By on September 22, 2016

2014 Mitsubishi i-MiEV, Image: i-MiEV

Right up there with I wish they’d make a manual diesel wagon in brown, it’s among the most played-out tropes on the Internet.

There just aren’t any bad cars anymore.

This is generally followed by some recollection of a Saturn of the early ’90s that had a faulty engine, or perhaps some Brezhnev-era Soviet masterpiece. Blah blah blah nostalgia blah blah A Christmas Story blah blah. Enough.

There are plenty of bad cars out there, but the majority of people haven’t driven enough of them to know it. Fortunately (or unfortunately), I have. And I’m here to break the bad news to you: some cars suck. Maybe even the one in your very driveway.

(Read More…)

By on September 6, 2016

2010_Lexus_GX_460_003

Austin writes:

Bark,

For the last two years, my daily driver has been a used 2006 Audi A6 Avant (bought outright in cash). Living in Minnesota and attending college in a rural part of the state, it’s the ultimate vehicle. It swallows 4 people and gear for a spring break Chicago vacation, gets through the snowstorms, and has heated seats and steering wheel. It even averages 24 mpg!

However, its mileage has reached the point where it’s no longer economically feasible to hold onto (repair-wise) going into the spring of 2017. I’m trying to hold off until used car prices fall, because of lease returns. With a budget of $15,000, I’m hoping to get five-plus years of use out of my next vehicle. My search has gravitated towards larger vehicles that are kinda low-volume players (with a slightly better reliability record) like the Lincoln MKT, Toyota Sequoia, Lexus LS/GX, Volvo S80, etc. Something bigger and a little more cushy. So, what do you recommend?

(Read More…)

By on August 2, 2016

2012 Mazda3 Hatchback, Image: Mazda

MrKiwi writes:

I’m currently driving a 2011 Ford Fusion with 80,000 miles. It’s good, reliable, and utterly boring. I’ll have it completely paid off in a couple of months. Here’s where I’m going to get myself into trouble.

The responsible thing to do would be to keep the Fusion and enjoy a paid-off car. But …

While driving a rental car recently, I remembered how much I enjoy a manual transmission. There are also a couple of times a year when I could use the extra capacity of a hatch. I’m starting to look at the listings for lightly used Ford Focuses and Mazda3s with manual transmissions, thinking, “Wouldn’t it be fun?”

(Read More…)

By on July 26, 2016

2016 Honda CR-Z, Image: Honda

Lichtronamo writes:

Hi Bark,

I’m starting the process of finding a used car for my daughter who turns 16 in September and will (hopefully) get her license afterwards.

She’s 5’3″ and about 90 pounds, so a B- or C-segment car would be right in terms of size. She’s also listened to me go on about how great it is to drive a manual transmission since she was born, and believes this to be a fundamental need of any car purchase. Our budget is upwards of $10,000 with driver safety the other primary criteria. Fuel economy and reliability aren’t negatives. While I should probably zero in on finding a nice Corolla, I’m looking for an out-of-the-box choice with some car-guy (and girl) cred. Golf? Mini? Mazda3?

(Read More…)

By on July 13, 2016

Rebecca Lynn Z4

Let’s give a hearty “Welcome back!” to our friend Rebecca, who previously wrote about her Tacoma on these pages. She just picked up this beautiful Z4 from a dealership hundreds of miles away from her home. This is her story on how she did it. 

This journey started in October of 2007 when the lease on my 2005 Z4 3.0 matured, and I had to give the car that I dreamed of, and built on BMW NA’s site for two years, back to the dealership.

Since then I’ve had the recurring dream that I still had that car — it’s just been in storage all this time. I have serious commitment issues with cars, so it dawned on me three years ago that this was the one that got away. Fast forward to April 2016, I’ve saved for this car for a couple of years, and casually checking out the market with the plans to purchase before the end of the year. I happened upon a couple of white ones just outside my price range, and decided it was worth the stretch.

So what was my process?

(Read More…)

By on June 9, 2016

Used Car Dealership NYC

Not all used cars are created equal.

Used cars have become somewhat commoditized in the last five years, thanks to the rise of pricing tools and third-party advertisers, but there’s still some truth behind the old school notion that every used car is a unicorn.

While most car dealers mean that each car is unique in its mileage, color, trim level, and condition, there’s one hugely important factor that most dealers would prefer you ignore: how they obtained the car.

Each car on the lot has its own story, and knowing those stories might help you figure out if you want a particular car to become part of your life story.

(Read More…)

By on June 7, 2016

flexdriveway

John writes:

Bark,

We (me M52, F39, M15, F10) really need to step up our fleet (2006 Honda Pilot 240K mi, 2005 Honda Element 170K mi). We need to replace the Pilot as family car, and probably (for now) keep both Hondas rolling for my use and, soon, my son’s use too.

In the fullness of time I’d like to get us a plugin C-Max, especially given the uneventuality of the TTAC Long-Term Test C-Max. But, the rear legroom is less than our Pilot and our 15-yo boy is not getting any smaller. This would not be a good solution for weekend family expeditions of any length.

For now I’d like to start the fleet upgrade with a used Flex, post 2013 for the design refresh, has to be AWD because we have snow and a very steep, twisty drive home, really want the 6-pass version to keep the kids out of each others’ hair (2nd-row bench seat has proven contentious in the Pilot), really want Ecoboost and Limited/Titanium because why buy used if you can’t get it loaded?

(Read More…)

By on June 2, 2016

044

Two weeks ago, I told you the story of my friend “Jenny” and her purchase event at Orlando Kia West. I’m happy to report that the dealer has resolved the issue to her satisfaction.

She received a personal call from the general manager offering a set of floormats, and she’s seeking to refinance the vehicle through her stepfather’s credit union. According to Jenny, the general manager was quite apologetic, but he also said that “90 percent of the numbers in that article were wrong.”

Mr. GM, you still have my e-mail (it’s [email protected], if you lost it), and I’m happy to print a retraction on anything that I got wrong. (In the meantime, we’re still happy to show up on the first page of results when people search for your dealer on Google. –Ed.)

But, in the meantime, let’s talk about what Jenny could have done differently, and what you can do the next time that you’re looking to buy a car to avoid all the hassle and pain she experienced.

(Read More…)

By on May 27, 2016

gorilla dealer pic

The best thing about writing the Ask Bark series since the beginning of the year has been the feedback that you, the Best and Brightest, have given to our questioners. I might have a few good answers, but I’m only one man, and there are literally thousands of people who read each Ask Bark column. Collectively, you have wonderful ideas.

However, individually, you have some real clunkers. Today, we’re going to talk about the often given advice I’ve seen in the comments. Some of it isn’t just wrong, it’s flat-out harmful.

(Read More…)

By on May 19, 2016

2016 Volkswagen Golf R Lapiz blue

$26,415.

$36,470.

$43,395.

The jumps in price from the four-door Volkswagen Golf GTI to the Volkswagen Golf R to the Audi S3, three closely related cars, are not insignificant. Yet in spite of the dollar differences, or perhaps because of the dollar differences, the trio inevitably undergoes the value proposition comparison, as if “value” is the reason 460 buyers per month spend around $40,000 on a Volkswagen hatchback.

I’ve now been privileged to spend a week with each car. Sadly, a Lapiz Blue 2016 Volkswagen Golf R just left my driveway to make room for, as fate would have it, a 2016 Toyota Prius.

And I have no trouble making the case for the Golf R as the fast VeeDub to own. (Read More…)

By on May 3, 2016

054

If you’ve read it once on the Internet, you’ve read it a thousand times: Conventional wisdom says the longer a used car sits on a dealer lot, the more likely it is you’ll get a good deal when you go buy it. People who’ve never spent a day in a dealership like to armchair dealer manager behind their computers and write about things like “floorplan” and “holding cost” like they actually know something about how a dealer principal calculates them, and how they affect pricing.

If this conventional wisdom were actually wise, then I wouldn’t be writing this column. Unfortunately, it isn’t, and adhering to it can cause you to waste a good deal of your time and money. Luckily, your friend Bark is here to give you the real scoop on how, why, and when you should buy at a dealership.

Go ahead, click the jizzump.

(Read More…)

By on March 2, 2016

Car Cash Loans Commercial, Image Source: Bobby Mascio/YouTube (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dwcm7CbTel8)

If I’ve seen it once in the comments on this site, I’ve seen it a hundred times.

Never once in the history of the Internet has anyone, anywhere admitted that they paid more than invoice for a new car.

Everybody gets the best deal possible. We all “stick it to the man.” However, despite the well-known and understood tendencies of most people to lie on forums, in comments, or even when writing about their own business practices on the Internet, this might be one of the few times when the braggadocio matches reality.

The truth is that virtually everyone gets a “good deal” on a new car.

(Read More…)

By on February 9, 2016

2014 Lincoln MKS

Every once in awhile, somebody writes in to Ask Bark with a question that makes me check my own bank account to see if I can afford my own recommendation. Today is one of those times. Sit back and relax while you read about our friend’s quest for a more powerful grocery-getter, and then see if you share in my envy.

Ben writes:

I am currently leasing a 2014 Mazda6, and the lease will be ending in mid-July. I’m in my early 30s with two kids. One of them will be in a rear-facing child seat for the next year and a half, and the other is in a front-facing seat, so I need something that is big enough for daycare pickup, Costco runs and short trips. My wife has a Nissan Murano for when we need more space, and I have a motorcycle, which may soon be sold and replaced with an older Miata.

I work remotely, so I don’t commute on a daily basis, but I do a 2+ hour each way trip into the actual office every other week. I’ve owned a 2000 Ford Focus, 2006 Mazda3, and the 2014 Mazda6, so I would like something with a bit more power this time.

(Read More…)

By on February 4, 2016

2016 Mazda CX-3 GT (18 of 25)

Ben writes:

Hi Bark,

I am currently in my second year of a 3 1/2 year lease on a 2015 Mazda3 GT — which is probably the most engaging, convenient and efficient vehicle I’ve ever owned. Everything
they say about Mazda nailing the driving dynamics is spot on.

I wasn’t married prior to leasing the vehicle, nor did I have my first child, nor was I expecting another child 14 months after having my first (almost Irish twins). I drove less, hated my job more and didn’t understand the joy a family can bring you. Now I have a 100+ mile total commute daily that I don’t even notice because of my quality of life, job and quite possibly my vehicle.

Yet, I feel the urge to make a vehicle change for 3 reasons:

(Read More…)

By on December 8, 2015

 

cheap car. shutterstock user Sisacorn

David writes:

Sajeev,

I have never written into an advice column, but have always wanted to. I hope you respond!

I think it’s important to separate your “wants” from your “needs”. Living this way and growing up in an urban area (Chicago), I never owned a car. Instead, I borrowed cars from friends or rode my bicycle. I have since moved to New Orleans, another urban center, but one with worse public transportation and access to grocery stores. Other things have changed in my life: I went from scraping by somewhere below the poverty line to making money somewhat above the poverty line.

(Read More…)

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