Jun 27

Edmunds’ 15 Best Used Cars to Buy

Car buyers in the market for quality used cars have struggled over the last year due to inventory shortages as a result of the economy and the lack of trade-ins.  Recently however, the used car market has been on an upswing with more cars available resulting in lower prices.  Plus, vehicle quality is reaching an all-time high.

“Almost a million more used vehicles will be added to the industry this year as a result of more trade-ins on new-car sales,” said Ricky Beggs, auto analyst at Black Book USA. “This is a significant driver of lower prices, combined with additional rental cars being sold at auction and dealers preparing for the coming 2013 models.”

To help consumers take advantage of growing used car inventories, Edmunds compiled a list of the 15 best used cars.  Limited to vehicles between two and seven years old, each used car was evaluated on reliability, safety, value, and availability.

Edmunds “Best Used Cars” are as follows:

  • Compact Sedan: 2005-2010 Hyundai Elantra
  • Midsize Sedan: 2005-2010 Nissan Altima
  • Large Sedan: 2006-2010 Hyundai Azera
  • Coupe: 2005-2010 BMW 3 Series
  • Convertible: 2005-2010 Mazda Miata
  • Wagon: 2005-2010 Pontiac Vibe
  • Compact SUV/Crossover: 2005-2010 Honda CR-V
  • Midsize SUV/Crossover: 2005-2010 Ford Explorer
  • Large SUV/Crossover: 2005-2010 Chevrolet Tahoe
  • Minivan/Van: 2005-2010 Honda Odyssey
  • Compact Truck: 2005-2010 Toyota Tacoma
  • Large Truck: 2005-2010 Ford F-150
  • Luxury: 2005-2010 Infiniti G35/G37
  • Hybrid: 2005-2010 Toyota Prius
  • Sport Compact: 2005-2010 Subaru Impreza WRX

 

Which one of these used models strikes your fancy?  Contact Pfeiffer Used Cars for more information on these or any used car model or stop by their Grand Rapids dealership to take a test drive.

Jun 21

Best Used Cars for Grads

With graduation season behind us, many young adults are in the market for a “new” used car to get them back and forth from their recently acquired first jobs or for that vital job interview question regarding reliable transportation.  To help narrow the used car field down, AutoTrader.com compiled a list of the top five “Best Used Cars for Recent Grads” based on reliability and affordability.

Toyota Matrix – A standout in the small car class for its optional all-wheel-drive powertrain, the Matrix provides superior function and economy.  The redesigned 2009 or newer model years are recommended, with several low mileage options available.

Mazda2 – The fun-to-drive and fuel efficient Mazda2 was only introduced in North America in 2010 but quality used models are still available, many under $16,000.  Drivers love its comfortable and stylish design and city drivers appreciate its compact size, making parking a breeze.

Ford Ranger – The versatile Ford Ranger is great for active grads, as well as those who may need to move several times.  Several model configurations are available providing the perfect mix of power, roominess and affordability.

Volvo C30 – Being both sporty and fuel efficient, the Volvo C30 is a great option for the grad on a limited budget who doesn’t want to compromise on style.  With its distinctive, retro-inspired glass hatch and available turbocharged engine, the C30 acts more like a sporty coupe than the reliable and versatile hatchback it truly is.

Honda Element – Grads looking for utility will love the Honda Element.  Providing the space of an SUV without being too big, the Element is perfect for the adventurist or just someone who wants extra space and ruggedness.  Plus, as a Honda, the Element exudes reliability.

Want to learn more about these or any other used vehicle perfect for new graduates?  Stop by Pfeiffer Used Cars in Grand Rapids to speak to one of their friendly sales associates who will be happy to help you find the perfect “new” used car for the road ahead.

Jun 19

Tips on Finding a Great Mechanic

In the summer, many of us take frequent, long road trips to visit family and friends. When packing for these trips, it is easy to forget to check up on one essential item: your car. A quick trip to a good mechanic will save break downs and car troubles when traveling this summer. Here are some tips on finding a great mechanic near you.

Find a mechanic before you might need one. Waiting until your car breaks down is definitely too late and is not safe for your family. If your car is under warrantee, head to the dealership to get a free or highly discounted service. If not, independent shops are definitely a cheaper option.

If you are looking for a good, independent shop, ask your friends and family. These references are more reliable then the phone book or online. It is also helpful to talk to other people who own the same model of car. Check out the classifieds or find an Internet forum for your car.

If you have a more modern car, make sure the service shop you choose has the right equipment. Special tools may be needed to diagnose certain problems on some advanced systems. Ask the mechanic what equipment they plan on using on the car and if it is tailored to the specific make or model. It also does not hurt to ask about what types of parts they plan on using and why. Factory parts are the best option for your car, but aftermarket parts are used often to save the customer money.

Read reviews. There are plenty out there and the information is accurate and honest. Also, look for certifications and memberships. ASE Automotive Service Excellence certification means that mechanics must pass knowledge tests, so you can ensure that the mechanics know what they are doing. ASA Automotive Service Association members must pledge to uphold certain ethics such as having excellent customer service and performing high-quality service.

Look for shops with a customer satisfaction guarantee. Make sure the shop you choose takes customer complaints and satisfaction seriously. If they are not willing to back up their work, they are probably not going to treat the car right. If you have more time, find a mechanic that specializes in your car. You will probably end up receiving better service since your type of car is what they know best.

Finally, do not be afraid to ask questions. The mechanic should be able to answer anything you ask without much attitude. If they blow you off or do not break down complicated concepts, you may want to consider finding someone else. Do your homework, find a great mechanic, and make sure to have your car serviced this summer.

Jun 06

Driving Tips Courtesy of the U.S. Postal Service

With the unofficial start of summer behind us and many people preparing to hit the roads, the U.S. Postal Service’s ‘Million Milers’ were asked to provide some tips for safe driving.  Who better to learn about safe driving tactics than from the thousands of postal employees who have driven over a million accident-free miles.

Since 2005, over 7,000 members of the U.S. Postal Service, the world’s largest civilian fleet, have each achieved ‘Million Miler’ status, which also requires 30 years of service and a safe attitude.   No other business comes close to this level of safety and dedication.

Orchard Park NY mail carrier and ‘Million Miler’ Nancy Pillard, says safety begins before she even begins her trip. “I make sure my vehicle is in complete operative condition every day,” she said. “I identify and report repair work for lights, tires, wipers and mirrors and I then make sure that the repairs are done ASAP.”

Additional tips from ‘Million Mile Drivers’ include:

  • Drive defensively — expect the unexpected
  • Maintain a safe distance of one car length for every 10 mph between you and the car in front of you.
  • Be courteous, use turn signals and obey all laws.
  • Keep your options open — have a ‘what do I do if I’m cut off’ strategy.
  • Turn off mobile devices when driving — no cell phones or texting.

Need help making sure your vehicle is ready for summer vacation plans?  Contact Pfeiffer Used Cars & Quick Lane to schedule a service appointment today!

May 30

Is Your Car Ready for Summer?

Hot summer weather can put a lot of extra stress on a vehicle’s mechanical systems and components.  Taking the time and effort to prepare your car, truck or SUV now will help save you from unexpected and costly repairs later.  Below are several helpful tips to make sure you and your vehicle are ready for the long, hot summer days ahead. 

Remove Snow Tires – Snow tires work best when snow is on the ground and will get worn out much faster on dry roads.  It’s best to have two sets of tires or all-season tires if you don’t want to have to change them. 

Check Tire Pressure – Tire pressure is a critical factor to ensuring safe driving conditions and also in increasing the life of your tires and improving gas mileage.  Hot temperatures may require you to adjust your tires pressure and improperly inflated tires can heat up more quickly and cause a blow-out. 

Change Engine Oil and Adjust Viscosity Grade – Oil viscosity, or thickness, can thin out in warmer weather leaving your engine improperly lubricated.  Changing to thicker oil during the summer will help keep your engine running properly.  Check your owner’s manual for oil recommendations based on climate or discuss with your mechanic to determine the proper oil grade for your vehicle. 

Inspect Belts and Hoses – While most belts and hosed can last a long time, it is always good to have them checked, and replaced if needed, especially if you plan on taking a long trip. 

Inspect Wipers and Wiper Fluid – Visibility is crucial to safe driving, especially during summer storms.  Make sure your wipers are not dried out and replace them if they are over a year old.  Also make sure your wiper fluid is topped off. 

Check the Battery – Hot weather can add additional stress to a battery.  If your battery is more than three years old, have it tested, and if you don’t know how old it is, consider replacing it.   Also make sure there is no corrosion present. 

Check Coolant/Antifreeze Mixture – Test your radiator to make sure the proper mixture of 50:50 water to coolant is present to ensure proper function. 

Carry an Emergency Kit Inside Your Car – You never know when something might go wrong, therefore it is always a good idea to carry the following items: 

  • Flashlight, Flares and a First-Aid Kit
  • Jumper Cables
  • Extra Clothes and Gloves
  • Paper Towels
  • Extra Washer Fluid
  • Food and Water
  • Basic Tools like Wrenches, a Ratchet and Sockets, Screwdrivers, and Pliers or Vise-Grips

Need help with any of the tips listed above?  Contact Pfeiffer Used Cars & Quick Lane to schedule a service appointment today!

May 25

Is it Time to Call a Professional?

Knowing when to contact a professional is the best medicine for a broken vehicle.  While many simple car repair and maintenance items can be completed at home with the right tools and instructions, there are several more complicated fixes that are best left to trained technicians.  Below are the top ten repairs, chosen by the readers of Jalopnik.com, an auto industry and car website, and why it’s best to skip the do-it-yourself route. 

#10 Changing a Clutch – requires removal of engine

#9 Repairing or Recharging an Air Conditioner – numerous components and dangerous high pressure systems

#8 Working with or Around Airbags – best left to someone with significant training due to presence of explosive charge

#7 Replacing a Windshield – requires precision and ability to handle a large heavy piece of glass

#6 Rebuilding a Differential – gears need to be aligned very precisely to function properly

#5 Body Work – if you want it to look right, leave body work to those who know what they are doing

#4 Mounting and Balancing Tires – requires expensive equipment and training to balance correctly

#3  Repairing an Automatic Transmission – complicated and requires high precision

#2  Straightening a Frame – simply unrealistic

#1 Electrics – highly complex and potentially dangerous

Need any of these repairs completed on your vehicle?  Contact the service department at Pfeiffer Used Cars to schedule an appointment today!

May 22

Most Underappreciated Cars & Trucks

Cars.com recently compiled a list of the Top 10 Underappreciated Cars and Trucks, or those vehicles they feel should be more popular based on their significance and quality.  While their choices are not necessarily poor sellers, they have not reached their full potential based on Cars.com’s assessment, and therefore may provide those in the market for a new or used vehicle an excellent deal. 

Ford Flex – This roomy 7-passenger SUV is outsold by the more recognizable Ford Explorer yet offers more cargo and passenger space including impressive headroom and legroom. 

Suzuki Kizashi – The fun-to-drive Kizashi is an unknown gem in the midsize car class with an upscale interior, high-tech features, and both front and all-wheel drive options. 

Mazdas – Unfortunately Mazda’s lineup, while delivering on their fun-to-drive promise, have not reached American consumers on the level they certainly deserve.  A few of Cars.com’s favorites have included the RX-7, 323, Protégé and Mazda3.  “Wake up, America!”

Kia Optima – Cars.com’s Best of 2011, the midsize Optima provides a stylish, high-quality design with numerous standard features. 

Hyundai Genesis – Introduced in 2009, the Genesis is a true luxury sedan but priced well below most of the competition, while still offering both a V6 and V8 engine option and the upscale features one would expect in a luxury vehicle. 

Nissan Quest – In the competitive minivan class, the Quest is a standout in both looks and quality but has had to build a following from scratch.

Dodge Challenger – Cars.com’s 2012 Shopper’s Choice, the retro Challenger brings comfort, space and cargo room to the sports car class. 

Volkswagen Jetta SportWagen – The versatile SportWagen, Jetta’s roomier cousin, provides ample passenger and cargo space while remaining fun-to-drive like the sedan.  Cars.com particularly loves the clean-diesel TDI version. 

Chevrolet Avalanche – Providing 8,100 pounds of towing capacity in either a full-length truck or 5-passenger SUV, the Avalanche has the versatility and power to make any truck buyer happy.  Unfortunately it has not caught on and the 2013 model year will be its last.   

Chevrolet Volt – The misrepresented Volt plug-in deserves more success than it has earned so far, and GM’s sales expectations may have been too high, but don’t discount this green car. 

 

To learn more about these excellent, but sadly underappreciated vehicles, contact Pfeiffer Used Cars or stop by their Grand Rapids dealership to find the perfect car, truck, or SUV to fit your needs!

May 08

Tips for Better Driving

Every time you put pull out of the driveway, you put yourself at risk by entering roadways congested with distracted, texting and drunk drivers. To help make sure you are as safe as possible, here are 10 useful, and entertaining, tips for becoming a better driver, suggested by Jalopnik.com readers.

            10. Test your cars limits in a parking lot – It is important to understand your cars limits.  By testing your car’s grip on a wet or snow-covered parking lot, drivers will better know how their car handles in poor conditions.

            9. Play video games – This is something kids can do before they even have their license.  While a video game can’t prepare drivers for the real world, it can help refine motor skills and the coordination necessary to control a vehicle.

            8. Learn to drive a manual – Driving a stickshift increases hand, eye and foot coordination, and it also familiarizes drivers with how parts of the driveline interact with each other.

            7. Put you phone in the glovebox and turn off the radio – Distractions can be deadly, especially to young drivers.  Removing the phone from sight helps insure drivers aren’t tempted to sneak a peek and turning off the radio will help concentration.

            6. Driving school – Not the kind where a retired police officer tries his best to keep you awake after seventh period, but rather a high performance driving education.  High performance driving instructors have vast driving experience and knowledge to share and it provides a safe environment to learn how to control a vehicle.

            5. Rally driving school – Similar to driving school, except you learn how to control a vehicle off-road or in poor conditions.  Plus it’s lots of fun. 

            4. Autocross – Let’s run through the ingredients needed for autocross: cones, parking lot, that’s it. Autocross allows you to test the limits of your vehicle, and your driving, inexpensively and safely. 

            3. Just pretend everyone else on the road is trying to kill you – Seriously. It’s the number one key in defensive driving.  It’s very rare that people signal when they turn or merge, so by assuming they have no idea what they are doing, you are able to anticipate their mistakes and react accordingly.

            2. Know what’s around you – Be aware of your surroundings. Know where other cars, pedestrians, cyclists and any road signs you pass are located.  Practicing situational awareness allows you to be one step ahead.

            1. Drive more – Practice makes perfect.  Apply lessons you have learned and the longer you’re on the road the more comfortable, and safer, you will be.

Apr 27

TrueCar.com Study Shows Gender Car Buying Behavior

According to TrueCar.com’s annual demographic car-buying behavior study, women prefer import brands and smaller vehicles while men prefer flashy or brawny vehicles.  Examining gender differences, TrueCar’s study looked at over eight million auto purchases last year. 

“Female car buyers really gravitated toward smaller, more fuel-efficient cars,” said Kristen Andersson, Senior Analyst at TrueCar.com. “It was the complete opposite for male buyers, who preferred either a fast, sporty vehicle or more heavy-duty vehicle, like a large truck or SUV.

The study found female buyers top brand to be MINI, followed by Nissan and Kia.  Men on the other hand preferred Ferrari, Bentley and Maserati. 

The top ten models, based on the highest percentage of male and female buyers were:

Female:

  1. Volvo S40
  2. Nissan Rogue
  3. Volkswagen Eos
  4. Volkswagen Beetle
  5. Hyundai Tucson
  6.  Honda CR-V
  7. Toyota RAV4
  8. Nissan Juke
  9. Jeep Compass
  10. Nissan versa

 

 Men:

  1. Porsche 911
  2. GMC Sierra
  3. Ford F-Series
  4. Chevrolet Corvette
  5. Chevrolet Silverado
  6. BMW M3
  7. Audi S4
  8. Audi A8
  9. Cadillac Escalade EXT
  10. Maserati Granturismo

 

“While gender preferences amongst the buyers of various automotive brands still exist, the gap is narrowing,” said Jesse Toprak, Vice President of Market Intelligence at TrueCar.com. “The SUV and truck heavy mix of the domestic automakers continue to generate a disproportionate number of male customers, while the exotic brands remain to be the best medicine for a midlife crisis.”

Apr 17

Best Used Cars for Teen Drivers

Purchasing a car for a teen driver can be a scary, and expensive, undertaking.  To help families find the safest and most affordable options, CarInsurance.com has put together a list of the least expensive 2008 and 2009 model year used cars to insure based on the following criteria:

  • estimated to sell for less than $15,000
  • initially earned top marks in IIHS crash tests
  • rated at more than 20 mpg in combined city/highway driving
  • have better-than-average reported reliability

The following are CarInsurance.com’s top 10 Best Used Cars for Teen Drivers:

Audi A3 – “This compact hatchback is CarInsurance.com’s top choice among model-year 2008 and 2009 cars for young drivers, based on safety ratings, fuel economy, long-term reliability and reasonably low insurance costs.”

 

Honda Accord Sedan – “This popular midsize sedan is roomy and drives predictably; choose a model with the standard four-cylinder engine for top fuel economy.”

 

 

Mercury Sable / Ford Taurus – “Mechanically identical, these large and substantial sedans may be too frumpy for some teens, but they’re sure and stable, not to mention affordable as used cars; look for models fitted with the optional stability control system for added safety.”

 

Subaru Forester – “This tidy crossover SUV is a solid performer with sufficient cargo space for carrying a kid’s belongings off to college and standard all-wheel-drive for optimal traction on wet or snowy roads; be sure to find a model that’s fitted with stability control.”

 

Mercury Milan / Ford Fusion – “Midsize sedan duo represents plain-vanilla transportation, but they work well in most respects, are affordable in the used-car market and are economical to run with the base four-cylinder engine; look for 2009 models equipped with stability control.”

 

Scion xB – “Well suited to young drivers, the boxy compact xB wagon is fun and funky; it’s also eminently practical, with ample rear seat room and lots of cargo space.”

 

 

Nissan Rogue – “Nissan’s sporty compact crossover SUV is fun to drive and can carry a school year’s worth of belongings in its expansive cargo hold.”

 

 

Honda Civic – “A perennial favorite among compact cars, the Civic is a proven winner for reliability and economy; choose a 2009 four-door model with stability control for lower insurance rates and added safety.”

 

Hyundai Santa Fe – “The sturdy midsize Santa Fe crossover SUV is a good value and a capable performer, with sufficient interior room and cargo space.”

 

 

Saturn VUE – “Though the Saturn brand may be long gone, the compact VUE crossover SUV remains a solid choice among used cars. It’s practical, performs adequately and is a good value; CarInsurance.com says to look for models built after 12/07.”

 

For more information on these, or any other used model, contact Pfeiffer Used Cars or stop into their Grand Rapids dealership!