How to Find the Perfect Car for You
By Art Corvelay
Purchasing a car can be a big decision for many people because it often involves a large monetary investment. Although the absolute perfect car may not exist, there are some steps you can take to find the perfect car for you. This article will walk you through some car–buying tips that will help you find the right car for your needs
Determine how your car will fit your lifestyle. The most important thing is to think about how you will use your car, and not what kind of car you wish to have. Many of us wish to drive fast sports cars, but these may not be the best fit for our lifestyles. If you have three children and need a car that will accommodate you and your children, you may want to choose a mini-van or SUV. However, if you will be the only one using your car, you may want to think about a compact car.
Determine your price range. This step is essential, as it will narrow your search dramatically. Think about how much you would like to spend and make sure you set a price cap. That is, set a ceiling for the highest you would be willing to pay and do not plan to exceed this ceiling.
Think about your values and how they might be impacted by the car you purchase. If you value environmentally-friendly cars, you may want to search for a hybrid vehicle. Further, if buying an American-made car is important to you, you can easily narrow your search by looking for only American-made cars.
Begin searching for your perfect car. Once you have thought about your lifestyle needs and what you value in a car, you can start searching for your perfect car. The easiest way to do this is to start on the internet. You can utilize websites like cars.com that allow you to search for cars that fit your requirements. You can get a feel for the general market and pricing of cars you may be interested in.
Visit the actual car manufacturer’s website if you have narrowed your search and chosen a manufacturer. For example, if you are interested in a Toyota, visit the Toyota website. You can visit the website to check out various colors and options that are offered for each make and model. Often times, there may be deals via the web that may not be announced at the actual dealership.
Contact a local dealer Once you have browsed a website like cars.com or manufacturer’s websites, you can contact and visit local dealers to find out what cars they may have in stock.
Consider superficial options like color and interior at the dealership. These may differ from the options you viewed online depending on the stock of cars a dealership has. Do not let these options be deal-breakers if you have found an ideal car.
Make an offer. It is true that you can bargain with car dealers, depending on the dealership, of course. Think about your price cap and make a reasonable offer on the car you want to purchase. The most important thing is to not get too attached to a car. If the car price exceeds your ceiling, do not be afraid to walk away.
The Perfect Car Wash
From the July, 2010 issue of Automobile Magazine
Automobiles have changed considerably over the years, and yet most people wash their cars the same way they always have – with lots of water and not enough attention to detail. Meanwhile, the shelves at auto-parts stores are brimming with cure-all solutions that can do as much harm as good if used improperly. But fear not: here’s our guide to washing your precious metal the smart, modern way.
1 Shut off the hose!
Automakers devote lots of time and money to make new cars as efficient as possible, and yet the EPA estimates that car owners pour 500 gallons of water down the drain – about twenty showers’ worth – every time they wash their car. Instead of running the hose the entire time, use it in focused doses, first to clear heavy dirt and then at the end for a low-pressure, spot-free rinse. Mix the soap in your bucket with warm water from the sink – no need to fill it. Avoid streaking by working out of direct sunlight.
2 Clean, don’t scratch:
Don’t even think about bringing out the dish soap and the old wash mitt. Specially formulated detergents are milder and won’t strip your wax. Microfiber towels, meanwhile, are much softer than cotton or wool and, more important, rinse out better, so you won’t inadvertently scratch the clear-coat with trapped dirt as you scrub and dry your car.
3 Clean that bling:
Time to get on your hands and knees. Some tools that will make the wheel job easier include an old toothbrush and Q-tips to get into the little crevices around the spokes and lug nuts. A clay bar (see next step) does wonders for scrubbing off brake dust. There are plenty of options for dressing your tires. We recommend wiping, rather than spraying on the gloss, so as not to get your brake rotors and freshly washed paint oily.
4 Clay it:
Claying your car once or twice a year removes industrial fallout and other contaminants from your clear-coat and leaves a much cleaner, shinier surface. The clay is sold in most auto-parts stores as a kit containing spray detailer, a microfiber towel, and the clay bar itself. Working one section at a time, squirt the detailer on the surface and simply glide the clay over it. Repeat until you can run your hand over the paint without feeling any grit. Never reuse a clay bar that has fallen on the ground.
Professional detailers bristle when you use the terms “polish” and “wax” interchangeably, because they do very different things. The former actually refers to an abrasive, which can erase or at least minimize swirling, oxidation, and some minor scratches. Look for something clear-coat safe for newer cars, and always test on a small spot first. Anything you can’t remove will likely need harsher abrasives, wet sanding, electric buffing, or all three: in other words, stuff you probably don’t want to mess with.
Now that you have that perfect finish, you’ll want to protect it. Again, there are several options here, but they generally fall into two categories. Traditional carnauba wax buffs to a deep, glossy luster. Newer synthetic waxes (sometimes called sealers) tend to be easier to apply and last longer.
7 Go waterless?
Spray detailers, which usually combine some sort of lubricant to lift surface dirt with a wax, can be useful if you need to do a quick touch-up, especially if you live in an area that is subject to frequent water bans and/or cold winters. However, most (but not all) detailing experts don’t recommend using them for serious cleaning for fear of scratching. A compromise is to drive through a brushless car wash and then finish up with the spray detailer and microfiber towels.