Cars Column

Cars! As much as we may hate filling up the tank with gasoline, for many it’s the only way to get from one place to another. This column focuses on all things auto from the insurance you’ll need to get to whether a hybrid is right for you.


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How to get the most from your auto insurance claim


Being involved in a car accident is scary and stressful. So is dealing with the aftermath.

It’s in the insurance company’s best interest to minimize your claim, but you’ll be able to secure a fair settlement with these four tips.

Don’t admit fault

You typically must file a police report after a car accident. There are situations when you aren’t required to, but to be on the safe side, file a report.

Describe to the police as accurately as possible what you believe happened, but don’t admit fault or say anything to the police, the other driver or any witnesses that might incriminate you.

Gather evidence that might help you later. Photograph the accident scene, capturing the location, license plates and damage. Collect contact information from any witnesses, passengers and other drivers.

At this stage, only discuss the accident with the police to minimize your chances of being misheard or misunderstood.
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Stop worrying…You probably didn’t pay too much for your new car


Most of us like to tell “fish stories,” and they often include tales about the great deal we negotiated on our new car or truck.

But behind closed doors, many of us obsess that we really paid too much.

At least that’s the conclusion of the first annual TrueCar Buyer Study, which polled more than 3,000 consumers across the country.

Despite all of the pricing information at our fingertips on sites like Kelley Blue Book (kbb.com) and Edmunds.com, it seems many new-car shoppers have no real idea how much the dealer is making in any given deal.

Because of that, 26% of new-car buyers believe they overpaid for their car.

Many of those surveyed guesstimated the dealer makes about 20% profit on the sale of a $30,000 new car. That would be about $6,000.
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Be ready for insurers to ask your car what really happened in an accident


The next time you file an accident claim don’t be surprised if your insurance company wants to download data from your car or truck to make sure you’re telling the truth.

No one knows exactly how much auto-insurance fraud goes on, but experts peg the losses at up to $30 billion.

That covers a wide range of cheating, from lying on an application to staging accidents and bogus injuries. But deliberately deceitful accounts about how a wreck occurred are part of the problem, too.

Let’s say a driver sideswipes a parked car or backs into tree.

Instead of reporting the mishap as it actually happened, he drives to the mall, parks his car and claims to be victim of a parking-lot hit and run.

A law enforcement officer will more than likely take the driver at his word, write up the report as a hit and run, and the driver will file a claim with his insurance carrier.

Although insurers know this kind of fraud happens every day, they’ve chosen to pretty much ignore it.

That’s changing however, as those companies consider making better use of the Event Data Recorder (EDR) that’s in most vehicles today and will be in all new vehicles this fall.
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How do you get 3 million miles out of 1 car?

Irv Gordon got 3 million miles out of his car. His secret? Read the manual.There’s a certain satisfaction to getting the maximum possible use out of something you bought — squeezing the last bit of toothpaste out of the bottom of the tube, wearing a pair of jeans until they pretty much collapse into a pile of rags, etc.

But you’d have to work pretty hard to get more value out of a purchase than Irv Gordon, a retired science teacher from Long Island, N.Y. who recently became the first human to get 3 million miles out of a passenger car.


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Let your car insurance company spy on your driving?

Would you let your car insurance company monitor your driving?There are big changes in the way car insurance gets priced coming, and you’ve got a chance to get in on them now. Question is, do you want to?

All the information car insurers have collected on you in the past — your age, your credit score, whether you’re married, whether you made the honor roll — are designed to help them make an educated, but ultimately flawed, guess about how likely you are to wrap your IROC around a telephone pole while trying to change your fantasy football lineup on your smartphone.

But thanks to the inexorable march of technology toward a dystopian future of robot overlords and Justin Bieber greatest hits albums uploaded straight into our brains, insurance companies now have the ability to measure directly what they could once only guess at: your driving behavior.


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Luxury car lease deals: It’s a trap!

Luxury car lease deals can be a trapLately I’ve been seeing a lot of lease deals on luxury cars that, on the surface, seem pretty tempting. I mean, why drive a regular old family sedan when you could be stylin’ and profilin’ in German luxury?

But before you get too excited, it’s worth digging down into the numbers a little bit. For instance, I recently saw a deal for a 2013 BMW 328i sedan that’ll cost you $369 a month, with $3,844 due at signing.
How is that possible, when monthly payments on a 48-month new-car loan for something like a base Toyota Camry can be $400 or more a month?


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AARP Driver Safety Course Promotion Code

Traffic Safety ConesAARP offers an online driver safety course (it’s a defensive driving course) for $19.95 and it qualifies as a defensive driving course with respect to auto insurance premium discounts. By law in 34 states, auto insurance company is required to give you a discount if you complete a “classroom-based, state-approved driver-improvement course.” Those states are, according to AARP, Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia and Wyoming.

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5 Steps to Prepare Your Car for the Winter

Winter CarMost of us in the United States have felt a definite chill in the air the last few days. We are into December, which means if you haven’t, you should prepare your car for winter and include an emergency kit, just in case. Of course, you don’t hope for the worst, but it is always best to prepare for it, and with millions taking to the road for holiday travel, visiting family, and taking vacations, it pays to be prepared.

You might remember a few years ago when hundreds of cars were stranded in Chicago on Lakeshore Drive during the 2010 Chicago blizzard. Sure, the storm was intensifying, but those people were just trying to make the short drive home from work. They had no idea they would be stranded for hours and that some of the cars would run out of gas, making it impossible to run the heat.

Here are some steps you may want to take to avoid that fate and protect yourself and your family this winter while driving:

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