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Did It Slip Your Mind

The Importance of Maintaining Your Car

Regular oil and filter changes are a crucial part of protecting your vehicle from many issues down the road. Not only do these services protect the components within your engine, but they can also be cost-effective in avoiding expensive repair bills due to negligence.

Benefits of Regular Oil & Filter Changes

Oil plays a crucial role in keeping all components of the engine in working order, yet sometimes dirt and debris can get mixed in, creating sludge that can build up and clog the system over time. This can lead to decreased performance, misfires, and even more serious issues down the road if left unchecked.

By regularly replacing oil and filters you help keep your engine from becoming bogged down by dirt or other particles, minimizing chances of major malfunctions later on in its life span. Properly maintaining oil levels helps ensure tensions between components remain at bay since they all have a constant source of lubrication needed to function properly without worrying about excessive friction leading to seizures or other potentially catastrophic events.

What You Should Do

The optimal mileage for an oil change is typically between 3,000 and 5,000 miles however this may vary depending on the type of car and oil being used as well as environmental conditions like climate or terrain being driven on regularly with the vehicle. Checking manufacturer recommendations found in your owner’s manual is important for further clarity regarding when it is best to change out a car’s engine oils and air filters.

Are you feeling overwhelmed by all the car maintenance you have to do? Are you worried about the cost of taking care of your car? Don't worry! You’re at the right place. We can find the right car with the right price Contact us now for any questions you may have

Cars Get Cold Too

How To Check Your Antifreeze

It may not cross most people's minds, but checking your car's antifreeze protection level is an important part of regular maintenance. Anti-freeze helps protect your car from damage caused by cold weather, and keeping it at the proper level could save you from costly repairs down the road. In this article, we will show you how to check your car's antifreeze protection level and what to do if it needs to be adjusted.

What You Need

Before you begin, there are a few items you need for the job:

  • An anti-freeze tester: These are usually sold for just a few dollars at any auto parts store.

  • Paper towel or rag: This will help keep the anti-freeze off of surfaces like paint that could get damaged.

  • Ziplock bag: This will help keep dirt out of your anti-freeze tester while you’re not using it.

Step 1: Locate The Reservoir

The first step is to locate the reservoir where your car’s anti-freeze is stored. This is usually in the engine compartment, and it looks like a plastic container with a lid on top (as seen in Figure 1). There should also be a warning label telling you not to open the lid while the fluid is hot – so always make sure that your car has been sitting idle for at least two hours before proceeding! 

Step 2: Testing The Anti-Freeze

Now that you have located the reservoir, insert the end of your tester into the fluid (you may have to use a straw attached to the bottom of the tester). Then pump up and down until about half of the fluid has been drawn up into the glass chamber on top (Figure 2). Now look at how many “balls” are floating on top of the fluid; this number tells you how well protected your car is against extreme cold temperatures (see Table 1 below). Once done testing, pour any remaining liquid into its original container, then wipe off any residue with paper towel or rag. 

Step 3: Storing The Tester

After testing, take a ziplock bag and store your anti-freeze tester in it until its next use. This will help keep dust and dirt off of it when it’s not in use! And don't forget - always remember that antifreeze is poisonous so make sure none gets on any surfaces outside of its original container!   

Checking your car's antifreeze protection level doesn't have to be difficult or complicated; with these simple steps anyone can do it themselves! With regular testing every few months, you'll know exactly how well protected against extreme cold temperatures your vehicle really is - potentially saving yourself hundreds or thousands of dollars in repairs down the line!

What’s With Those 'We Want To Buy Your Car' Emails

Do those letters and e-mails from dealers saying they really want your trade-in actually mean anything? Do dealers really want your trade-in? Are they going to pay top dollar for your vehicle because they have some customer who desperately wants it?

I’ll give you the short answer: no.

I’ll also give you a slightly taller answer: NO.

Let me tell you how things work in the dealership world. When you’re coming down to the end of the month, or the quarter, or the year, you’re desperate for sales. You might be behind on your targets. You might find your targets impossible to reach, like Maserati, who is now offering so many factory incentives that you can buy a Ghibli for the same price as an Ethan Allen flower pot.

So what you do is, you come up with promotions like these mailers.

These mailers always say roughly the same thing: We have very few used cars. We need more used cars. Come on down and sell us your used car. We want it. We know what you have. We need one just like it. It would make our inventory whole. It would make us so happy to have your used car. Happy like a seal eating a fish. Don’t you want to make us happy? Arr arr arr arr (seal noises). 

Well, here’s the situation, they sent this mailer to 10 million other human beings in addition to yourself. And they don’t actually care about your trade-in.

What they want you to do is, they want you to come on down to the dealership and trade in your old car on a new one. They might not even keep your old car. They might wholesale it to Justin the Wholesale Guy who comes around every Thursday at three with Dunkin’ Donuts. The truth is, they’re just trying to sell some more new cars, b

ut the way they get you is, these letters make it seem like they don’t just want to sell some new cars. It seems like they actually want what you have. So you get all excited, and, you bring your letter on down to the dealership, and they give you $500 above the Kelly Blue Book trade-in value for your car. That’s how bad they want it! They’ll give you an extra $500!!! And you go home telling your friends that you barely lost any money on your old car, because the dealer wanted it so badly, and now you have a brand-new one. 

What they don’t tell you is, they would’ve taken that $500 off the price of the new car you’re buying if you had simply negotiated well enough. 

Now, I admit that in some situations, things are a little different. Most notably, they actually call customers to lie to them, rather than simply sending them an e-mail or a letter.Here i

s how they did it, they hired a temp, they gave her a list of every customer they’ve had since the Excel came out, and now she is calling them one by one. After you, it was Phil Roberts, who bought a new Sonata in 1994 and died of a meth overdose in 1997. They got Phil’s widow, Frances, whose job is to post those spam ads on Jalopnik about how her cousin’s sister’s racquetball partner made $86 last night working from home. “Well, what are you driving?” the temp asks her. “We probably want that, too.”

If you don’t believe me,  I suggest going down to the dealer and trying to get a really good offer on your Veloster without trading it in on anything. I suspect they won’t give you $500 over anything, except maybe the trade-in value of John Owenson’s ’94 Sonata.

Buying the right car

Buying the right car

So many car dealerships are eager to sell you a vehicle. Most don’t care which vehicle it is as long as you’re willing to pay for it. As the consumer, you need to be concerned with the price, the drive quality, the options, and gas mileage, and so much more. If you’re having trouble getting started, make two lists: one column should be NEEDS and the next should be WANTS. Make sure you check off your needs list first, and then you can start adding wants in.

  • When it comes to deciding what is a need vs. a want, think about things you absolutely have to have. For instance, how many children do you have? If you have four children, and a spouse, you NEED to have a six-passenger vehicle. Do you drive an hour to work and have a lot of expenses? If you find yourself struggling for gas money, then you NEED to have good gas mileage. Are you unable to drive a manual transmission? Then you NEED an automatic transmission. Don’t say to yourself that you’ll learn just because you like the styling of the car. Chances are you will have to, but you may not like it. Then you’ll be stuck with something that you’re uncomfortable with. You can’t afford to take chances when deciding on such an important purchase.

You can continue the list on your own now that you get the idea. If you have trouble thinking of other needs – here are ones to consider: size of your garage, whether you need four-wheel drive, how much cargo room you require, whether you need towing capacity. As far as wants, think of where you’ll be doing most of your driving and what features you’d like- if you’ll be driving in the city you may really want to consider getting turn signal mirrors, a small car that easy to park, and a back up camera. If you’re driving in the country you may look at four-wheel drive, a sunroof, and Sirius radio.

  • The next step is figuring out how much you can afford. Are you going to lease or buy? The rule of thumb is that your car payment should not exceed 20% of you monthly take home pay. To be honest, that’s still high. At twenty percent you’re looking at almost an entire week’s paycheck going to your car payment. That makes it a hard week. I think it’s better to say your car payment shouldn’t be more than a half a weeks pay. If you make $600 a week – don’t go for a car payment over $300. Remember you still have insurance to think about.

If you’re not sure whether to lease or buy, remember that with leasing you can get a more expensive car and drive it for a few years, however there are limits on mileage. If you don’t drive much, it may be worth considering.

  • The next thing to think about is the class of vehicle you want. Nowadays, there are so many different styles out there it’s almost overwhelming. Narrow down your search by deciding on a class. Do you want a four-door sedan? A two door coupe? A big SUV? A station wagon? Do you want a pick-up truck? Or maybe you want a SUV? Decide on a type, see what features each class offers, and then narrow you search down from there. If you want a 100,000 mile warranty, you can start looking at all the sedans that Hyundai and Kia offer. If you want a luxury convertible, Mercedes-Benz, Lexus, and Audi all have great options.
  • Once you figure out the vehicle type and decide to head to the dealership, make use of your test drive. If you normally drive on highways, don’t take it around the block. Actually go on a highway. If you’re test driving a pick-up for its 4-wheel drive ability, don’t be scared to ask to take the car out for an afternoon. If you’re serious, they shouldn’t have a problem with it. Replicate the condition in which you normally drive. Also, if you have to test drive with the salesman, ask him to be quiet while you drive so you can evaluate things on your own. Let him show you features before you start, at stoplight, or once you return. Use the rest of the time to use your intuition.
  • After the test drive, and this is important. Walk away. Don’t get excited and sign the papers. Don’t let them talk you into staying. Tell them you need time to think, and leave. No matter what. On the second test drive, it’s okay to stay and purchase. On the first, you need to go test drive other vehicles, do your homework, and think it over. Was there something about the car you didn’t like? Was the transmission touchy? Maybe the seats were uncomfortable? Don’t tell yourself it will be okay – you’re paying a lot of money for the car, you need to love it!
  • When you’ve finally come to your decision, the best thing to do before you sit down and sign, is read reviews. Do you know someone who bought the same car? Talk to them. Do you know someone who bought from that dealership? Talk to them, too. Read reviews on the car you bought. Read a lot of them. Read enough to evaluate both sides. Remember, people naturally are going to jump to the computer when something is wrong. They don’t always jump when its right. So make sure you don’t go off just one review.

You’ll know you’re ready to buy when you feel really good about the purchase. Remember your gut instinct is your best weapon – but always back it up with plenty of research!

How to Read a Carfax Report

Carfax Vehicle History Report

Carfax is known as the number one consumer reporting tool when it comes to buying used cars. While other companies, such as AutoCheck, exist, Carfax remains the ‘go to’ when it comes to vehicle reporting. Many people, however, do not understand exactly what a vehicle report is, nor how to read them. It’s very important when shopping for a used car that you understand

exactly how to read a vehicle report, and remember to ask for one! The purpose of this article is to help you interpret exactly what a Carfax is and how to read it.

How Carfax Gathers Information:

The first thing to note on a Carfax is that it’s only as good as the information that was reported. Carfax is not a magical office that has vehicle telepathy. They do not magically “know” every car’s history. They get reports from businesses that choose to report to them. No one is forced to. Whether or not a shop or service center chooses to report is purely up to them. Many small or independent service centers do not report, and if a person chooses to do maintenance on their own, certainly that will never get reported. Because of that, once in a while you will come across a Carfax that is almost blank. Of course, the date it was manufactured will be available; all manufactures report. If it was ever sold it will be listed; all MVA’s and DMV’s report. However, if the person did all the maintenance on their own, or took it to a small local shop, none of that will be listed. It does not mean the car was not maintained. It simply means ‘we do not know’. It could have been perfectly maintained. It also could have been poorly maintained. The best thing to do with a lack of Carfax history is to ask the dealer if any maintenance records were left in the vehicle. If they were, the dealer will make those available. If they were not, ask for the MD State Inspection report, ask the dealer what service they performed, and ask to take the car to your personal mechanic to have it checked. Any reputable dealer will surely agree.

Car Ownership History:

The next thing to note is the number of owners. Every single owner that was ever on the title is counted. A car can be listed as a “six owner” car; that does not mean it was sold six times. It could simply mean six owners were on the title. And yes, we have seen this before! Sometimes a set of parents will buy a car for their children. They will both go on the title and list each of their children. It’s very common for a husband and wife to both go on a car, and almost just as common for a husband and wife and their child to go on a car. Instead of looking at the “number” of owners, scan down and look at the “ownership history”. It will separate the owners from the number of times it was sold. What’s important is how many times the vehicle changed hands. A car was that sold often can mean issues. However, remember that the more expensive the car, the most often it changes hands. Luxury car owners tend to keep cars for shorter periods of time. The average is a less than two years.

Vehicle Price Calculator:

Another great tool that Carfax offers is the “price calculator”. Carfax will let you know if regular oil changes were reported and or how much maintenance history was reported. A good “reported” history increases the value of the car. People like to know the history of the vehicle they’re buying! (Hint: to increase your car’s value, always take it to a shop that reports to Carfax so that good maintenance records are reported and increase your resale value). Carfax will show a “price adjustment value”. This is a number that is either added or subtracted from the retail book value. Simply take the book value of your car, add or subtract the amount they list, and that will be the projected value of the vehicle. You always want to buy a car that’s projected to be worth more than the retail book value.

Maintenance History:

The next thing to look at on a Carfax is the maintenance history itself. People get very caught up in the number of owners and accidents. There is much more to a Carfax than those two things. The engine or transmission could have been replaced. Those don’t count as accidents and the only way to find something like that is to read through the Carfax maintenance records. Take ten minutes, carefully read, and ask questions! If you’re unsure about something, the dealership that did the work will be listed to the left. Feel free to call and ask them to explain the maintenance done on the date listed. It will be in their records. By doing this, you can ensure you don’t buy a vehicle with a history of electrical issues, or a car that was brought to a dealer five times for a knocking engine noise. If an owner brought a car in five or six times for an issue, most likely there’s a problem. Whether or not it was fixed is a question you should ask.

Odometer Errors:

Lastly, remember the odometer reading can sometimes trip a Carfax up. The odometer is reported every time a car is brought in for maintenance. At many service centers, the person entering the information into the computer is not the mechanic. They can easily mistype or enter the wrong mileage. If the mileage is reported inaccurately, then the Carfax has an error. This will create an odometer discrepancy. When this happens, consumers assume the odometer was rolled back. This is not the case. In this day and age, odometers are not easily rolled back. 99.9% of the time, someone just entered the wrong information. The dealership will simply call Carfax, report the error, and it will be corrected. It’s not a cause for panic. Simply ask the dealer to ensure the error is reported, and make sure it get corrected on the Carfax. This is important to ensure the resale value of the car.

Final Thoughts:

Carfax is a great tool that helps you buy used cars. More often that not, owners do not leave maintenance records in their cars. Maintenance records are thick and take up a lot of space. Most people end up taking them inside or throwing them out. Carfax makes up for this and allows you to see exactly what was done to the vehicle when it’s reported. You can go online to http://www.carfax.com/blog/how-to-read-a-carfax-report/ to get more information on reading Carfaxes or ask your dealership to help you. Remember to always shop at a dealer that gives free Carfaxes! Refusing to give a carfax is a sign of hiding information or being cheap. If a dealer can’t afford to give a Carfax, most likely they’re cutting corners other places as well.

The Check Engine Light

You’re a mile from home when the dreaded check engine light comes on. I know as a female my first reaction is that my engine is going to blow up any minute now. After about ten minutes of panic, twenty-five phone calls, and a series of text messages to my boyfriend to be on standby, he finally calmed me down enough to ask whether I had just gotten gas. “Just gotten gas? What on EARTH does my gas have to do with anything?” I impatiently yell into the phone. When he finally convinced me to check my gas cap, and I realize it was simply lose, it makes no sense to me. But then again, the light went off and the world is back to normal….which made me curious, where does this dreaded check engine light from in the first place?

Having worked for a car dealership for years, I decided to do my research, and found that I wasn’t the only one frustrated by this annoying, yet scary little light. It’s the most terrifying light your car has, and the most frustrating. It comes on unexpectedly with no reason, no warning, and no explanation as to what is going on. But there are a few things  you can do to ensure you’re more educated, and less panicked, the next time it happens. Without further ado, here’s what I’ve learned:

If you car is smoking or stalls completely while this light comes on, then, and only then, should you panic. You should also pull over, turn the car off, and immediately call your service center for a diagnostic. If the car is not smoking, and hasn’t stalled, then go onto "PLAN B".  

Plan B include the easy fixes. The first is yep, you guessed it, the gas cap. Believe it or not your gas cap is important. It stops fuel vapors from leaking out, which causes a reduction in gas mileage and increases emissions. No want ones your car ruining the ozone for the next five to ten, so they hooked the sensor up to make sure your cap is nice and tight. If it’s loose or cracked, vapors will leak out, and presto, there goes your engine light. I suggest pulling over and first checking to see if its tight, if it is, take it off, and screw it back on tightly. Drive a couple of miles and see if the light goes off. If it doesn’t, then check for cracks. If you see some, a new cap is under $5 dollars at any auto store. Remember, if the car is jerking, shaking, or smoking, it’s probably not the gas cap.

Plan C includes the spark plugs and wires. In cars built before 2000, the spark plugs should be replaced every 25-30,000 miles. In newer cars, they last about 100,000. But that doesn’t mean if you car has 83,000 miles on it that they couldn’t have gone bad. Depending on how you treat your car, where it’s stored, and how you drive, they either last longer or go bad sooner. When the plugs are failing, spark plugs misfires, and you’ll feel a little jolt in your cars acceleration. If this is happening, and the check engine light comes on, get them replaced right away. They’re cheap, easy to install yourself, and will make a world of difference is it’s the issue. Simply google “how to install spark plugs” or you can click here. If you don’t feel comfortable doing it yourself, call your service center and make an appointment. As long as you get it fixed within a day or two, your car should be okay to drive.

Plan D. If Plans B and C didn’t work, or you’re noticing stalling or other issues, here’s my list of what to prepare for. The most common reasons for the check engine light that include more serious issues are the oxygen sensor, the catalytic converter, and the mass airflow sensor. The oxygen sensor monitors the unburned oxygen from the exhaust. Over time, it gets covered in oil ash and needs replacing. You’ll usually notice a decrease in gas mileage when its gone bad, and a quick trip to the service center will let the mechanic know if its needs replacing. They can hook your car up to a computer which tells them immediately what sensors are malfunctioning.  If it’s not that, it could be the mass airflow sensor, or MAF. You could drive for weeks and never notice anything until the car starts stalling. To prevent this, have the air filter replaced yearly. Last but not least is the most serious, the catalytic converter. If you’re keeping up with maintenance, it should never fail, but if it does, you’ll hardly be able to keep the car running. You’ll notice when you push the gas, nothing happens, and your gas mileage will be so horrible, you’ll be working all week just for gas. Not replacing the oxygen sensor, or spark plugs, can also cause hurt your catalytic converter, so keep up your maintenance!

Unfortunately, there’s a lot more reasons why the engine light could be on, but it would take a week to cover them all. These, however, are the most common, and will give you the best place to start. The most important thing to remember is your car will treat you as good as you treat it. Get your maintenance done regularly, don’t put things off, and you should be okay. But if that dreaded little light does happen to pop up, just remember….check your gas cap!

Extending the life of you car

In today’s market, cars last longer. Warranties are frequently offered for up 100,000 miles, which would have been unheard of twenty years ago. High mileage vehicles can be purchased and kept running easily. If you’re in the market for a used car, or already have one, we’ve developed a list of surefire ways to keep your car running. They’re pretty easy, and if followed, the life of your car will easily be extended.

1)      Limit your driving. Even though you’re purchasing a car to drive it, if you don’t have to use it, don’t. If you can walk down the street, walk. If a friend offers to pick you up, let them. Short trips are bad for your car, so limit them whenever possible. Which brings up to step 2.

2)      Limit your short trips. Anything less than 10 minutes puts unnecessary wear and tear on your car. The reason, whenever your car’s engine doesn’t have a chance to reach its full potential during use, which means it never reaches it full operating temperature, its putting wear and tear on your car. The engine is working overtime. On short trips, the water, which is a byproduct of engine combustion, never has a chance to turn to vapor. It stays inside your car’s engine and exhaust and turns to rust. The condensation also dilutes your oil, so if you are making a lot of short trips, change your oil more frequently!

3)      Be considerate of your car when driving. Being hard on your car is going to put wear and tear on it. Brake slowly, otherwise your putting a lot of wear and tear on not only your brakes, but your rotors, and every other part of your car that has to work to brake fast. The same goes for accelerating, when you gun the gas, your car has to work overtime. If it’s cold outside, let your car warm up and let the oil circulate to allow lubrication. When the engine is cold, the oil is not yet moving. So drive slowly even after you start moving. If the car is new, follow the break in procedures. No one has probably told you this, but change your oil after the first 1,000 miles.

4)      Don’t add extra weight to your car. Just like being overweight hurts a person, extra weight in a car or truck adds stress to critical systems. Remove anything you can that you don’t need in your trunk and backseat. Don’t carry things around out of laziness. Another thing you can do is remove items on the outside of your car to reduce drag. The more aerodynamic your car is the less it has to work to move. If you don’t need your roof rack, remove it. Those bug shields and rain shields can go too. They’re little things, but they add up.

5)      Perform regular maintenance. Your car needs clean air and clean fuel. Perform your oil changes and change your air filter. You’re owner’s manual will tell you what other maintenance your car needs and at what mileage. Follow those guidelines if you want your car to live. Don’t fret over the $120 dollar maintenance payment, if you do them as scheduled, you won’t be paying $1,200 for a new transmission.

6)      Watch for warning signs. If a light goes on, don’t drive around for a month looking at it. Your car is trying to tell you something. If a light goes on or it looks like a gauge is not at its normal position, have it checked immediately.

7)      Use a mechanic you trust. You don’t want to take those warning lights to someone who is going to overcharge you and frustrate you to point that you say ‘never mind’. Don’t let a bad mechanic allow you to forget your car. Before something goes wrong, find someone who you trust, who is honest. That way, when something does happen, you actually feel confident taking care of it.

8)      Wash your car. I know this sounds silly, but it needs to be done. Irritants will destroy your car. Salt will eat away at it all sorts of parts. Have you ever gone near the ocean and seen how fast rust sets in on buildings and other steel products. Take a look next time you’re on vacation. During the winter, if there is salt on the roads, get it off your car! And fast. If you live near the ocean or water, there is salt in the air, so make washing your car a regular habit. No matter what, a monthly wash will get irritants off that can potentially erode your car’s vital working parts.

9)      Last but not least, choose your car carefully. If you are in the market to purchase, do your homework. Certain brands last longer. Another thing to consider is what brands are easy to fix. If you can’t get a part for your car, or it’s too expensive, your car will end up in a junk yard. Make sure you choose a brand that you can easily fix and get parts for. You only pay for the car once, but you’ll be maintaining it and fixing it for as long as you have it. In the long run, that’s actually most important, so don’t buy a car that’s impossible to fix or get parts for.

We hope these tips will help you preserve your most important purchase – your car! Most of all, remember that without your car, you wouldn’t be able to get to work, go shopping, get groceries, pick your kids up, or get around – so take care of it! You car will be as good to you as you are to it. Best of luck!

Buying a car is a better deal than leasing

Buying a car is a better deal than leasing for one primary reason: Once you pay off your auto loan, the car is essentially “free,” and the longer you keep it in the garage, the more you save. If, on the other hand, you lease a car your whole life, well, you’ll be making car payments your whole life. That great deal the salesman is pitching — Only $199 a month! — sounds like less of a great deal when you multiply it times 40 years.

Leasing a car is like always going to the more expensive restaurant, or making sure you never, ever, pick up an item at the sale price. When you lease, you are essentially paying for the vehicle’s loss of value as it ages, what’s known as depreciation. And since the biggest depreciation occurs in the first few years, you are in effect always paying top dollar.

Plus, your insurance rates will always be at their peak because the car is at its most valuable point in life. If you own a car and hold on to it for 5, 8, even 10 years, it will become less expensive to insure as it ages. Sure the monthly payments are higher when you own, but that’s because you’re building equity in your ride.

So if buying is a better deal, why are the monthly payments often higher? That’s because you’re getting more: You’re actually buying the whole car, for keeps, not just paying for the depreciation. And of course you can sell it at any time. If you lease, you are locked into a contract, and you’re likely to get hit with a big penalty if you have to get out of it.


Don’t even think about leasing unless you put 10,000 to 15,000 miles on your car every year. However, anything much above that sweet spot and, with most leases, you’ll pay a mileage penalty. And if you drive substantially less, you’re paying for depreciation you are not causing: You’re giving the dealership a gift when you turn that car in with low mileage.


If the car is stolen or you total it, your insurance will only reimburse you for the car’s market value, which might not cover what you still owe on your lease. So you have to write a check to the dealer for a car you can’t drive. Like most problems, this can be avoided by spending more: You can buy extra “gap coverage” to protect against this.

This excerpt from "Worth It ... Not Worth It?" was reprinted with permission from Business Plus/Grand Central Publishing. 

Should I lease my next car

If your clunker of a car is gasping its final breath, you are probably in the midst of deciding whether to lease a car.

There are pros and cons to either leasing or buying, but financial experts say buying and keeping a new car for the long term is usually the better deal. No matter which scenario works best for your individual needs, you should negotiate the deal, says Dayana Yochim, a consumer finance expert in Alexandria, Va.

"First negotiate the price of the car, then negotiate the trade-in value -- if you have a car to trade -- and then you can talk about how you want to finance the car," Yochim says. "Even with a lease, everything is negotiable."

Here are six things to think about before you decide: Should I lease my next car?


If your first priority is to keep your monthly car payments within a tight budget, leasing may be the better option.

"Lease payments are typically less costly than buying a car," says Scott Michalek, a senior financial adviser with Wescott Financial Advisory Group in Philadelphia. "Your monthly payments will be cheaper, but when you walk away at the end of the lease, you won't have anything to show for it."

Michalek says leasing makes sense for someone on a very tight budget, but he warns that breaking a lease can be extremely expensive.

"If you can't afford to make your lease payments or you want to end your lease early because you are relocating, you'll pay a hefty penalty," Michalek says.

Michalek says a lease contract typically will state that all remaining lease payments are due. So, if your lease payment is $300 per month and you want to return the car six months early, you will owe the remaining $1,800 of lease payments. You'll also be charged an early termination fee, typically $200.

Some dealers may be willing to work with you on reducing these costs, but don't count on it. If you need to terminate your lease, you may want to consider transferring your lease to someone else who's looking for a short-term lease. LeaseTrader.com and Swapalease.com facilitate these types of lease transfers.


Yochim recommends checking your credit three to six months before you start shopping for a new car so you have time to correct any errors on your credit report and to take steps to improve your credit score if you can.

Michalek says bad credit will hurt whether you buy or lease a car, but it will hurt more on the lease side. "If your credit is really bad, you may not be able to lease at all, because dealers typically only lease to consumers with good credit," he says.

Even consumers with bad credit can usually finance a car purchase, although they won't get the best interest rates, Michalek says.

Pete D'Arruda, president of Capital Financial Advisory Group LLC in Cary, N.C., recommends saving money so you can make a bigger down payment and borrow less in order to reduce the interest costs.

"You may need to go down a little in the quality of the car you choose if your credit makes the cost of borrowing too expensive," D'Arruda says.


The typical car lease imposes a penalty on miles driven above an annual limit such as 15,000 miles.

"Some leases now limit you to 10,000 miles per year, so a lease really only makes sense if you don't intend to drive the car much at all," D'Arruda says.

If you have a long commute or frequently take long-distance vacations by car, you may be better off buying.

"If you lease your car, you won't be as free to be spontaneous about road trips," says Yochim. "Look at your current driving habits, and estimate how many miles you drive per year to make sure you won't exceed the limit."

Yochim says car leases are negotiable, so you may be able to negotiate a reduction in the excess mileage penalty or an increase in the number of allowable miles. Just be sure to negotiate this at the beginning of your lease because it's unlikely you can change the terms when you turn in the car.


While it may seem like maintenance is a bigger issue for drivers who intend to keep their car for years, the truth is car maintenance is necessary for any car owner whether you buy or lease.

"Since most leases last for three years, your car will always be under warranty, so you won't face major repair bills," says Michalek. "On the other hand, if you own your car, you can scratch it, dent it and rip up the interior without worrying about it. If you lease a car, you must return it in excellent condition. Otherwise, you'll have to pay a penalty."

Michalek says a car lease may not be a great choice for a family with young children or pets because of the increased likelihood of damage to the car.

Whether you lease or own, you need to keep good records of your routine car maintenance to make sure your warranties stay valid.

"Leasing is best for fastidious people because you'll pay a penalty for every stain and ding when you return it," Yochim says


If you lack a car to trade in and don't have the cash for a down payment, a lease may be your only option.

"Most car dealers won't offer 100 percent financing and will require either a trade-in or a down payment of 10 percent or 20 percent," Michalek says. "But be careful on a lease, too, because the advertised low monthly payments usually require a down payment."

D'Arruda says consumers should never tell the dealer their car payment budget. "Negotiate the price of the car first as if you are buying it, then tell them you want to lease it," he says. "You'll get a better deal that way."

Yochim says consumers often make a down payment to reduce their monthly payments, but she says they should never put cash into a car lease arrangement.

"A lease is like long-term renting. You're not building any equity," she says. "At least if you are purchasing the car, you're not throwing away your cash on rent."


If you prefer to drive a new car every few years, a lease may make sense as long as you are not in danger of going above the mileage limitations, D'Arruda says.

Yochim says the best option for a consumer's long-term finances is to buy a used car that's in good shape and drive it until it no longer moves. "By buying it used, you avoid that instant depreciation of a new car. That said, it's harder right now to find a decent used car at a fair price because a lot of people have been choosing to drive their cars longer in recent years," she said.

With leasing, Michalek says most of the advantages of leasing are personal.

"If you want to drive a new car as often as possible and don't want to think about having a car that's not under warranty, then leasing is definitely convenient," he says. "Financially though, 9 out of 10 times you're better off purchasing a car and keeping it for five years or longer."

CarFax vs AutoCheck 3 Differences You Must Know

When you buy a used car, it’s important to get an accurate and detailed vehicle history report and know the differences between CarFax vs AutoCheck reports. It can save you big in the long run.

CarFax and AutoCheck vehicle history reports are two of the most prominent options, but it can be difficult for shoppers to understand the differences between the two choices. Although both reports can offer plenty of useful insight into the history of a used car, AutoCheck reports have a better reputation among used car lots due to their ability to thoroughly track vehicles sold at auctions.

In general, AutoCheck and CarFax reports offer many of the same advantages. Both reports will provide a fairly reliable account of the emissions history and accident history of any given car. This means that with either report, you can be confident that you have a good idea of any problematic aspects of the car’s history.

Tracking Auction Cars with AutoCheck

The most significant difference between AutoCheck and CarFax is that AutoCheck is far better at tracking auction cars, while CarFax is known for not being able to effectively track cars at auctions. This obstacle makes CarFax much less useful since many used cars have been auctioned off at some point in their history.

So why can an AutoCheck vehicle history reports successfully keep track of auctioned cars?

AutoCheck currently maintains exclusive access to data about important auctions at the two largest auction houses in the United States. That means that no other report can come close to the accuracy that AutoCheck reports provide on used car lots. If you’re buying a used car, look for dealerships that offer AutoCheck reports in order to ensure that you have a fully accurate report before you make a purchase.

All DriveTime vehicles purchased from an auction pass through an inspection center.


How the History Impacts Market Value

This is another area in which AutoCheck wins again. The “AutoCheck Score” provides you with easy-to-understand analysis of how the vehicle’s history impacts its current market value. With one glance, you can gain a better understanding of the significance of past accidents.

On the other hand, CarFax reports don’t provide this type of score, so you may not gain a clear picture of the true market value of a used car if you rely exclusively on a CarFax report.

Reports Based on VINs

If you choose to subscribe to AutoCheck, you can take advantage of the opportunity to run a limitless number of reports based on VIN numbers. This benefit allows you to thoroughly check out a variety of used cars from different used car lots before making a final decision.

Again, CarFax doesn’t offer this type of service.

If you are planning to purchase a vehicle through DriveTime, you can view a live AutoCheck history report for free on any of our vehicles online.

CarFax vs AutoCheck – Who Wins? 

Although many used car lots prefer AutoCheck, CarFax reports do offer some advantages. For instance, CarFax has a better record of successfully verifying mileage and reporting how many owners the car has had.

However, it’s important to remember that neither vehicle history report can provide a guaranteed history of a vehicle. Both providers can only provide information that has been recorded or reported. Regardless of what the report says, it’s important to ensure the vehicle has been thoroughly inspected before purchasing.

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