Posts Tagged ‘Car Buying’

AAA experts help consumers avoid the pitfalls of love at first sight.

ORLANDO, Fla., October 21, 2011 – It is easy for car buying consumers to fall in love at first sight with the sleek styling and attractive exterior of their dream machine.  In most American households today, a vehicle purchase is a major financial expense, so a second look and an extensive test drive is time well invested. 

AAA Automotive experts recommend that consumers start that test drive at the computer keyboard.  Valuable information about vehicle safety features, performance data, and purchase pricing and resale value can be researched online.  AAA can assist consumers shopping for a vehicle by providing information they need to make an educated decision at AAA.com/AutoBuying.

 “In today’s economy, consumers have additional factors to consider when purchasing a vehicle, often making the selection process more difficult and extensive,” said John Nielsen, AAA Director of Automotive Repair, Buying, and Consumer Information. “There is no substitute for quality research and an in-depth test drive tailored to your personal driving needs, to help make a sound financial car buying decision.”

The physical test drive is the next step in the car buying research process. An extensive test drive can reveal many important factors not immediately obvious at first blush.

AAA recommends the following test driving tips:

Before You Drive. Walk around the car. Is it the right size for the needs of your family? Check the quality of the assembly and the tightness of the body panel alignment. Check for bubbles and pitting on the paint and chrome. Open and close the tailgate or trunk and doors. Does it sound solid and well made? Will the design allow for easy loading of luggage, sporting goods, and groceries?

Be a Backseat Test Driver. Ask the salesperson to take you for a preliminary test drive. You can focus on the ride without the distraction of driving, and you’re more likely to notice noise and overall comfort. And, of course, you can evaluate backseat room for future passengers.   

Find Your Fit. Get in and try the car on for size. Check the leg room and visibility. How easy is it to adjust the seats? Are the controls easy to read, reach and use? Try all of the accessories and options, such as air conditioning, the sound system, and navigation aids.

On The Road. Drive the exact model of the car you want to purchase. Pick your own route for the test drive. If possible, pick a route that mirrors your daily driving routine. It’s a good idea to test the car’s ride quality and handling on a number of different road surfaces: city streets, hills, freeways, and winding roads.

Power. Test the engine’s responsiveness in real-world conditions. Is there a smooth and constant delivery of power? Try merging onto the highway, passing, and stop-and-go city driving. Spend part of the test drive with the air conditioner on to see if it drains power.

Transmission. Look for smoothness and ease of operation. Listen for hesitation or straining.

Handling. Check steering responsiveness. Practice long turns and sharp turns. Safely practice sudden swerves and gradual lane changes.

Brakes. Your life could depend on your brakes, so put them to the test. Brake both softly and decisively to gain an accurate idea of the car’s stopping distance.

Noise Level. At various speeds, listen for excessive engine, road, and wind noise. Check for squeaks and rattles coming from the interior and bodywork. Listen with the windows open and closed.

Parking. Parallel park to discover any blind spots or potential difficulty in identifying the corners of the car.

AAA recommends that consumers always have pre-owned vehicles inspected by a quality repair facility prior to purchasing.  More than 8,000 AAA Approved Auto Repair facilities are located across North America.  Nearby locations can be found at AAA.com/Repair.   

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 52 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.

ORLANDO, Fla., March 25, 2011

With more choices than ever for new cars, AAA helps simplify the process and narrow the field to help consumers find the ‘right’ car for their lifestyle and budget

Christie HydeFor many Americans, their vehicle is one of their largest financial assets. So when the time comes to purchase a new car, it’s not a choice that should be made lightly. To help consumers, AAA offers a checklist of factors to consider when looking for the ‘right’ new car.

“Today’s consumers have more choices than ever when it comes to picking a new vehicle, but that also means the selection process can be much more difficult,” said John Nielsen, AAA National Director of Auto Buying, Repair and Consumer Information. “There are a myriad of factors to consider, many of which take place long before a buyer ever hits a car lot.”

When shopping for a new vehicle, AAA recommends the following:

  • Determine What Is Affordable. Before considering any specific makes or models, first sit down with the household budget and determine what is affordable before visiting a car lot. Consider how much a trade-in is worth and how much savings you want to put towards the vehicle. Investigate financing options available to you in advance. Speak to AAA or another insurance agency to get a rough estimate of premiums on the type of vehicle being considered. Take time to sit down and crunch the numbers to determine how much can be comfortably afforded without overextending.
  • Evaluate Driving Habits. Take a realistic look at how the vehicle will be used. What types of trips will it be used for most frequently? How many passengers will the vehicle need to carry? How long of a commute will it be used for? Will the vehicle be driven on the highway? Will you need extra cargo space?
  • List Needed Features. Make a list of all required features the new vehicle should include, being careful separate ‘wants’ from ‘needs.’ How much seating? How much cargo? Minimum fuel economy? When making the list, do not just think about needs today, but look several years down the road. Could children be in the future? Could the commute lengthen?
  • Consider Depreciation Costs. The biggest yearly expense to new cars is depreciation. Research how much models being considered depreciate within the first few years and consider a model that has a track record of holding its value longer.
  • New or New to You. Look at pricing options for both new vehicles, as well as models that are one to two years old. There are benefits to both new and slightly used models. New vehicles typically come with longer warranties, buying incentives from the automaker, the latest features and are widely available. Slightly used vehicles might offer a price break, but it can be more difficult to find the ‘perfect’ vehicle with the exact features a buyer is seeking and does not have buying incentives from the manufacturer.
  • Review Warranty and Maintenance Costs. Review the length of the warranty of vehicles being considered and exactly what it covers. Investigate the maintenance costs associated with the car by reviewing its recommended maintenance schedule and pricing out the cost of several of the regularly needed maintenance items. If the buyer consistently uses the same auto repair shop and has a relationship with one, such as a AAA Approved Auto Repair facility, they should talk to them about maintenance costs to see if maintenance and repairs would be similar to the current vehicle or different due to special types of fluids, parts or other items required to work on the car.
  • Investigate Safety Ratings and Features. Check the safety ratings of all models under consideration from National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) at SaferCar.gov and Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) at IIHS.org/Ratings. Evaluate the safety features available on each model. If using a car seat for a child, check out if it is easy to access the vehicle’s LATCH system and installation of a car seat.
  • Seek Recommendations and Reviews. Ask friends, family and colleagues for feedback on their vehicles. Read both professional reviews, such as those provided by AAA’s Auto Buying experts at AAA.com/AutoBuying, as well as feedback from current owners of the models being considered. These can often be found on web forums.
  • Don’t Limit Choice to One Vehicle. Narrow the choices down to two or three vehicles that meet all the criteria, but do not narrow it down to only one. By allowing flexibility, buyers have more negotiating room and a better chance of finding the best possible price.

AAA can assist consumers shopping for a new vehicle by providing all of the information they need to make an educated decision by visiting AAA.com/AutoBuying.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 52 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.

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