The Tips Bank 

    Transportation should provide
             enjoyment, not a financial burden
                                                              Adapted from "Drive the Best..."                             
                                     © 2001 by Kyle Busch

What enables people to be on time for a scheduled appointment, 
attend a favorite social event or recreational activity, or just drive 
on a pleasant summer day? What machine do many people get 
to know as if it were almost a member of the family? What enables 
drivers to experience greater freedom? Of course, what else but the 
automobile. Or in today's terms: the automobile, sport-utility vehicle, 
or minivan.

More and more people are realizing that the cost of new
transportation can really throw a budget into reverse. In many
instances, today's new vehicle prices compare to the cost of a
new home just a generation ago.
Since dependable transportation is a necessity--do not despair;
a two to four-year old used vehicle can be purchased at a savings
of 25 to 50 percent as compared to its cost when new. Additionally,
the number of well-built, dependable vehicles has increased during
the past decade.
When well maintained these vehicles can be driven for many
miles, and they are now available at substantial savings.
The purchase of a dependable, reasonably priced used vehicle
is not a matter of chance or luck, but rather, it is a matter of
knowledge and understanding. Becoming informed is one of the
most important factors in successfully purchasing a dependable
used vehicle at the best price.
Gathering Information
Variety is the spice of life. Certainly, the number of vehicles that
are available today can add spice to one's daily travels. Literally
hundreds of different vehicles are available, but which one is the
best for you? To better determine the vehicle that satisfies your
transportation needs, first take the time to carefully identify your
current and future driving needs, then become aware of the many
available vehicles, and finally, zero in on the vehicles that meet
these criteria..
A vary dangerous frame of mind to be in is to "fall head over heals" 
for a particular make or model of vehicle based purely on emotion.
Although some emotion is always part of life, it is wise to put
excessive emotions aside and focus on day-in and day-out
transportation needs.
Some questions to consider about transportation needs include:
-  How many people will be transported in the vehicle?
-  What type of objects and cargo will be transported
   in the vehicle (space considerations)?
-  Will driving be conducted in poor whether conditions
   or off-road (rear-wheel drive, front-wheel drive, all-
   wheel drive)?
-  Will stop-and-go or interstate driving be performed?
   Thus, is an automatic, a semi-automatic, or a standard
   transmission preferred?
-  Is there a preference for a domestic or a foreign vehicle?
-  In a sport-utility vehicle, is a more rugged full box type
   frame needed for off-road driving, or will a unit-body
   type frame be suitable for intended general highway
   driving? Additionally, what towing capacity should the
   sport-utility vehicle have?
-  In a minivan, are sliding doors needed on both sides, the
   left-side or the right-side of the vehicle for easier entry and
-  How much will insurance cost to protect the driver and
   the vehicle (consider obtaining an insurance quote before
   buying a vehicle)?
-  What is the approximate amount of money to be spent on
   a vehicle?
If you are not familiar with which vehicles may meet your desires, 
consider visiting a local public library to consult back issues of
Consumer Reports. This objective information source provides
technical specifications for vehicles including the size, weight,
engine horsepower, optional equipment, and miles per liter (gallon)
of  fuel. If technical information is desired for a specific used vehicle,
review the Consumer Reports issue that matches the vehicle's year
(1998 Jaguar XJR--consult the 1998 April issue of Consumer Reports).
After determining the type of automobile, sport-utility vehicle,
or minivan that satisfies your needs, it is worthwhile to consult
Consumer Reports' frequency-of-repair information to identify
specific vehicles that will likely have fewer future repairs.
Regarding the frequency-of-repair information, if a vehicle of
interest is six years old or less, consult the most recent April
edition of Consumer Reports. If the vehicle is more than six
years old, add five years to the vehicle's year and then consult
that year's April issue of Consumer Reports.
Web discussion groups are also a good source of "from the citizen"
information for identifying the strengths and weaknesses of specific
It is a good idea to identify at least two or three used vehicles 
that meet your transportation needs. Then, instead of being in
a position to only consider vehicle A, you will have the flexibility
to consider vehicle A, B, or C. This increases your ability to
purchase a used vehicle that is in excellent condition at the
best price.
In addition to becoming informed about particular vehicles, it is
worthwhile to learn the approximate prices for vehicles of interest.
To obtain a general idea of vehicle prices, consult Parkers Online
or the current monthly edition of the N.A.D.A. Official Used Car
Guide at a public library, bank, or automobile dealership.
Vehicle price information can also be obtained by consulting
the vehicle classified sections of major newspapers at a public
library. This is a convenient way to get a read on future prices,
because vehicle price trends usually begin in major cities and
then progress to other areas of the country. The bottom line on
becoming informed about vehicles and prices is to obtain a used
vehicle that is in excellent condition, with a low repair history,
and at a substantial savings.
Identifying Used Vehicle Sources
There are a number of possible used vehicle sources from
which to choose. Rather than becoming overwhelmed with all
the possible sources, keep in mind that each source is actually
competing with the others. Therefore, when shopping for a vehicle,
be certain to let each source know that you are also considering
the other sources. 
Some of the sources to consider when buying a used vehicle
-  The Internet (Investigate if the source is reputable)
-  Used automobile lots (buyer beware)
-  Rental car companies
-  Company vehicles
-  New automobile dealerships (investigate if the
   dealer is reputable)
-  Private owners
Contacting a used vehicle source by telephone and obtaining
specific information can help to reduce unnecessary legwork.
The telephone enquiry will enable you to determine if a vehicle
is worth your time to investigate.
Some questions to ask a private owner or other used vehicle
source about a vehicle include:
-  How many miles has the vehicle been driven?
   The average is about 16,000 to 20,000 km 
    (10,000 to 12,000 miles) per year.
-  Is the transmission an automatic, a semi-automatic,
   or a manual? If the transmission is not what you
   want, there is no need to ask further questions.
-  What is the condition of the vehicle's body? Is
   there any rust?
-  Has the vehicle been repainted and if so, why?
   Avoid repainted vehicles. It is better to see the
   original paint even if a few small stone chips
   need to be touched-up.
-  Has the vehicle been involved in any accidents?
   Avoid vehicles that have been involved in any
-  When are the next inspection and emissions
   standard test due? The vehicle should have a
   minimum of at least six months remaining until
   the next required inspection and emissions test.
-  How often were the engine oil and the oil filter
   changed, and who performed the service? An
   acceptable answer would be every 4,800 to
   5,600 km (3,000 to 3,500 miles) or about every
   three to four months.
-  Are you the original owner of the vehicle?
   Original owners tend to take better care of
-  What is the reason that the vehicle is being
   sold? It is encouraging if the individual is
   the original owner and if he or she is
   planning to again buy the same make of
-  Are parts and service readily available for
   the vehicle? Where can parts and services be
   obtained? Avoid buying a vehicle if parts and
   service are not readily available.
-  Has the vehicle had any recent repairs (new
   brakes, tires, exhaust, battery) or service
   and if so, what garage performed the repairs or
-  What price are you asking for the vehicle?
The interior and exterior inspections and the vehicle test-drive
are used to verify the information obtained during the telephone

Continue to Article # 2

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