Media post: What’s More Green: a New Car or a Used Car?

It’s a common conversation not only among car buffs but among environmentalists too; what is better for the environment, a new car or a used car? Unfortunately, the answer to this question isn’t nearly as straight forward as you might think. In fact, you can essentially argue it either way depending on the criteria you use and your ultimate definition of green. Let’s take a look.

New Cars

In order to discuss “what the greenest vehicle is” you have to look beyond its daily operating characteristics, things like gas mileage and emissions; you have to look at what was involved in making the vehicle in the first place – the total effect on the Planet. New cars are made up of thousands of components and they are sourced from all around the world. And, most of them come from natural raw materials (not recycled). So that means metals like iron and copper come from large-scale mining operations. Unfortunately, these operations are disruptive environmentally and often involve toxic chemicals. Plastics are no better. Most polymers are formulated from petroleum products and involve plenty of waste and toxicity during their processing cycle. And then there is the emission of greenhouse gases that accompanies all these processes. Studies have shown that between 14 and 28 percent of the carbon dioxide emissions generated during a car’s entire lifecycle occur during its manufacturing phase.

Used Cars

Is a used car better? Remember Greenbrier Motor Company of Lewisburg, a local Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Ram dealer in Lewisburg, WV, says, every time a consumer opts for a used car over a new one, that’s one car that’s already passed through all these phases we discussed above and one less vehicle headed to the scrap heap. The remaining issue to consider is that older cars pollute more than new cars and many are much less gas thrifty. The question is, if you use this used car for let’s say some 100,000 miles, will the total energy consumed and pollutants created be less than a new car? Hard question to answer because it depends on what sort of new car you are comparing your hypothetical used car to.

What about an EV?

But what if you buy an electric vehicle (EV)? After all they are very energy efficient and generate nothing in the way of greenhouse gases. Well, they clearly win in that department but EVs actually have a significant environmental impact when they are built compared to standard cars. Not only are there all the metal and plastic pollution issues, those lithium-ion, lead-acid, or Nickel-Metal Hydride batteries are no friends of the environment. This, however, may become less significant as mining and manufacturing techniques are refined in the future.

The other major issue with EVs is that technically they are emission free only if the electrical power comes from a source that is renewable, like solar or wind. Today, it’s likely that the local electricity will come from a coal- or natural-gas burning power plant. Naturally those utilities generate their own pollution so that needs to be integrated into the total equation.

Conclusion

As you can see, the answer to the question “What’s more green: a new car or a used car?” isn’t an easy one because it depends on so many variables. In the future, we may see this argument tilt one way or another more as environmental regulations change and manufacturing processes become more efficient and less polluting.

Media post: Pros and Cons of the Most Common Forms of Car Finance

It’s well known that buying a new car isn’t as simple as just walking into a dealership and slapping a wad of cash onto the desk. Most people don’t have close to enough money in their personal savings to buy a car outright, but there are so many options for car finance that it can set your head spinning. Here are the pros and cons of the most common kinds so you can decide which is right for you.

Hire Purchase

A long-term loan secured against the car, so you are effectively renting it from the seller until such time as you have paid off the whole loan. This is a good way to afford newer cars.

Pros: Quick and easy to arrange, flexible repayment periods, low initial investment

Cons: You don’t own the car until after the final repayment, generally more expensive in the long run

Personal Contract Plans

A variant of hire purchase where instead of paying back the value of the car, you pay back the difference between the original value and resale value back to the dealer, and can decide to return the car or pay off the remainder at the end of the (slightly shorter) repayment period.

Pros: All the pros of hire purchase with even lower monthly repayments, flexible in terms of keeping or reselling the car

Cons: More expensive than hire purchase overall, you need to pay the difference to keep the car

Personal Leasing

This is basically renting the car from the dealer long term. Services and maintenance are included in the price so long as you don’t exceed a set mileage.

Pros: Fixed costs, flexible terms, no worries about the car depreciating in value

Cons: You never own the car, higher monthly payments, they often require a large initial deposit

Personal Loans

This is where a bank or another provider lends you a sum of money to be paid back over a set period at a fixed interest rate. You can arrange them in person, online, or over the phone.

Pros: Flexible conditions (amount, repayment schedule, etc.), can be the cheapest way to borrow if you have good credit

Cons: May affect your credit rating, there can be a wait for funds to become available

With this knowledge you should be able to pick the option t

Media post: The Italian Car Manufacturing Industry Today

Fiat 500 detail La Maddalena Sardinia

Whether it’s simple but stylish small city cars, luxury executive cars or fly supercars, Italy has always been one of the most interesting countries when it comes to the output of their automotive industry. However, while Italy’s best loved marques are still big players both domestically and abroad, the industry itself has changed quite significantly in recent years, and become far more globalised. Here, we take a look at the status of Italy’s major car brands right now, and how the industry fits in the general Italian and EU economy.

One Brand to Rule Them All

When you think of Italian cars, you can probably name several marques. On the mass market end you have Fiat, of course, then moving up the scale you have Alfa Romeo and Lancia, and then at the top end Ferrari, Maserati and Lamborghini. However, all but one of these – Lamborghini – are actually owned by Fiat. Lamborghini is owned by Audi, who are in turn owned by Volkswagen, though the company is still based in Italy, near Bologna.

Fiat therefore owns all of the biggest Italian brands that still have Italian ownership, and dominates the industry domestically, with around 90% of cars produced in Italy being made by Fiat owned marques since the millennium.

Fiat, up until recently, kept its concerns within Italy, however in 2014 they purchased 100% of American car giant Chrysler – purchasing a non-Italian manufacturer for the first time. As a fun fact, Chrysler owned Lamborghini – the one major Italian brand Fiat haven’t got in their portfolio – up until 1994.

The Recent Resurgence of Fiat in Europe

Italy produced over a million cars in 2015 for the first time since 2008, and the Italian car market seems to be making something of a comeback after a weak few years. A lot of this is attributed by business and investment experts to the popularity of the Fiat 500. A small, yet iconic city car designed to bring some Italian design flair to the same sector of the market as things like the Mini Cooper and Ford Fiesta, this redeveloped version of the classic Fiat 500 has performed well all over Europe. With options including the faster, sportier Abarth version of the 500 winning the hearts of sports car enthusiasts who also value the economy and convenience of a city car, the Fiat 500 has broad appeal, and has reignited interest in the Fiat brand in most of Europe, including the UK. The car has even seen reasonable sales in the USA, where Fiats are not a common site. This may be in part thanks to the fact that a lot of 500s are manufactured in Mexico, rather than Italy itself, however.

Employment and Economy

Fiat’s choice to move some of its manufacturing, both to Mexico and Poland, did raise concerns around employment in Italy, where around a quarter of a million people work in roles related to the car industry. At present, cars contribute about 8.5% of Italy’s GDP, making it a very important industry within the country, and, along with fashion, one of its more high profile export industries. It is worth noting, that while we’ve mainly been focusing on Fiat and their big name marques here, Italy does also have some smaller manufacturers that those with a passion for Italian motoring are fond of, such as Pagani, Zagato, and Pininfarina.

Media post: Why a Car History Check Is So Important

Car History Check

Whether you’re buying a used car from a private individual or from a dealership, there’s always a chance that you’re dealing with one of the less than honest types seeking to make a quick profit by exploiting your trust.

Of course, it’s equally possible that the seller you’ve found has acted entirely in good faith and disclosed every last relevant piece of information about the car. The real problem is telling which, and that’s where an HPI Check comes in. Here are just some of the things one can reveal.

The Car Has Been Reported Stolen

A definite warning sign—if this comes up you should inform the police immediately. If you buy a stolen car it remains the property of the insurer or the original owner.

The Car Has Been Written Off

Also called a ‘total loss’ this means that the car has been damaged in such a way that it would cost more than the total value of the car to repair. If this is a category C or D the car is safe (and not too uncommon on older cars that have been in moderate accidents) but the seller should tell you of this, and if the loss was a category A or B it should not be on the road.

The Mileage Has Been Misreported

Making a car look more valuable by turning back the odometer is the oldest trick in the book, and surprisingly easy to do to modern cars. A history check will reveal an accurate figure whenever one is available and if there is a significant difference between the one it reveals and what you’ve been told be wary.

There is Outstanding Finance on the Car

If you buy a car with outstanding finance you become liable for that money. If this comes up on a history check, get a written guarantee that the cost will be paid off by the time the car changes hands. If the seller refuses you’re probably dealing with a scammer.

A Safety Recall Has Been Issued

Sometimes manufacturers recall cars due to faults across the line that endanger drivers or passengers. If this has happened and no steps have been taken to make the vehicle safe, don’t buy it.

Media post: Hire Purchase? Personal Contract? Leasing? Ways to Finance a New Car Compared

Car finance

There are a multitude of ways to finance a new car, each with its own advantages and disadvantages, and it can be difficult to work out which is the best overall. We’ve put together a quick comparison of some of the most common types.

Hire Purchase

You buy the car with a loan secured against the car itself, meaning that the vehicle is not fully yours until the full sum is paid off, and failure to pay could mean losing the collateral—in this case, the car. Many dealers offer this and it’s easy to arrange with low monthly repayments, but it’s fairly expensive over the full term of the loan so your money might go further if you can afford another option.

Personal Contract

This works similarly to hire purchase, but instead of paying back the full value of the car, you pay it less the car’s resale value and at the end of the term of the loan you have the option to either return the vehicle to the dealership or buy the car outright. This is nice because it keeps your options open, though its an expensive option overall with one big bill at the end if you want to keep the car.

Leasing

You lease the car long term from the dealer for a set period of time. Monthly payments are a little higher and there is sometimes a deposit to pay, but you always know how long you will have the vehicle for, and the dealership covers service costs within the leasing period as long as you stay within an agreed mileage. Because you don’t own the car with leasing, you also don’t need to worry about resale value.

The Verdict

Owning things is overrated—for our money the winner is leasing, which is flexible when you arrange it, so it can suit your needs, and then has fixed terms, so you have peace of mind that you always know what you need to contribute and what you can expect from the arrangement. The true beauty of this form of finance is just how stable it is and how it keeps unexpected costs that you’re not ready for to a minimum.

Media post: Keep Your Dealership Secure and Profitable With the Power of Information

Car dealership. Picture courtesy of speedfactorycars.com

If you’re aiming to make a business of buying and selling cars, there’s one thing you’re always going to need more of, and that’s information. Anything and everything you can find out about the vehicles you stock will be valuable, especially if you deal in used cars.

What You Need

What you need is a car checking system—access to some sort of database that will tell you everything you need to know about vehicles as you acquire them, even things the sellers don’t know or don’t want to share.

How it Helps

Access to this information can net you a number of benefits. Knowing the full specifications of a vehicle can help you maximise profits and conversion rates by highlighting all the car’s best features. A complete record will also clue you in to what’s going on under the hood, which is especially important if you’re working in the used car industry, where a motor’s storied past can affect its performance.

This allows you to accurately price the cars you sell. Not only does this mean you’ll never let a vehicle go for less than it’s worth because of what you don’t know, it also protects you from the risk of overcharging a customer for a vehicle that’s in less than stellar condition.

Mitigating Risk

When your dealership is in its infancy, the last thing you want is the liability for mis-selling a vehicle, and all the financial consequences and damage to your reputation that come with it.

A good vehicle database will also have a record of a car’s history. One in three vehicles has pertinent information hidden in its past. This includes not only any repairs, replacements, or modifications that might affect its value, but also whether the vehicle has ever been written off or stolen. You expose yourself to significant risk of loss if you sell a vehicle without knowing about any of these—or, in the case of a stolen car, if you sell it at all.

Which to Use

So you can see the value of car checking systems, but as a parting word, we recommend you seek out a system designed and optimised for business use. Some are meant primarily for consumer information, and these will be comparatively poor value for your purposes.

Media post: Three of The Top 4×4 Jeeps of All-Time

1975-jeep-cj-51975 Jeep CJ-5

Early 70’s Jeep CJ-5 or CJ-6

Here we have one of the final Jeep models that were strongly against the automatic transmission as an option, in fact for these early CJ models it was either manual transmission, or you were SOL. For those of us that love to go off-roading or mudding, there is only one real choice, and that is stick shift or scram.

They came with manual transmission options of either the T-15 three-speed or the T-18 four-speed, and had a stretched wheelbase of 84 or even 104 inches in length to accommodate the AMC six-cylinder base engine. They had optional upgrades such as the 258 inline six-cylinder. Then if you toss in the fact they had a superb power brake option with 11-inch drum brakes, there is no debating it belongs on this abbreviated top 5 list.

1986 CJ-7

Jump forward more than a decade later, and we will introduce the CJ-7 from 1986 into the mix. By this point the Jeep engineers have learned a lot from their earlier CJ models, and it is safe to say they have discovered a way to master the build for this CJ-7. With a 30-spline Dana 44 and a Trac-Lok differential makes the CJ-7 a masterpiece, and for some, they consider it the leader when it comes to off-road performance, spliced with modern age comforts.

It didn’t come with the large V-8 option that early CJ-7 models had been known to come with, but it had a very strong inline six with 258 horsepower, and a much wider track for better performance. Many would opt for the hardtop, and you have yourself one very reliable and vintage looking Jeep to hit the trails with.

Early 2000’s XJ

The XJ was planned to have been killed off in 2002, but Chrysler Corporate decided they would make the cut from their lineup a year earlier than planned. This sent a lot of Jeep and off-road enthusiasts scrambling to acquire a 2000-2001 variation of the XJ. This decision by Chrysler could have more or less helped the XJ solidify itself on our list of these 3 Top off-road Jeep models, solely because of its story and demand.

One note worth mentioning is if you can find an early 2000 factory made, you can probably find one that has a high-pinion XJ axles to avoid the use of low-pinion axles which came later that year, and followed through into 2001, likely due to the fact they knew this was the last dance for the XJ at that time.

Recapping These 3 Jeeps

The 1970s CJ models were incredibly durable, and most of all had the most power for its size, when compared to these other two. But where the smaller CJ models lacked, the CJ-7 made up for plenty in the mid 80’s with a much wider track, to provide greater traction for off-roading. What interested us the most of these 3 models, was the XJ. Not because of its early death from production, but because in stock, it truly was in a league of its own. Most other Jeeps you will need to add several aftermarket parts, from a dealership like Clear Lake Jeep of Houston, where as the XJ was able to handle the trials of trail right off the lot.

Media post: Cities with the Worst Traffic

traffic-jam-picture-courtesy-businessinsider-com

Despite advances in public transportation and ride sharing, in most cities around the world you can still spend a lot of time stuck in traffic. And, as Brennan Dodge of Ruston, a local Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Ram dealer in Ruston, LA, humorously relates “This is time that you lose forever.” What we find interesting, though, is that few people factor this into a decision of where to live. That may be a mistake because if you are moving to another city, you might want to look into the traffic flow there. Life is short, don’t invest your time in traffic jams. Just to make you feel better, though, there are probably cities that are worse than where you live or are moving to–in fact, far worse. Let’s take a look at a few of them.

Worst in the US

You might be tempted to say that New York City is the most traffic congested city in the United States. However, according to TomTom, the Amsterdam-based GPS company, the most traffic-clogged city in the United States is actually Los Angeles. Commuters in Los Angeles spent an average of 41% more time stuck in traffic than what normally-flowing traffic takes. Just for clarity purposes, here’s what that statistic means: if traffic jams cause commuters to spend 30 minutes getting to or from the office, compared to 20 minutes for the same trip when there are no traffic jams, then the daily delay amounts to 50%. In other words, it takes 50% longer than usual to get to the office. So, Los Angeles isn’t quite at 50% but is pretty close at 41%.

Worst on Earth

The distinction of the absolute worse city to commute in must be Los Angeles, right? Well, no, that distinction would easily go to Mexico City where its drivers spend 59% more time getting to and from work when traffic is jammed up. And that’s the daily average – Mexico City motorists spend a whopping 97% extra time behind the wheel during the morning rush hour!

Other Cities

Los Angeles: 41% average extra travel time

Salvador: 43% extra travel time

Moscow: 44% extra travel time

Rio de Janerio: 47% extra travel time

Bangkok: 57% extra travel time

Mexico City: 59% extra travel time

The future

Hopefully the traffic will be flowing better in the city you live near, in the future. Most US cities have infrastructure improvements going on to achieve that result. However, its not so cut-and-dry. TomTom states that congestion is getting better for some cities and worse for others. America may be the worst. The United States leads the globe with a 17% jump in congestion over the last eight years. By contrast, traffic in Europe, which remains in the financial doldrums, experienced an increase in demand by only 2% since 2008. Traffic congestion in Southern European nations like Italy and Spain has actually been on the decline over the last decade, by -7% and -13%, respectively.

Media post: The Dodge Challenger Scat Pack

dodge-challenger-scat-pack

Talk to a typical Dodge Challenger Hellcat owner about their car and they will likely tell you that it’s the finest muscle car ever built. And, you know what? It’s hard to argue. With modern technology and 707 HP, the Challenger Hellcat is one heck of a performance car. Problem is, though, who can afford one? With a starting prices of $62,000, many people can’t afford a Hellcat.

The 1968-1972 Scat Pack

Fortunately, Dodge has a close second choice prepared, just for that very reason: the Challenger Scat Pack. The name will sound familiar to those who were around back in the 60s. From 1968 until 1972, Dodge offered the Scat Pack package in the Dart Swinger 340, Coronet Super Bee, Challenger and Charger R/T. The Scat Pack package varied by model but included things like triple carburation, free-flow exhaust, special graphics, extra gauges and other performance goodies. The vintage car guys at Century 3 Kia of West Mifflin, a local Kia dealer in West Mifflin, PA, tell us they were very popular models and genuine original examples are quite valuable today.

The 2016 Dodge Challenger Scat Pack

Today, we have the reincarnation of the famous Dodge Challenger Scat Pack model. It is powered by a naturally aspirated 6.4-liter Hemi offering a healthy 485 horsepower, all while maintaining a very affordable $37,995 starting price. For an additional $4,800 you can get the outstanding Shaker Package added. For 2017, this option offers the instantly recognizable hood protrusion, badging, tasteful black touches and lots of interior upgrades. Let’s take a closer look.

The 2016 Scat Pack Exterior

The Challenger Scat Pack is retro but tasteful, has huge C-pillars and classic muscle car colors. The running lights and tail lights are ultra-bright LEDs and the vehicle comes stock with bold 20-inch wheels. For those that want some “outrageousness,” go for the Shaker Package.

The 2016 Scat Pack Powertrain

Starting with a 392 cube V8 Hemi offering 485 ponies and 475 foot-pounds of torque, this car has the power. Optional is a six-speed manual gearbox and active exhaust for real throwback muscle car fun. Fuel efficiency isn’t too bad at 14/23 miles per gallon. Owners say that they get around 17 MPG average. The car comes with Good Year rubber, Brembo brakes and Bilstein sport suspension.

The 2016 Scat Pack Interior

The dash offers vintage flair with a retro-looking gauge cluster and to the right is the 8.4-inch UConnect touchscreen infotainment system. With the Shaker upgrade you get heated and ventilated leather seats., a power telescoping steering column and sport pedals.

The 2016 Scat Pack Tech

The tech end of the Challenger is largely focused on keeping Mopar performance at the center of attention. That being said, a $845 upgrade gets you an 506 watt audio system with 9 alpine speakers and a sub-woofer. Smart safety tech touches like Dodge’s ParkSense rearview camera, hill start assist, rain brake support, forward braking alerts, and all speed traction control are all standard.

Wrap up

The Shaker-equipped Scat Pack makes for a very tempting Hellcat alternative. It may not have the nameplate or the insane power, but it does have a traditionalist’s approach to performance that does not disappoint.

Media post: A Look at the Most Common Engine Problems in Trucks

1959 Chevrolet-NAPCO Apache 31 Deluxe Fleetside Pickup truck

When your truck starts to act up it’s never a fun time. Often we jump to the worst case scenario imagining a ridiculously high repair bill. It’s important to understand there are actually a number of engine problems that can occur in diesel trucks, and not all of them are as serious and expensive to repair as the others. Here’s a look at the most common diesel truck repair & service procedures that take place.

Engine Issues

The engine can cause all kinds of issues, typically these can be attributed to compression that isn’t up to par or engine timing that just isn’t right. The mechanic will typically look at things like the valves, piston rings, cylinders, injectors, and filters if there are engine issues. One of the tell-tale signs of an engine problem is smoke.

Dirty Fuel

It’s amazing how much damage dirty fuel can cause. It will circulate through the fuel filters clogging them up, the air filters, and the motor. If the clogs become severe enough it will get to the point where the motor won’t be able to receive the fuel, which means you won’t even be able to start your truck. The typical fix for this problem is to replace the air and fuel filters. The fuel lines and fuel pump should also be checked as well as the ECM and injectors. To prevent this from happening try to fill up at reputable gas stations only and get the highest grade fuel your truck will allow.

Hauling Too Heavy of a Load

Trucks haul all kinds of loads and sometimes either knowingly or by accident they can be overloaded. Unfortunately, when this happens you risk overheating the engine, as it will be forced to work much too hard. If you’re trying to climb steep hills, this is even more likely to happen. It is suggested you gear down to help in these kinds of situations. Obviously, the best way to avoid this problem from happening is to not overload your truck.

EGR is Acting Up

If you have found that your engine is idling extremely rough lately, then you may have an issue with the EGR, which is the exhaust gas recirculation. The sensor is extremely sensitive on the EGR and can even give false readings from time to time, so this is a problem you’ll want to have looked at by a professional. If you need to replace the valve and EGR sensor then you can expect this repair job to run you a few hundred dollars.

Check Engine Light is On

Unfortunately this light alone isn’t enough to tell the full story. When you see this light come on, it’s time to visit the mechanic. It could be anything from the emissions, to the electronics, to the parts itself.

Best Not to Take Chances

If you suspect there are some engine problems going on with your truck it’s best not to take any chances. Putting off having it looked at can make the problem worse, and end up costing you more to repair in the end.

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