Monday, April 14, 2014

First car wash and wax of the season

Bodywork Wash & WaxRiccardo YELLOW Detailing Clay Original  (8oz)Riccardo Premium Clay Lubricant

We had our first weekend with temps above 0 degrees so of course it is time to start the car washing season!  It was actually close to ten degrees so we were just at the temp where I could use my new Menzerna Power Lock sealant ($44) and my new yellow clay bars from Riccardo ($22).  The Menzerna is a 32 oz bottle so while it was a bit costly it will probably do me about 10 uses and the Riccardo clay came with three decent sized bars.

Step one was to wash the car using my Autoglym Was & Wax.  A little bit of this goes a long way, it's not too sudsy but it gets the job done.  I also had the chance to try out my new Chamois which I bought at Costco.  I found it awkward to use, you had to first get it wet and wring it out before use but then I found it difficult to pick up the water off the car like I would have liked, maybe it just needs to be broken in.

Either way I washed and dried the car, although I left some dampness behind since it would help with the clay barring.   Next step was to clay bar my vehicle to get rid of all the nasty bits and pieces that embed themselves in the paint over the winter.  I used my Riccardo clay bar lubricant with the clay bar and it took about 1/2 hour to do the entire car.  If you have never used a clay bar before you just spray one panel at a time with the lubricant and rub the clay bar over the surface until it moves smoothly without any resistance whatsoever.  If you hear any scraping noise (you have to listen very closely) just keep sliding it over the surface until the sound dissipates.  Once you do a section use a microfibre towel to wipe off any excess lubricant.

If you have clay barred properly, the paint should feel as smooth as glass.  However, especially if you have a light colour vehicle you may see some yellow spots that look like rust in the paint.  If you have a white vehicle you will definitely see some of these, it's harder to see on dark colour vehicles.  This is not body rust, it is small bits of iron from brake dust and other items that embed themselves in the clear coat and then rust, and these need to be removed.  I've found that a good Meguiar's Ultimate Compound spot treatment is the best way to remove these.  I tried a spray called Trix iron remover and it worked well but it smelled horrible and needed a lot of care when being used.  The compound requires more elbow grease but it works great without the smell or health risks of Trix.

At this point you should have smooth paint with no yellow spots and be about 2 hours into the production.  Now there are several options, you can polish, then sealant, and or wax.  I didn't feel like I needed to polish so I went right to my Menzerna Power Lock sealant to protect my smooth defect free paint.  Took about 1/2 hour to apply a thin coat by hand and then let it set a few minutes before buffing off with  a microfibre cloth.  The bottle says you can reapply a second coat after a few hours but instead I think I will rewash and apply some Meguiar's Ultimate Past Wax on our next nice day..... which will hopefully be tomorrow.  Check out the results so far, I didn't bother shining up the winter tires since they will be coming off this week:









Sunday, April 13, 2014

Salt Eraser - Does it work??


Costco had two cans of Salt Eraser on sale for $10 so I figured I would give it a shot.  With my new Weather-Tech floor mats, there wasn't a lot of salt on the carpets this year except where they filled up with water and then passengers sloshed the water up over the sides.  On the front mats this would cause a salt ring at the top of the mats but in back it just ran under the seat in front, here is a before picture:


You can see where the mat ended and the overflow went under the passenger seat.  There was a fair bit of salt build up.  The instructions said for hard salt to put some warm water on it first, which I did.  I didn't put a whole lot of effort into loosening the stain since I figured that was why I bought the eraser in the first place.  So I gave it a good spray and here is the result after two applications:


You can see it worked really well on the light salt stains but there was still some residual from the larger ones.  I did a few spots in front and back and used up about 1/2 the can, so it doesn't go very far, like I said I never had much salt in the car due to my super winter mats.

It was easy to use but I don't think it is worth buying, I could have brought out the mini steam cleaner and did a better job with just a little more effort.  I will use my two tins and won't be buying it again.

Thanks

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

2014 Jeep Wrangler Sport - Part 1




I've been out looking around thinking we need another vehicle for my oldest son.  I was considering a few options, of course as mentioned in previous posts I have been testing out the Mercedes C Series and Cadillac ATS which I liked very much as a vehicle for myself.

As fate would have it I heard on the radio that Jeep had $3,500 off Wranglers, I thought there would be a catch so I cheeked it out.  Sure enough online there is $3,500 off so it caught my interest a bit.  I emailed the Jeep salesperson I knew (I know salespeople at every dealership in town now) and they actually had a deal on where you could get a better deal today than advertised. So he was offering $4,500 off even a base model jeep.

I quickly went to the online inventory and they had a very basic black Jeep sport automatic for $25,635 + tax and dealer charges like admin fees.  I was liking the idea of a Jeep for about $25,000 since they hold their value so well I could probably buy it and sell it tomorrow for about the same amount.

My next step was to contact my Jeep salesperson and drop by for a visit.  Myself and oldest son dropped in this afternoon..... A $500 deposit later I am almost the proud owner of  new Jeep...

Details to follow!

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Mercedes - Test Drives




I had some time to kill on a Saturday so I stopped by Mercedes for a test drive, which ended up as two test drives.  I took out a 2011 c300, it is really nice to drive but I was hoping for a bit more get up and go.  Not that it was slow or anything but maybe after testing the 3.6 L ATS a couple of weeks ago most cars will be a bit slower in comparison.  The car is nice on the inside, the info screen is a bit strange, more like a digital radio screen than info screen but it covers up if you don't want to use it.  One especially interesting option was headlight washers that activate every 5 times you wash your wind-shield.  I never pushed on price because I am not at the commitment stage yet.  They have good deals on certified used at 1.9% financing for 5 years and they make your first three payments for you.

After taking out the C300 I noticed a nice red CLA 4-matic on the lot. (Pictured above)  Since I was there and had some time to kill I took the CLA out for a spin over the same route as the C300.  Driving the red CLA I got a lot of looks from other drivers, this thing really stands out.  The 4-matics have nice flared rear fenders and honeycomb rear grill.  Unfortunately I din't enjoy driving it as much as the C300.  It wasn't bad to drive it just didn't feel as planted as the C series.  I am also not a fan of the info screen sitting on the dash although it did seem more useful than the screen in the C300.  There was also some noticeable lag but once it got going it had plenty of power.  

The CLA looks really stand out but I'm torn on the styling whereas the C series is more conservative and classic.  It also drives better in my opinion.  Right now the new C has $3,000 off and 0.9% financing as their starting point and obviously they could do better.  The MB dealership here is much smaller than the BMW, they only have 4 C series on the lot for instance, whereas there are about 20 3/4 series on the bmw lot at any one time.  The lack of selection is a bit of a downside, and with the new C coming out in the summer they probably won't be getting many more 2014's in.

Anyway something else to think about......I really don't need a new car but it doesn't hurt to look!

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Cadillac ATS Test Drive

Opulent Blue Metallic

Took a trip to my local Cadillac dealer last week to try out an ATS.  I had my eye on a black 2.0T performance edition but they couldn't seem to locate it.  The guy was looking everywhere and had the key in his hand when I got there but it seemed to be on the missing list.  I was there earlier in the week looking myself and they had 6 ATSs on the lot but I couldn't see the black performance anywhere.  

So he had the 3.6 L Luxury ready for me.  Maybe it was the bait and switch but I couldn't be sure, either way the 321 HP V6 sounded good to me.  He assumed I would want him to come along but I told him I'd rather go myself so eventually he just let me go.  The salesguy was a younger guy and he said he had fun "burning" the caddy earlier and when I started it up the music was blaring.  

The leather seats were nice, and it was well appointed.  Right away I noticed the lack of buttons on the dash, it was all touch.  I tried to adjust the radio volume and it was more difficult than I would like, one volume knob would have gone a long way.  There was not one single knob on the entire dash.  I wasn't too concerned however because I only had about 20 minutes and I wanted to take this baby for a good run.  

I headed straight for the highway and this 3.6 beauty can put out.... there is about a 1/10 of a second it thinks about it and then kicks in big time, major pick up and acceleration.  It handles really tight and braking is great.  The ride is a bit harsh but maybe that is normal for a stiff handling car.  I switched between driving modes but they were all a bit rough.  Unfortunately at this time of year NL roads are full of potholes and bumps, I'm sure with a normal road it wouldn't be quite so bumpy.

The car handled wonderfully and had tons of power.  If I'm looking to lease I can get into this for less than $700 / month while a similar Mercedes is about $900 and BMW $1,000.  

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Jayco Dealership Experience

I gathered some interesting primary research on the Jayco Jay Flight 267bhs today.  These trailer guys are more old school than the local Lincoln dealership, but after about 100 questions I go all the answers I needed price-wise.

As a starting point, the dealer website clearly has 2 Jay Flight Swift 267bhs models for 23,999, one of which is here:http://www.livelifeoutdoors.com/products.php?id=9177

But when I went in to get some pricing they told me it was $25,999.  I mentioned the website price and they just said they have problems with their website.  I was turned off right from the start but soldiered on.  I took a look at the unit, I mean it has everything we need with an electric awning and front jack which is nice.  Right away he went to the $105 bi-weekly payment, which is over 20 years.

My next steps were to reverse engineer that payment since each dollar on 20 years of bi-weekly payments is about $500.  Using my handy dandy excel spreadsheet and their 5% rate I come up with a price before tax of about $30,500.... which is $4,500 more than the already jacked up $26,000 selling price.  Just as another note, if you amortize a camper over 20 years you pay about $20,000 in interest at 5%.  More than likely we would keep it a few years and unload it but would have next to none of the principle balance paid off in a few years with a 20 year loan.

Anyway I had to figure out what made up that $4,500... and here it is.... extended warranty up to 7 years ($2,000), pdi ($600), bank fees ($300), sway bars ($300).... and that was it, so I am still $1,300 short even with all that foolishness added in.  Then it hit me, they were "including" a $1,000 gas card, actually I was probably just pre paying for $1,000 gas.  

So obviously this won't work for me, I don't mind paying for what I like but I'm not going to pay more than I should for what I like.  I am going to go back to the dealer but I am getting a sour taste already.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Random Travel Trailer Findings....

So we have been looking at travel trailer info for a few weeks now, as usual I am spending wayyyy to much time online researching the topic, here are a few initial findings:

There are tons of travel trailer brands but if you beat your way through it all you will find most of them sell basically the same things at a few different trim levels.

Most travel trailers companies are owned by two major corporations which may be why the lineups are so confusing.  They want to keep them all independent but the similarities are hard to ignore. Many of the websites are like a copy and paste of one another.

It is difficult in many instances to find online prices.  For most you have to email to get pricing.  For local dealerships like say.... Jayco.... at Coastal Outdoors they won't even give you a price list, you have to ask for prices individually.

Which leads me to my next finding... these guys are stuck in 1975 with respect to meeting customer demands.  It could be because they are used to dealing with customers who don't use the internet... no that can't be it..... customers who don't realize they can find pricing for exact models online..... no that can't be it..... customers who don't care about pricing..... no that can't be it.   I can't figure it out.

These things are not meant to last long.  Most come with one year warranties and some like Jayco come with two but they are not super durable.  More to the point most are dragged around offroad to parks with kids running wild and the parents running wilder......  so they take abuse.


Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Blizzak WS-70 One Year Later - Blowout

Last year I bought myself a set of Bridgestone Blizzak WS-70's, detailed here: New Tires.

Friday I had the misfortune of hitting a giant pothole and totally destroying my drivers side front tire.  I knew Costco had roadhazard warranty on their tires so I figured I would bring it in to see what they could do for me.  When I saw the tire I couldn't believe how much the tread was worn on it, it was basically worn out.  I'd say I got less than 20,000 km out of the tire and it had been rotated from the previous winter.  I did put them on a little early in October but still the wear was really severe for a winter and a half.  The other front was also quite worn but the rear tires seemed have a good amount of tread remaining.

I showed up at Costco and the guy told me with only 4/32 left I could only get about a 30% discount towards the new tire but they also provided free installation and balancing.  The tires new were $229.  Although I was disappointed with the wear on the tires the discount made it worth my while to get two new Blizzaks.  I was going to switch to Michelin X-Ice but they didn't have any available.  I'm not sure if I will be keeping the Optima much more than another year so with two new winter tires I should be good through next winter.

Without any discount the two new tires would be about $560 but they gave me almost $80 off per tire (even though I had only ruined one tire) and free installation and balancing.  The total came to just under $340 which I thought was pretty good.  It will take two weeks for them to get in so I am praying for minimal snow between now and then.  On front I have one mostly worn and one decent winter tire with an all season and one decent winter tire on back.... not exactly an optimal tire set up but it beats driving around on a dummy tire.




Tuesday, January 21, 2014

We get a new vehicle - The Conclusion!

Right after we finished up at Ford dealership #1 I called Ford dealership #2.  I told them I was looking for an F-150 FX4 and noticed they had a few in their online inventory.  I could also see they had an Ecoboost model available with a sunroof.  They had one shortbox model but when I asked about it they told me it was sold.

I told the guy outright that we would be buying something shortly so he should give me his best price, I wouldn't be haggling back and forth and already had a good deal in place from Ford dealership #1.  He asked me what price they quoted me and I gave him a figure very close to that, he said he would get back to me shortly and was confident he could do better.  Sure enough an hour or so later an email showed up and he beat the other price by exactly $1,000.  The model he quoted us on was white with a sunroof and Ecoboost but no naviation or tailgate step which the other one had.  This one was around $1,000 more than the one from dealership #1 but it has the better engine choice, sunroof and the color my better half liked the best.

Everything was looking up, we had a better price on a better vehicle, now all we had left was the dreaded trade in.  The salesperson had the used car manager take a look at the Mazda.... meanwhile he espoused the virtues of maintenance plans and rim warranties.... all of which we politely declined.... even after he explained how they were selling it at cost! I made a point of asking how much an oil change was and when they were required at the service desk beforehand.  I figured we would pay $240 for four oil changes while the maintenance package was $495 for two years, so I'm not sure how they calculate cost.

About ten minutes later the salesguy came back, I could tell he was going to deliver bad news..... but it was worse than I thought.  They were offering $5,500 for the Mazda.  Now lets put this in perspective, if you go to Canadian Black Book it gives you an estimated trade value ranging from 10,500 to 12,000.  There was about $1,000 worth of damage on the vehicle so we were expecting something around $9,000 to $10,000.  Ford dealership #1 had offered $8,600, which was co-incidentally just enough to pay off the vehicle.  I was not happy.

At this point my face must have turned an angry shade or purple, salesguy knew he had lost me.  There was a minute of uncomfortable silence.... then he said something like, where does that leave us.  I told him that leaves us buying the F-150 at dealership #1 and there was no way I was buying their truck with such a ridiculous trade offer.  He apologised for the offer and told us he could get us a better deal if he called around to some wholesalers in town.  In retrospect I think this was all a sales ploy on their part.  Before the lowball offer I wouldn't tell him what dealership #1 had offered but I was only too happy to share (with some minor exaggeration) once I was enraged.   He could blame the evil used car manager and make it seem much better if he came back with a better offer.

In any event we left the dealership telling the salesguy to call us if he could significantly improve the trade offer.  And what do you know...... one hour or so later my phone rang, and guess what his new trade offer was.... $9,000.  The same amount I told him dealership #1 had offered.  Since I had been put in such a foul mood I told him we would think about it but to see if he could do any better.  An hour later my phone rang again, he was offering $9,500.... a full $4,000 more than the original offer.   We thought this was fair all things considered.  Then he asked me for a down payment of $500 to hold the vehicle, I told him I wasn't interested because you never know what might happen and I just don't trust car salespeople in general.  He said it was their policy, again I told him he wasn't getting it.  He said he would go talk to the manager.  Then he called back and said if we came in early the next day it wouldn't be required, I told him that would be fine.

The next day we went in signed all the required paperwork, declined all extras (I warned them up front not to try to sell us any of it) and drove away in our beautiful new F-150 FX4 with luxury package and moonroof for right around $400 bi-weekly.  The MSRP on this baby was over $60k with tax so we got a LOT of truck for the money.  The finance person was very nice, even sharing stories of also declining extras on his wife's new car (which was a Kia he said, I found it ironic).

Next post will detail the new ride and all of its features.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

We get a new vehicle Part 4 - Ford F-150




We were never really Ford people, I once had a Focus which was a fine little car but nothing special.  My better half liked the look of the F150 FX4 however so I figured I would check them out.  If you go to the website and spec one out with a luxury package which adds several nice things such as heated and cooled seats it comes out somewhere close to $55,000 plus tax before rebates.

Luckily they were offering $9,250 in rebates at 3.49% financing over five years.  All in this vehicle was about $1,000 per month... a bit out of our price range.  But the good thing about dealing with Ford is that they always offer additional discounts due at least in part due to the fact that there are two dealerships within one KM of each other on the same street.  You can easily play one off against the other.

So I headed off to dealership #1, from the online inventory I could see they had a nice black FX4 in stock with the luxury package but no sunroof.  Also, it had the 5L engine instead of the 3.5 L Ecoboost which is supposed to be better on gas and has a higher towing capacity, I was hoping for the Ecoboost.  I told the salesguy we wanted their absolutely best price because we would be buying something within the week.  I think the sooner you tell them you are buying something the better offer you get, at least at some dealerships, others won't budge.  Around town many dealerships have the advantage of a monopoly so getting any kind of deal at say Subaru or BMW is hopeless.

The MSRP on the vehicle was in the $55,000 range, he came back with an extra $4,784 off the vehicle over and above the $9,250 in discounts already being offered plus we were eligible for a $1,000 Costco discount bringing it down to $45,000 on the road, as they like to say, after tax.  All in all we were now very interested in this vehicle, and the salesperson was very nice which always helps.

So we told him we were interested but would be checking at the other dealership down the street to make sure they didn't have a better offer on the same vehicle.  He assured us they would not beat the price and asked us not to let them know what price we were getting to see if they would match it without knowing.  Of course I would be letting the other guys know exactly what the offer was from dealership #1 in hopes they would be very anxious to beat it.

In the next post comes the conclusion.....