Michael Baker

In tough times like these, it’s more difficult to afford a brand new vehicle. Most people are turning to used vehicles instead. However, when considering a used vehicle, many are faced with rumors and negative reports. Can’t afford a brand new car? Looking a good, reliable, used car without the hassle? Recently my friend and I went car hunting because he was starting school and needed some sort of transportation to get around. He too was considering a used vehicle. He ended up getting a really decent and dependable one and based on our experience, here are some tips.

To facilitate the process from the beginning, have a car brand, model and price range in mind. That way when you research the pros and cons you will be able to narrow it down to the specifics. It’s good to take the time to read other users and consumers’ reviews. This will help you get a better idea of what situations you might be getting yourself into. Look at ratings for different car brands and see what their overall ratings are. Make sure that there are no major mechanics failures or replacements for the type of model you are interested in or in the long run you’ll have a lot of money being spent on maintenance alone. If you spot out a car, make sure you determine the appropriate current value of the vehicle by looking it under the Kelly Blue Book (which is available online) and determine the condition (Excellent, Good, or Fair) to average its value. We found out that the seller we bought the vehicle from was selling it hundreds above the blue book value so we brought it to their attention and they lowered it to the current value.

Whether you are interested in a vehicle owned by the original owner or from a dealer or from a used car lot, make sure that you get the VIN # from them. You should also verify the car has authorizes car spares and car parts. They should provide this to you with no problem. If they can’t, or refuse, something is wrong and you’ll want to avoid the car and even the place at all costs. The VIN# basically contains the vehicle’s entire history which can be looked up on Carfax online ( a month’s worth of unlimited use account cost $40, and a one time use account costs $20, somewhat pricey, but definitely worth it). By plugging in the VIN # into Carfax you will be able to review the vehicle’s entire history, including any accidents, and repair work made at repair shops, the number of owners, and whether the vehicle was considered salvaged (if the car has been considered salvaged – definitely forget it!). The car we ended up buying had a clean history so we felt more confident in purchasing it.

Make sure you get to view and inspect the vehicle thoroughly. My friend and I even took the car out for a couple of test drives. Inspect the way the car handles, the engine, the brakes, fluid levels, the body work, and the interior (even the power windows and A/C if applicable). If there are some cosmetic blemishes, point it out to the seller and see if they can offer an explanation for the damage and a discount. Ask to see the service records. A lot of records is a good thing and indicates that the owner did routine checkups and maintenance on the vehicle. My friend even requested that that the seller take in the vehicle for a current diagnostic test just to make sure that the vehicle is up and running fine and he and the seller agreed to split the cost (the test usually only costs around $55-$75). This is just an additional safety precaution/guarantee if you decide to do so.

Other tips that are recommended would be that when you are checking out a vehicle or paying for the vehicle, make sure you bring a buddy with you to be extra safe. The world is not perfect, and sometimes even what may seem as the best deal ever can turn out to be a scam. Also, it’s probably better to purchase a used vehicle from an original owner rather than a dealer or a used car salesman. Usually dealers and used car lots will mark up the cost significantly higher and won’t offer discounts because they need the extra money to pay off space/lot rentals and vehicle maintenance. Plus, original owners will know more about the history of the car and can offer you most of the necessary information up front and possibly be more willing to negotiate for a more reasonable price.… Read the rest


Washing a car has always seemed like a pretty straightforward process – wet the car, use a cleanser, rinse, and then dry. There are a few tricks you can use in this process to make your car look great.

When you get the car wet, don’t immediately get it all soapy. Let it sit for a minute and the water will dissolve the dirt a little bit before you scrub. A sponge can pick up grit and spread it around, so some people recommend that you use a high pressured hose to remove dirt before scrubbing with a sponge.

Once the dirt is rinsed off your car, then you can use your sponge. Using the sponge and cleanser, work in circles, saving the tires for last. The tires are usually dirtiest, so scrubbing them last avoids spreading dirt around.

When you wash your wheels and tires, scrub with a brush before the sponge. Use a sponge that is not used to wash the rest of your car, or you can spread grit around. Some tire cleaners use chemicals that are harsh on skin so you may want to wear gloves for this part.

Then rinse, one section at a time, starting with the roof. Use a hose or a bucket of clean water. Distilled water can help prevent water spots.

When you clean the interior, wipe off the dashboard with a damp cloth. Silicone based products can leave a greasy residue that you wouldn’t want on the pedals. Polishing the dashboard can give you glare on sunny days.

If you have bugs on the front of your car, you may not want to let them sit. Letting dead bugs hang out may actually harm your paint. Scrubbing with a heavy cotton towel can get them off.

Car upholstery can be easily cleaned. A couple drops of dishwashing detergent added to a gallon of water is all you need. Dip a towel in it and rub the seat. This can be used on leather seats too, although a leather cleaner is preferable. Leather seats will need a conditioner too.

Ink stains can be taken out of leather with cuticle remover. Just let it sit for ten minutes (longer for more stubborn stains) and wipe off.

When detailing the dashboard, the little spaces can be tricky. A soft paintbrush can get in the grooves of the air vents. A damp Q-tip can also get in the tiny spaces well.… Read the rest

As it gets closer to summer more and more people are going to be out on vacation and taking road trips. Road trips are exciting and fun and provide you with the chance to stop and see different sites along your destination. When you are planning a road trip one of the most important things to do is make sure your car is road trip ready. Your car is one of the most important items during your road trip and can be dangerous. In order to make sure you get to your destination safely, you want to make sure your car is road trip ready. If you are going to be going on a road trip then you might want to think of these simple tips to ensure your car is ready for your trip.

Checking your tire pressure and overall appearance of your tires are one of the most important things you can do to make sure your car is road trip ready. You want to get a tire-pressure gauge to take with you on your road trip to ensure your car always has properly inflated tires. You can get a tire-pressure gauge at any hardware store or auto store for about 10 dollars. Making sure your tires are inflated properly will help in the weather conditions you might encounter and it is also important so that you will not get a flat tire. Make sure your tires are not bald so that bad weather will not pose a risk to you while traveling and make sure that they are in generally good shape.

You should also get an oil change to ensure your car is road trip ready and to help protect your engine. An oil change should be done every 3,000 miles but some people do not either have the money or means to get this done on time. An oil change is very important before going on any road trip of a long distance because you want to make sure your engine will be running properly. During an oil change, a lot of places will give your car an inspection and look for any problems which are also great to know before a road trip. Typically an oil change will cost you about 30 dollars at your local oil change center or you can do it yourself for about half the price.

You also want to check the many different fluids that are stored under your hood. Brake fluid is very important to check since you are going to need your brakes working properly if you want to be safe. You also have windshield washer fluid that you should check and fill if needed before your trip. You might also want to take a gallon of windshield washer fluid with you just in case you encounter weather conditions that use up a lot of the fluid. These different fluids which are often found under the hood of your vehicle are essential to keep your car running properly and keeping everything running smoothly in your engine.

Always pack a car-related emergency kit with you if you are going on a road trip. This kit is similar to an emergency kit you should pack for yourself but the contents are all related to your vehicle. Make sure this kit has a small flashlight, windshield wiper fluids, jack, tire iron, oil, jumper cables, blankets and any other items you might need for your car. All of these items in your car emergency kit should be items you could use to fix your car if you broke down or had an accident. You might want to carry around a multi-tool also in this emergency kit just in case you needed to take screws off of a light or something of that nature. Make sure you always carry items like a blanket and pillow in your car at all times just in case you break down and have to sleep in your car. These items should all be kept in the trunk of your vehicle for easy access. Some people prefer to have these types of items on them at all times just in case of an emergency, but it is a must for any road trip.

You should always check your brakes out before leaving on any type of road trip. Make sure your brakes are in working order and appear clean. Check the front and back brakes for any type of damage, wear, splitting and rust to ensure they will be in good working order during your road trip. If you are not sure the condition of your brakes or think you might need new brakes then you should take it to an auto shop to be checked out. Sometimes the brakes on your car can get dusty and collect debris which could pose a danger if they begin slipping or not catching the right way. Making sure your brakes are in good condition is a very good tip to help prevent an accident and keep you safe during your road trip.

Keeping your car filled when it comes to gasoline is also a good tip to make your car road trip ready. Make sure you have a full tank of gas before you leave for your trip and also make sure that there are no leaks under the car. Keep your car filled at all times during the road trip because you never know if or when you might get lost and you do not want to be stranded somewhere. It might also be a good idea to take a five-gallon container of gas and put it in your trunk or somewhere within the vehicle. Taking a container full of gasoline might end up smelling your car up but it can save you if you get lost or end up having a small gas leak. Always put a sock or some type of material over the nozzle of the gas can to ensure the gas does not spill … Read the rest


Vehicles are not created equal. Take an SUV and a sedan for example and you can see a lot of differences. If you want more room for passengers and cargo as well, you go for the SUV. On the other hand, if you want good fuel economy, the sedan is the wiser choice.

Another factor that you can take into consideration when choosing a vehicle off the dealership is the way it responds to your driving input. While a small car will usually be nimbler than a larger vehicle, some small cars are not as agile as you would want them to be. If you happen to buy one with the handling not at par with what you are looking for, there are three choices for you.

One, you could trade in your new car for one with better handling characteristics. Two, you could try to live with it. Or three, you can upgrade your tires to get the most out of your vehicle. If you really want a nimble car and you have the money, then the first choice is a no-brainer. If you are on a budget and you do not really need the pinpoint accuracy, then choice number two is logical. But of you want a really responsive car and can still spend a few hundred dollars; then upgrading your tires should be the way to go.

When upgrading your tires for better handling, it is recommended that you go for lower-profile tires. What this means is that you replace the tire with a shorter sidewall. The shorter sidewall means the tire will not flex as much as the stock tire.

By reducing the flexing motion, the input from the steering wheel will be directly transmitted to the wheels thus making the vehicle more responsive. The downside of this though is that the ride will be stiffer as there will be less clearance between the road and the cabin. The shorter sidewalls means every bump on the road will not be properly buffered before it reaches the interior of the vehicle.

Upgrading your tires though is not as easy as it sounds. Since a stock tire is specifically designed for certain vehicles, there is not much clearance left if you want wheels. After all, if you want tires with shorter sidewalls, you would have to use wheels with larger diameters.

Also, the width of the tire is a factor in upgrading the tires. There are several things to keep in mind when using wider tires. For example, it could get in the way of some steering system components as well as the braking system. Also, the fender sheet metal could get in the way of wider tires.

Fortunately, the Internet has provided several tools tire-shoppers can use. For example, tire manufacturers allow people to virtually test the tire on the exact specification of their vehicles loaded from the database of these online stores. Also, there are forum sites where one can ask other vehicle owners if a certain tire would fit well with a certain make and model of a car.… Read the rest