Archive for the ‘Car Reviews’ Category
Posted on: September 19, 2012 | In Car Reviews
If you’re planning to purchase a used car when it’s time to replace your current model, you’re not alone. According to USA Today, used cars are more in demand than ever before, due to the depressed economy and stagnant new car sales.
But before you go to the lot and make your choice it’s important to know which models ranked as the most fuel-efficient used cars less than five years old.
Before you purchase a used car, you can get an idea of what an auto insurance policy costs by entering your ZIP code into our FREE search tool!
We’ve chosen the five-year mark as our baseline because engine wear and mechanical issues tend to cloud the fuel efficiency picture beyond five years. Also be advised that we’ve gotten our information from the federal government statistics as provided by the EPA and the U.S. Department of Energy.
2011 Chevrolet Volt
The Chevrolet Volt is a gasoline/electric hybrid that received the highest EPA gas mileage ratings of any car in history. The vehicle normally operates using an electric engine powered by batteries stored within the car’s body.
When those batteries are drained to a predetermined level, the gasoline engine kicks in to drive a generator that sends electricity to both the batteries and the engine.
EPA statistics show that the Volt gets the equivalent of 94 mpg when operating solely on electric power.
When the gas engine is running it gets approximately 35 mpg in the city and 40 mpg on the highway.
According to a government document promoting the 2011 Volt, GM invested some $700 million just in upgrading the manufacturing facilities needed to produce the car. Unfortunately for them, sales have been so slow they have been forced to halt production twice this year. Rumors suggest the end for this car may be near.
2010-2011 Toyota Prius
The Toyota Prius is another electric/gasoline hybrid, first released in Japan in 1997. It was the first mass-produced hybrid vehicle, and the first to make a serious run at the U.S. auto market. The car is now sold in more than 70 countries around the world. Toyota claims that more than 2.5 million have been purchased by consumers to date.
EPA numbers for the Prius suggest a combined mileage of 50 miles per gallon. It gets significantly less mileage than the Volt, as do the rest of the hybrids, due to the fact that the drive system works differently. When broken down into city and highway miles, the vehicle gets approximately 51 mpg and 48 mpg respectively.
Perhaps one factor that might encourage you to purchase a used Prius is its battery technology. Toyota uses a combination of both high- and low-voltage batteries. But a 2011 study showed that fuel economy and performance are not an issue, even as both types of batteries age.
When it comes time to replace the batteries, dealers carry them for between $2,000 and $3,000 a piece.
If you’re willing to dig around in salvage yards, you can find low mileage batteries for significantly less money.
2010 Honda Insight
The Honda Insight is an electric hybrid introduced in its first incarnation in 1996. The original Insight was the first Honda vehicle to utilize the company’s revolutionary integrated motor assist technology. This technology allows the car to be operated on a simultaneous combination of electricity and a gasoline-powered engine, rather than depending exclusively on one or the other.The company discontinued production of the first-generation Insight model in 2006. They reintroduced it in 2009 with some technology and size upgrades. For 2010, the Insight was rated lower in terms of fuel economy than its first-generation counterpart. Most of that has to do with added size and weight.
The EPA ratings give the 2010 Insight a fuel efficiency of 40 mpg in the city and 43 mpg on the highway. As an added bonus, Honda has a reputation for building quality vehicles that last a long time.
2010 Smart Fortwo Passion Coupe
The next car on our list is probably one you’ve never heard of, yet you’ve probably seen one if you live in a large or mid-sized city. Sometimes known simply as the “smart car”, the Smart fortwo Passion coupe is manufactured by Smart GmbH, a German company that’s now part of Daimler AG.
The car is most well-known in the United States for its extremely small size and bright colors. It is a two-seat vehicle, barely large enough to fit a driver, passenger, and a very small amount of cargo. It is so small that some have described it as nothing more than a fancy-looking golf cart.
The secret to the Passion’s fuel mileage is the size of the vehicle.
In other words, it relies entirely on a gasoline or diesel engine rather than a hybrid model. But the small size means a smaller engine can be used to power the vehicle.
According to EPA numbers, the gasoline version of the Passion coupe gets a combined 36 mpg. The diesel engine is rated slightly higher at approximately 43 mpg.
2011 Honda CRZ
In 2010, Honda released a new electric/gasoline hybrid called the CRZ. It’s significantly different from the Insight in two ways. First is the fact that it is classified as a compact sports car, whereas the Insight is a family sedan. But more importantly is what’s underneath.
The CRZ utilizes a hybrid electric/gasoline transmission that makes it the only hybrid that can be built with an optional manual transmission.
Honda specifically developed this technology for sports car drivers who prefer the option of a manual transmission for speed.
According to the EPA’s 2011 fuel economy guide, the CRZ gets 31 mpg city and 37 mpg highway for a combined rating of 34 mpg.
2011 Mini Cooper
The Mini Cooper is a U.K. icon originally manufactured by the British Motor Corporation (BMC) from 1959 through 2000. At one time the car was so popular in Europe that it was hard to find much of anything else on the road. But lagging sales and stiff competition from other manufacturers brought an end to BMC at the turn of the 21st century.
When BMW purchased Mini in 2000, they opted to keep the brand and Marquis while scrapping the company itself and starting over with their own design. The modern Cooper is a tribute to that classic British car in its styling and class.
In terms of fuel mileage, the 2011 Cooper gets a combined EPA rating of 32 mpg for the M-6 model. That translates into 29 mpg city and 37 mpg highway. The A-S6 model gets slightly lower mileage at a combined 31 mpg.
2011 Ford Escape Hybrid
Though Ford first began manufacturing the Escape as a gasoline crossover in 2000, the hybrid edition did not come into play until 2004.
The vehicle already enjoyed great fuel mileage and good public acceptance prior to the hybrid model, but Ford wanted to get its foot in the door in what was then still a new marketing sector.
Early in 2012, Ford made the decision to discontinue the Escape Hybrid due to the fact that their 2013 gasoline model gets better fuel mileage.
The company’s Eco-Boost technology has surpassed the best mileage they could achieve with a hybrid gasoline/electric model.
Nonetheless, the 2011 Escape Hybrid is nothing to sneeze at. The EPA gives it a fuel mileage rating of 34 mpg city and 31 mpg highway, for a combined rating of 32 mpg.
Selecting a Used Car Based on Fuel Mileage
Now that we’ve given you some food for thought regarding the best used cars in terms of fuel mileage, there are a couple of things to consider before you make your purchase. First off, remember that the overall condition of a vehicle’s engine and drive train go a long way in determining what its fuel mileage will be.
For example, a used vehicle with high mileage may get great gas mileage on paper, but poor maintenance by a previous owner could reduce that mileage significantly. Furthermore, a transmission that is not working up to original standards will yield lower mileage as it wears.
Before you purchase a used vehicle, you should always have it inspected by your own mechanic. You might ask the dealer or individual from whom you’re purchasing it for permission to drive the car to your mechanic’s shop. This would be a great way to actually check fuel economy for yourself; at least within the number of miles you cover going back and forth.
Lastly, remember that your fuel economy will probably degrade with every mile you put on the car. In order to keep mileage as high as possible, you could do simple things like maintaining proper tire pressure, rotating the tires with every oil change, having regular tune-ups, and making sure you follow manufacturer recommendations for oil change frequency.
If you’re purchasing a hybrid there may also be some specific maintenance practices you have to employ regarding your batteries and the charging system. Make sure you read and understand the instructions provided in the vehicle’s owner’s manual. If you’re purchasing a vehicle that doesn’t have a manual, you can get one from the manufacturer.
If you’re considering purchasing a used car, enter your ZIP code into our FREE search tool to find out approximately what you’ll pay for an auto insurance policy first!
Posted on: August 15, 2012 | In Car Reviews
Every spring, parents around the country start thinking about buying their teens a car so they can get to and from work during the summer. Many of them are looking to purchase a car that will be reliable enough for their students to take with them to college the following fall. Since there are so many models from which to choose, we’ve compiled a list of the worst used cars to buy your teen.
If the cost of car insurance plays into your purchasing decision, enter your ZIP code into our FREE search tool right now to see how much a new policy might cost!
Our recommendations are based mainly on two factors: reliability and safety. Reliability is a concern given the fact that teen drivers usually don’t have a lot of money lying around to pay for maintenance and repairs. Vehicle safety is a concern for obvious reasons.
If you don’t want a lot of headaches, stay away from the following vehicles.
You might be surprised to find a luxury vehicle at the top of our list. But since the STS was discontinued in 2011, after a relatively short six-year run, you can actually find them priced pretty reasonably on the used car market. The STS was originally intended to replace the long-running Seville; one of Cadillac’s most well-received models, which was produced from 1974 through 2004.
The two main problems with the STS are its safety ratings and a host of mechanical problems that Chevrolet could never overcome.
The safety issues come by way of ratings from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
While the STS received good ratings for front impact, the ratings for side impact were only acceptable and poor. Injuries to a driver’s pelvis and torso were considered likely in the event of a side-impact collision.
In terms of mechanical problems, Consumer Reports classified the car as “a total nightmare.” Reviewers noted a list of problems, including a malfunctioning drive train and a problematic electrical system. There were also plenty of complaints about strange noises and how poorly the body held up–two things that should never be an issue with a luxury car.
Dodge Grand Caravan (post 2007)
The Dodge Caravan and Grand Caravan have been among the best-selling minivans on the market. Chrysler invented the class back in the 1980s to serve families who needed space but didn’t want the hassle of dealing with a station wagon.
Through the first couple of years of production, they were the dominant market leader in the minivan category, and with good reason. Both models were fairly reliable and reasonably priced.
Today, you can find both Caravans and Grand Caravans on the used car market at good prices.
However, according to Consumer Reports, the Grand Caravans made after 2007 aren’t worth buying.
They list a whole host of issues, including poor brake performance, poor body integrity, and persistent issues with the heating and air-conditioning systems. Only one model year since 2007 has received an “average” rating from the magazine.
Though the Grand Caravan could end up being a money pit, if you already own one it might be a good vehicle for your teen to drive, from a safety perspective. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration consistently gives the vehicle high scores for safety.
Ford Thunderbird (post 1983)
The Ford Thunderbird is one of the most iconic cars in American automotive history. Some suggest that it’s eclipsed only by the Ford Mustang and the Chevrolet GTO.
Regardless of your take on the matter, the first eight generations of the vehicle (manufactured between 1955 and 1982) are tough and reliable, and still sought by collectors for restoration. But Ford changed the way it was manufacturing the cars beginning with the ninth generation in 1983.
Ford undertook a complete overhaul with this new generation in order to make up for lackluster sales in the previous years. Yet their redesign went too far, with a shorter wheelbase, a new Fox body, and the brand-new turbocharged engine. Ford never quite got it right, resulting in a host of mechanical problems through the end of the T-bird’s production in 2005.
Though the Thunderbird Coupes of the late 1990s still have their fans, Consumer Reports recommends that drivers stay away from post-1983 Thunderbirds.
They list issues with the cooling system, transmission, electrical system, and engine.
Volkswagen New Beetle
The New Beetle made its debut in 1998 as a nostalgic look back to one of the more popular cars of the 1960s “hippie” era. In a bid to relive their younger, years parents can be be tempted to purchase a New Beetle for their teens. If you’re tempted, don’t do it. Just remember what the original Beetle was like if you have any questions.
In fairness, the New Beetle is certainly a step up from its vintage older brother produced between 1938 and 2003. At the same time, there are safety concerns and lots of engine problems with the newer version.
According to Consumer Reports, the turbo models prior to 2012 have the most engine problems. As for safety questions, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gives the New Beetle a poor rating for side impact.
If you know anything about Mazda, you might be surprised to see the RX-8 on our list of worst used cars for teens. We are even a little surprised, given the fact that the car has won so many awards from prestigious magazines as Car and Driver and Wheels.
Despite being consistently ranked as one of the top new cars during its production run from 2003 to 2012, the Mazda RX-8 apparently doesn’t hold up well as it ages.
According to MSN Autos and Automotive Information Systems, a company that provides vehicle service information to car repair shops, the RX-8 tends to quickly develop serious engine problems. They don’t specify exactly what those problems are, but engine issues are something you definitely don’t want for your teen driver.
The organization also listed problems with the air conditioning and ignition in cold weather. Furthermore, Edmunds’ forum discussions recommend that buyers stay away from 2004 models because of engine and drivetrain issues.
Pontiac brought the G6 to market in 2004 to replace its wildly popular Grand Am model. Unfortunately, the car had issues right from the start.
From the perspective of parents with teen drivers, safety issues should be at the top of their list.
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, all model years for the G6 suffer from structural design defects. This led the organization to give the car only an “acceptable” rating for side impact, despite the inclusion of side door airbags.
There are also few more worrisome issues from a mechanical standpoint. At the top of the list is a cooling system leak prevalent in G6s made for the 2005 and 2006 model years. Other notable mechanical problems include faulty fuel gauges, electrical system malfunctions, and unexplained noises.
The Jeep CJ7 dominated the sport-utility market in America up through the early 1980s. It was a military vehicle adapted for civilian use and marketed for its rugged reliability. When it was discontinued, AMC began production of the Wrangler to take its place.
Under the direction of both AMC and Chrysler, the Wrangler enjoyed fairly decent sales despite its hefty price tag. Unfortunately, the vehicle has never lived up to its reputation.
Bloomberg BusinessWeek has called the Wrangler one of the most iconic U.S. cars over the past 25 years. What they fail to mention is a long list of complaints about the vehicle’s electrical systems and transmission.
Consumer Reports research shows that customer complaints for the Wrangler are especially high given the fact that the price tag is so steep.
Rugged good looks notwithstanding, a four-wheel-drive vehicle with a poor transmission is probably one you want to stay away from.
Last on our list is the Chrysler Sebring, a mid-size sedan produced between 1995 and 2010. First-generation Sebrings (up through model year 2001) are not bad cars for the money if you can still find them. But, beginning with the second generation, Chrysler dropped the ball in several key areas.
J.D. Power and Associates reflects that with an overall design and performance rating of no more than two circles for most of the models.
Consumer Reports lists issues including drivetrain malfunctions, engine cooling issues, and problems with the suspension and handling. Perhaps the most serious of all has to do with faulty brake systems.
The magazine says the vehicle is certainly not worth the price tag if it’s more than what the Kelley Blue Book lists. Even at that price, the used Sebring could end up being a money pit with which you don’t want your teen having to deal.
When it comes to purchasing used cars, it’s always somewhat of a gamble.
But do the research and concentrate on cars that get high satisfaction and safety ratings. At least then you’ll have one less thing to worry about regarding your teen driver.
Enter your ZIP code into our FREE search tool right now to start looking for auto insurance for that used car you plan to purchase!
Posted on: August 8, 2012 | In Car Reviews
Between the early 1990s and the mid-2000s, there was a trend among American drivers to purchase brand-new vehicles rather than going with used ones. Economic times have since changed to the point that some consumers can’t afford to purchase new anymore.
Suddenly, used cars are back in style. To help drivers who might be looking for a good used car, we’ve compiled our list of the top 20 best used cars ever.
Once you’ve purchased your used car you’ll need insurance, so enter your ZIP code into our FREE search tool right now to start looking for car insurance quotes online!
For our top 20 list, we looked at a number of factors including price, reliability, cost of repairs, and overall consumer appeal. Please remember that car reviews are very subjective in nature. What is one man’s dream machine could be another man’s nightmare. With all that said, let’s get to our list.
20. Toyota Land Cruiser
The Land Cruiser began production in 1951 to compete with Jeeps and Range Rovers. These tough-as-nails vehicles are designed to handle just about anything a driver can throw at them.
The only series we wouldn’t recommend is the 100 series produced between 1998 and 2003. Land Cruisers manufactured in these years are known for having some serious reliability issues under harsh conditions.
19. Subaru Forester
The Subaru Forester is a mid-size crossover first introduced in 1997. What we like most about it is its reliability and its five-star safety rating.
On the downside, the Forester isn’t as fuel-efficient as other used cars in its same class. And, like most Subarus, repairs can be expensive when it comes to things like the transmission and suspension.
18. Lexus IS 300 (2000-2005)
In 1998, Toyota decided to get into the high-end luxury market with the introduction of the Lexus nameplate. When the IS made it to the States in 2000, it had already had the bugs from the first generation worked out, making it a very reliable car.
The 2003 model of the Lexus IS was issued a five-star safety rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and is still considered one of the safest cars in its class.
17. Chevy Camaro (3rd or 4th generation)
The Chevy Camaro is an icon of the American automotive market that began production in 1966. Chevy ceased production in 2002, but then resumed in 2009 to try to win back some of their lost market share. Assuming you’re on a budget, we would recommend the third or fourth generation Camaro. These Camaros are reliable, sporty, and a great buy for the money.
16. Ford Focus
The compact Ford Focus began production in 1990 as a replacement for the reliable and cheap-to-operate Ford Escort. This line of vehicles remains one of the most reliable coming out of Ford since the late 1980s.
In fact, the Focus has been largely responsible for carrying the company through tough economic times. Ford was the only one of the major U.S. auto manufacturers that did not require a federal government bailout to stay afloat, and the Focus is a big part of that.
15. Toyota Corolla
Toyota has enjoyed a lot of success with a number of vehicles that have remained in continuous production since the ’60s. The Corolla is one such vehicle. It is one of the most reliable compact sedans on the market.
We wouldn’t recommend anything out of the first seven generations (1966 through 1990) simply because age has taken its toll. But eighth generation and later-model Corollas, beginning production in 1991, still represent a great value.
14. Honda Civic (after 1997)
In the 1970s, Honda began manufacturing the Civic to compete in Europe with the Mini Cooper. The car was not a great success in the United States for the first couple of years, but once it caught on, it did so in a big way.
While the Civic is usually a reliable vehicle, we wouldn’t recommend anything prior to 1997 because of safety concerns.
The NHTSA only gave it a one-star rating for front crash safety in 1979 and 1980; it didn’t reach five-star status until 1997.
13. Chevrolet Corvette
If you can afford it, the Corvette might possibly be the most fun-to-drive car ever made. The horsepower, throaty engine, and slap-you-in-the-face good looks has never been matched by any other car manufacturer.
Since 1953, the Corvette has been the definition of American automotive muscle. To stay on a budget, look for fourth-generation ‘Vettes made between 1984 and 1996.
12. Ford Crown Victoria (Second Generation)
If ever there was an American luxury vehicle built to be as tough as possible, the Crown Victoria is it. When the second generation of the car was introduced in 1991, it was a complete remake of the first generation and LTD models that had enjoyed good commercial success. But the second gen was built so well and was found to be so tough that police agencies and taxi companies started buying them up by the thousands.
Today, the Crown Victoria is still the standard among police vehicles.
It’s no longer sold at the retail level but is still produced as a fleet vehicle.
11. Honda Accord
Like the Civic, the Honda Accord has been around since the 1970s. It is one of Honda’s most reliable vehicles and, according to the FBI, one of the most consistently stolen vehicles in the United States.
Car thieves love the Accord because their long life makes used parts extremely valuable. To get the most bang for your buck, we recommend the fifth and sixth generations, manufactured between 1994 and 2002.
10. Volkswagen Golf
It’s hard to imagine Volkswagen being on this list, being that the brand name typically conjures up images of the 1960s-era Beetles and Buses. Yet the Golf is one of the most popular vehicles sold in the U.K., as well as a recipient of many European car awards.
Though they didn’t receive rave reviews in the United States, they still are very dependable cars that seem to run forever. Fourth- and fifth-generation models manufactured through 2003 can generally be had for less than $10,000, making them an extremely good value.
9. Mazda MX-5
If you like roadsters, the MX-5 from Mazda might be the one to beat. It certainly can’t compete with 1960s predecessors like the MGB Midget, but for a late-model roadster it’s an excellent car.
Mazda began production in 1989 and has enjoyed good success throughout the life of the car. Your best bet for the dollar would probably be the first two generations up through 2005.
8. Hyundai Accent
Though the Hyundai Accent is not necessarily as old as some of the other cars we’ve recommended, it deserves a place on our list for its reliability and affordability. Any model year would be a good choice as long as the car is in good mechanical condition.
The best part of the Accent is its artificially low resale price. In other words, because the Hyundai name doesn’t get the same recognition as some of its competitors, the Accent is not a high-demand used car. That keeps prices lower than comparable cars in its class, so you get a lot of bang for the buck.
7. Cooper Mini (BMW)
The Mini is one of those iconic nameplates that evoke fond memories in a lot of people. Minis made prior to 2000 are hard to come by in the States, because they were manufactured primarily for a British market during that time period. But when BMW brought them across the Pond at the turn of the century, they became an instant hit.
We love the Cooper model because it is sleek, sporty, sexy, and a lot of fun to drive. Look for one manufactured prior to 2007 if you’re on a budget.
6. Chrysler Town & Country
Chrysler basically invented the minivan category. And, as anyone knows, minivans became the dominant family vehicle beginning in the 1980s. The Town & Country began production in 1990 to replace the Caravan and Grand Caravan models of the ’80s.
As the inventor of the minivan, Chrysler still leads the way in innovation and overall value.
That means you can get an older model with features like Stow ‘n’ Go seating, in-floor storage, and dual sliding side doors. Other manufacturers didn’t start adding such features until years later.
5. Jeep Cherokee XJ
The Cherokee XJ may very well have saved Jeep from going out of business in the 1980s. Struggling for market share in the United States, where all of the attention was being paid to Chrysler K cars, the older Jeep Cherokees were the antithesis of everything American car buyers want.
But the XJ changed all that by offering an extremely reliable and rugged vehicle that would well outlive its payment book.
4. Nissan Sentra (all models)
Introduced in 1982, the Sentra was the first huge commercial success since the re-branding of the company from the old Datsun nameplate to Nissan. To this day, the Sentra is one of Nissan’s most reliable models. It offers great value, great gas mileage, and easy repair bills.
3. Pontiac GTO (1964-1974)
The Pontiac GTO is an awesome used car for raw power and good looks. Don’t buy the 2004-2006 models, as they are GTOs in name only. If you’re worried about buying something from ’74 or earlier, remember that the GTO is a very sturdy vehicle and parts are still available at junkyards. You can buy one very inexpensively, restore it, and have a great car worth a lot of money.
2. Ford Mustang
The Mustang set the standard for sports cars in the United States when it was introduced in 1964. If you can afford it, any model year makes a great used car.
If you’re on a budget, consider the fourth generation made between 1994 and 2004. Anything earlier begins to enter the collector category, while late-model editions still have a high resale value.
1. Lincoln Town Car
If you’re looking for a tank masquerading as a luxury car, you’re after the Lincoln Town Car. Ford produced the car for 30 years, from 1981 through 2011, alongside the Crown Victoria and the Mercury Mark series.
It’s not unusual to see a lot of 1980s Town Cars still on the road simply because they last so long.
If you don’t mind poor gas mileage, you can’t do much better for luxury in an American car than the Lincoln Town Car.
So there you have it, our top 20 list of the best used cars ever. Enjoy shopping for, and driving, whichever one you purchase!
Find the most affordable auto insurance for your used car by entering your ZIP code into our FREE search tool!
Posted on: August 1, 2012 | In Car Reviews
Finding a good used car for a couple of thousand dollars is harder today than it’s ever been. That’s not because there aren’t any out there; it’s because cars are being built to last so much longer than their predecessors that they can easily cost $10,000 or more. If you’re looking for a great used car for under $5,000, we’ve compiled a top 10 list of vehicles you really should consider.
You’ll need insurance for that used car, so get started right now compiling online auto insurance quotes by entering your ZIP code into our FREE search tool!
Keep in mind that this top 10 list is rather subjective. We based our results on research into several things, including: resale value, consumer acceptance, mechanical difficulties, and other data. It goes without saying that you could visit any other number of websites and find lists that are both similar and completely different. That being said, let’s get to ours.
10. Honda Prelude
The Honda Prelude began production in 1979 as the company’s first designated sports car built off the Accord platform. The idea was to take the best from the compact Accord and translate it into a mid-level sports car to compete with the Toyota Celica, Ford Probe, and Mazda MX-6. Though the car spanned five generations until it was discontinued in 2001, you probably won’t find models from the first two generations widely available.
Hondas have a reputation for durability, that’s for sure. That’s why thieves love to steal them and sell their parts on the black market. That’s also one of the reasons why the Prelude is such a great deal at $5,000 or less.
Despite a large number of critics, the fifth-generation Prelude is the best of the line, with a five-speed manual transmission and Honda’s Active Torque Transfer System.
9. Second-Generation Subaru Outback
The Outback was the second generation of the Subaru Legacy station wagon. When it was originally introduced in 1994, it was dubbed the “Legacy Outback.” It was renamed simply as the Outback after Australian actor Paul Hogan became the spokesperson for the American marketing plan.
The wagon was a beefed-up version of the first-generation Legacy intended to give Subaru a foothold into the brand-new SUV category. Interestingly enough, since the car was not big enough to be classified as an SUV, it gave birth to a new category we now know as the Crossover.
The Outback is a great car for the money because it seemingly runs forever.
It is suitable in just about every climate and can hold its own off road, despite the fact that it looks like a small family wagon. The only problem with an older, used Outback is getting replacement parts for it.
8. Second-Generation Honda Odyssey
Honda makes the list again with its Odyssey minivan. The vehicle got its start in 1994 during a very rough time in the Japanese economy. As such, the car was really a compact minivan intended for Japanese families who used public transportation more than their own vehicles. The Odyssey was not well received in the United States until the second-generation model was introduced in 1999.
We like the second-generation Odyssey because it is more of what Americans are used to in terms of size and style. At the same time, it combined Honda dependability with a handful of new innovations that had not yet seen the light of day in the American market. The second-generation Odyssey won numerous awards and high customer praise for things like its simple, but ergonomic, interior and dual sliding passenger doors.
7. Third-Generation Toyota 4Runner
The 4Runner is Toyota’s long-standing entry in the mid-size SUV category. The company has been actively selling the vehicle since 1984, having developed five generations thus far. Finding one for under $5,000 will probably limit you to the third generation or earlier. Our personal recommendation is a third-gen from ’96 to ’98.
The third-gen 4Runner has a couple of good things going for it, not the least of which is its rugged dependability.
But Toyota also decided they would begin transforming the very utilitarian vehicle into a more luxury-minded SUV in order to compete with the Nissan Pathfinder. It also had a larger wheelbase and frame, thanks to Toyota’s decision to base it off a larger Land Cruiser rather than the compact Toyota pickup on which the first two generations were based.
6. Ford Taurus SHO
The Ford Taurus SHO was a high-performance version of the well-received Taurus wagons and sedans of the 1990s. In its first run, the car was produced from 1989 through 1999; Ford brought it back in 2009 to rave reviews and several awards.
We like the original SHOs because of their raw power. The first-gen models rolled off the floor with a Mazda-built manual transmission and an 800 RPM tachometer. Ford really pushed the idea of acceleration, claiming that the SHO could go from 0 to 60 mph in just over 6.5 seconds.
Car and Driver Magazine piled on in 1989 when they claimed to have gotten the car to a top speed of 143 mph. If you can still find one of these early SHOs in good condition, it’s really a steal.
5. Hyundai Accent ’03-’05
The second generation Hyundai Accent is one of the few later-model used cars you can find in the $5,000 range. And although the second-generation runs from 2000 to 2005, you probably want to stay away from earlier model years because of safety concerns.
Crash tests conducted by the European New Car Assessment Programme led the car to be classified as high risk for both front and side impact accidents.
Hyundai got its act together beginning with the 2003 model and hasn’t looked back since.
The second-generation Accent is a dependable vehicle that gets great gas mileage and won’t cost you a lot of money in maintenance and repairs.
Sometimes you’ll find third- and fourth-generation Accents in the $5,000 range, but they are rare. Usually, they’re priced closer to $7,000 or $10,000.
4. Honda Civic, Fifth and Sixth Generations
The Honda Civic is by far the most popular model from this Japanese maker. It’s been around since 1972 and has enjoyed strong sales around the world in all of its incarnations. The Civic is a subcompact that gets great gas mileage, is fun to drive, and will run forever if you take care of it.
As a testament to how trustworthy the Civic is, the FBI has it at the top of the list of most stolen cars in America year after year. Thieves love it because the parts are invaluable.
We recommend the fifth and sixth generations, built between 1992 and 2000, for a couple of reasons. First of all, anything prior to 1992 is probably on its last legs in terms of rust, frame strength, and engine wear.
Anything after 2000 will probably run you more than $5,000. If you stick with the fifth- and sixth-generation models you’ll be getting a great car for the money.
3. First-Generation Mazda Miata
Also known as the MX-5, the Miata is Mazda’s roadster designed to bring back the glory days of 1960s roadsters like the Triumph Spitfire and MGB Midget. They’re hard to find in large numbers in North America due to the fact that Mazda limited their sales here. They are big in Europe, however.
If you’re looking for a fun car to drive, with a lot of acceleration and sexy styling, the Miata may be just what you’re after.
Second generation and beyond will probably be out of the $5,000 price range, so stick to first-gen models.
2. Lincoln Mark VIII
The Lincoln Mark VIII is the only luxury vehicle on our list just because luxury is so difficult to find for under $5,000. This vehicle is a rear-wheel drive touring coupe built by Ford from 1989 through 1997.
Roughly equivalent to a similar Ford Crown Victoria, the Mark VIII did not shy away from raw power with its 4.6 L V-8 engine. Ford didn’t skimp on the interior luxury either.
The Mark VIII featured automatic climate control, leather seats, power seats and door locks, heated mirrors, and a whole lot more. These days it’s hard to find one that doesn’t have high mileage; original owners love them so much they don’t give them up easily. However, if you can find one with a solid frame and no oil leaks, it will be well worth the $5,000 investment.
1. Fourth-Generation Ford Mustang
The Ford Mustang may very well be the most well-known Ford vehicle ever produced. According to Ford’s media department, the Mustang is the only 1960s era pony car to continue with uninterrupted production since its inception in 1964. And, while the first and second-generation models are by far the most popular, they’re hard to find for under $5,000. That’s one of the reasons we’re recommending the fourth generation.
The fourth-generation Mustang was somewhat of a return to the car’s original roots after the failed third-generation model almost put the Mustang in the grave.
The third-generation line, which ran from 1979 to 1993, was a first for Ford in that they decided not to offer a V-8 model. They also based the third-gen on the front-wheel drive Mazda MX-6; a move that infuriated Mustang purists and fans of American car companies in general.
When the fourth-gen Mustang hit the market in 1994 it was a throwback to 1970s styling. But most importantly, the V-8 engine was back in the GT model. Newer Mustangs continue that trend. These days you can find a fourth-generation Mustang in fairly good condition in the $4,500-$5,000 range.
There are certainly many other great cars out there for those looking for a used vehicle on a budget. Our list is but a small sample of what’s available.
Just make sure before you purchase any used car you have it thoroughly inspected by a mechanic.
If you enter your ZIP code into our FREE search tool you’ll find that used cars are cheaper to purchase auto insurance for than brand-new vehicles!
Posted on: July 11, 2012 | In Car Reviews
Choosing an old used car over a brand-new one is advantageous for some drivers. If you know what you’re looking for, a good used car can offer you years of reliable service at just a fraction of the cost of a new vehicle. To help you in that pursuit we’ve compiled some tips for finding cheap old used cars.
You’re going to need insurance for your used vehicle, so start looking for auto insurance quotes online by entering your ZIP code into our free SEARCH tool on this page!
Keep in mind that the tips offered here are intended simply to give you some guidance in purchasing a used vehicle. By no means do we make any claims that in following them you will find a vehicle free of mechanical issues. At the end of the day, any used vehicle represents a certain amount of risk you will assume if you purchase it.
Tip #1 – Evaluate Your Needs
Before you even begin looking for used cars, you need to sit down and evaluate your needs.
Things you need to consider include: how often you drive; whether your driving is mostly local or on the highway; the normal weather conditions in your area; how much money you have to spend; and how much you are willing to do some routine maintenance on your own.
If you need some help, Consumer Reports offers an excellent step-by-step guide to help you evaluate whether or not a used car is right for you.
In evaluating your needs it all comes down to whether or not you can afford a new car and whether or not it’s a good investment on your part. For example, a college student planning to live on campus where he will drive infrequently is probably a good candidate for an old used car. A traveling salesman who drives several thousand miles per week probably doesn’t want to risk an old used car.
Tip #2 – Know What to Look for
While it is possible for a knowledgeable seller to hide some of the problems inherent in used cars, no one can hide everything. If you know what to look for you can spot some of the more common problems with used vehicles.
The first thing to remember is to pay no attention to the shiny new paint job and the fresh coat of wax.
Used car dealers and private sellers alike know that first appearances go a long way in selling used vehicles. They will spend a lot of time making the exterior look good for this reason.
If you’re not sure what you need to look for, talk to the mechanic who does most of your repair work. He can give you some general insights, as well as tips on specific makes and models. He might even be willing to go with you and take a look at the vehicle before you purchase it, for a small fee.
Popular Mechanics provides a free, comprehensive checklist that you can print and take with you when you go inspect a used vehicle.
Tip #3 – Have the Car Inspected by a Mechanic
Even if a mechanic goes with you to look at the vehicle, you should still have it driven to the auto shop where it can be put up on a rack and looked at more thoroughly. While a mechanic can give you a good on-site assessment, he’s unlikely to spend a lot of time with the vehicle in the presence of the owner. By getting the vehicle back to the auto repair shop, your mechanic is free to go over it with a fine tooth comb.
If the owner balks at the suggestion of you taking the car to your mechanic’s shop, simply walk away. In all likelihood, there are serious mechanical issues with the vehicle and you don’t want it anyway. Any owner who is being upfront with you regarding the condition of a used vehicle will have no problem with you taking it to a mechanic.
As a side note, don’t slap any old license plates on the vehicle if it has no registration or insurance. Have it towed to the repair shop instead.
Tip #4 – Ask for Service Records
In the old days of our fathers and grandfathers, car owners used to save all of their service and repair records in a neat little portfolio. Very few people do that these days. Nonetheless, you should always ask for copies of service records whenever you’re looking at a used vehicle. With any luck, the owner took the time to save those records.
If he did, it’s quite likely he took very good care of the vehicle over the years. If he can’t produce such records, he may still have taken good care of the car, but it’s much harder to determine in this case. When you ask for service records, you’re looking for oil changes, new tires, and receipts for major work on the transmission, engine, suspension, and so on.
Tip #5 – Carefully Examine the Title
There are only a handful of states in which a car owner does not possess the title, transferring ownership simply by signing over the registration. But this is the exception to the rule. Most states require ownership to be transferred via the title; the owner of the vehicle should always be in possession of that title.
Whenever you’re considering an old used car it is imperative that you check the title for a couple of things. First of all, you’re looking for some sort of stamp that would indicate the car was previously damaged in some way. You’re looking for words like “salvage” or “wreck.”
Each of the states has its own laws regarding salvage and wrecked vehicles. Utah, for example, defines a salvaged vehicle as one that sustained damage significant enough that repairing it under normal circumstances would cost more than the vehicle’s market value.
You’re looking for these specific designations because they tell you the vehicle has undergone considerable repairs. You want to know what sort of damage the car sustained and how it was repaired before you purchase it.
The second thing you want to look for on a title is a lien. A lien is a good indication that the owner still owes money on the vehicle. You probably don’t want to purchase such a car without proof that the lien has been satisfied.
Tip #6 – Be Careful of Shady Dealers
We’re all familiar with the jokes surrounding used car dealers. Fair or not, they’ve earned a reputation of being untrustworthy to the extent that some are willing to go to great lengths to hide mechanical deficiencies in order to sell a vehicle.
Fortunately, most states have enacted lemon laws over the last 20 years to protect consumers from unscrupulous used car dealers.
You can see Georgia’s Lemon Law explained here as an example.
In light of the fact that lemon laws don’t offer 100% protection, keep your eye out for news reports regarding used car dealers in your area. You may also consider going online and researching a given dealer to see if there are any negative reviews posted.
If you have a reason to suspect a local used car dealer is less than trustworthy, don’t even bother paying their lot a visit. There are plenty of other sources for good, old, cheap used cars.
Sources of Good Used Cars
Thus far, we have assumed you would be purchasing your used vehicle directly from its current owner or a local dealer. But there are other avenues you can use, especially if you’re looking for something particularly old. That might be the case for a car collector or someone who restores old vehicles and then resells them.
One of the best avenues for these types of vehicles is used car brokers. If you’re not sure what a broker does, he is an individual whose business is to match sellers and buyers together.
A broker scours the country for specific types of vehicles on request. He also keeps track of everything he finds and maintains a running inventory of what’s available. A broker makes his money by taking a percentage of the purchase price when a transaction is completed.
A broker is a great source of reliable used cars if he has a reputation of being trustworthy. Why? Because a good broker takes the time to develop relationships between both buyers and sellers, to the extent that both return to him for multiple transactions. If you can find a broker with a good name who has been in business for quite a number of years, you’ve probably found someone you can trust.
Another avenue of quality used cars comes by way of professional auto auctions. To be clear, we’re not talking about repossession or impound auctions; we’re talking about companies who specialize in high-quality used vehicles. You can see examples of these types of auctions and the companies who run them on television. Like brokers, these auction houses don’t sell junk.
If you’re the type of person who isn’t scared away by old used cars, there are plenty of cheap ones out there.
You may even find the process of looking and evaluating used cars rather enjoyable. Just be sure to do your homework before you purchase a vehicle.
Your vehicle search isn’t complete until you know what your insurance will cost, so enter your ZIP code into our FREE search tool to get multiple quotes right now!
Posted on: June 20, 2012 | In Car Reviews
Once largely the domain of the U.S. military, the utilitarian vehicle known as the Humvee went commercial in 1992 when AM General decided to make a commercial version of their most well-known military vehicle. Some 20 years later, Hummers are no longer produced, so if you intend to buy one used understand you’re purchasing a vehicle that is no longer supported by an automotive company. If that doesn’t bother you, Hummers are great if for no other reason than the fact that they’re tough.
No matter how old your car is, you can enter your ZIP code into our FREE search tool and find affordable auto insurance quotes from some of the best carriers!
In the 18 years Hummers were produced, AM General and General Motors combined to produce three models: the H1, H2, and H3. Their size, utilitarian nature, and price tag ($50,000-$150,000) limited their appeal to the extent that only 200 to 300 vehicles were sold annually. That meant dealers were struggling to find enough buyers to make the venture worthwhile. When the recession hit in 2008 it all but finished off Hummer; GM tried to sell the nameplate to a Chinese company but, as the Los Angeles Times reported, that deal fell through.
Advantages of the Hummer
When AM General first decided to bring the Hummer to the consumer market, the United States was fresh off an easy victory in the first Gulf War. The 24-hour news channels chronicled just about every detail of the war, bringing military vehicles like the Humvee into the mainstream.
AM General wanted to capitalize on the fact that America’s attention was riveted on all things military. Thus, the commercial Humvee was born, tailored to an American public looking for big, tough-looking vehicles that would rule the road.
There’s no doubt that the Humvee and its commercial cousin are as tough as they come. That’s one of the advantages of owning a Hummer. Even buying a used one that’s already 15 years old is not all that risky considering they are built to withstand the toughest punishment for decades.
As long as a used Hummer has been maintained and is still in good working order, it is generally not considered a risky buy. You do have to worry about price, however.
For example, Kelley Blue Book values a 2001 hard top H1, in excellent condition and with 100,000 miles, at $37,865. There are times when these vehicles are over-priced by private owners because they may have spent two to three times as much to purchase the vehicle new and they can’t bring themselves to part with it at such a loss. You should always check Kelley Blue Book or NADA values before purchasing a used Hummer.
Watch the Front End
According to Flash off-Road, the biggest mechanical problem with the Hummer is the front end. They reason that the original Humvee was designed to be driven off-road at slow speeds–not on the highway at high speeds. Constant highway driving at high speeds wears on some of the major components of the front and causes the original parts to wear out quickly. The website recommends that you check a used Hummer for its steering, pitman and idler arms, and bent wheels.
Flash off-Road further says that if the original parts are still installed they will probably need to be replaced on a used vehicle that’s more than a couple of years old. If they’ve already been replaced, and high-quality aftermarket parts were used, you should have nothing to worry about. They caution that poor-quality tires could make any potential problems with the front end worse.
Hummer’s High Maintenance
When you’re buying a used Hummer, you also need to keep in mind that these are very high-maintenance vehicles.
Remember that they were originally designed for the U.S. military, an organization that routinely does maintenance work on its vehicles to keep them in top-notch condition. There are few components built into a Hummer that mitigate the need for routine maintenance, unlike most typical family sedans. This means that, if you’re purchasing a used Hummer on which the owner performed little maintenance, you may be buying a money pit.
For example, today’s vehicles can go between 5,000 and 7,000 miles without an oil change. If you were to drive the typical Hummer every day at highway speeds, you couldn’t get away with that much time between oil changes. Doing so would cause a severe breakdown of oil, to the point that it would no longer be reliable for your engine. Brakes are another issue that has to be dealt with regularly, given the size and weight of these vehicles.
Air Conditioning Issues
Air conditioning is a concern with earlier Hummer models, given the fact that the ’92 and ’93 H1s utilized R-12 units that are now illegal. Also known as “Freon,” R-12 was banned for use in new vehicles in 1995, thanks to America’s signing on with the Montréal Protocol. According to the EPA, this international agreement was put in place to protect the world from ozone depletion caused by chemical substances like Freon. Automobile air conditioners have never blown as cold since.
Knowing that, be advised that the original air conditioning units in one of those earlier Hummers will still require R-12 as long as there are no leaks. Though it’s not technically impossible for you to recharge the unit yourself, the government has made it nearly so by requiring you to be a certified mechanic and pass a written examination to be certified in R-12 refrigerant replacement. Since most of us are not qualified to do so, you’ll end up paying a repair shop to do it for you. Naturally, this will cost more than the same job performed on a modern air-conditioning system.
If your R-12 unit does have leaks, it will most likely need to be replaced. It’s possible to fix one of these old units but it’s not very practical.
When you buy a used Hummer from ’92 or ’93, be prepared to deal with air-conditioning issues.
Gas Tank Modifications
All Hummers built prior to 1996 have only one gas tank; the gasoline version is 23 gallons while the diesel is 25. The problem is that Hummers typically only get 7 to 11 miles per gallon. Having to stop at the gas station so frequently is annoying to a lot of consumers, so some do-it-yourselfers took it upon themselves to install an auxiliary gas tank near the rear bumper. If you’re purchasing a used Hummer, and the owner tells you he installed a second gas tank, you MUST get underneath and verify the location of the tank.
Because gasoline is so volatile, it is against the law to mount a secondary gas tank anywhere outside of vehicle’s frame rails (check out Lynch Hummer in St. Louis to see what the chassis of a typical Hummer looks like). If a Hummer owner has done so, and you purchase the vehicle as it is, any insurance claims that result from that gas tank will not be covered by your insurance company. Furthermore, you could be held criminally liable if an explosion from that gas tank were to injure or kill someone.
Along those same lines, 2009 H3s were recalled by General Motors to fix a condition in which front support straps for the fuel tank could fracture. If they did, it would leave the fuel tank supported only by the rear straps and the debris shield. The tank could potentially shear off or be prone to complete detachment in a rear-end accident. You can see details of the recall here. Make sure before you purchase any used 2009 Hummer that this issue has been corrected.
Wheels and Tires
As briefly discussed earlier, wheels and tires are a big issue with Hummers.
Some people even suggest that this is the biggest expense for those who purchase used Hummers because they don’t understand how these vehicles were built.
There are only two types of aftermarket wheels and tires suitable to carry the vehicle’s weight and work properly with its steering and suspension. GT/Cepak wheels and tires are the preferred ones among seasoned Hummer owners because they are still being made and meet all manufacturer specifications.
AM General also still makes wheels, but no tires. Goodyear was making tires for the AM General wheels, but it appears as though that may no longer be the case. You would have to check with your Goodyear dealer to see what he carries.
Knockoffs from any other manufacturers are not advised.
Using wheels and tires from any other manufacturers could result in a change in steering performance and damage to the vehicle’s front end.
Hummers are tough vehicles built to last longer than almost anything on the road. If you have the money, and you’re willing to invest the time and resources in proper upkeep, a used Hummer will do right by you.
Before you choose just any insurance policy for your Hummer, be sure to check out competitive rates by entering your ZIP code into our FREE search tool on this page!
Posted on: May 10, 2012 | In Car Reviews
The second quarter of 2012 is underway and auto enthusiasts have plenty of new models to review and compare. Some automakers are testing the market with 2013 models of their concept cars. Some are over-the-top with their innovative new designs while others are the same rock-steady models with updates and sleeker lines.
A number of flashy cars priced under $50,000 are being rolled out this year, amid great fanfare among the automotive community. Each one is expected to go on sale in the next 18 months. With each new introduction the anticipation level ratchets up a notch or two.
No doubt those with money to burn and a driving desire to own one will waste no time signing on the dotted line and driving one home off the showroom floor.
If you’re one of them, research and compare car insurance rates first to find how much your premiums will be. Entering your ZIP code online can give you a clear picture of how much it will cost to insure one of these vehicles.
Excitement on Wheels
In January the public got its first look at the Ford Focus ST, and in February the Mitsubishi Evo XI was unveiled. In March the Toyota Prius C was revealed at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. Every few weeks a new car is introduced.
April heralds the arrival of the Chevy Camaro ZL1, a muscle car with a supercharged V-8 engine with 580 horsepower. The sticker price is $54,995 but the more affordable Camaro SS will sell for $31,930. The ZL1 selling points are getting the attention of the car crowd.Also in April the two-door Mini Paceman goes on display. Mini has its work cut out marketing this model, which is basically a two-door version of the Countryman. The Mini Paceman is similar to the Mini Cooper, only larger and with four-wheel drive.
More Innovation to Come
The following cars will be released in coming months:
In July the public will get it first look at the Dodge Dart, totally redesigned from earlier models. This compact sedan is expected to give serious competition to Chevy’s Sonic and Cruze models, the Ford Fiesta and Focus and the Hyundai Accent. The sticker price begins in the low $16,000 range and it has some outstanding features:
- The Dart’s heavy Italian influence is seen in its Alfa Romeo Giuletta platform with its solid steel body.
- It’s equipped with multi link independent rear suspension, four-wheel disc brakes and MacPherson front struts.
- Some models will come with manual transmission. Others will be equipped with double clutch “manumatic.”
The Cadillac ATS is also expected to make its debut in July. Some experts say Cadillac is trying to mimic BMW, but Cadillac hopes to overtake BMW with its own version of a concept car. The new 3,400-pound Caddy is a lighter, more powerful car than previous models.
- Its two-liter four-cylinder engine has 270 hp and 260 pounds per foot of torque. That’s more power under the hood than the BMW 328i.
- Its V-6 engine has 320 hp, exceeding the BMW’s 300 hp engine.
Ford Mustang Shelby GT500
In October the Ford Shelby GT500 is scheduled to arrive. The Shelby is expected to top even the popular Camaro ZL1 with its powerful V-8 engine. Plus, the Shelby Mustang surpasses the Camaro in torque but weighs 200 pounds less. With all the options the sticker price could be in excess of $70,000.
- With its high-performance engine the Ford Shelby can hit 200 mph.
- It has an optional performance package including a Torsen limited slip, electronic adjustable dampers and a track package combining rear differential, transmission and engine oil coolers.
Planned for the Showroom Floor
This fall expect the Ford Fiesta ST, and late this year the Corvette C7 will arrive. Topping it all off will be the BMW i3 Electric City Car, scheduled to arrive in early 2013.
Ford Fiesta ST
The good thing about the Ford Fiesta ST is that changes were made to the body to improve the cooling system. The drawback is that it might only come as a three-door hatchback. Ford tried unsuccessfully to squeeze the Focus ST two-liter engine into the Fiesta but modifications need to be made before it hits the showroom floor. The price is expected to be in the low $20,000 range.
- Compared to the upscale feel of the new Ford Focus, the Fiesta will have a sportier feel to it.
- The Fiesta will have better suspension than before and maybe Recaro seats.
- It will come equipped with 17-inch wheels, dual exhaust and performance tires.
- Under the hood it will have a direct-injection, 1.6-liter four-cylinder turbocharged engine.
Chevy Corvette C7
Over the past 13 years the Corvette hasn’t changed much and its looks have become dated, but expect a new look for the C7. This $50,000 car is already being compared to the more expensive Ferrari.
- The C7 will have split rear windows and an updated interior.
- Its performance will remain unchanged but it will have between 400 and 450 hp.
- To improve fuel economy GM will lower the car’s displacement and make it lighter.
BMW i3 Electric City Car
BMW says its $35,000 i3 will get 100 mph and have a 99-mile range before it needs recharging. The automaker is planning a magnetic field charging system similar to the system found in cell phone charging pads and wireless laptops.
- The i3 will have a rear-mounted electric motor and batteries mounted on the floor.
- The trunk will be in the front, like the early Volkswagen Beetles.
- The car’s maximum speed will be 100 mph and its electric engine will provide enough kick to equal 150 hp.
The car crowd is getting its first look at these up-and-coming new concept cars of the future.
In the auto industry “new” means more expensive and higher insurance premiums. Be sure to compare the cheapest car insurance rates online by entering your ZIP code and driving information to get a true feel how much one of these cars will really cost.
Posted on: April 25, 2012 | In Car Reviews
Purchasing a used car will give you an opportunity to save a significant amount of money. You can easily save thousands of dollars if you elect to become the new owner of a pre-owned automobile. There are hundreds of used automobiles currently being sold on the market. It is important that you focus on purchasing a car or truck that has an outstanding reputation for performing well on the road. It is vital that you enter your ZIP code in order to compare car insurance online for FREE!
Here are five exceptional used cars that can be purchased at a modest price:
2002-2006 Mazda Miata
The Mazda Miata is a highly reliable car that is highly endorsed by many automobile critics around the globe. It has received many automobile awards over the years. The Miata has excellent steering features that allow drivers to handle it with ease. It is also efficient when it comes to gas mileage.
2009 Nissan Altima
The Nissan Altima surfaced on the scene back in 2002. It is a nice midsize car that is designed to accommodate a family of six or less. It has a strong V6 engine that performs well at high and low speeds. It also has a modified transmission that allows the car to move graciously on the road. The Altima is a fuel-efficient car that has a stylish luxury look.
2001 Hyundai Elantra
The Hyundai Elantra has beautiful leather seats, a quality suspension system, and a moon roof. It has plenty of room for extra passengers. The Elantra also has an extra cargo space for excessive luggage. This is great for those who love to travel.
2006 Hyundai Azera
The Hyundai Azera is starting to gain more popularity as time progresses. The Hyundai Azera has many luxurious features that cannot be found in other economy cars on the market. It slightly favors The Hyundai Sonata, but it has a more luxurious outer appearance. The Azera has passed numerous crash tests. It is a safe automobile that will give you good gas mileage for many years.
2004-2007 Ford Explorer
The Ford Explorer has been around for many years. It is well-known for being an outstanding sports utility vehicle with nice interior features that caters to a family. The Explorer has a comfortable roomy interior and a third-row seat. The Explorer is the perfect vehicle for family vacations. Its rugged utility allows drivers to handle rough roads and terrain with ease. This durable truck is also perfect for anyone who is involved in outdoor activities such as fishing and hunting.
2009 Ford Fusion
The 2009 Ford Fusion received an award from The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. It is a family- oriented vehicle that has six airbags, huge trunk, and a large amount of legroom for passengers.
2007 Toyota Highlander Hybrid
This is a beautiful truck that was created to provide class and performance. The Highlander Hybrid can accommodate seven passengers with ease. The Hybrid performs well in the city and on the highway.
2008 Honda Fit
The Honda Fit may have an odd appearance, but it is a great vehicle that was highly recognized by J.D. Power for being a dependable automobile in the subcompact market. The Honda Fit is becoming more popular as the gasoline prices continue to increase. One gallon of gas will give you twenty eight miles in the city. You will get thirty four miles off of one gallon of gas. The Honda Fit is the ultimate dream for fuel-efficient car shoppers.
2009 Mercedes Benz E350
Mercedes has a solid reputation for manufacturing excellent cars for one hundred years. The 2009 E350 is the most popular model in their sedan family. The E350 is a smooth vehicle that has been featured in many leading automobile magazines and newsletters since its debut. It has many luxurious features that are centered on comfort and safety. For example, the windows will close and seat belts will tighten once the car anticipates a potential crash.
Stay Current With Car Insurance
Buying a used car can help you save a tremendous amount of money. The models listed within this article are now available at bargain prices. You should evaluate your personal needs and perform your due diligence before making a final decision. These two steps can help you select the most appropriate used automobile. It is also important that you enter your ZIP code in order to compare car insurance quotes for FREE!
Posted on: March 22, 2012 | In Car Reviews
Buying a used car requires a good deal of research and budgetary considerations: up-front costs are only the beginning. The best used cars are affordable to buy, easy to maintain, and cheap to own. That having been said, what are the top ten used cars for budget-conscious consumers?
Once your purchase is made, be sure to select the best auto insurance for your needs by entering your ZIP code into the FREE tool above!
10. Chevrolet Aveo
General Motors has a bad (but consistent) habit of canceling their most successful brands and replacing them with something similar — albeit something with a different name. This is how the Chevrolet Aveo became known as the Sonic. Both cars fall into the subcompact category, and both cars are super-affordable to purchase, even as new models. But, as of the 2013 model year, the Chevrolet Aveo is a discontinued brand. This makes it more affordable to buy, as people naturally attach a lower price tag to a discontinued brand. Furthermore, the Chevrolet brand is “domestic” for North American buyers, resulting in lower prices for replacement parts, maintenance, and car insurance premiums.
9. Pontiac G6
While General Motors typically cancels its car brands, it rarely discontinues an entire company. However, as part of its 2009 bailout and restructuring, the company eliminated its popular and long-running Pontiac line of cars. When it did so, it stopped producing the popular Pontiac G6 compact sedan. The car gets between 30 and 40 miles per gallon, is cheap to maintain, and has come down in price since the brand disappeared and future models were cancelled. Its status as a sports car means that it still looks current, but it won’t cost more to insure or operate.
8. Honda Fit
The company’s subcompact sedan and hatchback model is affordable even as a new car, but the company’s used models are going for nearly the same amount as the used (and discontinued) Chevrolet Aveo. Honda is notorious for cars that get excellent gas mileage, and road tests have seen the Honda Fit score near 40 miles per gallon even on bad days. That makes it overall affordable and easy to own in a word of near-$4 gasoline.
7. Mazda Protege
The newest Mazda Protege is now nine years old, which might turn off some used car buyers. But the Protege was famous for its excellent gas mileage as well as its durability, and it still represents one of the best compact car values on the market — at least for used models. The Protege was given very forward styling, making it fit in well among current models even a decade after its discontinuation.
6. Honda Civic Hybrid
The Honda Civic has always been one of the most affordable compact sedans, and the company’s hybrid model has long been far more affordable than the competing Toyota Prius. The car’s engine is notoriously low-maintenance, and its gas mileage is as stellar as one would expect from a hybrid model. Insurance costs are a bit higher on the hybrid version of the Civic, but they are more than balanced out by the car’s fuel savings.
5. Toyota Prius
The best way to get a Toyota Prius is to buy used, as the used version of this popular (and industry leading) hybrid vehicle is far more affordable than a new model at a Toyota dealer. The cost of ownership is a bit higher with Toyota vehicles, but it’s a small price to pay for near-guaranteed quality.
4. Subaru Impreza
It’s one of the often-forgotten Asian car manufacturers, but Subaru produces a number of reliable vehicles that sell for less than competing models in their market niche. The Impreza is no exception, and customers will find that the cost of Subaru ownership is more affordable both at the time of purchase and over the course of vehicle ownership. With rising gas prices and increasing cost of living expenses, owning an affordable car is a good choice.
3. Pontiac Vibe
Consumers in the market for a hatchback model need look no further than the domestic Pontiac Vibe. It comes with all the price advantages paired with the Pontiac G6 — mainly, that the brand was discontinued and is no longer in favor — but it has extra room and a more storage space for families and those who do a lot of traveling. The Pontiac Vibe is a great choice for buyers who need a family-oriented vehicle while not wanting to drive a mini-van.
2. Ford Escape
Ford has committed itself to higher-quality vehicles in the past decade, and its Ford Escape model is among the most popular compact SUVs on the market. There’s a good reason for that: it’s affordable to buy, reliable to drive, and cheap to own. That all holds true for used models of the vehicle, which are a steal for most used car shoppers. At the present time, cars that are not only inexpensive to purchase, but also inexpensive to maintain (with rising gas prices), the Escape is a great option.
For a sporty, compact sedan at an affordable price, the Mazda3 is the clear winner. Mazda has notoriously reliable cars that often see the 200,000 mile mark and, because they are among the most common Asian manufacturers insured in the United States, buyers won’t be charged an arm and a leg for liability coverage.
Once you’ve purchased your top-ten used car, it’s time to reexamine your car insurance rate, as well as your insurance provider. This provides a clean break from high prices, bad service, or other problems. After a used car has been purchased, it’s time to comparison shop online with quotes from multiple insurance providers and ensure that a good deal on a used vehicle is complimented by a good deal on the insurance which will keep it street-legal. Simply enter your ZIP code into the FREE car insurance comparison tool below now!
Posted on: March 12, 2012 | In Car Reviews
Car enthusiasts everywhere enjoy seeing their ride sparkle and shine bright in the sun and under the city lights. While a good car wash is a great start, many forget to add the occasional coat of wax that gives your paint job a smooth and glossy finish that it yearns for. There are many different waxes on the market which can help you enjoy the look and feel of your car or truck to the maximum.
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Wax is Necessary
Wax is vital to protecting your auto’s clear coat finish residing on top of the high quality auto paint. Once the clear coat starts to chip off, your vehicle will lose the luster and brilliance that you enjoy so much. The sun’s harsh ultra violet rays are powerful and if your car isn’t garaged, it is even more important to care for your paint job with special waxes and cleaners. Some of the best products on the market are waxes by the following manufacturers:
- Turtle wax
The Wash Process
Waxing a car first involves cleaning a car very very thoroughly. Since paint is porous, dirt will linger even after an initial cleaning. This is a little known fact that many are not yet aware. Because of this, a special cleaner/wax product is suggested initially after a quick rinse. All the foaming bubbles and cleaning products do not adequately penetrate the paint like a good hand polish, but are necessary to remove the top layer of stubborn dirt and grime. Despite rumors, dish washing liquid is not an ideal substitute for car cleaner. Be sure to get a product designed for car washing made by a manufacturer listed above. I’ve used Maguiar’s products for years and swear by their products. Mother’s products work well too and are readily available at most auto stores.
The Deep Clean / Wax Layer
Upon starting your waxing on your vehicle you will notice that your damp cloth filled with wax product is still pulling dirt off the car. This is why two coats of wax is optimum for a high gloss finish that lasts long and repels water. I’ve used Maguiar’s cleaner / wax for years and keep going back to it. However, using a wax will yield similar results and pull an additional layer of dirt and grime from your auto’s exterior.
Maguiar’s Ultimate Wax
Maguiar’s Ultimate line offers a true quality product. It sells for $19.99 and users will see the difference and be loyal to the brand for years. Some of Maguiar’s Ultimate car wax properties include:
- Long-lasting protection and includes applicator pad and microfiber towel
- Easy application
- Sleek and smooth finish
- Mirror-like reflections
- Repels water
Turtle Wax offers a high quality product as well with their line of Platinum Ultra gloss liquid wax. It sells for $11.99 and this brand has a long lasting reputation for their magnificent car waxes. Some of their properties include:
- Made with special resins which fills-in small scratches and swirls
- Lasts long for up to a year
Klasse offers a remarkable product with their all-in-one product line which sells for $14.99. It is a cleaner/wax and provides excellent value as well. Properties of Klasse waxes include:
- Repels water
- Removes embedded dirt and residual wax buildup from paint
- Removes oxidation and minor swirls
- Provides a smooth protecting finish that lasts up to six months
Mother’s offers a durable wax selling for $10.99 named Reflections because of the resulting high gloss reflections that appear in the paint job after use. It has high user reviews and a long reputation for producing quality results. Some of the products claims include:
- Luster looks similar to wet shine
- Easy to apply
- Smooth and lasting finish
Zymol cleaner/wax is a great first coat of wax that sells for $14.95. It is sold globally and can be found in most major auto centers. It is environmentally friendly because it doesn’t contain harsh chemicals. Some product features include:
- Contains high grades of ingredients which are derived from organic ingredients
- Internationally acclaimed
- Gentle, safe, abrasive-free and solvent-free
- One-step formula
- Glassy smooth feel of painted surfaces
- Easy to use
The Polish Coat
As previously stated, additional coats of wax will help to protect the exterior further from the elements of Earth by hardening the wax coat and protecting from the sun’s harmful ultra violet rays. These products will benefit greatly from soft clean cloths and even a high speed powered applicator. Some of the recommended products include:
- Mother’s California Gold Brazilian Carnuba Wax ($13.99)
- Maguiar’s X2020Supreme Shine Microfiber Cloths ($7.99)
- Zymol Carbon Wax ($49.99)
- Turtle wax ICE polish / paste ($19.99)
- Klasse High Gloss Sealant / Glaze ($19.99)
While auto care waxes come in a variety of different features, there is sure to be a product that will help bring your paint to life with just one application for under $20.00. However, for the deeply invested car owner, higher priced wax products will generally yield a higher quality result. It is usually recommended to stay with one brand of wax through the entire wash, wax and polish procedure.
Be confident in your choice of auto insurance to maintain the life of your car by entering your ZIP code into the FREE comparison tool to see a list of coverage quotes!
Posted on: March 9, 2012 | In Car Reviews
Before you can get great insurance, you need a great car. Some people, when they decide that they need to buy a used car, will just walk straight to the nearest used car lot. Now, okay, sometimes this is a great way to find the car of your dreams.
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If you have something specific in mind, if you know that you can get a good deal there, but it’s not the only place to shop. Here are some of the other top stops for those who want to car shop:
You can often find some really great deals in online classifieds. There are a number of upsides to finding used cars through this format:
- Low cost of entry sometimes means that the seller is looking to offer their car up for a low price.
- Being online means that you can search for rare collector cars halfway across the country if you’re willing to pay for transport.
- There’s a much wider than usual range of options on the web. You can find fixer uppers if you want a project car, like-new cars if you want to drive something safe and reliable, and everything in between.
There are some downsides to shopping solely through online classifies as well, though, such as:
- Lowered accountability. Classifieds are mostly self-policed to the extent that you might not always get what you paid for.
- The human element. If you like haggling, this is great. If you just want to pay the price that was quoted in the ad, then you might be annoyed at having to tell some of the more flaky sellers that you’re not going to pay anything extra.
That said, it’s really a case-by-case sort of thing. You might wind up getting a great deal in the classifieds, or you might wind up with a real junker. Bring along a friend who knows their cars if you want to make sure that you’re getting something good.
Sometimes you see a great car just sitting out on someone’s front lawn with a “for sale” sign in the window. This is great for a number of reasons.
- These sellers are often desperate. Desperate seller means low price and willingness to haggle.
- There’s a sort of romance, a sense of fun to buying cars this way, the way they did before cheap classified papers, before the internet. The sense that buying this car is an adventure can be as rewarding as buying the car itself.
- Getting personally involved. You can see the car with your own eyes before you even contact the seller, and perhaps take it for a test drive before making the purchase.
And then, of course, there are the downsides:
- You’re really only shopping in your local market with this approach. You’re not going to find that great station wagon the next county over if you’re just walking up and down residential streets.
- You never know who you’re going to have to deal with if they’re just parking their car out front and throwing a “for sale” sign on it. Some of these sellers can be pretty surly.
This is a great way to get the car of your dreams if you happen to find it, but it does rely on a bit of luck in order to get you what you’re after.
There are actually quite a few online auto auction sites around these days and they offer a wide range of benefits for used car shoppers:
- Similar to online classifieds, they offer a wide range of choices. Just about any kind of car you could possibly want, you can find it through an auction site.
- Auction sites usually let you search by everything from make and model to color and, of course, price. This means that it’s that much easier to find exactly what you’re looking for.
- Once the auction is settled, so is the price. There’s no haggling. This is a good thing if you hate haggling.
Of course, nothing this good comes without a few downsides:
- Bidding wars can get very expensive, very quickly.
- Once the auction is settled, so is the price. There’s no haggling. This is a bad thing if you like haggling.
Here’s the real best place to find used cars: Everywhere.
Use the online classifieds, the car lots, the auction sites, and the walkabout together and you improve your odds of finding that car you’re after for the price you like.
Finding the right used car and equipping it with the right insurance policy can save you literally thousands of dollars in the long run. A cheap car that’s easy to repair, a car insurance policy that’s easy to cover every month, and the satisfaction of knowing that you looked high and low for both before settling on anything can make you a very happy driver.
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Posted on: | In Car Reviews
Do you still have a bunch of paper maps stuffed into the glove compartment of your car? Today’s technology has made the common street map a thing of the past; car GPS (Global Positioning System) devices are becoming more widespread as the internal electronic components grow to be more inexpensive. However, with all the choices available, what is the best car GPS device? In general, each device has features that are designed for specific users and habits. Luckily, many websites offer comparison evaluations. To compare auto insurance quotes, you simply type in your ZIP code into the FREE tool above!
New cars today will usually have the option of adding an integrated GPS system within the dashboard. This form of car GPS is incredibly helpful for everyday driving; users can type a new address into the system through its touch screen and it will verbally and visually instruct the driver in the correct direction. Some devices even have voice recognition so that the new address can be spoken into an integrated microphone and the device responses accordingly.
Built-in GPS is an exciting feature, but consumers should be aware that they can be more expensive than their portable comparisons; the dealer can charge a premium for the hardware, software, and installation fees. Consumers should also note that the GPS will require periodic software updates for new road configurations and better communications with satellites. Unless under warranty, the software updates are usually expensive to purchase.
Portable GPS units are the most versatile and popular devices sold for car installation. These devices are commonly installed on a permanent stand on the car’s dashboard, or even affixed to the inside of the windshield. In the past, the devices had black and white screens with actual push buttons for maneuvering through the menus. However, current models use color touch screens that can range from small to large viewing areas, based on the consumer’s needs.
Each manufacturer places certain features within the GPS device, but most offer the basics, such as finding a nearby gas station. For example, your car’s gas light illuminates to indicate the need for fuel. If you are in an unfamiliar area, it is possible to drive quite far before stumbling upon a gas station. Luckily, the car GPS can be programmed to find the nearest, and even cheapest, gas station.
There are a few drawbacks to portable GPS units. Unlike the integrated systems, these devices can attract thieves if the GPS unit is left attached on the dashboard. As a preventative measure, consumers should always remove the GPS device from the dashboard each time they park the car; this removal and replacement process can become irritating for some people or they may forget completely.
GPS within Smartphones
As smartphones become more widespread, manufacturers are adding more features to entice jaded customers. One particular addition is GPS capability. Instead of a separate GPS device that attaches to the dashboard, consumers can simply pull out their smartphones and triangulate a restaurant or point of interest.
Many consumers enjoy this specific device since they do not need to have two different devices; every needed feature is rolled into one electronic. Consumers should note that these smartphone GPS features will commonly require a data plan for accessing the GPS information. In contrast, the built-in and portable GPS devices do not require any form of data subscription.
Who Needs GPS?
Not everyone will benefit from a car GPS device. If a person simply drives along the same route each day and only ventures across his or her own town, a GPS device will certainly not help him or her; the driver already knows the area. However, these devices were meant for consumers who commute through traffic or drive far distances on a constant basis, such as salespeople.
Vehicle traffic is a nuisance that many people cannot avoid; they must arrive to work each day without fail. However, car GPS offers a reprieve from the stop-and-go traffic. Car GPS can have the feature of real-time traffic; drivers can quickly access the best road or freeway choice based on the traffic data fed into the device. As a result, the driver can find an alternative route if their normal pathway is congested with traffic or an accident.
What about Bluetooth?
Many drivers use Bluetooth headsets to call friends, family, and colleagues while on the road. However, many car GPS units have a built-in Bluetooth device; this addition allows the driver to use the GPS as a calling device. Calling a person can be as simple as verbally asking the GPS to dial a number and then hearing the conversation directly through the vehicle’s speakers. This feature is especially helpful for consumers that travel for business purposes.
Many drivers are concerned about more distractions behind the wheel. A car GPS should not be the center of attention; any physical programming with the touch screen should be done while pulled over or parked. In fact, some states within the United States have barred the devices from being on the dashboard since they can impede the driver’s vision. Using common sense with the device is paramount for a safe driving situation.
To find the best car GPS, plug in your ZIP code within the comparison evaluation window and evaluate all the consumer choices. Be sure to check out reviews of cars with built-in GPS systems. If you would like to also compare auto insurance rates, enter your ZIP code in the FREE tool below now!