Archive for the ‘consumer reports’ Tag

When Is The Best Time To Buy A Car?

We’re down to the last two months of the year and soon the Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day holidays will be upon us. In quick succession they will come and go, bringing us to a new year with a host of fresh possibilities and goals awaiting us.

One goal millions of American consumers would like to attain before the new year arrives is to purchase a new vehicle. There are more than 250 million registered passenger vehicles in the United States with an average age of 11.5 years according to IHS Automotive. That’s a long time to hang on to a car and for many people getting a new one has become a high priority, especially if their current ride is experiencing significant downtime.

The months of November and December provide very good opportunities for people to purchase a new vehicle. For one, the year-end sales rush is on and manufacturers such as Ford, Hyundai and Nissan have already announced incentives that may include some of the best deals of the year. For another, the 2016 models have arrived and dealerships are anxious to clear lots of 2015 inventory. If you do your homework carefully, you can slash thousands of dollars off the sticker price of some new models before incentives are taken. Yes, this could be the best time to buy a car, SUV or pickup truck.

There is some debate among experts about the best time to buy a car. Manufacturers and dealers usually insist, “right now!” — but that isn’t always the case. With an eye on the remaining weeks of the year ahead, the following dates, days and even times of the week may help you in your new car shopping decision.

Black Friday

The day after Thanksgiving is known as “Black Friday” or when merchants offer tantalizing deals to help kick off the Christmas shopping season. The day is so busy that malls are packed with customers from well before sunrise to late at night.

Pity the poor new cars salesperson who looks out at the traffic-choked roadway and observes potential customers whose minds are locked on getting a Christmas gift deal and nothing else. Few customers venture to dealer lots and that omission may cost them a big bargain.

In 2013, Consumer Reports surveyed the automotive landscape just days before Thanksgiving and found that a number of older, but still new models had discounts ranging from 15 to 25 percent off the sticker price. For example, that means a $40,000 full-size pickup truck might retail for as low as $30,000 if buyers were aware of the incentives.

Consumer Reports noted that Black Friday could be an especially beneficial day to shop as “dealers may even sweeten the deal further to clear their lots” and the day is also close to the end of the month as “dealers are more willing to negotiate to meet their quotas.” If Black Friday isn’t the best time to buy a new car, it certainly ranks as one of the top days.

Best Days of the Week

You may think that shopping for a new car on a weekend is the ideal time to buy. However, that usually isn’t the case unless it’s the end of the month and dealers are clamoring to meet their sales quota. Keep in mind that there’s no way to know if the dealership has met its quota. Don’t expect the salesman to greet you as you enter the showroom by saying, “Gee, we’re really glad you stopped by today. If we make a sale, we’ll meet our monthly quota!”

Monday may be the best day of the week to buy a car as most of the business has been conducted over the previous weekend. The lower the foot traffic, the more likely you’ll have increased negotiating power. This may be even more apparent in December when people are stepping up their Christmas shopping. For instance, if you shop on the Monday following the Thanksgiving weekend — also known as Cyber Monday — you may find showrooms are nearly empty.

At Year End

Some people think that December 31 is the best day to buy a new car, especially as the calendar year comes to a close. Although it can certainly be a good day, the first few days of the new year can be a good time to shop too. Why? Because those days are counted in the previous year’s totals.

Dealer’s work with what is known as a “U.S. Sales Reporting Calendar.” For 2015, the sales month and year cutoff is on Monday, Jan. 4, 2016. Many dealers are open on New Year’s Day and almost all will stay open late on Jan. 4, in a bid to get that final sale.

Dispelling Myths

Just as there is a best time to buy a new car there are some myths about timing your purchase that should be examined and dispelled.

For instance, some people believe that shopping for a new car on a rainy or snowy day is ideal for securing a bargain. On the contrary, many dealerships are packed with people whose plans were changed because of the foul weather.

Arriving at a dealership just as your sales associate is ready to leave for the day seems like a great way to snag a deal too. After all, she may have plans and is eager to get home. Don’t be fooled: sales people are used to working well beyond their scheduled hours in a bid to secure a deal. Besides, it is the sales manager who ultimately approves or nixes any deal.

Get Prepared

Now that you’re ready to buy a new car, visit the manufacturer’s website to identify the vehicle and trim level that interests you. Contact at least three dealerships to obtain quotes. Learn what incentives are available, which is information that is typically found on the manufacturer’s website. You can arrange financing on your own or do so through the dealership, but with the latter choice you may forfeit cash back in exchange for cut-rate financing.

Read more at: http://www.carfax.com/blog/when-is-the-best-time-to-buy-a-car/

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How Long Does a Car Battery in a New Car Last?

Though battery problems are often associated with cold weather, Consumer Reports magazine says heat is a bigger enemy of car batteries and will take a bigger toll on performance and reserve capacity. The magazine recommends that vehicle owners in hotter parts of the country have their car battery tested after two years of ownership and then every year after. Those who live in colder areas can wait four years to test performance and capacity, and then every year after.

“Heat kills batteries,” according to John Banta, a Consumer Reports project leader and part of the team that tests batteries for the magazine. “Many times in cold climates your battery fails to start your car on a below-freezing day. The reason this happens is that the heat of the past summers has weakened your battery. When you use it in the cold, the starter requires more electrical current to turn over the cold engine with its thickened oil.”

Testing a battery’s performance and reserve (or amp-hour) capacity is not just a matter of seeing whether it will hold a charge (or checking the electric eye found on some batteries to see if it is green), so testing is best done by an auto technician.

Read more at: http://www.cars.com/auto-repair/expert-tips/electrical-and-lighting/how-long-does-a-car-battery-in-a-new-car-last/

The diesel-powered Dodge Ram 1500

I bought a new test truck, and there was much rejoicing. Celebration for the Ram 1500 EcoDiesel, the first half-ton diesel truck in more than 25 years, goes far beyond the yard work needs of the Consumer Reports auto test staff.

Evidence of this came from very strong initial orders from dealers, with customers practically lining up to buy. We saw this firsthand as we tried to buy our diesel Ram. Getting our hands on a truck took several weeks, and it was a challenge to find one that wasn’t super-loaded with options.

Even taking that into account, our Ram wasn’t cheap. Not even close. We opted for a midevel Big Horn Crew Cab 4×4 with the shorter of the two bed length choices. Adding the diesel ramps upped the price by a cool $4,000.

After that, our truck is packed with many nice options—$6,000 of them. A $410 integrated trailer brake controller and towing mirrors seem to be a natural match for the diesel’s talents. We’re also big fans of the $505 Uconnect 8.4 touch-screen infotainment system. Once you have experienced heated front seats and a heated steering wheel, it’s hard living without them here in New England. There goes another $395. We regretted not getting a $595 backup camera with park assist on our last Ram, so this one has it.

Added all up, our truck was sticker priced at $49,155. That seems like a lot for a truck with cloth seats. Most trucks seem to be priced to reflect the inevitable thousands of dollars in incentives as manufacturers fight for dominance in truck sales wars. Even though we still got some money off, buying the first one on the block that wasn’t presold didn’t help bargaining.

We’ve called the Ram 1500 “the luxury truck” among its peers, and the diesel makes it even more civilized. Compared to the Hemi’s roar and burble, the diesel goes about its business unobtrusively. The torquey powerplant sounds quieter here than in our tested 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee EcoDiesel. Power flows out smoothly, thanks to the eight-speed automatic transmission, but the 240-horsepower EcoDiesel lacks the acceleration of the Hemi. It will be curious to see how the diesel does when towing; we were impressed by how the Jeep pulls a load.

The biggest question: how good is the fuel economy? According to the trip computer, I got 25 mpg overall on my commute. I’ve never broken 20 mpg on the same route with a Hemi-powered truck or SUV. Instrumented testing will come after the truck gets break-in miles; it had less than 100 miles on it when I drove it. It also had a bed full of brush—like I said, all of us at the track have a lot of yard work to do—but it’s unlikely those picked up sticks mattered here.

I also found some surprises. Despite all of those options, including various “comfort” and “luxury” packages, our truck lacks automatic climate control. Also, since it’s quite a stretch to jump up into the bed to unload yard debris, I was surprised there’s no step or ladder. Our truck was certainly shiny at delivery, but the dealer didn’t fill up either the diesel tank or the diesel emissions fluid tank. (We do like the analog gauge that shows the fluid level.)

Maybe the biggest surprise: Our truck’s 1,233 pound payload rating is pretty modest. With its 3.55 rear axle ratio, the truck can tow 7,750 pounds. Say you tow a 6,500-pound camper; it will probably have 650 pounds of tongue weight, leaving you with less than 600 pounds of capacity for your kids and stuff in the truck.

Still, this is a rather impressive and quite refined machine. Of course, many of the Ram 1500’s attributes remain intact here, such as best-in-class ride from the rear coil spring suspension, comfortable front seats, and a roomy cab. In the weeks ahead, we’ll see if this diesel-burning Ram can outscore the Chevrolet Silverado/GMC Sierra at the top of our truck ratings.

Read more at: http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/news/2014/05/dodge-ram-1500-ecodiesel-first-drive-review/index.htm