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!