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    • Car Maintenance TipsFeatured Article

      If you depend on your car, you know that maintaining it is vital in ensuring it gets you where you need to go. Paying attention to your ride and knowing some of the basic care it needs will go a long way in saving you money and the hassle of frequent repairs.

      Keep It Clean

      While keeping it clean may not seem like an important part of maintaining a vehicle, it truly is. Washing the outside of the vehicle keeps it looking good, while taking care of the inside helps maintain its value. Do not forget to wash the underside where salt and grime tends to build up. If the salt and grime are left in place, it can cause rust and other problems.

      Check Tyre Pressure

      Having adequate tyre pressure is not only good for preventing a flat tyre, but it can also save you on petrol. Under-inflated tyres increase petrol usage and decrease performance, which can add up over time. Check your tyre pressure at least once per week. This may also end up helping you avoid becoming stranded alongside the road at some point.

      Check All Fluids

      Checking the oil is important and the same is true of the vehicle's other fluids. Because the fluids are vital to performance, you should periodically check coolant, transmission and brake fluids. Do not forget the power steering fluid and top all of them off as needed. If you discover a leak in one of the systems, have the vehicle checked by a mechanic so you can repair it before the problem gets worse.

      Change the Oil Regularly

      While you may not necessarily need to change your oil every 4 800 km, especially if your car is newer, it is important to never let it go too long in between changes. At the very least, have the oil changed every 12 500 km. If the oil breaks down too much, it can damage the engine. Do not forget to have a new filter installed at the same time. When you have the oil changed is also a good time to have other parts of the vehicle checked out. If you do this all at once, you are less likely to forget something.

      Inspect Belts and Hoses

      Belts and hoses are in place for a reason, and when one becomes worn down or develops a leak, it can hinder the car's performance. Every so often, check those belts and hoses to make sure they are in good shape. They need to remain free of cracks, splits and leaks. On average, hoses and belts are inexpensive, but if left unattended, they can ruin other components.

      Replace Windshield Wipers

      When inclement weather conditions hit, having an unobstructed view of the road and your surroundings is a must. For this reason, check your windshield wiper blades and replace them as needed. They should never be cracked, worn or torn. If the blades are in good shape, but the arms are bent, replace them. If during the winter the blades are frozen to the windshield, do not attempt to turn them on, as this can damage them.

      Inspect the Lights

      Lights not only keep you safe, but they are needed for your car to remain legal. For these reasons, periodically check them. This includes headlights, turn signals, fog lights and brake lights. A replacement bulb is much cheaper than a traffic ticket. If the lens is broken, replace it as well.

      Replace the Air Filter

      The air filter is designed to catch dirt and debris before it enters the engine. After time, the filter becomes dirty and possibly clogged. If air cannot flow freely, the engine will not run as it should. Changing the filter is relatively inexpensive and takes just minutes. Have it done with your oil changes.

      Check Brake Pads

      When the brake pads wear down, they can pose a danger as the brakes will fail to work as they should. If they wear down too much, the metal on metal contact will ruin the rotors and this can result in very costly repairs. Have the brake pads checked every couple of months to make sure a replacement is not needed.

      Flush the Radiator

      Like oil, coolant breaks down over time and stops working as it should. Once the coolant breaks down, or becomes contaminated, it may not flow freely. The same is true if the radiator becomes clogged. If either of these occurs, you run the risk of your car overheating and ruining your engine. Have the radiator flushed every two years, but check the coolant levels frequently. Most cars require a mixture of 50/50 coolant and water. Auto part stores sell testers so you can check the ratio.

      Keeping your car up and running is not all that difficult with a few tips in mind. Most of the things that need checked take only minutes, and doing this can save you tons of money in the long run.

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    • Buy | How to Negotiate When Buying a CarFeatured Article

      Negotiation can be tricky for many people, especially those who are usually not particularly assertive and shy away from conflict or confrontation. However, negotiation is not a confrontational action, but rather an expected part of the car buying process. Most sellers will be surprised but quite pleased if the buyer doesn't even try to negotiate the price. However, negotiation isn't the same as haggling over a trinket at a junk shop. It is important to make the right moves during negotiation over a car purchase.

      Be Informed

      The first step to successful negotiation happens at home, well before the actual negotiation discussion begins. Do not negotiate without first doing some research. Once you decide on a specific car make and model, go online and find out what the car's value is. Find out what other people have paid and research the car's retail value. Make sure you are looking up the correct year and the exact configuration you want. For example, if you want the luxury configuration of a certain car, don't look up the price of the base model that has cloth seats and other standard features. Make sure your research is precise and accurate.

      Have Firm Boundaries

      Once you find the retail value for the car you want, decide your ideal price and set an upper limit for how much you are willing to pay. Because you know what other people have been paying and what the retail value is for the car you want, you know what the reasonable price range is. Have a definite number in your head, and do not agree to pay more than that limit.

      Time Your Purchase

      Some times of year are better than others for car shopping. Part of your pricing research can also include looking into the local market and seeing when dealerships tend to be most desperate to make a sale. Conventional wisdom holds that the end of the month or the end of a yearly quarter tend to be high-pressure times for car salespeople, so this may be the best time to gear up for a successful negotiation.

      Be Personable

      Don't develop a bad reputation at the dealership or otherwise offend the person selling the car. Be friendly and courteous when you meet up with the seller to inspect and test-drive the vehicle. People who regularly sell cars are used to people trying to get on their good side, so don't go overboard, but sellers are very unlikely to lower their selling price for someone they do not like.

      Shop Around

      Don't get your heart set on one car in particular. Be open to buying a slightly different configuration elsewhere. This flexibility gives you the power to walk away from a deal that isn't good enough. Also, being aware of other options can make you feel more empowered in a negotiation, and it also gives you a good bargaining chip.

      During the Negotiation

      Now the time has come to actually get down to business. Go to the dealership or meet the seller in person. It's best to negotiate face-to-face in real time rather than over the phone or via email. Stay calm and remember your ideal price and upper limit. The seller or dealer may try to open the negotiation by asking you what you're willing to pay. Don't answer this directly. Instead, tell the seller that you've done your research and shopped around and you would like to know what his or her best price is. Allowing the other party to be the first to cite a number gives you the upper hand. Appearing informed and confident may cause the dealer or seller to open with a lower price right away.

      Saying No to a Bad Offer

      Of course, it is not very likely that the very first number quoted will be lower than the car's retail value. If the price is above your upper limit, shoot it down immediately. You can say something to the effect of ""that price is much higher than the car's retail value, and I know I can get a better deal than that elsewhere". The seller will likely respond with a lower number. Stick to your pre-set limits, and make it clear that you're well informed and aren't going to accept a bad price. Never agree to pay more than your upper limit, and avoid paying more than the retail value. Retail values often include profit for the dealer or seller, so do not feel guilty or think that you are strong-arming someone into taking a bad deal. Worry about your own wallet.

      Talking the Price Down

      Be polite and professional during the negotiation, but be firm. If the price being quoted is higher than the retail value, say that you know the price is too high and indicate that you can get a better deal somewhere else. This may make the seller feel pressure to provide a better deal. If you and the seller end up deadlocked, don't be afraid to walk away. Indicate that you plan to do this first, because that may end up breaking the stalemate.

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