can get financing if need be, so don’t feel confined by just the amount of money on hand now.

If you have a specific make and model of car in mind that you’d like to keep an eye out, a good source to base your budget on is Kelley Blue Book. With their website you can narrow down exactly what you want and know what kind of price you should expect which can indicate whether the price you see for a car is overpriced, a good deal, or somewhere in between.

Fuel Efficiency Matters

Don’t underestimate fuel efficiency. If a car is slightly more expensive but has a better fuel mileage, that can make-up the difference in the two vehicles pretty quickly. Ask the owner of the car what they tend to get for mileage and compare it to what that make and model usually gets. A significant difference can indicate a mechanical problem.

Ask For an Inspection

This is an investment you’d have to make yourself, but by taking the vehicle to a qualified mechanic you have a better chance of identifying problems with the car, or problems that will be cropping up soon with it. Most mechanics are very familiar with service like this and have a set fee for taking a look. If the seller refuses to let you get the vehicle inspected, that should set-off huge red flags, especially if you were anticipating the vehicle being a very good deal.

Used car lots often offer vehicle inspection certificates that go with the cars on their lot, so it’s usually a good idea to ask if they have something like this. If they do, be sure to look for anything that stands-out on the certificate and compare the vehicle identification number on the certificate with the one on the vehicle, which you can view near the bottom of the windshield on the dash, usually on the drivers-side.

Ask About Returning the Vehicle if you Aren’t Satisfied

While asking about returns is a good idea for both private and public used car purchases, don’t get your hopes up with private seller sales. Most used lots, however, will offer some kind of return policy, though rarely for exactly what you paid for the vehicle. This is important to know because if you aren’t satisfied with the vehicle or find a mechanical problem, you don’t want to get stuck in a situation where you have to sell the vehicle to someone else. Being able to just take it back to the lot and get most of your money back is a much less stressful alternative.

Get Agreements in Writing

Getting financial agreements in writing from a used car lot shouldn’t be an issue, but in private sales be sure you are adamant about getting the deal in writing, including any special deals you have with the purchase such as payments to be made or return policy. Make sure both you and the seller sign it, and it’s usually a good idea to have two witnesses, one for each party, sign as well.

This agreement you will have a copy of will help should the person decide to change their mind on something like how much they want payments to be, how much in total they are selling the car for, and if they are selling the car ‘as is’ (i.e. with any mechanical faults whether disclosed or not). These situations come up more often than most people realize, so getting some documentation can mean keeping some extra money in your pocket.

Buying Used Car Parts


Tips for Do it Yourself Junkyard Shopping

With our economy in such dire straights, people are searching for ways to stretch their budgets. Some are turning to avenues they have never traveled before. As they search for ways to extend their hard earned dollar, junk yard shopping will see a surge of “new” customers for “old” parts.

The seasoned junkyard shopper knows all the best locations, the best picks, and what the procedures are for getting all of those good car parts. Those new to the “do-it-yourself” junkyard scouring should do their homework, and make sure they are up for the task. If you are a hands on person, are familiar with car repairs and don’t mind getting dirty, junkyard shopping can be a profitable and fun adventure.

Some junkyards strip their own parts and have them on shelves in a big warehouse. You purchase them at a counter, just like a new auto parts store. Some of them have employees that will go “pull your part” from a vehicle when you order it. While some may think this is a great idea, and will save them some work, it may not be the best way to insure getting a good part.

“Pick your own part” type junkyards are getting more and more popular. At these yards, you take in your own tools and search for the type car that has the part you need. Most of these yards are well organized and an employee will tell you where to find the particular type car you are looking for.

Why go trampling around to find and remove your own part, when another place will do it for you? Because you are able to see the vehicle it is on. Seeing the vehicle can help insure whether the part is good or not. Look the vehicle over before you start wrenching. Does the engine look relatively clean, or is it one big mess of oil and grease?

Look in the interior to see if it appears to have been taken care of. If the overall appearance looks neglected and shabby, walk away and find another vehicle. If the car was not cared for in the past, chances are that the parts are old and worn. If the vehicle has had parts already removed, check to see how they were removed. Some people will rip and tear and beat and bang to get to the part they need. They may have damaged what was left behind, or made it harder for you to get to the part you need.

Once you find the vehicle you want to “pick” from, remember to be courteous to the next person who may need parts. Remove the part as if this was your vehicle. If you need to remove other parts to get to what you want, do it correctly and lay them to the side. Not only is this helpful to the next person, it also helps you to “practice” how to remove the part, before you start on your own vehicle.

Junkyard shopping can save a lot of money, and don’t forget to look around while you are there. You just might find those great chrome wheels you always wanted at a really reduced price!