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Archive for November, 2014

Caring for Your Car This Winter

Car-and-SnowWinter can be especially harsh for your car. The cold temperatures, snow and moist this season brings can zap the life out of your vehicle, resulting to costly repairs. For sure, the last thing you want is to get stranded in the middle of the street on a cold winter day, desperately waiting for somebody to rescue you. To avoid such nightmare and save yourself significant amount of cash, here are some winter car care tips you should implement now.

Wax it good. To protect your car’s finish, give its entire body some good waxing. This will also help the snow to slide off easily for faster cleaning.

Pay your technician a visit. If your car is due for a tune-up, be sure to do so early on this winter to avoid existing problems, such as pings, slow performance and hard starts, from getting worse. Have the technician check the belts and hoses to see if they need replacements as well as the battery and charging system, making sure they are not corroded. It is also a good idea to have the oil changed to a lighter weight to keep your vehicle’s parts well lubricated.

Additionally, let the technician look at your car’s brakes and lights to ensure they are working properly and exhaust system to know if there are carbon monoxide leaks. The latter problem is hazardous when driving during winter when windows are closed.

Keep an eye out on the tires. Worn tires can be especially dangerous during winter as they can lead to road accidents. So if yours is due for replacement, do not wait out until the temperatures hit their lowest. Also, ensure they are properly inflated to get better fuel economy and fend off flat tires. If you live in an area where snowfall is significant, having snow tires is a good investment.

Take note of the fluids. Your car’s fluids play an integral role in keeping it in good running condition. Unfortunately, some of them can be affected by cold temperatures. Take the time to inspect the cooling system of your car. If there is too much water in it and not enough anti-freeze, it can get stuck up due to freezing temperatures, which can eventually result to engine-related breakdown. Also, do not allow the gas tank to drop below the halfway mark to prevent the gas lines from freezing. Equally important is to top up your windshield washer fluid with winter fluid.

Regularly wash your car. To keep grime, de-icing chemicals and salt off your car, give it a good wash at least every 10 days. If you need to wash your car but it is cold outside, watch out for the door lock mechanisms as they can get wet, which can result for the locks to freeze. To avoid that, spray graphite into the slot and push your key in until the graphite is deep into the slot.

Always have an emergency kit. Even if you have completely checked your car, you can never tell when disaster will strike. As such, it always pays to be prepared. Keep an emergency kit in place, which includes your own winter gear (ex. hats, gloves, jacket, etc.), jumper cables, flashlight, flares and basic tools.

Photo credit: Sergey Rodovnichenko / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0



Auto Loan Delinquency Rate, Debt on the Rise, TransUnion Reports

Auto-Loan-Delinquency-1A data released by TransUnion on Monday revealed that Americans are taking out more money to pay for their vehicles, but at the same time are increasingly having difficulty settling their car debts.

In the said report, it was shown that the auto loan delinquency rate–ratio of borrowers who have been delinquent on their auto loans for 60 days or more–among Americans has grown to nearly 13 percent in the last year, bringing 2014’s third quarter record to 1.16 percent. This is higher compared to the 1.02 percent recorded in the third quarter of 2013.

On a similar note, auto loan debt rate also surged for the 14th consecutive quarter to $17,352 from last year’s $16,694. Among the cities that saw about five percent increase in yearly auto loan debt are Phoenix, Atlanta and Chicago.

Hawaii and Oklahoma are the only two states where auto delinquency rates have not increased between the third quarters of 2013 and 2014. The biggest number of delinquencies occurred in the states of Nebraska, South Carolina and New Mexico.

TransUnion also found that auto loan delinquency rates have grown across all age groups. Surprisingly, younger Americans, and not millenials, are having the most trouble paying their car loans, with the age group 30 to 39 recording the highest percentage of delinquency rate. This is closely followed by individuals under the age of 30, who saw the highest increase in delinquency rate from last year.

Despite the uptick in auto loan delinquencies, Peter Turek, TransUnion’s automotive vice president, said that the rate is still well below the rates that were recorded a few years back. He also noted that such increase in delinquency rate is not unusual given that about 5 million auto loan accounts have been recorded this year and sales in this sector are not weakening.

Turek also believes that as long as delinquency rates stick around one percent, there will not be a material change in auto lending strategies.

The data from TransUnion’s analysis are gathered through the firm’s proprietary Industry Insights Report (IIR), which summarizes the US consumer lending industry’s data, trends and perspectives in a quarterly basis. The report is also based from anonymous credit data of credit-active consumers in the US.

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Tesla, BMW to Possibly Collaborate in Battery Technology, Lightweight Components

Tesla-MotorsIn an interview with German weekly Der Spiegel on Sunday, Tesla Chief Executive Elon Musk said that his company, Tesla Motors, is in talks with Bayerische Motoren Werke AG (BMW) for a possible collaboration in batteries and light-weight components.

BMW is known to use carbon fibers in making reinforced passenger cell components for its electric hatchback i3 and plug-in hybrid sports car i8. Such material is produced by materials supplier SGL Group, which BMW has a joint venture with.

In the interview, Musk was quoted saying that BMW’s production and usage of carbon fiber in reinforcing car body parts is both “interesting” and “relatively cost efficient.” He also noted that they are talking with the German carmaker for a possible collaboration in battery technology or charging stations.

BMW has yet to make a statement regarding this matter. There are also no further details concerning the specific nature of the possible collaboration, though executives from both auto companies have already met in June to tackle the development of charging stations that would benefit a variety of electric cars.

Aside from discussing the possible alliance with BMW, Musk also mentioned to Der Spiegel that he is looking to have a plant in Germany in the next five to six years. The plant will serve as the place of production for their vehicles’ batteries.

Tesla has been teaming up with different auto companies in recent years on projects involving electric vehicles. It has worked with Toyota on the RAV4 EV project as well as with Daimler AG, which is the owner of the Mercedes brand and rival of BMW. The latter automaker used to hold shares in Tesla, but sold its remaining 4 percent stake in the electric car company last month. However, the German automaker said that it would still continue collaborating with Tesla Motors even after selling its shares in the electric car company.

Photo credit:  Sam Felder / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0



General Motors Reorganizes Some Executive Posts

General Motors announces senior leadership changes Thursday, NovGeneral Motors Co. announced on Thursday that it has done some leadership changes to make the organization stronger and more customer-centric. The company also mentioned that one of its top-ranking female officials has stepped down from her position to pursue other opportunities.

According to the Detroit-based automaker, effective March 31, Mary Chan will no longer hold the position of the company’s vice president, global connected consumer. Replacing her and assuming all her responsibilities, including overseeing OnStar communications network, will be Alicia Boler-Davis, who is currently senior vice president, global quality and customer experience of the company.

Boler-Davis’ position will then be assumed by Grace Lieblein, who is currently GM’s vice president, global purchasing and supply chain. The two women will then report directly to CEO Mary Barra.

Taking over Lieblein’s post will be Steve Kiefer, vice president, global powertrain, while Dan Nicholson, who is GM’s executive director of powertrain embedded controls, will take the post that Kiefer will vacate. Once Kiefer and Nicholson have assumed their new positions, they will be reporting directly to GM’s North America president Mark Russ.

In a statement made by Barra, the leadership changes are made to earn the trust and loyalty of customers. She also noted that such changes, along with delivering exception quality and customer care, will put them on the path to earn customers for life.

According to GM, the personnel changes it has made will take effect immediately.

Photo credit: © General Motors CC BY-NC 3.0



Wallet Hub Study Reveals Loan for New Car is Cheaper Than Used One

Loan-ImageFor those thinking of ditching their existing cars, this is probably a good time to push through with the idea and switch to a new model instead of a used one. A recent study from financial comparison website Wallet Hub reveals that interest rates for car loans is lower this quarter compared to that in 2012. However, they are significantly cheaper for loans of new cars.

Accordingly, average rate for a 36-month new car loan declined by 4.31 percent this quarter or 20 percent lower than a similar rate for a used car. That also compares to the first quarter of 2012 when new car loan rates were 10 percent lower than used car loans. This figure is encouraging enough for consumers to consider buying a new car.

Aside from the lower rate of new car loans, it was also found that of the 157 lenders that were analyzed in the study, car manufacturers charge the lowest interest for new cars or 40 percent below average. Credit unions come in at second, charging 24 percent below average and National banks are on the third spot, charging rates close to average. Regional banks are at the tail end of the list, charging consumer with interest rates that are 40 percent higher than average.

As for the manufacturers that were analyzed during the study, Mitsubishi, Nissan and Kia provide lowest financing rates to consumers, while Chevrolet, BMW, Mitsubishi and Honda have the best deals on lease.

It was also reported that consumers with the best credit scores are still at an advantage as they are most likely to receive the best car loan deals. Compared to consumers with fair credit or whose score range anywhere between 620 and 659, a borrower with a credit score of 720 or higher might save up to $6,000 in interest rates on a five year loan. This only goes to show that banks and dealers still prefer to lend money to individuals with long credit histories, good payment record and low debts, according to Wallet Hub spokeswoman Jill Gonzales.

However, it should be noted that the actual loan terms provided by lenders will still depend on the circumstances the borrower is in. Lenders will still look at factors such as location, income, special promotions and negotiating skills to figure out the most suitable loan term for a borrower, Gonzales says.

Photo credit: Chris Potter / Flickr / CC BY 2.0



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