If you’re looking to buy a car for your teenager, you’re probably not quite ready to shell out $50,000 on that first ride. With that said, you probably don’t to want to buy a clunker for them, either. “Carz4kidz” is a new program underway in Howell, Michigan that allows families to purchase affordable vehicles for their college and high school-aged kids.
Joseph Auto Sales owner, Joe Hood, came up with the idea to utilize his used auto lot to provide inexpensive used vehicles for families buying their children their first cars. The lot is advertising vehicles for drivers of any age and claims that prices for automobiles will not exceed $10,000. Hood, along with his partner Cheryl Luttman, struggled for years to find a niche for a used car lot. Finally, after a good deal of in-depth research, they found one.
Hood claims the idea for Joseph Auto Sales came to the two after realizing that parents who were on the market to buy their teenagers their first cars were usually looking for models selling for $5000 or less—a price you’re not going to find any new car listed for no matter how modest.
Hood and Luttman aspire to one day expand their idea into a franchise of used car lots across Michigan and, ultimately, around the country. The dream of a nationwide “Uncle Joe’s Used Cars” might not be a huge stretch; the couple already has a second location lined up in the neighboring town of Fenton.
Hood and Luttman aren’t new to the auto industry. In fact, the two have over 30 years of experience in the field of auto sales. The couple previously owned car dealerships around the state before General Motors’ bankruptcy filing in 2009 caused them to shut down. Regardless of the pitfalls, however, this new model is surely one that other car dealers will look at to see how lucrative it can be—and if they find it to be a worthwhile business model, chances are, we’ll start to see a lot more used auto lots popping up around the country that meet this same niche need.
Most of the cars at the Joseph Auto Sales lot come from private owners, from whom Hood purchases most of the vehicles. He then determines the value of each car by analyzing its engine condition, color, appearance, and current trending popularity. Hood and Luttman sell each car with a 12-month, 12,000-mile warranty—a tremendous amount of coverage for a used car of any price.
These out-of-the-box thinkers are excited about their new venture, as the number of teenagers in the United States means a new consumer base each year. According to Hood, over three and a half million American teenagers turned 16 in 2014 alone, so Joseph Auto Sales will have a revolving door of perennial buyers. Others in the car sales industry are sure to take a page from Hood and Luttman—the most important things they can offer their potential buyers is an outstanding warranty in addition to an unbelievable price on a used car.
While many Americans are eager to spring for a new car once theirs gets past a certain age, it is hardly necessary. It is completely possible to continue to drive a car way past its prime—all it requires is a little love and care.
Making sure your vehicle’s insides are healthy is key to a long lifespan. The coolant system of your car is a piece that requires some extra attention. The hoses that carry coolant deliver high-pressure liquids at high temperatures and the water pump of your car has a tough job, too. Naturally, because of the high stress placed on these components, they are among the first to fail on older cars. It makes sense to replace the coolant hoses and water pump on your aging vehicle, especially if you aren’t sure when they were last looked at. These parts tend to illustrate their age through various smells and leaking fluids—as soon as you begin to smell anything unusual or notice any cracks in any hoses, have them replaced right away.
The brakes of a car are also very important and a healthy braking system will keep your car youthful. Brake bleeding is a good way to determine whether or not your system needs an overhaul. If your brakes bleed a dark black fluid speckled with rust and rubber, you need to get your brakes checked out right away. Meanwhile, a clear, orange color denotes that your system is healthy and working fine. You can also help keep your brakes working well by completely replacing the brake fluid every two years. If you aren’t sure about when your brake mechanisms were last replaced, you might want to seek out a professional and get them examined. If your vehicle is over seven years old, also have your rubber brake lines replaced if you’ve decided to pursue major brake restoration.
Check your oil regularly. If the oil in your old car is black as night, curdled, or sprinkled with specks of metal, your car isn’t doing too well. You can try draining the oil, installing a new filter, and then utilizing synthetic oil to clean out any nastiness left behind by driving your car for about a hundred miles. If this doesn’t solve your issues, then seek the assistance of a professional mechanic.
Vehicles die because they are not properly maintained. Just like the human body needs proper food, minerals, vitamins, and exercise, so too does your car need the right maintenance, renewed parts, and quality oil, coolant, and brake fluid to stay in shape. A little love and care can go a long way for your aging vehicle. Check the health of your car by looking under the hood, kicking the tires, and paying attention to your dashboard lights on a regular basis. Given the proper attention, your car will get you around town and beyond for years to come.
No matter how safe of a driver you are, each year your premiums can rise due to factors out of your control. As frustrating as this is, there are a number of ways you can combat these changes. While you likely cannot eliminate them completely, you can certainly make sure your truck insurance remains affordable.
Pay attention to your driving… and your credit too
Insurance rates are tied to a number of different things, many of which you can manage. For example, insurers like to estimate your risk factor by looking into your credit score. Paying your bills on time, keeping tabs on your score by utilizing online credit tracking services, and overall being financially responsible can help you save money on your truck insurance too. Being a responsible driver is integral to keeping a low insurance rate because traffic tickets add up and will undoubtedly affect your premiums. Drive responsibility, follow traffic laws, and prove to insurers that you are not a risk. Driving irresponsibility through speeding, tailgating, texting, and reckless driving can increase the chance of an accident, and with accidents come claims. The number of claims you have (and the seriousness of the claims) can severely impact your insurance premiums.
Alter your insurance policy
You can save money if you make a few changes to your policy. For one, you can try changing the frequency of payments you make to your insurer. This can help you save money in the long run, especially if your company offers discounts for paying once per year or biannually. You can also try increasing your deductibles to reduce your premiums or simply shop around and take a look at competing companies. Often times other companies will offer comparable products for lower prices. If your insurer is charging ridiculous premiums, it might be time to switch teams and find a new policy. However, sometimes your current insurer will match a competitor’s price. If they don’t, then you should make the decision: is it worth staying with your current provider?
Be responsible—and ensure other drivers using your truck are too
Responsibility is key when dealing with insurance. Insurers don’t want to cover reckless drivers. Outline a safety policy, explaining how you deal with accidents and other relevant situations. Follow the laws of the road, adhere to D.O.T. roadside inspections and safety audits, and keep your records—both credit and driving—in check. While some variables in determining your rates are out of your hands, a good portion of them are easily alterable. Additionally, be careful who you let behind the wheel of your truck. A co-driver with minimal experience or a poor record can cost you. It may seem like common sense advice, but providing your insurance evidence that you are a safe driver is the best way to reduce your premiums.
With the introduction of voice recognition, computers, and other high-end technology in cars, our vehicles are more advanced than ever. However, one of the most integral parts of the automobile—the tires—have struggled to keep up with the changing times. Until now: Michelin has evolved the tire to a new standard: one of utmost in safety and quality… and light-years ahead of the competition.
Nearly six million vehicles are involved in accidents annually throughout the US according to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration. Of those accidents, about one fourth are caused by wet weather and the conditions it can create.
Many US motorists have experienced the slipping, sliding, and the madness of driving alongside other scared motorists during rainfall, thunderstorms, or while it’s snowing or foggy. But because life keeps going even when the weather is bad, so do we. People need tires that can perform well (and safely) during these kinds of precarious driving conditions.
The reason behind the sliding on rainy roads is simple. A “contact patch” is the part of a tire that touches the pavement when you drive. While it easily connects to the road when it’s dry, it is forced to skim on top of water during rainy conditions due to trouble touching the road.
While other tire manufacturers have come out year after year with new tread patterns and ways of combating the sliding, Michelin is the one to get it right with its MICHELIN® Premier® A/S tire with EverGrip™ Technology. These tires feature triangular rain grooves that widen as the tire wears and ages. As the tire gets older and progressively more worn, the grooves get wider and more prevalent, allowing better traction on water. Michelin’s new tires work so well, in fact, that they outperformed competing brands Goodyear and Bridgestone—even when they were worn.
The beauty of this technology comes from observing the way tires worked in the past. Because grooves in the tire became shallower as they aged, they became ineffectual at funneling away water. Michelin has ingeniously solved this problem once and for all. However, even with Michelin’s new tires, you must always remember to drive safely during undesirable weather. If you’re ever driving in wet weather and your steering begins to loosen, your tires may be worn down. Slow your speed, get to your final destination safely, and remember to check out those tires immediately.
Also remember to avoid hydroplaning. This can be dangerous and end badly for you, your passengers, and other people on the road. If you find yourself sliding on top of a layer of water, slow down right away—by letting off the gas, not by slamming on the brakes. Additionally, be extra cautious when it has rained right after a particularly dry season. The rainwater can mix with oil and dust and make things even more slippery.
Inspect your tires regularly. If you aren’t sure what you’re doing, then consult an expert. Tire safety is critical and Michelin knows this, so protect yourself and your car. MICHELIN® Premier® A/S tires start at $159 per tire and can be found in most standard sizes. They are an especially good choice for those who live in the Northwest, the New England area, and places where monsoon season is prevalent.
One very important deciding factor when purchasing a new car is its fuel efficiency, which can save you tons of money over the years, especially if you’re using your car as a daily driver, for commuting, and playing chauffeur to the kids. Here are a few of the most fuel-efficient cars to look forward to in 2015:
2015 Audi A3
With a stylish exterior and an enormous variety of features to boast about, Audi has really outdone themselves with the Audi A3. Front and rear air conditioning come standard in this beauty, as well as cruise control, power locks, outlets, and windows, auto-on headlights, keyless entry, a sunroof, cup holders, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, brake assist, side air bags, rear fog lights, leather seats, and Bluetooth compatibility. Plus, with a fuel economy of 23 miles per gallon in the city and 33 on the highway, you’ll be certain to spend less at the pump. All this could be yours for a standing retail price of $29,900.
2014 Chevrolet Cruze
The young Chevy Cruze has enjoyed a successful—albeit short—run so far. This compact sedan offers much to the curious buyer, from brake assist, auto-on headlights, a trip computer, traction control, folding rear seats, side and passenger air bags, satellite radio, a theft deterrent system, Bluetooth compatibility, daytime running lights, and keyless entry. For the starting retail price of $17,520, this Chevy Cruze with a fuel economy of 25 miles per gallon in the city and 36 on the highway could be yours, guaranteeing you flair and affordability on commutes and road trips.
2015 Fiat 500
The 2015 Fiat 500 offers 31 miles per gallon in the city and 40 on the highway—exceptional fuel economy for the starting retail price of $16,645. For those looking for functionality in their personal vehicle, Fiat has you covered. Cruise control, keyless entry, front air conditioning, cup holders, brake assist, daytime running lights, a rear spoiler, driver, knee, passenger, and side air bags, traction control, an engine immobilizer, Bluetooth compatibility, and folding rear seats all come standard in the 2015 Fiat 500.
2014 Ford Fusion Energi
If luxury and fuel efficiency are your top two concerns, then you might want to look into the 2014 Ford Fusion Energi. At a starting retail price of $34,700 the Energi brings you 42 miles to the gallon in the city—an unreal fuel economy. You can’t go wrong with this beautiful piece of technology: front and rear air conditioning, auto-on headlights, a built-in compass, cruise control, power windows, outlets, and locks, front fog lights, a limited slip differential, a theft deterrent system, dual power seats, folding rear seats, heated front seats, and leather seats will all keep you comfortable, safe, and connected to your world. Plus, with Bluetooth integration, satellite radio, a CD player, and DVD functionality, you’ll never be bored while on the road again.