Tag Archives: car

Consumer Reports: Expensive oil used in some new cars

Using a funnel to refill the motor oil in an a...

Using a funnel to refill the motor oil in an automobile as part of an oil change. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The surprises for new car owners continue. First, automakers got rid of the spare tire creating a headache for drivers with a flat tire. If you don’t have AAA or towing through your insurance, which you likely won’t with a new car, you’ll pay to have your car towed if air and Fix A Flat don’t work. Now, the sticker shock may extend to the service center when you get an oil change.

Consumer Reports recently found a problem with the oil in some new cars its testing. They take extra-thin 0W-20-weight synthetic oil which is hard to find if you change your own oil. If you have your car serviced when it’s time for an oil change, you may pay twice as much. Consumer Reports said Jiffy Lube charges  $30-40, but the prices vary depending on the location and car.

This oil is being used to get the car’s fuel economy up, but Consumer Reports believes it’s minimal compared to the price to the consumer.

At least you can drive your car longer before you need an oil change. I just wish service stations would update their sticker inventory to 5,000 or 7,5000 miles depending on your car. So many still have the old 3,000 mile stickers. I watch my mileage go far beyond the sticker on my window before I take my car in for that fresh oil.

Before you buy a car, it might be worth reading the owner’s manual to see what’s changed. Oh wait. Those are disappearing too.

What do you think about these added costs to driving? Click comment below.

Most dependable cars

How dependable is your car? The latest results from J.D. Power and Associates found dependability is up 13 percent, and all but 7 brands improved. Lexus ranked highest in dependability followed by Porsche, Cadillac, Toyota, and Scion.

J.D. Power says Buick, Cadillac, Ford, Hyundai, and Lincoln have achieved consistently strong dependability levels, but new buyers still express concerns.

The highest ranked sub-compact car was the Toyota Yaris and the Buick Lucerne won the large car category. The Toyota Prius won compact car and  the Ford Fusion won for midsize car.

The survey is based on responses from 31,000 original owners of 2009 model year vehicles. The survey questions drivers after having their vehicle for three years. At three years, many cars make their way into the used car market. Many leases last three years or drivers simply trade their vehicle in after the warranty expires.

Click here to see the full dependability ratings

Insurance company guarantees you’ll be happy with your claim

Courtesy: Allstate.com

Have you ever filed a car insurance claim only to be frustrated with the results? Now, one company is offering a claim satisfaction guarantee so consumers won’t feel ripped off in the end.

Allstate says if you’re not happy with how your insurance claim goes, for any reason, you’ll get a credit on your premium for up to six months. While they say the guarantee is simple and use the phrase”for any reason”, make sure you read the fine print.

The fine print also says “any reason” so use that when you send the company a request for the guarantee in writing. It will only help your argument. You have 180 days from the date of your loss, not the settlement date, to dispute the claim under the guarantee. You must do it in writing, and include specifics about your claim, policy, and dissatisfaction. Make sure you send that letter certified mail so you know it’s been received.

Most of the fine print seems reasonable and standard. The only thing that jumped out at me was the provision that if you are unlucky twice during the same policy period with the same car, and don’t like the settlement both times, you won’t be able to cash in on the guarantee twice.

It’s unclear if this policy will continue indefinitely, because there is a line in the fine print that says, “This endorsement will not apply to your policy for any policy periods effective June 1, 2013 or after.” Interpret that as you want.

It’s not nationwide at this point. The guarantee will only be in effect in Alabama, Arizona, Colorado, Delaware, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan (6-month policy), Minnesota, Mississippi, New Jersey, New Mexico, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia, Washington D.C., West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

What do you think of the guarantee? Click comment below. Do programs like this get you thinking about switching insurance companies?

New fuel economy labels unveiled for cars and trucks

Don’t be surprised if you see a different looking fuel economy sticker on your next new car.  The government announced the most dramatic changes in the 30 year old program.

The label will give you a better understanding of fuel efficiency, and it will be an interactive experience. The labels will have a QR code on them which stands for quick response technology.  You scan the code with your smartphone, and you’re able to immediately get rich data that will give you more insight into the product or business that contains the QR code.

In this case, the QR code will allow consumers to enter details on their commute and driving behavior so you can get the most accurate fuel economy data on the car you’re thinking about buying.

The new labels will give you a baseline estimate for fuel costs, but of course those vary based on the fluctuating price of gas and your driving habits. The label will also show you estimated savings and more information on the vehicle’s environmental impact.

“Today’s car buyers want the best possible information about which cars on the lot offer the greatest fuel economy and the best environmental performance. The new labels provide comprehensive information to American car buyers, helping them make a choice that will save money at the gas pump and prevent pollution in the air we breathe,” EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson said.

Consumers may begin to see the new labels on 2012 model year cars if the manufacturer voluntarily decides to implement the changes sooner. It won’t be a requirement until 2013 model year cars.

Consumer factoids: how we spend our money

Time put together an interesting list of random consumer factoids about how we spend our money.  They took all the facts and trends that are reported each year by various sources and compiled them into one fascinating list.  Some I agree with, and others I don’t — especially a recent survey that found owning a home is the best long term investment.

According to the article, we spend $1.2 trillion dollars on things we don’t need like candy, jewelry, alcohol, and gambling.  Obviously, without some of these guilty pleasures life would be a little boring.  Just keep it in moderation. Don’t deprive yourself, but don’t overspend in one area.

The factoid I liked — more than 8 million people stopped using credit cards in 2010.  Time pulled this from a Bankrate article. People rely on their credit cards far too much to pay bills. I rely on my credit cards to earn rewards — often in the form of cash!

The article also points out the cost of owning a car each year, but the numbers used are a bit outdated even though they are from a 2011 AAA report. The report says our car expenses are $8,776 a year for gas, insurance, maintenance, and depreciation based on driving 15,000 miles. However, the costs are higher now because that was based on gas at $2.88 a gallon, and gas is more than a $1 more.  While it looks like the price won’t stay around $4, we’ll probably still pay more than $2.88 a gallon for most of the year. The price increase trended upward faster than the price decline.

The U.S. Department of Energy also has a neat tool that allows you to calculate your gas costs for the year. Based on the price of gas now, around $3.96, and the 32 miles per gallon that my car averages I’ll spend $1856 just in gas.

On to the next way we spend our money — cable television . Time cited a factoid that the average pay TV subscriber gets 118 channels but only watches 17.  In my household, we’re hoping to ditch cable very soon. We’re waiting for some of the new television options like Google TV, Android TV, or Apple TV to take off. Then, we’ll switch. We pay around $90 a month for basic cable (60 channels or so) and Internet. It’s outrageous, and it pains me to pay it each  month.

The article also points out that 81% of adults said they believe buying a home is the best long-term investment.  This factoid came from a March 2011 Pew Research Center Survey.  Pew found 82% of homeowners who say their home is worth less now than before the recession either strongly (37%) or somewhat agree (45%) that homeownership is the best long-term investment.  I’m surprised by these numbers, because one thing that’s come out of this recession is the reminder that home ownership is not always the best investment. It’s still better than throwing money to the wind as a renter, but you have to own wisely.

Owning a home is a long term investment, not short term.  Many financial advisers will tell you that too many life factors and market factors get in the way of owning a home. Unlike a traditional investment, you can’t move your money around if your home value starts falling as many have done in the last few years. You’re stuck with that investment whether it works for you or not. There’s no bailing unless you walk away from your mortgage as many people have done in high foreclosure zones.

I’m not saying that owning a home is not a good idea, but I wouldn’t consider it the best long-term investment vehicle. I like one that has more flexibility.

Click here, and read the Time article for more interesting facts.

Refund forms in the mail for robocaller victims

If you get a claim form in your mailbox from the Federal Trade Commission or a company called Analytics, don’t throw it away. It could get you a refund for an auto warranty you purchased.

11,780 forms were mailed to consumers defrauded by auto warranty robocalls.  The Federal Trade Commission says consumers who received the call and bought warranties from Transcontinental Warranty, Inc. will receive the form. The FTC alleged Transcontinental hired Voice Touch to call consumers with prerecorded messages in 2009.

You’ll have 60 days to complete the form and mail it back to the claims administrator.  Note the administrator is not the FTC, so it is a legit form if the return address is to Analytics, Inc.

The amount of your refund will be determined based on the number of people who return forms.

The Federal Trade Commission alleges Transcontinental was just one of several companies for which Voice Touch used robocalls.  So far, the claims are only going out to consumers who purchased Transcontinental contracts.

For more information, visit the FTC website.

Tool makes it easy to compare insurance rates

Ohio state welcome sign, along US Route 30, en...

Image via Wikipedia

Forget the fliers that fill your mailbox offering to save you hundreds of dollars a year on auto insurance. The State of Ohio has a tool that will tell you if you really can save, minus the marketing hype. The only caution — the advertised rates are only estimates but I’d ask a lot of questions if the actual price is not close to the estimate because the providers supply the information to the State.

Click here to see my story for NewsChannel 5 that reveals if men or women are paying more and how you can take advantage of the money-saving tool.

If you need this money saver next time you renew your insurance, just check back here. It’s always on my blog. You can find it under the Saving Money tab and then the subheading is Saving money on auto insurance.