Browsing Category: Cars

4 Car-Buying Add-ons You Should Watch Out For

Negotiating a car price can be exhausting. And just when you think you’re all done, you may discover — thanks to add-on costs — the price you’ve agreed on isn’t the one you’ll actually pay. In fact, you may even be told you can’t get out of it, because the add-on has already been added to all the cars on the lot.

It can be tempting to throw in the towel and just agree, rather than face the prospect of doing this all over again at another dealership.

But what if some of the things they suggest sound tempting? Are they ever worth it? Some may be, if it’s something really important to you (say, pinstripes). Others (rustproofing, anybody?) may not be. If you’re buying a new car, it has already been treated; a supplemental treatment is likely not necessary. Here are some others you should consider carefully.

If you’re buying a new car, it has already been treated; a supplemental treatment is likely not necessary. Here are some others you should consider carefully.

Fabric Protection

Your car should already have upholstery that wipes up fairly easily. Car manufacturers know we spill things, and they design cars accordingly. If you want additional protection, you can buy a spray-on fabric protectant and apply it yourself.

Mike Quincy, auto content specialist at the Consumer Reports Auto Test Center in East Haddam, Conn., told Bankrate that new cars don’t need it, and that humans could actually do without the chemical exposure.

VIN Etching

VIN etching can be a good thing — and police and car insurance agencies recommend it. It may even save you money on car insurance. However, having the dealer do it can add more than $100 to your cost, according to the Consumer Law Group.

You can buy a kit and do it yourself for $20 to $30. Also, some police departments will do this for a small fee.

Extended Warranty

Particularly if you are buying a new car, you probably don’t need an extended warranty, and the money would be better spent getting all the regular maintenance done.

After all, problems caused by failure to do routine maintenance are not typically covered by a warranty, anyway. An exception may be if you are buying a car that is extremely expensive to repair.

In general, new cars tend to be reliable and Autotrader recommends against them, as veteran auto writer Doug DeMuro wrote recently.

Credit Insurance

What would happen if you became disabled, couldn’t work and couldn’t pay? Credit insurance might make sure that payments are made for a certain period of time or even that the vehicle is paid off. There are different kinds of insurance, with different conditions. All will increase your car payment. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau suggests giving it some thought and checking to see if there are less expensive options available. You do not have to sign up the same day you purchase your vehicle.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau suggests giving it some thought and checking to see if there are less expensive options available. You do not have to sign up the same day you purchase your vehicle.

Also, beware of “menu-selling” at the finance office, where you are asked something like, “Which of these warranty options do you prefer?” and opting out is not among the choices. In many cases, you can opt out; it just isn’t in the document.


Even if you do decide you want one of the options offered, you don’t have to buy it that day.

According to AutoTrader, you can buy an extended warranty for your car after you buy, and “any time before the car’s manufacturer warranty expires.” You may prefer to decide at your kitchen table, rather than at the dealership.

How to Get (Only) What You Want

It is important to go over every item listed on the invoice — and the “supplemental invoice,” which may contain dealer-added options, like paint protection or nitrogen-filled tires (neither of which is essential). Make sure you understand and agree with the charges.

It can be hard to walk away once you’ve invested so much time and energy. You may need new wheels, and have spent much of the afternoon test-driving, then negotiating… and be willing to fork over more than you planned just to have this whole ordeal be over, and who could blame you? You’re tired, and you just want to go home.

A possible alternative is to go in only to decide which models and which options most appeal to you — and then check with your insurance agent to see what they would cost to insure, particularly if a difference in cost would influence your decision about which to buy.

At that point, you can call or email dealerships and ask them for their “drive-out price,” including tax, title, delivery and any other charges, of the make and model you want with the options you want. Many dealers actually have an Internet department accustomed to working this way. That way, you know exactly what you’ll pay before you walk in.

You take a test drive, and if it’s as expected, go sign the paperwork. If you enjoy the “sport” of the haggle, this may not be for you. But if you like comparing prices without having to sit in multiple managers’ offices, this could save you time, and possibly money.

You could go a step further and get financing approved from your bank or credit union before you go to the dealership.

Getting your credit in top shape before you begin shopping is smart anyway; a good credit score will help you qualify for the best interest rates. If you’re not sure where you stand, there are many ways to get your credit scores for free, including through

And if you want add-ons, you can add them on later — and know exactly what they cost.

This article originally appeared on

This article by Gerri Detweiler was distributed by the Personal Finance Syndication Network.

5 Mobile Apps To Help Lower Vehicle Costs

mobile apps t save money on cars

The average annual costs of owning and maintaining a typical sedan in the U.S. was $9,122, or about $0.608 per mile based on 15,000 miles driven, according to the 2013 AAA Your Driving Costs study. That number represents a 2 percent increase from the previous year.

Some automotive-related expenses are unavoidable, but proper maintenance and due diligence can cut costs significantly. Download these five apps to start saving money immediately:


It’s difficult to find a more comprehensive app that offers a fully functional free version. Once you install aCar, enter all your vehicle information including make, model, and year. You can then track gas mileage by entering your odometer reading at the time of fill-up, along with the number of gallons and price of the gas. The app also keeps records of all maintenance and repairs to determine the total costs to keep your car on the road, and whether it may be time for a new one.

The aCar app is Android and Blackberry compatible. The free version is adequate for most car owners. The $5.99 Pro version allows data import and export, and has multiple language options.

Flat Tire Help

For those who do not have roadside assistance and technical expertise for these types of emergencies, Flat Tire Help is the app for you. It gives simple step-by-step instructions, complete with detailed images, for changing a tire on any type of vehicle. Flat Tire Help will save you towing fees and help get you to the nearest shop to determine if the tire is salvageable or new tires are necessary.

Flat Tire Help is available for Android devices for $0.99.


The average price of a gallon of gas across the U.S. on October 11 ($3.25) was the lowest recorded since 2010, according to AAA. Missouri had the cheapest gas in the country that day, but the range between stations was substantial. A Conoco in South St. Louis had $2.65 gas, while a West St. Louis BP was selling gas at $2.93. That is why the GasBuddy app is so invaluable.

Simply enter your city, state, and zip code, and GasBuddy does the rest. Prices are updated throughout the day by the app’s community of users to ensure accuracy. Those who report prices accurately receive rewards points that enter them in prize giveaways.

GasBuddy is free and compatible with Android, Blackberry, and iOS devices.

Car & Auto Insurance Quote Finder

Auto insurance premiums vary greatly by state, age, and several other factors. But the National Association of Insurance Commissioners placed the average yearly costs at $797 for 2011, the most recent data available. That means insurance can represent upwards of 15 percent of annual expenses for some car owners.

Car & Auto Insurance Quote Finder allows you to compare several quotes from multiple companies to find the best deal. It acts as a virtual marketplace that puts all the quotes in one place and saves you from surfing the web from site to site.

The app is available for all iOS 5.0 or later devices.

Torque Pro

Automotive technicians hook your car up to fancy diagnostic machines to determine a repair and maintenance schedule. Of course it will cost you upwards of $200 for this service. The Torque Pro app can do all that and more for you for a fraction of the price.

You’ll first need to get a Bluetooth on-board diagnostic tools, which costs about $15. The other caveat is that your car must be a 2000 model or later, as older vehicles do not have the port to plug the adapter in below the steering wheel. Once you sync the adapter and your phone, it sends emission, fuel economy, torque, and other data depending on the vehicle. Mechanics and other car geeks rave about its accuracy and overall usefulness.

The total investment for the app ($4.95) and Bluetooth adapter will pay for itself the first time you use it.

Get the Skinny on Car Sharing

HA growing number of North Americans are using car-sharing services, especially in places where car ownership is more of a hassle than a benefit. More than one million people participated in 46 different car-sharing networks across North America last year, a 24 percent increase over 2012, the University of California Berkeley reported. Find out how these services work and whether they measure up to the hype.

How Does It Work?

Unlike traditional car rental services, car sharing is on an as-needed basis for much shorter time periods, usually by the hour or even by the minute. Qualified drivers must be over 18 or 21, depending on which network you use, and have a valid driver’s license and clean driving record.

After signing up with a network, simply search for and reserve a car online or via a smartphone app. Cars are usually headquartered in a neighborhood parking lot, and you simply go there, unlock it with a special RFID-equipped membership card and drive away for the allotted time. Gas and insurance are covered with the fee, but some services will ask you to top off the tank with a fuel card (it’s in the glove box) when it’s only a quarter-full.

There are plenty of companies to choose from, including Zipcar, RelayRides, Flexcar and crowdsourced efforts like Getaround. Even traditional rental car companies are getting in on the act—Enterprise, for one, is now in the car-sharing business with its CarShare service.

Make Money With Car Sharing

If you already own a car but don’t drive it that often, a car-sharing service is a good way to put it to use and make a little extra money. Simply visit any local car-sharing website and list your car, and they’ll walk you through it from there.

A word of caution: Become well-acquainted with your insurance provider’s policy on car sharing. Some insurance companies frown on letting complete strangers use your personal car as a rental and, as a result, may not extend personal auto coverage in those cases. Most car-sharing programs provide commercial auto coverage for this reason, and some states have changed the rules in favor of car sharing or are studying proposals to do just that. It’s worth asking insurance companies like The Hartford the specifics regarding car sharing and how it affects your coverage.

Check with your state department of insurance, too. Oregon recently added provisions that allow owners to rent out their own cars without putting their auto coverage in jeopardy or being held liable for accidents. Oregon’s House Bill 3149, signed into law in June 2011, prevents auto insurers operating in the state from canceling or reclassifying vehicle coverage because of its use in car-sharing programs.

Kimberly Owens

Writer, car enthusiast, runner

Which Used Cars are Reliable?

honda reliable carKnowing which used car to buy can result in huge savings when you take into consideration how much the average vehicle costs to maintain over its lifetime, as well as how likely it is to develop problems in the first place.

Top 3 Reliable Used Cars

Having looked at the most recent data from our site, here are three models that provide consumers with the best chance of keeping costs down whilst still ensuring safety and reliability are at the forefront.

Mazda 3 2004-2009

Available in a variety of editions, this well designed family hatchback consistently performs well in reviews. Coming fourth in a 2012 list of top ten reliable family cars, the Mazda 3 provides a better than average ride quality along with excellent handling and good driver feedback, making it an excellent choice for a family vehicle. It also tends to hold its value particularly well compared to other similarly sized offerings from other manufacturers which provides further peace of mind.

Honda Civic 2006

Honda has a well-deserved reputation for the reliability of its vehicles and their succesful Civic model makes a great proposition as a working family car. Its unique design allows for better than average storage space and a comfortable driving position. Running costs tend to be on the low side, and once again resale value is high, meaning the Civic is likely to perform well once placed on the second-hand market.

Toyota Corolla 2001-2007

Consumer reports rates Toyota’s Corolla model extremely highly, with recent figures placing it in the top ten most reliable cars as of 2012. Owners of its 2008 model-year vehicles rated it a 4 out of 5 on a Vehicle Dependability Index and reported that the likelihood of it developing any major cost-incurring problems was extremely low. This is borne out by figures that suggest that only seven per cent of Corollas break down each year.

Of course any vehicle will eventually incur further costs at some point down the line as wear and tear results in faults like worn gear boxes and electrical faults making themselves apparent over the car’s lifetime, but deciding to purchase any of these three models  should see the probability of such potentially costly events reduced to the minimum.

Thoughts on Getting a Reliable Used Car

Which car has been the most reliable for you and your family?

This guest post was provided by which specializes in used car sales in Australia.