Buying Used Cars

Tuesday, July 10, 2012 24 comments
When looking to buy a second hand car you should be extra careful and vigilant as purchasing a car from a private sale does not usually come with the reassurance of a warranty.

Used cars have one major advantage over buying a brand new vehicle and that is the price. Used cars, even if only a year or two old are substantially cheaper than new cars. From the moment a vehicle is driven off a dealer's forecourt the depreciation begins and in the early days the price drop is disproportionate to the vehicles actual wear and tear.

If you are not mechanically minded yourself it is probably a good idea to take someone, preferably a mechanic with you or better still instruct a specialist engineer to examine the vehicle on your behalf. Although this will increase your budget it will not only give you peace of mind but will undoubtedly be money well spent if a serious problem is discovered.

Take your time and do not rush into a purchase just because you think you will lose the sale. Remember there are thousands of used cars out there to choose from.

Decide on your budget and stick to it! Make sure you have included tax, insurance and any accessories you might need on top of the actual cost of the car in your budget. Make sure you are buying the right car for your needs. If it's a family vehicle you are looking for to ferry the kids around, do not get carried away looking at two seated roadsters. It's easily done!

Make sure you research thoroughly and buy several magazines and guides from your local newsagent. This will help you have a better understanding of prices and market trends, as you will find thousands of used cars listed.

When viewing any used cars make sure you do it in the daytime preferably at the seller's home address. Daytime viewings will ensure that any defects to the bodywork are easily noticed and viewing the vehicle at the seller's home address will give you an idea of how the vehicle has been maintained. If the vendor wants to carry out the transaction elsewhere demand that it is a public place. This is for your own safety, as you do not know who you will be dealing with.

It is quite normal for used cars to have had several prior owners so do not be put of by this, but do check the cars log book and service history carefully making sure the documents are in order and all the dates and records check out.

Carry out a H P I check to verify the cars history. You will be able to determine if the vehicle has any outstanding finance or if it has been stolen. Also this check will determine if the vehicle has been subject to an insurance write off or if the mileage has been altered.

Ask the vendor as many questions as possible about the cars history, especially the reason for sale. That said; do not take any reply as an absolute truth!

Take as long as you want with your inspection

Checking the Interior

Ensure all the electrics, including mirrors; windows and central locking are in good working order. Test the seat belts click into their sockets and retract properly. Check the wear on the foot pedals, as this will give you an indication if the vehicle has covered an excessive amount of miles. Lift any seat blankets, which may be hiding burns and stains. Do not be afraid to check under floor mats and upholstery for rot and corrosion. Feel around for any damp or water residue and when inside have a good sniff for any mould or pet smells, as this is a sure sign there may be stains or damp lurking somewhere.

Exterior inspection

Look down the sides of the vehicle as some used cars would have suffered the odd bump or two in their time. Check to see if the panels are in line and free from any filer. Make sure there are no irregular gaps between the doors, bonnet and boot. Check the colour match on each panel for signs of a respray. Feel under the wheel arches and seals for signs of rust.

Most used cars will need some money spent on them and normally this will be tires and exhausts. The minimum tyre tread is 1.6mm so check all the tyres have at least this depth and factor replacement costs into your budget if they are near the mark. Inspect the exhaust, and check that it is not noisy or blowing.

The Engine

Check the engine oil and ensure that it is brown and transparent. Make sure the paintwork in the engine bay matches that of the cars exterior. Check for leaks on hoses and pipes before and after the test drive.

When the engine is started it should idle smoothly. Listen carefully for any irregular rattles or grinding sounds.

The Test Drive

Do not be afraid to ask for a test drive, preferably with you driving the vehicle.

If possible drive the vehicle on a variety of road surfaces so you can feel the cars handling. Check the suspension is solid and the vehicle holds a true line. Listen for any grinding when the steering wheel is at full lock. Once the vehicle is moving listen for any irregular engine noises.

Closing the Deal

Once you are satisfied the vehicle is for you and it has passed the above checks do not be afraid to haggle over the price. Most sellers of used cars are prepared to negotiate over the original asking price. Where possible try to get the seller to include any extras or accessories.

An important point to remember is not to feel pressured into buying a car no matter how good the sales patter is.

If you have any doubts about the purchase then DO NOT BUY as there are many other used cars out there to choose from

3 Tips For Purchasing A Pedal Car

The original idea for pedal cars dates back to the turn of the twentieth century, soon after the first true automobiles began to make their mark on the world. What started out as a children's toy directed towards wealthy families has now become an everyday product that nearly every family can afford. However, just because they are affordable doesn't mean that you shouldn't take your time in choosing a quality toy for your child. Here are three important tips that you should bear in mind when choosing a pedal car for your child:

Tip #1: If the car fits...

The first thing you need to do before you even start your search is measure your child. In order for your child to get the most out of this memorable toy, they need to be able to reach the pedals properly. While many newer models adjust to fit the size of many age groups, there are still plenty of types around that have limited adjustment options. Knowing your child's measurements ahead of time will allow you to narrow down the search results from the beginning, so that you can focus your attention on the cars that you know are suitable for your child's size.

Tip #2: Personality counts

Although you might have something more traditional in mind, perhaps even a car similar to what you might have had as a child, the reality is that there are a lot of different pedal car designs out there to choose from. As the car is first and foremost a toy for your child, and just as you wouldn't choose a car that doesn't suit you, you should also consider something more reflective of your child's personality. Why not get your daughter a pink hot rod or your son a candy apple-red fire engine? There are even pedal planes and trains available. Take your time and really consider what type of pedal car would suit your child best.

Tip #3: Consider quality

Of course you need a car that your child will like, but at the end of the day their safety should be the deciding factor. Are the tires made of rubber for good traction? Are there any unfinished or sharp edges that might harm your child or bystanders? Plastic accessories are nice, but you really want the majority of the car to be made of metal, which is not only safer for your child but will last for ages. If you opt for traditional steel construction, the toy you buy your child today might even become an heirloom to be passed to their own children.

These are just three of the major factors that parents should consider when looking at children's pedal cars. Of course your child could have fun with a cheap plastic ride-on toy, but if you really want to give them a lasting memory, why not make the most of this purchase? Give them a high quality pedal car that they can enjoy for hundreds of hours. They might even consider passing this special gift down to their own child!

Car Design Can Worsen Whiplash

Sunday, June 10, 2012 1 comments
Drivers have been warned to take as much care about their headrest positions as they do about wearing their seatbelt by car industry experts.

This is in response to research carried out by Thatcham which looked at car design and whiplash injury. They also report that last year saw the biggest improvement in car design with 80% of seats made in Europe getting a 'good' or 'acceptable' scoring. Only 16% of seats achieved this is in 2005 and in 2002 25% of all cars would not provide whiplash protection.

Peter Roberts, chief executive at Thatcham, said: "The majority of vehicle manufacturers have already incorporated geometrically correct designs that offer good protection. It is clear, however, that certain vehicle manufacturers need to make improvements to fall within the internationally recognised standards."

Whiplash injury can occur even when collision speed is very low. Pain can take weeks or years to manifest and is caused by damage to soft tissue around the spine. Symptoms can include shoulder pain, neck pain, stiffness, dizziness and burning sensations.

Thatcham researchers discovered that the amount of damage from whiplash depended mostly on the position of the car's headrest. Movement of the headrest during collision worsened the victim's injury leading Thatcham to ask manufacturers to have a locking system on it.

Dr David Bull said: "Headrests are so important because this is true preventative medicine."

Experts recommend that the headrest should remain near to the back of the head. The top of the head and top of the headrest should be inline. Drivers are advised not to recline their seat or to drive hunched forward as this will increase the distance from the headrest and lead to more serious injuries.

Thatcham scored Saab and Volvo seats as 'good' for preventing whiplash injury with Ford and Renault also performing well. Audi were commended for their seats that were made from special foam to absorb impact and support the neck during collision.

Some 200,000 people per year are victims of whiplash with 20,000 having symptoms for more than 6 months and 2,000 having long-term disability.

Approximately 80% of personal injury claims result from whiplash.

To make a whiplash injury claim the accident must not be caused by the victim. They will have to show that an injury resulted from the accident and following this compensation could be given for 'general damages' (physical and mental injury) and 'special damages' (an example being loss of earnings).

The victim will attend a medical examination to find physical damage then an independent medical expert will look at their case. A solicitor normally guides claimants through this procedure and will advise on whether they have a strong case.

Once this is confirmed the solicitor will forward the claimants details of the accident and injury to the opponent and they will decide if they will accept liability. If they deny it then the case may go to court but this is rare

Drawing Cars - Hand Sketching Vs 3D Modeling

Sunday, May 20, 2012 0 comments
In the age of computers, virtual reality and 3D modeling, why are hand sketching skills still such a vital part of the car design process?

Hand sketching is still the best way of getting ideas out of the designer's head and onto paper quickly and efficiently. 3D modeling requires manipulating software to get the result that the designer wants. This process is often slow and cumbersome. Manipulating your hand to draw the line you want it to draw is much faster and easier.

To build a 3D model of one concept can take days. To do a hand sketch of one concept can be done in an hour or two. This means many ideas can be explored far more efficiently and less time is invested into each idea. Often when concepts are presented for consideration they are dismissed instantly. If little time has been invested into that concept, then little has been lost.

Even in high end design programs, such as Alias that many automotive designers use, the base drawing is done by hand on a digital tablet. Even though the drawing is done directly onto the computer through the tablet, it is still the designer's hand making the moves. As this is most direct way to bring an idea from inside their head to life.

Remember, computers are just another tool like pencils and markers. If you want to be a car designer, practice your freehand car drawing skills and you will not only produce more concepts but better designs as well.

5 Cars With Weird Designs

Friday, May 18, 2012 0 comments
There are some cars that can take your breath away with their overwhelming looks. On the other hand, there exist some cars with designs that are very mundane and ordinary, while some car designs can amaze you with their oddities and unusualness. Here is the list of 5 cars with weird designs:

1. Mercedes-Benz Count Trossi SSK

Luxury car maker Mercedes-Benz has named this "Count Trossi" SSK after the "aristocratic" Italian race-car driver Count Carlo Felice Trossi. This car actually has a very stylish set of wheels, despite having 'weird car design'. This car had been extremely successful in the Le Mans, Monaco, and the Mille Miglia.

There are only four original models of the Count Trossi SSK in the world and each is a 'holy grail' among car collectors. Recently one model from 1929 sold for US$7.4 million!

2. Peugeot Honey-B

The Peugeot Honey-B like its namesake looks pretty much like a big honey bee on wheels! It seems like a Peugeot car designer must have got stung by a honeybee one day and he decided to immortalize his 'honeybee experience' and came up with this strange car.

Like bees, it is aerodynamic, but unlike bees, it is a Sports Utility Vehicle (SUV) powered by hydrogen fuel cells. This Honey-B boasts of seats with techno-cool hydraulic arms that help various preset adjustments which means they retract automatically to your preferred position once you're seated!

3. Hondo Puyo

The Honda Puyo can be termed as the "Weird-great Puyo". The little information we found on this 'weirdo' car tells us that this is a concept car which runs on hydrogen fuel. Unlike the fuel-cell powered Honda FCX, the Puyo prides on "no sharp edges" and is covered in soft silicone so that it can absorb light collisions. If you are planning to ride this, you have to use a joystick instead of a steering wheel.

4. Nissan Moon Buggy

Fueled by imagination, designer Robert Hoffmann drew up this Nissan Moon Buggy concept for an auto magazine. This weird car is very unlikely to go into production. This strange Nissan Moon Buggy has been inspired by the Lunar Modules.

The car has oversize rear wheels that are supposed to provide more efficiency in maneuverability. Not only that, when it reaches high speeds, Ailerons are deployed for increased aerodynamics, Ailerons are commonly found on fixed-wing aircraft!

To be honest, the car looks like a cross between an alien and an iPod.

5. Nissan Pivo 2

Who says no car designers design cars for gals? The Nissan Pivo 2 is just not a 'girlie-girlie' car concept but a very urbane one in that! It is powered by advanced compact lithium-ion batteries and features a unique rotating cabin, which means no reverse gear is required! The four wheels are powered by electric engine and can turn through 90 degrees to allow the Pivo 2 to drive sideways as well as forward. The Pivo 2 looks as if it has come from the Pixar Studio!

Why The Craze About Car Design

Sunday, May 13, 2012 1 comments
Have you ever wondered why there is new car design coming out in the market every day? Have you ever stopped and asked yourself this question? Many car manufacturers are spending huge amount of money and time to come up with new designs. While it is a fact that car design is an important part and parcel of car manufacturing, the same do seem to apply very much when it comes to making purchasing decision. Exterior car design has played a part, to some extent, in aiding purchasing decision of the consumer for some time now. Until very recently car buyers have not been keen in the interior design of car. Much of the decision to buy a car has been based on certain performance metrics such as quality and reliability, vehicle appeal, service satisfaction, and ownership costs.

In a survey conducted by JD Power, an American firm which conducts comprehensive annual surveys of car owners to see who is happy, and who is not, with their new car, it was found that "the way in which technology is integrated into new car design, especially interior features and controls, is now considered to be as important to car buyers as defects and malfunctions". Additionally Joe Ivers of JD Power says that "New vehicles today are often packed with new technologies that unfortunately can be complicated and frustrating for the average consumer when their integration is not well executed. This could explain why many car buyers have not been keen in the internal design of the car as opposed to external design.

In 2004 it was found that more and more Americans are paying attention on how their cars are designed. The way a car looks has become very important to car owners. The saying that "you are what you drive" has become more important than ever. Car designers have become celebrities overnight depending on how their design is performing in the market. The craze in car design has become intense such that car manufacturers have been rushing to link up supermodels and celebrities in an effort to up their sales

Newest Volvo Car Designers from Taiwan

Thursday, May 10, 2012 2 comments
Volvo cars are making a big splash in China's car market. The Volvo Car Corporation of Sweden sent out some major designers like Steve Harper to Taiwan to enlist some of the country's local car-designers. The Ford Group decided to recruit some Taiwanese car designers for the Great China Car Market.

The recruited car designers from Taiwan will be allowed to design new car models for its Sweden designer center. Volvo has made this plan specifically for the Great China Car Market. New car designs will be made by these Taiwanese designers for the distinctive and oriental taste of the targeted consumers.

500,000 to 700,000 Volvo cars are expected to be sold out internationally this year. This includes around 50,000 units for the Asian market which includes Taiwan, Japan, mainland China and other Southeast Asian nations. Since the demand for luxury cars are rapidly rising, car makers from the Volvo Car Corporation are aiming to sell 50,000 to 80,000 units of Volvo cars in Asia in 2007.

Apart from that, Volvo is continuously deploying its manufacturing, product design and parts procurements including its Volvo C70 auto parts in Asia. Also, as a component of Ford's global part procurement system, they have the responsibility of lowering the production cost.

According to Volvo Car Taiwan officials, Volvo is number three among the country's imported car brands. Still, Mercedes-Benz and BMW tops the chart. However, they are adding more efforts to meet the consumer's taste in Great China. This is one of the reasons why Volvo is employing talented car designers from Taiwan to develop new car models for the specific market.

Steve Harper has been visiting Taiwan several times. According to the officials, Harper was extremely impressed with the designing performances of Taiwan's local designers. These designers are from Ford Lio Ho of Motor Co.'s design center. Volvo have appropriated NT$10 million or US$305,810, to continuously hold a series of car designing seminars with the Taiwan Design Center. This is a proof that Asian talents are becoming more globally competitive in terms of car designing.

Soon, these designs will be made available in the market. Finally, Volvo car designs will be more preferable for Asians