Government’s new plan – Cash for Clunkers

After an extensive process of negotiation and debate, the United States government’s “Cash for Clunkers” program has been officially launched as the Car Allowance Rebate System (CARS).

With this system, you can trade in your older model cars with low fuel efficiencies to receive a rebate of up to $4500 from the federal government toward the purchase of a new, more efficient vehicle. The goal of this initiative is two-fold. Lawmakers hope that the rebates will jump start auto sales while also pulling old, inefficient gas guzzlers off the road. Both foreign and domestic auto dealers are allowed to participate in the program, offering consumers a wealth of options for their new car purchase. Rebates do not count toward your taxable income.

Cash for Clunkers

There are a few requirements that must be met to be eligible for a rebate on your trade in. For example, the car being turned in must be in drivable condition, not more than 25 years old, and must get less than 18 miles per gallon according to revise EPA standards. New vehicles purchased must be less than $45,000 before any options are added and get a combined 22 miles per gallon or better. The vehicle could be produced by any auto manufacturer while it meets the cost and fuel efficiency standards.

Critics are up in arms, claiming that the government should have limited the rebates to new American car purchases only. This would help revive the faltering domestic auto manufacturing industry and help the domestic automakers in their attempts to restore consumer confidence. General Motors, Chrysler, and Ford Motor Company owe several billion dollars to the American government and an increase in sales would help the companies begin to repay some of the taxpayer money in a more timely fashion. Both GM and Chrysler have recently emerged from government-backed Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings and are now partially owned by the United States Treasury Department. The Treasury Department holds a 60.8% stake in the new General Motors.

Supporters of the program have said the forcing consumers to purchase domestic automobiles could disrupt the global auto market. Unfair bias shown by the federal government would have the potential to create backlash both domestically and internationally, where American automakers enjoy a hefty market share. Also, many of the vehicles sold by foreign automakers are manufactured and assembled in the United States. Foreign companies currently provide many of jobs with the potential for more in the future. Supporters of CARS claim that shouldn’t be jeopardized through selective rebate opportunities.

New Automotive Technology

As the cost of new technology goes down, new cars are increasingly highlighting new technology as a major buying feature. This may be nothing new for the premium car segment, but this means that more of this new technology is becoming standard in mid-range and more affordable cars. Let’s take a look at some of the in demand in-car tech innovations.

Around View Monitor

Rear view monitors have become so standard and no longer have much panache among consumers. The latest camera systems are around view monitors, helping drivers see not just behind the car but around the car. This system was first introduced on the Infiniti EX, a crossover from Nissan’s luxury brand. The around view monitor helps drivers navigate tight spaces and avoid minor fender benders. St Louis Acura says the system also makes parallel parking extremely easy.

Ford MyKey

The Ford MyKey is basically a key specifically for teen drivers. The system allows drivers to control several functions inside the car, such as top speed, stereo volume, and it controls various warning chimes. Parents can program the Ford MyKey system to their specifications, which Pittsburgh Lincoln Financing says will help to add peace of mind when children are out on the road. MyKey will be standard on the 2010 Ford Focus and Ford Escape hybrid. By 2012, MyKey will become standard on all vehicles.

Automatic Braking Systems

Using sonar and radar, automatic braking technology is able to monitor the closing speed of your car and the car ahead. If it detects that an impact may be eminent, the system will apply the vehicle’s brakes automatically without any input from the driver according to one used car dealer Trenton. The system was first featured on the Mercedes-Benz S-Class, but can also be had on the 2010 E-Class. Other vehicles that have adopted similar technology include Lexus and Volvo. While it’s not a replacement for safe driving, the system can prevent changes that occur from distractions.

Lane Departure Warning Systems

Lane departure warning systems alert a driver whenever a vehicle begins to veer outside a lane. When the vehicle steps over a double yellow line, one used Mercedes Baltimore dealer points out that the system helps the drivers avoid a serious accident with an on-coming car, or even a motorcycle. While the system was first developed by Infiniti, it has since found its way into numerous brands including Cadillac, Lexus, Audi, and Mercedes-Benz. Some customers at Acura Service New Haven have thought the system is a bit too sensitive and annoying when it beeps unnecessarily. However, these systems can be shut off manually.

Driver Alertness Monitored

Also developed by Mercedes-Benz is the driver alertness monitor. The system monitors if a driver is falling asleep at the wheel. If the system senses a dozing driver, Mercedes Benz Washington DC says it will attempt to wake the driver up. Typically found on Mercedes S- and E-Class models, the system can also be found on Volvo models as well, including the S80 sedan. While the system could potentially startle a drowsy driver admits Indianapolis Mercedes and potentially could cause an accident, the system should be useful for those driving on long trips or who regularly drive late at night. That being said, anyone getting drowsy at the wheel should immediately pull off the road and call it a night.

Tuned Autos @ tunedautos.com

It’s been over 3 years since Car Tuning Central was launched, and over this period we’ve learned quite a lot about cars, maintenance, styling and many other auto related subjects.

While cartuningcentral.com is covering everything that somehow relates to the auto industry, we thought that maybe we should start something a bit different, something that’d cover Tuning, Styling and Modifications only, therefore we recently acquired an aged domain that used to have a car site on it and fully revamped the place.

Tuned Autos @ tunedautos.com header

Tunedautos.com will be our brother site, where we’ll dedicate only to those 3 aspects referred before (tuning, styling and modifications).

While we think we still have a lot to learn and to improve there, we’ve already posted a few articles and kicked the place of.

Go ahead, visit tunedautos.com and remember to bookmark it and subscribe to its RSS feeds.

We’ll try to do our best with that site too, keeping it updated regularly and throw a lot new fetures we’re sure you’ll love.

Choosing Between a Coupe and Sedan

One of the vexing questions for many car buyers is what type of style vehicle should one buy.  Today, for many people looking to buy typical passenger vehicles, you usually have a choice between a coupe (2 door) and a sedan (4 door). While in years past, there were big differences between the two, today both car styles are popular and many manufacturers offer a choice of either coupe or sedan. There are obvious benefits and downsides to each.  Here are just a few tips on choosing the best type of vehicle for your needs.

Honda Accord - Coupe vs Sedan

The Benefits and Downsides of Both Coupes and Sedans
Owning either a coupe or a sedan has both its benefits and downsides.  For instance, a coupe is usually more sporty in styling.  A coupe is generally made for drivers that use their vehicles to commute or for pleasure.  Generally not made for the family, a coupe dedicates more space and functionality to the driver. Finally a coupe is usually more affordable new and retains more of its value when sold later on. Sedans on the other hand are specifically made to carry more than just the regular one or two individuals.  Having four doors does reduce sportiness in styling, however most newer sedans look great.  Sedans make it convenient for passengers to enter and exit the vehicle and many sedans offer specific amenities for passengers such as LCD screens on the back headrests, additional cup holders and separate climate control.

Which One to Choose
Choosing between a sedan and coupe is really a personal preference.  If you have a family, definitely opt for the coupe.  However if your single or don’t necessarily drive others around a coupe can be a great choice.  While the styling might be different generally speaking most manufacturers usually put the same engine and powertrain into either a coupe or sedan.

Car Auction Tips

If you are thinking about purchasing a used car and would like to save plenty of money, one of the best ways to do so is via auction.  Car auctions have always been popular, however today with many vehicles being repossessed, prices at auctions are as low as ever.

Here are some tips.

Government Auctions
Whether it’s federal, state or a local car auction, there are a few things you should know.  First off, there are plenty of rules to follow with these types of auctions.  Make sure you read up on them before you attend.  Usually, these auctions require you to have a bank certified check to put down a deposit or pay in full for the vehicle and there is a certain time to view the vehicle to be auctioned on.

Private Auctions on Ebay
Every once in a while, you will find a quality auction run on Ebay for an auto with no reserve.  This means that there is no floor in which a person must bid to in order for a sale to go through.  So whether it is $50 or $10K, the car sells.  These auctions can save you big, but again, it is up to you to check out the car before you make your bid.  Many auctions of this type sell the vehicle as is with no recourse afterwards, so do your homework.  In most cases you can get a great deal.

Commercial Auctions
Many times a used car dealership or private auctioneer will hold car auctions.  These auctions are similar to government auctions, however there is more leeway in which to see the vehicles and pay for them.  Since it a private business or individual selling the car, you can make an agreement directly with them based upon your payment preferences and whether or not you can view the vehicle and take it for a test drive before bidding.

Getting More Cargo Space from Your Car

If you use your car to carry lots of stuff whether it is groceries, merchandise for a small business, sporting equipment, your dog or tools you probably are looking for ways to enhance your car’s storage capability.  While cars offer plenty of storage options, they are definitely not as roomy as minivans, SUV’s or pick up trucks for that matter.  Here are some tips on getting more cargo space from your car.

Car Cargo Space

Cargo Organizers
If you either carry a lot of stuff or a lot of different stuff such as a baby carriage and work tools, you want a safe and effective way to store them.  One way of doing so is with a cargo organizer for a trunk of a car.  Many trunk organizers can help you neatly store much of your goods in a safe compartment.  These organizers are usually quite affordable and easy to install or to remove if needed.  Whether you are trying to throw in your sports equipment or your groceries, these organizers definitely work.

Bike Carriers
Bicycles are one of those items that most people can’t fit into their car.  So what to do when you want to take you and your girlfriend or family to the lakeside for a nice bicycle ride?  Simple, a bike carrier.  Bike carriers come in two varieties, ones that fits outside of your trunk and ones that fit on your roof.  These bike carriers safely hold your bike firm and can carry two three or more bicycles- depending on the style.  However, roof bike carriers generally hold only two bikes.

Roof Top Carriers
If your vehicle has a roof rack or if you would like to simply install one, one cargo option is a roof top carrier.  These roof top carriers are usually aerodynamic and serve as a second trunk.  They can hold plenty of stuff, especially if you require extra storage when you are on a cross country trip or go camping for the weekend.

Tips for Buying a Used Car

If you don’t have the budget to purchase a new car or are looking to save a lot on your next car purchase, one option is obviously to buy a used car.  While there are things to take into consideration when buying a used car including buying someone else’s problem, the truth is that with so many used cars on the market, if you shop right and do your homework, you can not only get a great used car, but also save a boatload of money.

Here are some tips:

Be Flexible
If you are looking for a specific model, make and year of vehicle you may be expected to pay higher and buy a car that is not in the best of shape.  Figure out a few models that would fit your lifestyle the best- giving you the most flexible options and the largest amount of vehicles to choose from.

Research Vehicles Online
Before you buy, do your homework.  This means do lots of research on the price range, the options and the potential problems that each make and model vehicle you are looking at incurs.  This will ensure you know what to look for, know when you see a bargain or when someone is asking too much and generally be viewed by the seller as knowledgeable- which will the reduce the chances of them trying to put one over on you.

Do a Background Check on the Vehicle
Nowadays you can easily do a background check on a vehicle to make sure that the vehicle wasn’t involved in an accident, flood, stolen, etc.  One service is CarFax.

Have Your Mechanic Check the Vehicle
And of course, when you are ready to purchase your vehicle, take it to your mechanic to make sure all is running right with the vehicle.  This will not only save you lots of time and money, but help you to purchase a used car that is generally in good condition.

Car Warranties

For those that are looking to either buy a new car or used car, one question that is always on a buyer’s mind is whether the car they buy will be reliable and hold up for the many years to come.  While reliability has definitely increased over the last few decades, more and more people drive more and rely on their vehicles to get at least 100K miles or more.  One way to ensure that your car will be running and will be fixed if there is a problem is if it is covered by a long term car warranty.

Here are some tips:

If you are worried that you are about to invest in an expensive vehicle and want to get the most out of your car, definitely look into car warranties.  Most new cars come with at least a 3 year, 36,000 mile warranty that protects your investment from problems with the engine and drive-train which includes the transmission.  These two components are usually the most costliest items to replace.  While 36,000 miles sound like a lot, many commuters that drive a lot can surpass this amount in less than 2 years.  Other car manufacturers are more aggressive in their sales and offer warranties that offer 7 year, 70,000 miles or a 10 year, 100,000 mile warranty, making driving just about worry free for those that don’t put that much mileage on one’s car.

After Market Warranties
Even if your car manufacturer or used car dealer doesn’t offer a substantial warranty, some after market warranty companies offer their own.  While some are pricey, if you want a warranty, they are an option.

Make Sure You Read the Fine Print
It can not be stressed enough.  Make sure you read the fine print on any car warranty that comes with a vehicle or that you purchase.  If you don’t understand something, either ask questions or have a lawyer look at the contract for you.

Owning a Commercial Vehicle

If you own a small business, one of the many benefits could be a nice size tax deduction for business expenses.  And one business expense that many companies and self employed individuals find themselves with is transportation costs.  If you own a small business, you should definitely look into using your current vehicle, buying a car or leasing a car so that you can not only conduct business effectively, but also benefit from the tax deductions.

Commercial vehicle tuning

Here are some tips:

Talk to Your Account Regarding Owning a Commercial Vehicle
Generally speaking, tax deductions can vary widely so it is always best to talk to you accountant or financial adviser on the benefits that will directly affect you.  For instance, many businesses can deduct mileage, tolls, the cost of maintenance and in some cases even the cost of the vehicle, insurance, etc.

Own Your Current Vehicle, Lease or Buy
Another interesting piece of information that one should know is that the IRS sometimes offers incentives in the form of deductions for one to either buy a vehicle or lease a vehicle.  The reason being that in some cases (remember to talk to your accountant), your monthly payment for owning the vehicle or leasing it can be deducted on your taxes each year.  Obviously this kind of deduction can save you thousands of dollars.

Commercial Insurance and Registration
While there are definite benefits when it comes to taxes, be aware that a commercial vehicle usually requires specific types of vehicle insurance and registration with your municipality or state.  In many cases, commercial insurance and registration will be more costly, however the good news again is that you will probably be able to write off these expenses on your taxes- making the bite of these costs easier to handle.

Breaking in a New Vehicle

There is no bigger joy than driving a brand spanking new vehicle.  A new car can be some of the best days of one’s life, however, special caution should be taken when breaking in a vehicle- over doing it at the beginning can create certain problems down the road.

Shiny Car - Rear Window Detail

Here are some tips:

Get Your Fluids Moving
While a brand new factory vehicle is of course ready to drive, you don’t want to be too hard on the vehicle.  The reason being is that there are plenty of fluids in your car and they need to circulate throughout the engine, transmission, etc to make sure that your vehicle will be working properly and protected from friction and heat.  This is usually the main concern of breaking in a new vehicle – be gentle for the first few weeks so that fluids have a time to circulate appropriately.  If not, you may do slight damage to your vehicle and not know it until problems occur years later.

Keep Speed Down and Your Engine as Cool as Possible
For the first few weeks that you drive your vehicle (consult your car’s manual for the exact time period or mileage), drive your car slower than normal and keep the engine as cool as possible.  For instance, when on the highway, of course you will want to gun the vehicle, but hold off until the time period is done.  And for those with a brand new vehicle, it is not always a good idea to plan a long road trip where your vehicle can become quite hot from driving all day long.

Be Careful with Cold Starts
Besides heat, cold can be damaging as well.  When starting your vehicle in the cold- less than 32 F degrees, let the vehicle heat up for a few minutes.  Don’t just put in the key, turn the ignition and drive off.  Give your car some time to heat up and get the oil circulating.