Archive for September, 2011

What To Do After an Auto Accident

Automobile accidents are all too common.  In fact, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that a car collision occurs every 60 seconds on U.S. roadways.  With statistics like these in the millions per year, it’s important to be prepared for how to handle an accident if one unexpectedly crosses your path.

1.    Stay calm:  The most important rule of thumb is to remain calm.  Succumbing to panic can make a bad situation worse.  Take a few deep breaths before assessing the situation.

2.    Call for help:  If anyone is hurt, call 911 immediately. Even if there are no injuries, call the police to file an official accident report.

3.    Be safe:  Put on your flashers and set up flares or cones if necessary.  If the accident is minor, move the cars to a safe place out of the way of traffic.

4.    Exchange information:  Get as much information from the other driver(s) as possible, including their name, phone number, address, insurance company, policy number, driver’s license number, license plate number, and vehicle make, model and VIN.  Do not admit fault to anyone.

5.    Gather information:  Plenty of other information besides that of the other driver involved can be very helpful.  It is also advised to get contact information for any witnesses and passengers, and to note the name and badge number of any officials involved on the scene.  You can also jot down your own personal account of the accident while it is fresh in your memory, and take pictures of the scene using your cell phone.

6.    Contact your insurance company:  Report the accident to your insurance company immediately.  Be aware of your policy’s time limits for filing a claim.

Automobile accidents are an unfortunate but practically inevitable part of driving a car.  Being prepared with the above steps can help ease the stress and make the process easier.

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The 2012 Hyundai Veloster: Pricing and Features

Hyundai recently released pricing for its brand new 2012 Veloster, which is arriving in dealerships this month.  The three-door coupe will start at $18,060 for the entry-level model with six-speed manual transmission and range to $19,310 with the six-speed EcoShift dual-clutch transmission.

Under the hood, the Veloster packs a decent punch with its 1.6-liter direct-injection four-cylinder engine, good for 138 horsepower and an impressive 40 mpg in the manual transmission (38 mpg in the automatic).  Its unique body style is a hatchback with a stealth rear door on the passenger side, melding the sleekness of a coupe with the convenience of a sedan.

The 2012 Hyundai Veloster also has an extensive list of standard equipment, including 17-inch alloy wheels, remote locking, air conditioning, power windows-locks-mirrors, cruise control, Blue Link telematics system for voice-activated controls, Pandora Internet radio, iPod/USB and auxiliary input jacks, seven-inch touchscreen, and Bluetooth.

Even with a stacked base model, the Veloster also offers two packages for even more boost:

  • Style Package: 18-inch alloy wheels with P215/40R18 tires, Chrome grille surround with Piano Black highlights, Front fog lights, Panoramic sunroof, Piano Black interior accents, Dimension premium audio with 8 speakers, including external amp & subwoofer, Leatherette bolster seats & door inserts, Leather wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, Alloy pedals, Driver auto-up window (MSRP $2,000)

  • Tech Package: Unique 18-inch alloys with painted inserts, Backup warning sensors, Navigation system with rearview camera, Automatic headlights, Proximity Key entry with electronic push button start, 115V outlet (requires Style Package; MSRP $2,000)

Not to mention, as with all Hyundai vehicles, the Veloster is covered by the Hyundai Assurance program, which includes the 5-years/60,000-miles fully transferable new vehicle warranty, 10-years/100,000-miles powertrain coverage, 5-years of free roadside assistance and the Hyundai Trade-in Value Guarantee.

Be sure to take advantage of the introductory incentive program effective now through November 30, 2011.  Along with great financing rates, Rogers Hyundai is also offering a cash down payment match up to $500.

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The Check Engine Light: What Does It Mean?

The check engine light is often considered the most intimidating of all dashboard notifications, but understanding its function can help ease some worry when you see that amber light of doom.  It may not be as tragic as you might think.

Check engine lights are part of your vehicle’s Onboard Diagnostics (OBD) system.  These systems first came about in the 1980s when computers started playing a more key role in vehicle diagnostics and when new environmental laws started putting stricter regulations on vehicle emissions.  OBD systems of today have the sophisticated capabilities to monitor all types of vehicle performance, with a primary focus on your car’s emissions system to help keep the air clean.  When it finds a problem in the electronic-control system that it can’t correct, the computer turns on your dashboard warning light and logs a trouble code in its memory.

So, what should you do if your light comes on?  First, you can troubleshoot the problem fairly quickly on your own.  Check to make sure your gas cap and oil cap are fully tightened and that your oil dipstick is fully reseated.  It could also be a bad tank of gas, so running out the tank could be the answer.

If these measures don’t solve the problem, take your car to a technician to run a diagnostic test (Rogers Auto Group will run yours for free).  The technician will plug a code reader into your car’s data port, displaying a numerical code that can be referenced to diagnose your car’s problem.  Potential culprits causing the check engine light can be any number of issues, including a wet engine, faulty oxygen sensors, a blown gasket head, worn-out spark plugs, or cracked hoses.

How severe is your problem and when should you start to worry?  If your car seems to be running normally, with no unusual sounds, smells, or change in performance, you probably don’t need to rush over to the mechanic.  However, it is recommended that you don’t procrastinate too long, as the light may indicate the beginnings of a much more serious problem.  Waiting could pile up the problems, and not to mention the costs.

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Small Cars Continue to Go Big

Good news for consumers:  Gas prices are falling lately and are projected to continue to drop over the next few months as 2011 comes to a close.  However, according to data analysis released this week by Edmunds.com, the premier online resource for automotive information, the effects of high gas prices are expected to linger long after the cost goes down at the pump.

Despite the recent gas price relief, Edmunds’ report revealed that new car shoppers are still more likely to purchase a small fuel-efficient car than a SUV or truck.  According to the statistics, compact and subcompact car shopping increased significantly compared to 2010, with percentage increases as high as 70% in Dallas, 60% in New York, and 43% in Chicago.  And this trend is expected to continue.

It’s not just gas prices that have customers downsizing.  Edmunds’ senior editor, Bill Visnic, says that gas prices along with an uncertain economic recovery and high unemployment rate “have caused a realignment of buyer priorities and almost unprecedented demand for small cars.”  Undestandably, consumers are concerned about investing in a vehicle that will cost them more now as well as down the road.

Aside from economic factors, we can look at the cars themselves to explain the popularity of the segment.  Small cars these days are offering much more in content and technology options than their predecessors.  They’re no longer a boring choice based on practicality and value, but instead have plenty of exciting  features that are drawing new customers in to the segment.  Edmunds cited the Hyundai Elantra and Chevrolet Cruze as being “among the small cars that are stimulating interest.”  Their excellent fuel economy aside (40mpg and 36mpg, respectively), these two models offer fresh technology options like Bluetooth, navigation, satellite radio, and rearview camera.

It looks like there’s no stopping the small car segment in the near future, and Edmunds’ Bill Visnic couldn’t have summed it up better: “Compact cars are the auto companies’ new BFFs.”

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Top 5 Reasons a Cosigner is Needed for an Auto Loan

We always come across people who have tried to buy cars at other dealers and have been told that they need a cosigner, but have never been told why. Simply having bad credit isn’t an actual reason for needing a cosigner.  In fact most who decide to have a cosigner could have purchased a vehicle on their own anyway and simply choose to do so because of better finance terms. You should always look at ALL your options and not rule out the option of a cosigner because it could save you money in the long run. Although we have had situations where a buyer would need a co-buyer, there’s usually a way to purchase the vehicle on your own. Here are the top five reasons why people would need a cosigner, and you’ll be surprised how little it actually has to do with credit.

1.    Insufficient income

Most banks would require a minimum income based on their program guidelines. It is important to understand that just because you qualify by income, it may not be enough income to be considered eligible to afford a certain car payment. For example, if you are looking for an SUV with bad credit, because it may be higher in price, it may have a larger car payment than what may be considered affordable by the finance company. So, the finance company would then require more income to buy the vehicle you are looking for. Either the buyer would have to make more money, or have a cosigner to combine the income. The finance company would then combine the income to see if the buyers could afford the payment. If you have low income and still want to buy a car without a cosigner? Although there are guaranteed credit approvals, the car payment has to be affordable. If you want that Cadillac with bad credit and low income, save all of your nickels and dimes to put as a down payment in order to assure the lowest payment possible. If the finance company considers it affordable, you could buy the car on your own. Although there are no money down programs, having money down can sometimes help get you better finance terms.

2.    Too many open auto loans

Sometimes a family is in need of a second car or truck, but a finance company would look at the buyer’s credit information and notice that they are already making a car payment. They would then say either by income or risk, that they would not qualify for another auto loan. If by income, whatever second auto they choose, they have to make sure the buyer could afford both car payments as if it was one single payment. If by risk, the finance company would see a high risk to the loan and simply ask why the buyer would need two cars. When at high risk, they would suspect that the buyer is buying the new car for someone else. Asking for the cosigner is to have someone else on the loan to stabilize the loan and lower the risk. Still looking for another auto loan and have bad credit? Pick out an affordable and practical vehicle that is much less in payment than what you could afford. Having low car payments in relation to income is a great way to lower risk and one of the easiest way to get a car loan with bad credit.

3.    Recent repossession

Sometimes we make purchases that we probably can’t afford, but there are times when we lose our jobs or simply run into hard times and just can’t make the payments anymore. There are even times when the car repairs have become too much to afford with a monthly car payment. Now we have a combination of  bad credit because of a repossession and the need to have a car. A cosigner can be used here to help lower the risk. The finance companies would think of the cosigner as the “back up plan” if you happen to run through hard times or as the person they could collect from if you decide to buy something outside of your means. You still want to buy a car without a cosigner and have a recent repossession? This one goes completely by risk. Besides having little money down, lower the risk by choosing a vehicle that still has plenty of warranty, that is affordable and is practical. Think of it as a second chance.

4.    Short Term Job

Nothing is more exciting than starting a new job, but it could be stressful as well. Added to the stress is trying to figure out how to get to that new job. Although Chicago’s CTA is still reliable, since they don’t run as frequently, missing your bus could make you 30 minutes late to work. Wouldn’t it be nice to have your own car even if you have bad credit? Here you may need a cosigner because of stability. Unless you had a long term job prior to the recent job, you may be considered high risk because of multiple short term jobs. Look at it this way:  If you fall behind on your car payments, how could they feel confident that you would be able to make the car payments? Or even find the vehicle if they needed to. You still want to get a bad credit auto loan with a short term job? This one goes by risk and collectability. Besides having little money down, lower the risk by choosing a vehicle that still has plenty of warranty, that is affordable and is practical. Living at the same residence for a long time and having some money as a down payment also helps.

5.    Cash job – Can’t prove income

 Most finance companies want to know where the income is coming from because they need to know if the car payment will be affordable. It is important to understand that just because you qualify by your stated income, having bad credit may require you to prove where it’s coming from. Finance companies will accept SSI benefits, Child Support, retirement and 1099 payments as acceptable income. BUT you still have to be able to afford the car payment. For example, if you are looking for a luxury SUV with bad credit, because it may be higher in price, it may have a larger monthly car payment than what may be considered affordable by most bad credit finance companies. So, in this case a cosigner who can prove their income would help. If you have a cash job, bad credit and still want to buy a car without a cosigner? There are guaranteed credit approvals, but the car payment has to be affordable. Get some type of statement from your employer that shows your status, your income and how long you have been at the job. Although these bad credit loans are higher risk, you could still get an auto loan with your cash job.

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Hyundai Ranks in Two Forbes.com Top 10 Lists

Hyundai has been steadily building a strong reputation of value and reliability in its cars, and there’s no better source to confirm this than Forbes.com, one of the most trusted web resources for unbiased vehicle information, uncompromising commentary, and concise analysis.

Quite popular in Forbes’ auto category are the Top 10 lists, which cover interesting topics ranging from “Most Expensive Cars,” “Best Cars for Newlyweds,” “Cars Least Expensive to Insure,” and many more.  We found it relevant to note that Hyundai vehicles made not one, but two, recently published Forbes lists, further reaffirming their strong hold in the auto market.

Best Cars for the Buck

The Hyundai Santa Fe recently made Forbes’ list of Top 10 Best Cars for the Buck in the mid-size SUV category.  This study did not simply pick the least expensive car available in a given vehicle class; instead, Forbes chose the vehicles with the best balance between predicted reliability and low ownership costs.  Reliability ratings were taken from Consumer Reports survey data, and ownership costs factored in variables like sales tax, depreciation, fuel costs, interest, insurance, maintenance and repairs.

After the numbers were calculated, the Santa Fe bested its competition with a thrifty $25,995 MSRP price tag (for the V6 SE model), and a $44,500 5-year cost.  Its fellow winners in other vehicle classes included the Honda Fit, Ford Fusion Hybrid, and Volkswagen Jetta Sportwagen.  The Santa Fe is clearly in good company.

Top 10 New Cars for College Kids

Also recently rising to the top for Hyundai was the Elantra, which weighed in as one of Forbes’ Top 10 New Cars for College Kids.  The study aimed to spotlight cars that were inexpensive, reliable, and safe, a perfect match for a first-year college student (and the parents who are likely footing the bill).  Candidates were chosen based on the following criteria:

  • Base model under $20,000
  • Fuel economy of 35 mpg or more
  • Standard safety features of six airbags, antilock brakes and stability control
  • Retain 40 percent or more of their original value after four years of ownership

The Hyundai Elantra was one of the 10 cars that made the cut, exceeding the minimums in all categories with its $14,945 base MSRP, 40 mpg, sophisticated safety systems, and projected 53% 4-year resale value.  Forbes also touted the Elantra’s attractive design and extra features like touchscreen navigation, rearview camera, and Bluetooth capabilities.  Other cars to make this list include industry stalwarts like the Honda Civic, Toyota Corolla, and Ford Focus.

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Driverless Cars May Be Just Around the Corner

A car that can drive itself?  What sounds like an idea fit for science fiction movies or old Knight Rider reruns is actually getting very close to reality according to researchers from General Motors Co.’s electrical-control integration laboratory.  Developers are exploring technology for a fully driverless car, which would allow the occupants to text, groom, and talk on their cell phones to their hearts’ content while the car drives them from Point A to Point B, making the roads a much safer place to be.

While this long-term goal is still in development, researchers have reached an exciting intermediary point called the “connected car,” which will be officially tested this October on the racetrack at Walt Disney World in Orlando, along with similar clinics in five other states within the next six months.  The connected cars would come equipped with sensors and onboard computers that enable them to dodge moving vehicles or even stationary objects. The devices would have a monitoring range of about a quarter-mile, reading signals sent out from other equipped cars, plus units placed at traffic lights or stop signs.

Essentially, the systems would provide a safety backup for the driver.  For example, if the car in front slows and the driver behind misses the change, the trailing auto would automatically reduce speed, preventing a potential collision. Or, a car about to pass through a green light might stop if another auto were running the red light. The system would work in tandem with the driver, alerting any adjustments with a beep or other warning signal.

These options may sound like expensive additions to a vehicle but thanks to the audio/visual and GPS technology already present in most new cars, integrating the connected car upgrades would be fairly inexpensive. Older cars would need to purchase devices that would plug into a lighter socket much like a GPS.  As an additional upside, insurance rates for cars equipped with avoidance systems could potentially be lowered due to the increase in safety.

The U.S. Department of Transportation estimates that connected vehicles with features like these could reduce accidents involving unimpaired drivers by 80 percent. This is no small figure and could drastically improve the safety of the roads.

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