Here at Consumerist, we’re fascinated with the global gray market: the system of parallel imports that gives us Omega watches from Paraguay at Costco and a pirate Trader Joe’s store in Canada. There are even bigger things that trade on the gray market, though: in Shanghai, there’s a place where luxury car buyers can save money by purchasing cars that haven’t been imported through official channels. [More]
If you want to lose some weight, get rid of your spare tire. No not your abdominal fat: the emergency spare in the back of your car. Our car-buying colleagues down the highway at the Consumer Reports auto testing center note that many new vehicles lack spare tires. Why? To save weight and thus fuel, and because nobody knows how to change them anymore, anyway. [More]
When buying a new car, should you trade your old one in or see how much you can get on the open market? The conventional wisdom is that you get more money on your own, but meeting with buyers and doing paperwork is a hassle you may not want to bother with. Also consider the tax advantages in some states if you trade in at the same dealer where you buy your new car. [Consumer Reports]
We often hear from readers horrified to discover that their perfectly lovely used car was once another owner’s total loss. They only find out much later, once something goes horribly wrong due to the previous damage. But once the vehicle is all fixed up and shiny, how is the average car buyer to know the difference? It turns out that there are distinctive signs that a car was previously in a crash or flood. Some you might notice yourself, and others require a mechanic’s eye. [More]
Even if you do happen to have an eye installed in the back of your head, every car has a blind spot behind it, and the dangerous possibility of running over low-to-the-ground animals and children in that massive blind spot. While rear-view cameras in vehicles are becoming more common, they’re still more of a luxury add-on than necessary safety equipment. [More]
What does it mean to be “loyal” to a car manufacturer? Brett tells Consumerist that he wanted to take advantage of a program that offered a $500 loyalty discount to people who already own Mazdas. He negotiated a price with a local dealer, then learned that he wasn’t eligible for the $500 discount…because his previous Mazda had been totaled (that’s a picture of it, at left), and his car insurance company now holds the title. [More]
Jim decided to take advantage of the Cash For Clunkers program and trade his Crown Victoria in on something a little more fuel-efficient. Unfortunately, the dealership where he bought the car wasn’t quite ready to handle one of the most frightening of all creatures: an informed consumer. They counted on their customers to not fully understand all of the program’s rules.
Consumer Reports has compiled a list of common car shopping mistakes from their Smart Buyer’s Guide to Buying or Leasing a Car, which, of course, you can find in bookstores.
Consumerist reader Chris decided to take advantage of GM’s please-buy-a-car Employee Discount sale that we wrote about yesterday, so he headed off to two different dealerships in the NY/NJ area. What he found were deserted showrooms with salesmen who ignored him or argued with him over the existence of specific models he’d looked at online. He adds, “tonight I’m off to Toyota for some hard numbers on a Corolla and Camry.”