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It is said that the moment you drive off the lot, your new car loses value. This can be (understandably) disheartening for anyone dropping tens of thousands of dollars on a brand-new vehicle. If you're the type to drive your car into the ground, getting as much use value as you can, then you might not mind the prospect of rapid depreciation.
If, on the other hand, you're the type to trade in after your warranty expires or you hit a certain age or mileage (10 years or 100,000 miles, for example), then you want to maintain as much value as possible. To do this, you need to understand how depreciation works, and what you can do to minimize waning value.
Value During the First Few Years
Brace yourself—this is a tough pill to swallow. When you take ownership of your vehicle and drive it off the lot, you lose an estimated 11% of the value. While different vehicles depreciate at slightly different rates, you can reasonably expect to lose somewhere in the neighborhood of about 20-30% of car value in the first year alone. That means your $30,000 vehicle is worth roughly $21,000-$24,000 a year after you purchase it. Within five years, your vehicle will lose about 60% or more of its original value. That $30,000 car is now worth $12,000 or less.
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Even drivers who don't know a ton about engine maintenance understand the importance of oil, which lubricates moving parts so the engine doesn't overheat or seize. You might not realize, however, just how many types of oil there are.
When you go to get your oil changed, mechanics won't pester you with pesky details like the weight of oil to use—they already know. What mechanics may ask is whether you prefer synthetic or conventional oil. If you don't know the difference, you're not alone. How do they differ, and which one is better for your vehicle? Here's the 411 on engine oil.
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Leasing a car is a great way to try before you buy, so to speak. Often, lease payments are far more affordable than car loan payments, and you'll essentially enjoy a 1-3-year trial period before you have to decide if you want to trade it in for a newer model, opt out and look for something else, or commit to ownership.
If you've taken great care of your vehicle, you'll know it's reliable by the time you're ready to buy, and if you've beaten it up a bit or exceeded mileage restrictions, buying allows you to avoid return penalties. Even better, by the time you buy, you'll have paid off a portion of the car's value, meaning you'll take on a smaller loan than you would by purchasing the same car brand-new (like a certified pre-owned). Plus, you can still negotiate the purchase price (although you'll probably have to speak with the lease-end manager).
For those who fall in love with a lease vehicle, there are a lot of advantages to buying outright when the lease is up. The only question is: How do you go about it?
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Whether you purchase a new or certified pre-owned vehicle, chances are you'll end up with a manufacturer's warranty on your car. Before you jump for joy, however, you should know that there could be strings attached.
For example, many vehicle owners are concerned that going to an outside mechanic for service (instead of the dealership) could void the warranty. Is this true? Are you stuck paying inflated prices for dealership service just so you can be sure the warranty remains valid? Here's what you should know.
Service Location Shouldn't Affect Warranty
According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), your dealer should honor the warranty regardless of where you take your car for servicing. It is actually illegal for dealerships to deny warranty coverage because you take your car to a third-party mechanic for regular services like inspections, oil changes, tire rotations, and so on. You should even be able to do the service yourself, if you feel comfortable managing maintenance at home.
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You might not know a lot about modern automotive technologies, but you're probably familiar with the term "fuel injector." As the name implies, this part injects fuel into the cylinder (or the intake manifold, depending on the system) so it can mix with air and be compressed and ignited to propel your car. Fuel injectors feature tiny spray nozzles, and the fuel they discharge is carefully controlled by the on-board computer, which relies on sensor input to ensure proper fuel volume.
When the system is clean, everything should run smoothly. Unfortunately, petroleum products aren't entirely pure, and over time, they can cause corrosion or carbon deposits from unburned fuel, leading to clogged fuel injectors.
When injectors get clogged, they could either release too little or too much fuel, leading to higher fuel demand (and cost), or causing performance issues like trouble starting or accelerating, or rough idling. While significant clogs may require professional disassembly and cleaning (or part replacement), you might want to start with a $10, DIY solution. What is fuel injector cleaner and how does it work?