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A car payment can represent a pretty big chunk of your monthly expenses, but with most auto loans featuring relatively low interest rates and terms of only 5-6 years at the most, chances are you've never considered refinancing. You might not even know if it's possible, or how to go about it.
The good news is, you can refi just about any loan. The question is, should you? Do you stand to gain or lose by refinancing your auto loan? Here's what you should know.
To Refi or Not
Let's just start by saying that not all auto loans are created equal. Several factors go into loan approval, including current prime rates, your personal finances, and of course, your credit score. One or all of these factors could contribute to a higher than average interest rate when you get your auto loan.
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Cars have always had indicators of make and model, often in the form of symbolic ornamentation or make/model names applied in chrome to grills, trunks, and even side panels. Until recently, another common form of identification through ornamentation was the hood ornament, a protruding piece of artwork and branding that sat prominently, front and center, on the hood, like a masthead for the motorized masses.
Some, like the Mercedes-Benz 3-pointed star or Buick's 3-shield design, were merely for branding prestige. Others were true expressions of artistry, from the iconic Rolls-Royce "Spirit of Ecstasy," to the archer on a Pierce Arrow, to Jaguar's ubiquitous leaping cat. While a handful of luxury brands continue to offer this decorative feature, many modern cars have long eschewed the hood ornament once found on every automobile. So, what happened to the hood ornament?
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Cuba's car culture is different from anywhere in the world. If you know anything about their history, you know why. In brief, Fidel Castro came into power in Cuba in 1959, at a time when the U.S. was heavily invested in the island's economy, even the infrastructure. For this reason, many Cubans in this thriving economy were driving around in American automobiles of the era.
When Castro and his communist government moved in, however, they seized control of every aspect of the economy, including American-owned business interests. In response, the U.S. enacted a stringent embargo against the country that remains in place to this day, more than 60 years later. The results for the country have been staggering, and among the outcomes is a car culture virtually frozen in time.
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From the moment the Ford Bronco first became available in 1966 as a rival to the Jeep CJ, it captured the hearts and minds of drivers. Particularly popular was the station wagon model, with its early compact SUV features like 4WD, a spare interior (two buckets and a bench), and utilitarian accessory add-ons like a snowplow, a winch, a tow bar, and even a post hole digger. Also available were interior upgrades like a tachometer and a CB radio. From '66 to '77, the first-gen Ford Bronco set the bar for early off-road vehicles.
Even throughout the '80s and '90s, Broncos remained popular (following the lukewarm reception of the bulky second-generation Broncos, from 1978-79, which were quickly replaced with smaller, lighter models). In the late '80s and '90s, the Bronco brand enjoyed a much-needed reboot, thanks to the use of the F-series body style and upgrades like EFI and rear ABS.
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The auto industry has a long and prestigious history in America&mdash:it's the home of Henry Ford and his revolutionary assembly line. At the same time, the U.S. automotive industry hasn't always enjoyed a sunny trajectory. It was just over a decade ago that GM and Chrysler received $80 billion in bailout funds in the wake of the housing market crash that kicked off the Great Recession.
When the financial crisis hit, the American auto industry was already suffering significant reduction in sales, ostensibly because of overseas competitors creating more fuel-efficient cars that appealed to U.S. drivers from both an economic and environmental standpoint. Still, they were starting to pivot, and when the market tanked, allowing automakers to fail would have put 3 million jobs at risk, at a time when unemployment was on the rise.
What would have happened if those companies had been allowed to fail? The impact to the economy would have been immense, to say the least, and the true repercussions for U.S. manufacturing and standing in the world market likely wouldn't have been fully realized for years.
Today, the auto industry is arguably facing a much larger threat as the spread of coronavirus has brought not just automakers, but the entire country to a screeching halt. What will this mean for the industry in both the short- and long-term?
On March 18, 2020, under the guidance of the United Auto Workers (UAW) union, Ford, General Motors, Fiat Chrysler, and Honda all announced that they would be shutting down production. Toyota, Nissan, Subaru, Volvo, and Volkswagen quickly followed suit by announcing shut-downs of their U.S. facilities. Tesla, a notable holdout to the early isolation orders in San Francisco, finally bowed to increasing public pressure on March 19.