Sunday, December 29, 2013

Buying a second (actually third) car.

At some point over the next year we will probably need another car.  My oldest son needs daily transportation back and forth to school about 50 km away and my second son is just over a year away from getting his drivers permit.

I was toying with the idea of getting myself a new car next year but I want to move up to a compact luxury and to get one with the same options as my Optima gets a bit pricey, even for leasing as mentioned in my previous post, so I think I will put that plan on hold for maybe two or three years (subject to change as usual).

There are two basically three options to choose from:

1) Buy a used beater and hope they get some good use out of it
2) Buy a gently used decent car
3) Buy a new car

I am thinking a compact sedan would be best, the sub-compacts almost seem too small and there are a lot more compact sedans to choose from, especially used.  There is also not a big price difference between the two but you can actually fit full sized humans in the back of most compacts, not so much with the sub-compacts.

Obviously the first stop is Kijiji to see what is out there in the used car market.  There are usually about 1,000 sedan type cars for sale at any given time.  The most abundant being in order Chevy, Toyota, Hyundai, Pontiac, and Honda.  So here are a few problems with that list..... I would never buy a used Chevy for starters, you just don't hear anything good about them.  Hyundai models before the restyling in 2011 are just plain ugly, the Accent hatch is not too bad but not great either.  Pontiac.... well since they no longer exist I would stay away from them as well.  Toyota only has the Corolla, Matrix or Yaris in smaller cars.  The Corolla will last forever, but it's just soooooo boring looking.  There is no way I can have a pink or beige Corolla parked in my driveway.  Next on the list is Honda, you really can't go wrong with a Civic, the problem is that used Civics are fairly expensive.

Then you have the Kia, Mazda and Fords.  Like the previous generation Hyundai, the Kia's just look so dated, although the Rio5 does not look too bad and can be had fairly cheaply.  The Mazda 3 makes for a good used car, the only problem there being we already own one and I can't have two of the same car.  As for Ford's, I wouldn't buy a used one.

If you look at the pricing of the used 2010 Civics, they are on dealer lots from about $12,000 - $14,000 with 40,000 km and up.  A 2013 Civic LX goes for $21,000 including delivery and pdi, so for about $8,000 you get a three year newer car with full warranty, no possible problems from previous owners, all the latest car gadgets and lower interest rates.

When buying used most times the rates are similar to bank rates, around 6% over 5 years.  Most new car rates now range from 0% (like my optima) to 3%.  Right now the 5 and 7 year rates on a 2013 Civic is 1.99%. Also, if you are so inclined you can get longer term loans on a new car to bring down the monthly payment.  The longer term and lower rates help bridge the gap between new and used.

There are a lot of things to consider and while conventional wisdom is that its always better to buy used since a car loses 15% - 20% of it's value once it leaves the lot, try to buy a one day old car for 20% less than a new one........  There is a lot of upside to buying new.

To be continued..... and I'm sure I'll change my mind 100 times by the time we get something.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Luxury Car Leasing

Doing my regular car price scanning I noticed something that I hadn't seen in a while.  Leasing rates for luxury cars seem to be coming down, especially for those with new models on the horizon.  Leasing fell out of fashion for a couple of years but it seems to be making a comeback in a big way.  I have leased several cars in the past and never had any trouble, the Pilot was my only lease where I was charged lease end costs.  I had two Saturns and a Focus with no return trouble whatsoever.

BMW are currently offering 0.9% 3 and 4 year lease rates on any remaining 2013 3 Series.  Of course the residuals have gone down on these so the payment has not gone down that much overall.  Even new 3 Series rates are not bad at 3.9%.  Check out my post on leasing basics here:

Mercedes are offering 2.9% lease rates on C Series, there is a totally new C Series coming in the spring so they have to make sure they get rid of all older models before the new ones appear.  Audi are also offering 2.9% rates on A4 Komforts and 3.9% on the other A4 models.

The lower rates combined with traditionally solid residuals mean you can really save on the monthly payments compared to purchasing compact luxury sedans.  The 3 year residuals are normally in the 58% - 60% range with four year residuals around 50%.  Of course leasing is not for everyone, if you like holding on to cars for a long time it won't work but if you're like me and switch cars every three or so years it can work out well.

I'll be doing a few follow up posts to provide more detail on the deals above.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Mercedes CLA - Part 2

Above you see two cars, one the left a 2014 Mercedes CLA and on the right a 2014 Mercedes C Class.  You will notice how they look nothing alike, and the one on the right costs about $6,000 more than the one on the left...... hmmmm...... something does not seem right about that.

Here's the thing though, in order to keep moving the current C Class they are offering extra content and lower rates than the CLA.  Standard on the C Class now for 2014 you get (avantgarde edition they call it) heated seats, panoramic sunroof, AMG styling, sport package and suspension and a few other goodies.  The CLA offers a similar package for $2,800, reducing the price gap to about $3,000.

The other benefit the C Class currently has is the finance rate.  The 5 year rate for the CLA is currently 2.9% while the C is 0.9%, the six year rates are 3.4% and 1.4% respectively.  This amounts to about $40 a month or $2,500 to $3,000 over the life of the vehicle.  That basically takes care of the initial apparent price gap.

So if these cars cost about the same for similar content which one is the better buy?  I have looked at as many online reviews as I can find and here is what I can see as the main benefits to going with the CLA:

Fuel economy - 6.6 l/100 km to 8.1 l/100km
Horsepower - 208 to 201
Torque - 258 to 229
0-100 time - 6.7 secs to 7.2 secs
Styling - Just look at the pictures, if you are over 50 you may like the on the right more, but Mercedes is not looking for you to buy a CLA.
Price - If you buy a base model it is less expensive but really all things considered it is about the same as a similarly equipped C-250.

Now from what I have gathered here is why you would prefer the C-250:

Leg room - rear seat leg room is tight on the CLA, if you care about that... and that's it.

If you bump up to a C-300 the performance numbers are comparable to the CLA but that will be an extra $2,500, although you get AWD, which if added to the CLA as an option brings you very close to the monthly payment of a C-300.  The C-300 offers 248 HP and 251 lb/ft torque but cuts into fuel economy with 9.1 l/100km due mainly to added weight and more thirsty engine.  There is no way I would go for the C-250, the C-300 would be the way to go for an extra $2,500 for more power and AWD.  But still I think the CLA would be the car of choice for me.

The thing to keep in mind here though is that the C-Series will be getting a complete overhaul next year.  It will be bigger, faster, and better equipped to be sure.  The CLA is the darling now but who knows what next year will bring......

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Mercedes CLA - Part 1

Mercedes has a new vehicle in their line-up, the CLA.  This is Mercedes' attempt to draw in buyers like me and you..... starting at 33,900 it seems like luxury car-dom is within our grasp.  This car is only about $6,000 more than my Optima before delivery and tax.  So I mean who wouldn't pay $6,000 more to get a Mercedes over and Optima???

Well.... here's what you don't get on the base CLA, heated front seats, heated rear seats, cooled seats, automatic climate control, panoramic sunroof, or back up camera.  That will be an extra $2,800 + tax or about $3,200 in total.  So now we are at about $9,000 more than my Optima.  But at least you get a rear wheel drive set up right, no not right, the new CLA is front wheel drive.  It does out hp the Optima 208 to 200 and really out  classes the Optima with 258 lb/ft compared to about 186.  The CLA also gets super gas mileage, with a stated average 6.6 L/100km.  

There are several good sites out there with good reviews on the new CLA however, the more you look into it I think the biggest competition comes from within.... To be continued.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013


Ok some cars don't need my or anyone's help to promote them.... Porsche is one of them.  The 911 is now in it's 50th year and is widely known as one of the number one luxury car brands in the world.  They build race cars and are the most successful brand in Motorsport with over 28,000 victories.  The thing that caught my eye though was the cool website configurator they have.

If you go to their website and click on the start web special you can configure your Porsche and then watch it drive away......

The 911 is two things... fast and expensive.  Theoretically you can get one for just under $100,000 before tax and extras but I doubt many dealers sell a base Porsche, and the options add up quick on one of these babies.  The funny thing is that destination is only $1100 which is less than any domestic vehicle and I would think it costs wayyyyyyyyy more to ship a 911 than say a Honda Civic.  A base 911 has 350 hp with a 911 Turbo S packing a walloping 560 hp, tipping the scale at just over $200,000 (without extras).

Being a person of modest means I could never afford one of these BUT I was noticing the Porsche Cayman starting at just under $60,000.  This is one NICE looking car.  I mean my Optima is nice looking but this is super nice.  Autotrader has 67 used ones for sale right now........ I would imagine an oil change or a broken anything would be quite costly though......

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Penny Kia Service Visit - End Result

For the background go to:  Disappointing Penny Kia Service Visit

So the next day after I send my email off to the Penny Kia sales manager.  I happened to be home lunch time when he called.  He couldn't apologise enough for what happened and offered me a free oil change next time, just let him know when I was coming in.  He was adamant that it wouldn't happen again and he spoke to the service manager about the incident.  This works out even better for me because my next service visit is the 2 year maintenance which costs almost $300.  I didn't mention that at the time but I will be emailing him to let him know when I am coming in February!

So if you think you received bad service the best thing to do is let someone know about it, most times they will want to make it right.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Penny Kia Service Visit

Last Wednesday I made an appointment for my 40,000 km service visit.  When I called on the previous Monday they tried to sell me a service #2 which was an oil change plus brake inspection which was $40 more than a regular oil change.  Not having any brake issues and knowing I would be sufficiently gauged for my 2 year check up in February I passed on the #2 and went for the #1 which is what the owners manual says I would need at this point.

When I called in I pointed out that my passenger side door sill light was not working, and that I had a problem with the drivers side door sill earlier this year which resulted in total car failure due to corroded wires under the door sill.  The service person listened intently, then I asked him if I could wait for my car and he said yes it should be 45 minutes to one hour maximum.  I asked since I had to have the door issue looked at would it take any longer than that and he assured me it would not.

So I showed up Wednesday morning and my service visit could not have gone any worse, I could describe it all but I think the email I sent to the service manager that night says it all, here it is verbatim.  See if you can figure out how it all ends before I post about how it turned out later this week:

I wanted to send you an email about my service visit today since I will probably getting a survey to fill out and it won't be entirely positive.  

On Monday I called in to set up a service appointment, explaining that I would be there around 8:30 and that I was having trouble with my passenger side sill plate not lighting up.  I told the guy that I had this problem before on the drivers side and it was caused by corrosion of the sill plate.  They ended up replacing the sill plate AFTER my car had broken down, I had it towed, the tow truck damaged my vehicle which was never covered.   I also explained that I would like to wait for my vehicle since I have to pick up kids at lunch time and whatnot.  After explaining my light problem I asked how long it would take to have the vehicle serviced and I was told 45 minutes to one hour.  I asked again if the problem would cause extra delay and there was no indication that it would.  Since I was told 45 minutes to one hour that is what I thought it would take.  The last time I was in it did only take about 45 minutes and I was very pleased with the service.

When I arrived the service person asked me what number I could be reached at but I explained that I needed it wait for my vehicle, and had made that clear when I set my appointment.  Again I told him that I had the sill plate problem before and that they had to replace it due to corrosion.   He told me it may be the bulb and that I would have to pay for a replacement bulb, I asked him if he was serious and he said yes.  Again I repeated that the problem before came from corrosion of the sill plate.  

I was killing time on the computers and enjoying a few timbits and coffee and after 1/2 hour noticed my vehicle still hadn't gone in for service.  I was sitting next to a nice lady in the lounge area who told me that two service technicians had called in sick today and that yesterday she showed up and the computer system was down so she had to go home and come back again today.  That poor lady was there almost as long as I was today and that was after coming yesterday and having to return.  If I had been told you guys were backed up from yesterday or short staffed I probably would have made a new appointment and saved myself 2 hours away from work.

So I waited and waited a bit more and then at about 10:20 the service person came over and I figured he would tell me my car was ready but said there was carbon build up in my intake and they were recommending I fix that and it would cost $65.... after I had waited almost 2 hours for an oil change and diagnosis of a minor problem.  It was difficult for me  not to act irritated but I politely declined the service since I had to get back to work.  Again I'm sure you understand my position and after waiting almost 2 hours the last thing I wanted to hear was that they wanted me to spend another $70.

When you saw me at about 10:30 I was totally at my wits end, I was there about 2 hours at that point, expecting to be 45 minutes to an hour and no one explained the delay to me.  When I finally finished up at 10:45 the service person told me a lot of the delay was diagnosing the sill plate problem.  This would in some cases be a reasonable explanation but I had told him 2 or 3 times about the problem I had with the drivers side sill plate earlier this year leading to its replacement, it rusted, the wires corroded, my car stopped working, I had it towed, the tow truck damaged it, etc etc....  It left a bad taste in my mouth.  Sure enough same issue with the passenger side, they have to order me in a new plate.  As an additional note, I don't find it comforting that after one winter I have had to replace both of these, one instance leading to total car failure and damage due to a tow truck.  I love my car but if this continues I will be unloading it before the warranty expires.

All in all this was not a good service experience.  As I said to both yourself and the service person, next time I need just an oil change I will be going to Jiffy Lube.  I understand the car business and I know you count on after sales service but I can't afford to give up over 2 hours to a simple oil change and diagnosis of a reoccurring problem.  I really think the service person was not listening to me at all and in the end I was correct in my diagnosis of the problem which I explained to him multiple times.   That is what I found most irritating, he just didn't listen to me.

On the upside, I bought some Weathertech mats today and found the parts person very helpful and especially nice to deal with today, the mats are great.  He would get 10 out of 10.

I have to say in my 20+ years of owning cars you are probably the best person I have ever dealt with and I think my Optima is a wonderful car, but today I was very disappointed in the service provided and will be reflecting this in the Kia survey I will be receiving.   I would be inclined to go elsewhere for any future simple oil changes but will may come in for more in depth servicing.  

As a family man and a busy person I hope you see the point here

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Meguiar's Ultimate Paste Wax - Excellent Product

Ultimate Paste WaxWhen I wrote my last blog post Rebadging I mentioned there was another story in the pictures.... it was my beautiful new wax job using Meguiar's Ultimate Paste Wax.  I bought this stuff when Crappy Tire had a sale for $9 off and the total cost was $25.99, so without the discount this stuff was $35, not a cheap wax by any means.

It comes with a sponge applicator and microfibre cloth for wax removal and buffing.  When I opened it up the first thing I noticed was the enticing aroma.... man this stuff smells good!  It really gives you the impression it is made from some good natural wax but it is actually a pure synthetic polymer so they must just add some nice coconut smell to the mix.

I read a lot of reviews about this product, all of them raving.  After a good car washing, I opened it up, applied some to the applicator pad and off I went.  This is really easy to apply and unlike the liquid wax I normally use, it is easier to see areas you have already covered.  I had my entire car done in about 20 minutes, being careful not to get any on the black plastic trim.  There are also stern warnings about keeping it off your skin so I used a pair of gloves which also made it easier to hold on to the relatively small applicator pad.

It only took a couple minutes for the wax to dry to a haze so I used the included microfibre towel to remove the wax fairly easily.  There were no signs of streaking at all left behind, which can sometimes happen with the liquid wax.

Overall I'd say this is a great product, from looking at the amount of wax I used I am estimating I can do about 10 cars with the entire container.  Highly recommended!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Kia Optima - Re-Badging Complete!

I realized after I put up my last post that I had previously posted about ordering the Kia re-badge kit so some of it was redundant.  I don't have an editor (or bother to reread my own posts) so things like that happen from time to time.  Anyway today was a nice day so being the impatient type off I went to apply my new re-badge kit.

The first thing I realized was that the on-line instructions for removing the existing Kia badges was HORRIBLY INACCURATE.  The ones I saw suggested using dental floss or fishing line to remove the badges.... here's the problem.  The original badges have pegs that go into the sheet metal.... YOU CANNOT SLIDE DENTAL FLOSS THROUGH THE PLASTIC PEGS!  After breaking several pieces of fishing line I had to come up with an alternate plan.

The alternate plan involved a hair dryer and a screw driver. I gently lifted the badge and had my helper son apply some heat with the hair dryer, he was actually the one who got the first one lifted off so he deserves the credit for our success. Once we got it pried off it was pretty simple to keep applying heat and remove the entire thing.  The first one left a lot of the double sided tape behind which we had to remove with goo-gone but the back one came off with almost all the double sided tape intact.  I think our success with the second one was due to constant and heavy hair dryer heat application.  Once we had the old ones removed and the area cleaned up applying the new ones was a breeze.

For the wheel covers we simply had to place the new badges over the old ones.  Here is proof of our success, I think the new ones look way better than the old ones.  There is also another story in these pictures but I will get to that in my next post. (And its not the expert removal of my license plate in the second picture using MS Paint)

Monday, October 7, 2013

Kia Optima Re-badge Kit

Kia Optima 3.0 K EmblemsOne of the things I am not really in love with are the Kia emblems on the front and back of my Optima, they are also on the wheels and steering wheel.  I was reading somewhere that you can find replacements that are easy to install, they look like the picture to the left.  After a little internet research sure enough you can buy replacement kits, prices seemed to range from $50 to $80 for a set of 7 (front, back, 4 wheels, steering wheel).

On E-Bay there are lots of places selling the kits but some of them were located overseas which I normally avoid due to it taking forever for items to arrive and possible shipping damage.  I came across a place called the K5 Optima Store and the link to the items can be found here :  There were some good reviews on this company so I figured I would give them a shot.  Sure enough 5 days later the kit showed up in the mail well protected in a bubble envelope.

So next steps are to google some videos about how to apply these babies and I'll let you know how it turns out.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Auto Glym - Bodywork Shampoo Conditioner

Bodywork Shampoo Conditioner

Time for some new car wash product so I figured I would try something new.  I was reading that the Auto Glym line at Canadian Tire was supposed to be good so I bought a bottle at $13 for 1 litre.  It says on the instructions that you only need 2 capfulls to do a car, so from a one litre bottle that equates to something like 30 washes.

So we had a nice weekend this week, the perfect time to try out the new car wash product.  I opened it up, noticed the appealing aroma and dumped about two capfulls into my car wash bucket.  Two capfulls is not a lot of car wash product for a large bucket but it seemed to make a sufficient level of bubbles to wash the car.  The car washing went well, but I noticed two things as I was doing my car wash routine.

1) The dirt came off relatively easily
2) When I rinsed the car the water just ran right off the finish

I hardly had anything to dry after I was finished washing, because the water from rinsing was running off so easily, much better than with my previous car wash products.

The other up side is that this car wash product is Ph balanced so it does not deteriorate any wax or polish from the car.

At this point, I'd have to say this is the best car wash product I have ever used.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

K5 Optima Store - Optima Upgrades

K5 Optima Store

I was looking around for some ideas to spruce up the Optima and I came across the K5 Optima Store.  They sell some cool mods for the Optima like LED lights, re-badge packages and auto-fold mirrors.  I ended up ordering a re-badge package for $70 shipping included and can't wait for it to get here.  I was thinking the Kia guys might wonder what happened when I bring in the car in for service with the word KIA nowhere to be found but since I plan on keeping the car for a while I figured I'd do something to individualize it.  The link to the store is:

The LED fog light and tail light kits look cool as well but would take some effort to install so I will mull it over for a while.  I will post an update on how the re-badge install goes.  This is what the new emblems will look like:

Kia Optima 3.0 K Emblems

Saturday, September 21, 2013

How to remove dried on wax from car trim!

Every now and then no matter how careful you are you may get some wax or polish on your plastic trim around the car.  I tried removing it with cleaner to no avail so I figured the internet would have a solution to this problem.  As usual there is a solution... peanut butter.  If you rub peanut butter on the trim stained with wax it will come right off.  But there had to be more to this solution.... why peanut butter??  As it turns out the solution had nothing to do with peanuts but rather the oil in the peanut butter.  The peanut oil helps lifts the wax off the plastic and the peanuts act as an abrasive to help it get well agitated.  Turns out you can remove the wax with vegetable oil, I just ended up using regular vegetable oil and it did the trick with minimal effort.

So next time you make a slip up with your wax just apply a little veg oil and it will be good as new!

Monday, September 9, 2013

Aluminium Wheel Repaired!

I finally got my wheel back today and it is good as new!  The guys at custom wheels also balanced my wheel for no extra charge which was nice of them.  You can see where the wheel was welded but it feels good and well balanced.  I dropped over to Mr. Lube to get my tire put on and they did it in about 10 minutes for no charge.  The guys at Mr. Lube even commented on how nice the Optima looks.  I came home, washed up the Optima, shined up the tires and it looks as good as new.  

I think there is a lesson in all of this.... while I was at Custom Wheels I was looking through their magazines with hundreds of different rims and I was surprised at the prices compared to my $775 replacement Kia Optima rim.  For $200 - $300 there were some really nice looking rims available.  In the future I would suggest upgrading the rims yourself instead of going with the factory upgrade.  Of course the problem becomes that upgraded rims often come with upgraded everything else in a package deal so it's hard to get some of the good stuff like sunroof, leather etc... without buying the upgraded rims. Also if you are buying a used car, for $1,000 you can really give your car a nice upgrade by ordering some nice wheels.

Overall Custom Wheels does good work and saved me about $600, you just need to wait a couple weeks to get the work done.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013


Always on the lookout for new promotions, this month Hyundai has its Factory Authorized Clearout!  This amounts to different discounts on different cars but the one that caught my eye was $2,000 off an Elantra GT, since this is only about a $20,000 car that is a significant discount.  But as I have said before and will undoubtedly say again, if it seems to good to be true it normally is.

Fortunately I had costed one of these vehicles last month in the Elantra GT, GL trim.  At that time there was a $750 discount but more importantly a 0% interest rate up to 7 years.  As of today the 7 year rate or for that matter five year rate is 2.99% which means you basically pay the same as last month and in some cases $5 or so more per month.  So there actually is no deal unless you have some cash hanging around in which case you will save over last month.

Also worth noting is that there are no changes in Civic deals this month but rates are relatively low at 1.9% over 84 months and over at Mazda they are offering $3,000 off cash purchases on Mazda 3's and 0% up to 84 months.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Used Car "Sale" - Disappointing as Usual

Every now and then you come across what seems like a good car sales event.... usually they turn out to be disappointments.  Actually I have found they always turn out to be disappointments.  One of the larger, if not the largest used car dealership here in St. John's had advertised a "Drive Home Happy" sales event with at least $1,500 off every used car on the lot, which currently consists of about 150 vehicles.  They have a lot of used Hyundai Elantras, Santa Fes, Accents, Mitsubsihis, a bunch of Civics and a smattering of other vehicles.  As with most other used car dealerships they are priced anywhere from $1000 to $3000 over what you could get a similar car for privately.

 I emailed the dealership on Saturday asking them what exactly they would be offering at their 3 day sale.  As a backgrounder, most of the vehicles (those with under 100,000 km) come "certified".  Certified boils down to a one year bumper to bumper warranty, which gives you some piece of mind when buying used.  You know they are fairly certain nothing major will break within the next year.

I asked if the $1,500 was actually off every car and they responded that yes every car was $1,500 off if I didn't want it certified, if I did want it certified it was $500 off.  Of course the advertised price on the cars was certified so the Drive Home Happy was actually only $500 off the current sticker price.  You can get $1,500 off but they won't give you the extra year warranty.

So once again what started out looking like a very good deal turned out to be an ok deal but I would suspect you could probably get $500 off any car on the lot if you haggled a bit anyways.  As usual with car sales.... all sizzle no steak!

Monday, August 26, 2013

Fixing My Wheel

It looked like I would need a new wheel so I called Kia to see what the damage would be.  The answer was above what I could have imagined.... $775!  I politely cursed a few times and told them I would get back to them.  I started scouring used car part sites but as I suspected there was not an 18" rim to fit a 2011 Kia Optima EX Luxury to be found anywhere.

My next call was to car repair shops to see if the rim could be fixed.  I Googled fixing aluminium rims and it seemed like professional welders could get the job done if the crack wasn't too extreme.  After calling around I got put on to a place called Custom Wheels.  They said they could fix it but the cost would be at least $140, they would have to see the rim.  So off I went to Wal-Mart to get the tire taken off the rim and my dummy installed.  They charged me a whopping $5 and the counter guy did all the work himself.

Next stop was custom wheels (which was VERY difficult to find) where they took a look at the rim and said they could fix it for $180 + tax but it would take two weeks.  TWO WEEKS..... but I didn't really have a choice since it was saving me about $600.

So here I am one week into wheel repair, driving my better half's car and using the Optima only when totally necessary.  I will do a follow up post in a week when my rim is back hopefully as good as new.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Why am I losing tire pressure???

Last weekend we were planning on a mini-road trip over the highway so I did my regular tire pressure checking and found that my drivers side front tire was especially light.  It was showing 22 psi as opposed to its recommended 35 psi.  When I took a good look you could see that it was low, although it is hard to tell though with the low profile tires.  I headed off to the nearest air pump and filled her back up to 35 and kept a close eye on it for the next couple of hours.  There is actually one free air pump not that far from here at a locally owned petro-canada station, but they are few and far between.  The same station also provides full service gas pumping at no extra charge.

Since there was no air loss I decided to head out over the highway on our 300 km trip, with two stops in between to check pressure.  The pressure seemed to be holding up so I was praying somehow someone just let some air out of my tire and that was it.  I made it to my destination no problem and still with no pressure loss.  The next morning I checked the pressure again and it was at 28...... I knew I had a problem.  I was figuring at that point no big deal, just top it up, get back to town and plug the slow leak I had.

As soon as I got back home without incident I went to my local wal-mart to get them to check the tire.  They were good about it because it was 4:30 on a sunday, they closed at 5 but took me in anyway.  About 10 minutes later they paged me to come to the auto center, and I was figuring I was in for some bad news.  Sure enough there was a small crack in my rim that was causing the loss of pressure.  The guys told me I would probably need a new rim which brought a shiver down my spine since I figured it would be 300-400 for a new one.  You could even see a small dent leading to the crack indicating some major bump had to cause the damage.

I was trying to think how this could have happened and earlier the week I did hit some new pavement where they were doing road work in town, but I was only going about 50km/hr so it was possible but I didn't think likely that would have cracked my rim.  My son had told me he hit a big pot hole about 2-3 weeks ago so that was a likely culprit with the crack just getting big enough for me to notice the loss of air eventually.  Although I will never know for sure either way.

In my next installment I will let you know the cost of a new rim and how I hope to resolve this issue.....

Monday, August 12, 2013

Ford Employee Pricing

For the month of August Ford has their employee pricing event on which is supposed to be the best deals of the year. I decided to do some research to see how good the savings are right now with my test vehicle being the Ford F-150 because it looked like this is where the big savings were to be found.  If you are not familiar with ford, their pricing schemes are easily the most complex in existence.  They often switch between low rates with low discounts and high rates with big discounts, even from month to month you can see dramatic changes in their discounting methods.  I am guessing they are trying to hit a larger audience, since older buyers probably like the discounts but younger buyers like the low rates, so they try and hit both markets by switching back and forth.

That's just the start of it, lets say for instance you like the F-150 XLT.  You get 4 engine choices, 4 box length choices and 11 axel ratios..... all those are not exclusive since one type often goes with another but it is a LOT of options.  Each configuration has a different discount applied so considering they have 9 different models to apply a multitude of configurations it's safe to say there are probably over 100 different pricing models for the F-150.

I didn't have a week to put this together so I figured I would stick to base configurations of each model to look at the discounting.  The details on savings are below but suffice to say there are some really good deals on the F-150 right now.  The XLT and FX2 seem like really good deals and the rates are not bad now either with 3.49% for five years and 4.49% for seven years.  The other striking thing from looking at the F-150 is the wide margin of prices!  You can go from under $20 k to just over $50 k.

I'd say if you are in the market for a new pick-up the F-150 is a great deal!

Here is a summary:

XL            19,999              1,985            18,014 10%
STX            27,299              7,688            19,611 28%
XLT            30,199              8,913            21,286 30%
FX2            39,899            11,771            28,128 30%
FX4            45,799            12,597            33,202 28%
Lariat            45,299            12,527            32,772 28%
King Ranch            60,499            14,655            45,844 24%
Platinum            61,099            14,739            46,360 24%
Limited            64,799            14,757            50,042 23%

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Insurance Savings - Unbelievable

I was off this week and one of my chores was to call around to see if I could get any less expensive insurance for our house and car.  I noticed that my monthly insurance payment from Johnson's Insurance had crept up to $450 which covered my Optima with son as second driver and our house.  Do the math and that comes to about $5,400 a year.... which seemed like a LOT.  My initial investigation showed I was paying $2,088 for the house insurance, $1,369 for my car insurance and $1,486 for son plus a 3% fee for monthly deductions which actually only comes to $5,100.  Maybe where son got on my policy late they had to bump up the monthly deductions.

In any event, recently having viewed a nice Anthony Insurance commercial about savings I decided to give them a call.  After giving some info to the very friendly sales consultant she gave me a quote of $1,034 for house insurance.......... my initial reaction is that she must have missed something or I forgot to tell her about something so I read her the coverage right off my existing house insurance.  Sure enough her quote was accurate, and less than half what I was currently paying for house insurance.

We were off to a good start, then we were on to the car insurance. After about five minutes of answering questions she came back with a quote of $1,084 for me and $782 for son.  Which means I would save $989 a year on car insurance.  Again I found this difficult to believe so I checked my current policy to make sure I wasn't missing anything.... and I wasn't.

After getting both these quotes I had to call somewhere else to see if either Johnson's was extremely high or Anthony was extremely low. I called Steer's insurance and their quote was very similar to Anthony so it seems like Johnson's is very high.

One of the things I liked about Anthony is that if you give them your drivers license numbers and home policy numbers they do your claims history check for you, Steer's wanted me to get my own claims history and drivers report which would have cost me $30.  This little extra is what made me decide to definitely go with Anthony.  Anthony also don't charge for monthly deductions whereas Johnson's just started charging 3% extra for that service.

There was a minor snag with our wood pellet stove but once I sent them pictures and certificate of installation everything was good on that end.  Other than that it was smooth sailing.  I called Johnson's to give them a chance to lower my rates but they just said they checked my policy and there was nothing they could do.  They had always provided me with good service but for $2,000 a year there is no way I could not switch!  I had to pay a penalty of $60 to end my policy early but it was well worth it.

So my new policy is in the mail, when it gets here I will provide an update if there is anything noteworthy.  If you are currently insured with Johnson's or if you just seem to be paying too much it does pay to call around!  I saved $2000 a year for a 15 minute call!

Monday, July 15, 2013

Meguiar's Compound Ultimate Test

You may have previously read my post about my nasty rear bumper damage, which I have no idea where it came from.  The top two pictures here are the before shots from the back and side.  As you can see there is a lot of abrasion and deep scratches.  I didn't expect to get nearly all of them out because most of them are very deep but I figured I would give it a go with the new DA Polisher and Meguiar's Ultimate Compound.

I used two applications of about a tablespoon of compound, each time going over the area with 4 to five passes and then wiping with a microfibre towel.  After two thorough applications I applied Once a Year car polish and Poor Boys EXP Sealant.  As I figured all the scratches did not come out but I was extremely impressed with the results which you can see for yourself below.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Meguiar's Ultimate Compound in Action

Meguiar's® Ultimate Compound

The first four pictures show the area under my driver side doors which are significantly scratched and scuffed.  The plan was to use the Meguiar's Ultimate Compound with my new DA Dual Action Polisher to at least reduce if not get rid of the scuffs altogether.  The scuffs are more noticeable on the first and third pictures but you can see them on all four.

I applied about a teaspoon amount of compound to the polisher and went back over half the area three or four times.  I then reapplied another teaspoon size amount and polished the other half.  I wiped the excess away with a microfiber towel and you can see the results in the bottom four pictures.
When I was done only the deeper scratches were visible but even those were not as visible as before.  All the scuff marks were gone and after an application of polish and sealant the area looked as good as new with the exception of two or three deeper scratches.  I am very pleased with the results from using the compound with the DA Polisher.  If you have an older car or neglected paint you could bring it back to a like new finish with a couple hours work and three or four rechargeable batteries (or just use a corded drill!)

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Meguiar's DA Polisher System

I couldn't hold out any longer, I have had my eye on this Dual Action (DA) Polisher for some time now and finally took the plunge.  Canadian Tire have them for $65, I looked around online and this seemed like a reasonable price.  It is a dual action polisher that attaches to your drill, they recommend a corded drill so the rpm's stay constant, I only had a cordless drill and it worked fine as long as you have a back-up battery on hand.  For a decent dual action polisher, you are looking at about $200 or slightly over so for the 5 or 6 times I will use this to polish our cars I figured this would do the trick.  Also, if I decide never to polish our cars again, I am only out $65, as opposed to $250.  I had read some reviews and most of them were positive noting that if you only polish a few times a year it would be the best way to go.

So off to Canadian Tire I went, got the polisher home, ripped it open and went to work.  My guinea pig would be my better half's Mazda 3 since I had polished mine by hand only a couple of weeks ago..... and it was agonizing to do by hand.  I also bought some Meguiar's Ultimate Compound while I was there to see if I could fix some of the clear coat scratches on my car, I'll give a few more details on that in a later post.

I washed the Mazda 3, broke out the polisher and Once a Year Car Polish (which I am now using for the second time this year).  The polisher fit nicely into the cordless drill, I gave it a couple of test spins and it held together just fine.  I applied about a tablespoon of polish to the polisher and started on the car hood.  It was easy to apply, but difficult to know how hard to push on the polisher and at times it was also a bit difficult to keep the pad flat on the car surface, like when reaching up by the wind-shield.

I made my way all around the car in about 45 minutes, the first battery died on me about 1/2 way through so I used less pressure after that to make sure I could finish the car.  The pad held up well, I have since used it on my fathers car and washed it, it is still in good shape.  Replacement pads with a small bottle of polish are $15 so it will be good if I can get a lot of use out of it, they are just attached to the polisher with Velcro so removal is a snap.

Overall the polisher did a good job, it never really removed any scratches but it did make the lighter ones less visible.  I think I will try it with the compound on some of the more trouble scratch spots on my car and see how it goes.  The polisher definitely saves a lot of time when it comes to polishing the car.  The wax and sealant I use just wipes on and off so I don't think I would use it for those.  I would recommend this product for someone looking for a safe, less expensive alternative to a full blown dual action polisher.  Also, if you are thinking about buying one of those useless rotary buffers just buy this instead.


Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Cabin Air Filter Replacement

I'm not exactly sure how I got to thinking about replacing my cabin air filter but Sunday it dawned on me that I should check it out.  Off to Google I went to see how to replace it and sure enough there were some detailed instructions which can be found here:

I followed the instructions and two minutes later I had the old filter out for inspection.  It was extremely dirty and had a few flies and dandelion seeds stuck to it as well.  Those dandelions will try to grow anywhere......

Since it looked like it could use some replacing my next step was to find a replacement filter.  I emailed Kia to ask them how much a replacement filter was, they told me $53, I emailed back saying this seemed expensive and I would check around and let them know.  My second call was to NAPA Auto Parts, where the replacement filter was $32, much cheaper but it still seemed expensive for a flimsy 9" X 10" filter.  My third call was to Canadian Tire and they told me they had one for $15 but might have a hard time finding it since it was the last one in stock.

So of course I headed off to Canadian Tire and figured I would browse while they tried to find my air filter.  Much to my surprise however they found it in about 2 minutes, a nice Fram Freshbreeze like the picture above and I had just saved myself $40 on the filter.  I'm not sure how much Kia would have charged me to replace the filter but I did it myself in a minute.

The moral of the story..... never buy dealer parts or ask them to replace anything you can easily do yourself.  Google it and you may be surprised!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Beware the Finance Manager!

Credit: istockphoto

Excellent article on the Globe and Mail today in relation to dealing with the finance manager at the end of the car buying process, it can be found here:

Everyone that has ever bought a car has been there, you are all excited about your new purchase and in many cases have already agreed to a bunch of add ons whether you realize it or not.  BUT just in case you haven't they bring you too the normally above averagely attractive female or slick buttoned down fast talking finance guy to wring every last cent out of you.  My experience the past couple of times has been the former, which makes saying "no" even more difficult!

I probably mentioned it in a previous post but the finance lady at Kia told me 99% of customers buy the rim warranty because the rims are so expensive to replace.  I just told her I have not damaged a rim beyond repair in 20+ years of driving so I'd take my chances, not only that I don't know a single person that has, just think about it.

You have to be prepared to politely say no to everything they offer.  Some people like to go for the extended warranty up front but you have lots of time to buy that up until your regular warranty expires, there is a 50% chance you will get rid of your car before it even kicks in so it's just as well to at least wait before buying it.

Rustproofing..... theft deterrent..... scotch guarding..... yadda yadda.... all money makers for the dealership.  With lower car margins due to the high volume of information available to buyers the up-sell items get pushed harder than ever these days... want bacon and cheese on that $2 burger, your total is $4.50 thank you!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Rental Vehicle - Hyundai Elantra GL

2013 Elantra Landing_Page

On our recent trip to Myrtle Beach we had a Hyundai Elantra as our rental..... short side bar on car rental agencies....

So you go in with visions of $15 a day rental spinning in your head only to come out paying $300 for a week, how does that happen?  Well, here's how it happens..... Right up front you get charged airport fees, rental levi, sales tax and some mysterious miscellaneous fee to bring you up to about $180 for a $110 rental. (You can avoid some of this by renting away from the airport if you have some way to get from said airport to rental location, which we did not.)

So obviously I declined every other possible charge but here is where you get nailed:

#1 - Insurance - They will make it seem like the world will end if you don't get whatever super insurance they are peddling, save yourself the trouble and cost by getting a cheap rider on your own insurance if you are concerned about accidents, or just drive safely and save yourself all around.  The insurance can be more expensive than the car if you get the premium package.

#2 - Upgrades - No matter what you are renting, they will have something much better for just a little bit more .... per day..... $5 a day doesn't sound like much but for a week that's $40.  They wanted me to "upgrade" from an Elantra to a Corolla for $4 a day.  I would rather pay not to upgrade to a Corolla for $4 a day, obviously I passed on the opportunity!

#3 - Gas fill up whatever fee.... You can pay up front not to have to bring your car back full of gas, you also pay extra for the gas but the fee saves you the trouble of filling up.... getting gas is not that difficult.

#4 - Pre pay toll booth fee - You can pay to use the pass through toll booths rather than stopping to pay, it takes all of 20 seconds to stop and pay so just keep some change in the car and stop and pay.

#5 - Extra drivers - If you have someone with you as a second driver and you are not married, tell them you are married, then you don't have to pay for second driver.

So that's enough about the dollars and cents.... The car itself was fine for the two of us, never had the get up and go of the Optima but it was good for driving on well paved, flat roads, unlike those of Newfoundland.  Got about 30 MPG on average or 8 L per 100 KM.  It was good gas mileage, over the span of a week with constant moving including a 200 mile round trip to the race track we spent a whopping $35 on gas.  The seats were comfortable enough, the brakes and handling were fine for our tourist trips, AC worked well in the hot climate, overall no complaints.  I wouldn`t run out and buy one myself but I sure as heck would buy one over a Corolla if I was looking for a compact sedan,  and save myself $4 a day!

It seemed like a good solid compact sedan, currently going for $23,000 including taxes and fees on the Hyundai site.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Nu Finish Car Polish - Spring Cleaning

Ok, so it was time for spring cleaning, got a few scratches from the harsh winter and my baby needed good spruce up.  I decided to go with the wash, clay bar, polish and paint sealant routine.  The only problem was that I didn't have any car polish.  I was also trying to decide if I would by a DA polisher to apply the polish but in the end I cheaped out and decided to go with the hand application method.

I noticed from a prior washing that my car's paint was peppered with those annoying yellow spots from salt and other residue from our hard on paint winter.  I gave it a couple of shots of TRIX which was covered in a previous post but that stuff is just difficult to work with and smells horrible, although it does get rid of most yellow spots.  I thought I would try a different approach.

So I gave it a good washing, applied the clay bar and then started on the polishing using Nu Finish.  I was going over all the polish options at Crappy Tire but settled on Nu Finish for two reasons.... the price was actually on the high end so I thought it would be good and a customer there said he uses it all the time and it works great.  I applied it to one section and started rubbing to see if I could get out the yellow spots and sure enough they started vanishing.  The only thing I will say is that this took a LOT of elbow grease, two hours worth of rubbing in a circular motion, but the results were great.  I also got rid of several surface clear coat scratches with this product.

I followed up the polish with a good application of my Poor Boys Sealant and the car was looking as good as new (except for the bumper damage).  Although I used up the better part of a full afternoon I removed almost all the yellow spots, got rid of several surface scratches and shined up my Optima beautifully.  Next time I may buy a DA Polisher just to make it a bit easier for the polish application.  I also have to do my better half's car.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

2013 Nascar Bojangles 500 LIVE!

So we were in Myrtle Beach on vacation last week and decided to take in the Nascar Bojangles 500 from Darlington Raceway.  We were staying on the beach and decided we would rent a room in Florenceville which was only 15 minutes from the raceway and about an hour and a half from Myrtle Beach so we wouldn't have to drive back in heavy traffic late at night.  The Bojangles 500 starts at 7 so I figured it wouldn't be over until close to 11.  

On a side note we stayed at Sandy beach resort in Myrtle Beach which was really nice and only about $100 a night this time of year with a full kitchen included.  Also, side note #2 beer is only $16 for a 24 at Walmart in South Carolina as opposed to $13 for a six pack here in Newfoundland.... life can be cruel at times.

So we left for Florenceville around noon, had a snack and got to the Comfort Inn around 2.  The place seemed ok from the outside but not great, the desk guy checked us in and spoke broken engish, I thought it was strange but moved on.  Unfortunately he forgot to check if our room was cleaned and as a result we walked into a small, hot, dirty, dingy, crappiest hotel room I have even seen (and ranked it accordingly on tripadvisor).  Seriously, the toilet looked like a public washroom at the end of a metallica concert.  I chased down the closest room cleaning lady and she said the guy shouldn't have checked us in but she would be right down to clean it, and she did come down right away.

At this point it was around 3 so I figured we would head down to the raceway to check on the parking situation and whatnot. I had been reading up and there is a large grassy field for parking but I hate crowds so that wasn't going to work for me.  We saw the local PTA were offering their school lot to park in for $10 and we took them up on it.  They said it was only about 1/2 mile to the track, as it turned out it was even less than that.  A good thing considering we had a cooler to drag packed with beer, water and snacks.  The locals showed us a short cut and in about 5 minutes we were in through the gates.  All along the way people were offering their driveways to park in for $20..... yes the USA is the land of opportunity.

So at about 4 we were at the raceway, went around to some of the booths, got a demo of the new Meguiars DA polisher that you use on the drill, got and freebies that were available (toy cars, bbq sauce, ponchos, shirts etc...) got some pictures signed by the Jeff Burton pit crew and made our way to our seats at about 5:30.  We were seated in Tyler Tower row 19, the seats seemed pretty good.

So a concert was followed by driver intros, multiple other niceties, anthem etc....  I have to tell you about the people sitting next to us.  There was a guy to our right who looked like an Italian mob guy.  At one point another guy got in his way trying to find his seat and he told him to sit the F%^$ down.  The other guy lipped back a bit and the italian like guy says "what the F%$# are you gonna do, we both know you ain't gonna do s&*^ so sit the F^&* down..... and he sat."  It was intense but fun none the less.  There also was a 12 year old in front of us who knew everything there was to know about Nascar, he was annoying but bothering other people so I didn't really care.

Anyway as it turns out this was the most boring race in Nascar history, we watched 300 laps and there was only one yellow flag for debris on the track..... ONE YELLOW FLAG IN 300 LAPS!!!  It was like a parade with Kyle Bush leading the way the entire time.  So we had an important decision to make.....

1) Stay till the end of the race (360 laps) and fight traffic back to the roach motel or
2) leave this boring race and go back to our nice room at Myrtle Beach

Since my better half said she would drive back to Myrtle Beach we left..... we never spent one single minute at our crappy hotel in Florenceville and felt great in our decision, even through we got gouged on the rate for a room we never used.  We had some fun, watched 90% of a Nascar race and had a good nights sleep.....

Here is the video evidence....