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Personalizing Your Car with Aftermarket Mods

Cars are an extension of our personality. We add little things like bumper stickers to show our attitude or promote causes we believe in, and big things like lift kits or spoke rims to make our cars stand out. Many times, your car is the first impression, as friends, family, and businesses and workplaces see you pull into their drive. Some of these aftermarket car modifications add value to your car, while others may make your car less marketable. While painting and detailing your ride with your favorite sports team’s colors and logos will certainly tell the story about you, it may be harder to sell the vehicle later. Other aftermarket parts increase the value and help you get more moolah at trade-in or sales time. Here are a few changes that owners can make that will help not only make your car more comfortable, but also increase resale value.

Why Shopping Independent Dealerships are Good for Buyers

An often overlooked aspect of dealerships is the business platform that they use. Car dealerships come in one of two varieties, franchise and independent. Franchises are dealerships that sell cars for a specific manufacturer. This is like going to an Apple Store to buy an iPhone. Independent dealerships can sell cars from any manufacturer through a contract with the automobile manufacturer. This is akin to buying that iPhone from Best Buy or Radio Shack. Franchises and Independent dealership business models vary in a number of ways. Backed by The National Independent Automobile Dealers Association, as well as state organizations like the Virginia Independent Automobile Dealers Association, independent dealers are well trained, and well equipped to provide great service at a great price.

Prepping Your Vehicle for Its Annual State Inspection

Since 1932, the State of Virginia has required vehicle owners to have their cars and trucks checked for mechanical safety and reliability by a State certified facility & mechanic once every 6 months. Yes, twice a year. The state actually required a bi-annual vehicle inspection up until the early 1980's when it was finally changed to the once annual inspection we have today. Some parts of the State require* an "Emissions Inspection" in addition to the Vehicle Safety Inspection, but that is currently not a State requirement for vehicles registered in the Hampton Roads area.

How Much Truck Do You Really Need?

When I was given the assignment to write a blog on "how much truck do you need," I chuckled to myself. For about 12 years I only owned and drove a couple of big old Ford Broncos with overbuilt, oversized engines, full 6" suspension lifts, rolling on 35" tires. Why? Because I liked them! I had fun in them. I mudded.., hard. I drove on the beaches. I drove them in the mountains. I drove them off-road every chance I got, and I drove them on the highway. For me, the only answer I had when folks asked me why I drove such a big truck? I liked it! 

For the purpose of this blog, I'm going to discuss consumer based "Light Duty" trucks. Commercial needs for selecting a pick-up are defined by different criteria because the needs are typically a lot more specific.

Crossovers and SUVs: What's the Difference Anyhow?

Marketing is great about inventing new names for every genre and subgenre and niche. If you take a walk through your local dealership’s lot, you’ll see that vehicles are no different. So you want something between a sedan and a van, and you don’t want to drive a soccer-mom mobile. You’re looking at vehicles that are classified as “crossovers” like the Jeep Compass and Honda HR-V, and “SUV” vehicles like the GMC Terrain and the Hyundai Santa Fe, but you have no idea what the difference is. Don’t worry, some of the marketing agents don’t seem to know either!

The Top 3 Cars Millennials are Buying

The car buying process has certainly changed over the past 10 years with all of the information instantly available to the consumer across the internet. For the most part, your basic car buyer is going to know how much they should be paying for a vehicle and what their trade is worth BEFORE they ever set foot onto a car lot. One group that is particularly web and information savvy are the Millennials.

Millennials, in general, are the under-35 consumers. According to MaryLeigh Bliss, chief content officer at Ypulse, “Millennials are not a risk-taking generation, and the recession has majorly impacted their views of luxury and conspicuous consumption. It's not as appealing to them as it was to previous generations to own a car made to ‘show off.’”

So, just what cars are the Millennials buying? Based on 2016 report from MarketWatch, here are the top 3.

Get a Car That's Best for You with a Pre-Approved Auto Loan

Buying a car can be bewildering. You step on the lot, and you see soooo many cars. Some are autos you wouldn’t ever want to drive (but you can easily afford) to your dream vehicle with all the bells and whistles. As you walk through the lot, you start looking at the price tags, and sticker shock starts to set in. You know you have enough money to afford a car payment, but you might not know exactly how much car you can get with that money. This is where a pre-approved car loan can be your best friend. Rather than picking out a car and then getting a car loan, many buyers prefer to go the other way around. So why should you get a car loan approval before stepping on the lot?

Buying a Used Car With No Credit History

No credit is not the same as bad credit. Having no credit doesn't mean that you aren't a responsible person, it typically means that you haven't had a need to establish any credit at this point in your life. Lenders understand that people have to start somewhere, sometime. They just want to be assured if they agree to offer you a loan, that you are good for the money.

People with no credit are usually younger, in college or just getting out into the workforce. We all started with no credit at some point. Welcome to the world of financial responsibility!

All About Hybrid Vehicles

So, what is a hybrid car? Simply put, a hybrid car is a vehicle that uses more than one form of "onboard energy" to propel itself down the road. It accomplishes this by supplementing the power of an internal combustion engine with a battery powered electric motor. In the USA, hybrid vehicles are powered by combination power plants consisting of an electric motor and a gasoline engine. In other parts of the world they also use a diesel/electric combination.

Car Safety: Are You Getting What You Pay For?

Every year we see new articles touting the “Safest Car of the Year.” Car safety has changed a great deal throughout the years, from the implementation of the lap-type seat belts, moving up to shoulder type seat belts, then on through airbags, crumple zones, and now we are coming to an era of autonomous cars. Just like all improvements in technology, these added safety benefits come at a cost. How much safer are drivers and passengers with these added features? Do the benefits always outweigh the costs? Let’s take a look at a few of the more common improvements in automotive safety in the last decade.