Sunday, January 28, 2007

Basic Car Truths

I’ve been looking for a replacement car for the last two weeks because my old one has developed a more obstinate personality which means it won’t start about every month. I suspect it is computer related. To add insult to injury the car had the gall to readily start the last time at the dealers after I had it towed!!! My dealer has a remarkable fish eye as his brain says "Stupid Car Owner" with all the requisite body language shouting "sincerity" at me . I don’t know about your car, but if you look under the hood good luck on figuring out what is wrong with it or alternately getting at whatever you need to get at in order to repair it. The battery and the alternator is about the only thing you can still see with the old eyeball. Everything else including the spark plugs are hidden from view. So here my dear readers are some basic car truths that may also affect you wherever you live on the planet:

Prices Consistent at all dealers.

No discount for cash.

Most dealers are priced to lease - Car can be bought or abandoned at end of lease. Usual leasing APR is 5.9%.

Most dealers are priced to own.- Either buy car at guaranteed price at end of lease or buy car at end of lease which doesn’t include taxes, reconditioning etc.. Priced to own is lower if you agree to pay larger payment to buy car at end of lease (buy car at end of lease which doesn’t include taxes, reconditioning etc.. )

Warranty should cover leasing period because consumer has no access to engine parts including spark plugs etc. and each car has its’ own proprietary computer that only the dealer can analyze / repair. To add to the fun most independent garages are disappearing because they can’t afford the specialized tools / software /computers to repair each manufacturer’s vehicle / models.

Most warranties are geared to 48 months for maximum efficiency in relation to warranty length.

Maximum kilometers are 20,000 / yr.

Car is designed on average to be problem free for about 5 years after which tires / rubber timing belts have to be replaced.

In return for reasonable lease payments ( $300 - $400 ) on average for an acceptable vehicle, lessee agrees to pay for normal maintenance such as oil changes and wear and tear items not covered by warranty.

Consumer is tied to car dealer so better make sure there are lots of car dealers in convenient locations that handle that make.

Average acceptable leased car with automatic and air conditioning which may or may not include extra doodads such as automatic door locks, keyless entry etc. is priced around $24,000.

If you buy used you run the risk that if a car won’t start that it involves the car’s computer which is almost impossible to fix because the computer has integrated computer chips. This means that the whole computer has to be replaced or a computer board has to be replaced. Most mechanics aren’t good at diagnosing computer problems beyond finding sensors for which there is no argument that they have definitely have stopped working. Heaven help you if it is an intermittent glitch that only appears when the mechanic isn’t present. Really have heaven help you if the car manufacturer is no longer manufacturing computers for that car due to age. Most manufacturers stop manufacturing replacement parts for cars after 7 - 10 years. The secondary market may continue to manufacture car parts for the popular makes but highly doubtful for computers for popular makes. There may be generic computers manufactured but the car’s wiring harness may have to be modified because the wiring harness isn’t compatible with the computer’s ports.

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