How to Buy the Perfect First Car

So your son or daughter is about to turn 16, and they’re begging you for a car that they can call their own. Most parents dread this conversation that is often an inevitability once your kids reach driving age. There are a few ways to go about this situation, and often times it comes down to your budget. Some people are lucky enough to have an extra car around that might just need some minor fixes to be in good running condition. Obviously this is the most economic option, but it relies on you already having a car. What happens if you don’t have an extra car sitting around?

Used Cars

Many people will go to their local used car dealership when it comes time to pick out your teenager’s first car. I’m sure you’ve heard plenty of horror stories from used car dealerships, and they can be high pressure situations where someone is trying to sell you a hunk of junk. That being said, used car dealerships often have the best prices, as long as you can make sure that the vehicle is in good working order.

Here are some things to do before and during a trip to the used car dealership:

  • Know what you want – Don’t ever go to a used car dealership just to look around. Used car salesman can see the indecision and confusion on your face as soon as you walk up, and will use that to try to push you into a deal you may not actually be happy with in the long run
  • Inspect any vehicle you’re interested in – I’m talking about a full on inspection. Check out the paint job, look under the hood for anything dubious, make sure the car is on stable, even ground so you can make sure that nothing is sagging, and check out the interior for signs of leaking, water damage, or other types of wear and tear. Make sure to look for any signs of rust while inspecting the car. Check out the mileage and the year the car was made, most cars will have about 10K to 15K miles per year with a normal amount of driving. For a more in-depth guide of what to look for you can check out this link.
  • Button your lip – When you get there ask the dealer about the exact model you have your eye on. Don’t mention financing, budget, or trade-ins. Nothing. Check out the car you want, make sure it’s in good condition, figure out what they’re charging for it, and only then do you even think about bringing up financing or trade-ins. Don’t ever lead with that information because dealers can use all of that against you.
  • Sleep on it – Unless the car is in almost perfect condition and there is someone else standing there threatening to buy it, you should go home and consider it for a while. Don’t give into high pressure sales with a used car dealer. They will always win in that situation. Take some time away from the dealer, possibly do some more research, and go back tomorrow if you still feel like it’s worth purchasing.
Don't buy from this guy

Don’t buy from this guy

If you follow these tips, you will greatly reduce the risk of buying a worn out pile of garbage. You want to make sure that your teen’s first car is safe and reliable. You don’t want them breaking down in the middle of the night somewhere with no idea how to fix what’s wrong with their car.

If used car dealerships make you uncomfortable, you can always go with a new car, or a used car from a reputable local dealership. Again, you should follow most of the same steps as you would when buying a car from a used car dealership. Just because they sell new cars does not mean they won’t sell you some trash if you let them. This option is always pricier than a used car dealership, but you might end up with a safer vehicle that will last longer. Insurance rates will go up if you end up buying a new car for your teen, since a new car with a new driver has higher potential for an accident in the insurance companies’ eyes.

As someone who has had to outfit two teenage daughters with cars, I wish you luck on your car acquisition adventure (it will undoubtedly be an adventure), and hope that your children are easy to please. I highly recommend the used car dealership route, just make sure you do the research and find a reputable used car dealer in your area.

Good luck!

7 Ways You Can Extend the Life of Your Car



Your car is an important investment, so treat it like one! There are many things that you can do to extend the life of your vehicle, this infographic breaks down some bad habits that many drivers have. You might do some of these things and not even realize that it’s hurting your vehicle.  Even changing small behaviors can keep your car on the road for years to come.


Living The RV Lifestyle

rv lifeSome people are just not meant to stay in one place. If you are one of these kinds of people, you probably enjoy traveling often. Unfortunately, travel can be expensive. A simple solution is to sell your home and purchase an RV or camper. Even travel trailers are a great option for making the open road home.

The Benefits of RV Travel

There is nothing as exciting as seeing new places every day. An RV allows you to do this, without living in pricey hotels or eating out every meal. Instead, you take your home with you.

Campers and travel trailers offer all the comforts of home in a compact space. You will have a kitchen, sleeping area and even a bathroom and shower available to you. Being self-contained allows travelers to explore freely, without worrying about where they will stay.

In addition to basic living quarters, you can opt for a camper that has space to store your odds and ends. It can be freeing to leave your worldly belongings behind and set out with only a few outfits and the necessary supplies for getting by, but it is also nice to have some of your personal belongings with you to make it feel more like home.

The ability to travel when and where you want is invaluable. When you find a place you enjoy, you can live there as long as you please and simply pick up and move on when you’re ready. There are so many roads and places to travel in the country that it is possible to drive for years without seeing more than a fraction of the places you might be interested in visiting. The freedom to explore as you please is a wonderful way to spend time.

rv hang out

Spend the Night Anywhere

While an RV can easily be parked beside the road, it is not always permitted. You may need to find RV parks or campgrounds that allow travel trailers.

In some areas, however, you can just park down a side road or find a clearing to stay in. Imagine waking up to watch the sunrise over a peaceful lake or spend your afternoon hiking in the area around your moving home. It can be a magical experience every day.

Campers and travel trailers often have more than one bed, so it is completely feasible to travel with a family, or host visitors when you decide to stay in one place for a bit. Entire families spend their days exploring their world, with their children learning at home in the camper. It is a truly unique lifestyle and one that is shared by many.

The Mobile Community

One of the big advantages of living on the move is the amazing community you will meet. Plenty of people, of all ages and backgrounds, travel and live in their RVs. This makes for an interesting group of potential new friends when you stop at a campground or RV park.

Some are on vacation, while others make a lifestyle of the journey. Meet all kinds on the road and enjoy the stories they tell. Those who have been driving for a while can give pointers to newbies and are often happy to help out when something goes wrong in the middle of nowhere.

RV Maintenance is Important

Before you head off into the wild blue yonder, you will certainly want to learn the basics of RV maintenance. While there are service centers in most major cities, it is far better to prevent any issues in the first place.

Traveling in a poorly maintained vehicle can be a dangerous idea, so be sure to check your RV or camper before traveling, and during the trip as well. You should know all the basics of keeping the vehicle in great working condition. This is relatively simple and requires regular checks of its various systems. As long as you take care of your ride, you should be able to enjoy your camper or RV for a long time.

Understand and Avoid Curbstoning Vehicles

Buying a Used Car

The easiest way to buy a used car is from visiting your local dealership. However, some people prefer find a private seller because it may be cheaper, faster, and more flexible in payment. Saving money by avoiding the third party comes with some risk. Unfortunately, without taking the proper precautions, many people are scammed by curbstoners.

What is Curbstoning?

Curbstoning is when someone pretends to be a private seller and resells cars to consumers. Buying and selling cars on your own can be profitable, but it is also deceitful. Capture2
Individuals don’t have to comply with the same standards that dealerships have in place to prevent legal issues.

Typically, curbstone deals are done by: (1) people who are actually dealers pretending to be a one-time seller or (2) people who sell multiple cars and should be considered a dealer.

Examples of scenarios where someone may sell a car in an unethical way include:

  • A car that has been totaled or damaged in the past that is fraudulently sold as undamaged
  • A car where the odometer has been altered to read less mileage
  • A stolen vehicle

A curbstoner can get away with the repeated offense by using a fake name on the title, using the previous owner’s name on the title, or by using “seller” instead of a name on documentation.

How to Avoid it

Purchasing your car through a reputable dealer is usually safest. If you insist on buying from a private seller who you do not personally know, do your research and investigate:

  1. Take not of the name on paperwork and ask to see their license to ensure it out for low priced vehicles
  2. You can also Google the phone number to see if it is being used to sell multiple cars.
  3. Always check the Carfax report to see if the car has previously been in any accidents or required major repairs.
  4. Finally, before signing any paperwork, take the vehicle to a mechanic for your personal safety.

Never feel shy or rude about asking detailed questions about the vehicles’ past. For instance, find out why they are selling the vehicle and what they used it for in the past. Being prepared and taking the time to get your facts straight can go a long way in helping you avoid a scam.

Tips For Finding Great Car Insurance in NOVA

Your friend says his Insurance Doctor car insurance policy in Northern VA is great, perhaps the best he has ever had, and you wonder what is so wonderful about it. Has he found the best car insurance company? Your friend probably asked some of the following questions and got answers that made him happy; answers that could make you happy too. Find out if you are paying too much for insurance and if your insurance is ready to support you in your time of need.

Accident Forgivenessmodel by care

With some auto insurance, clients’ rates go up from the very first accident or mishap. There is no forgiveness: just financial punishment at the outset. A number of companies, however, have introduced more lenient programs. They will pay when a client is at fault and then keep that client’s rate the same so long as he doesn’t get into a further accident. No one plans to have mishaps on the road but they happen, so ask about this policy of forgiveness.

Roadside Assistance

Drivers don’t anticipate being caught out with a flat tire. They can’t imagine what they would do if their engine suddenly died while they were driving or the ball joint on the front axle simply wore off and they were stuck. That’s where roadside assistance comes in; the tow truck driver, essentially. Car insurance coverage with roadside assistance gives clients access to free towing up to a certain number of times per year. Drivers call the 1-800 number provided, then the insurance company gets in touch with whichever tow truck company they do business within that region. That saves customers from having to hunt for a tow company when they are in distress and just need a helping hand.

Reduced Rates for Good Driving

Are there rewards for being a good driver? In some cases, there is cheap car insurance available for road users who have been driving for 10 years or more and have never been involved in an accident. Find out also what the penalty for being the victim of an accident would be to this driving record. Reward the fairest plan with your business; one that doesn’t turn the clock back to your first day behind the wheel.

Family Plans

New drivers account for more accidents than anyone and they have to sign on to their parents’ auto insurance. If a teen in your household is now driving, car insurance costs are going to rise: there won’t be any cheap car insurance for a while. Their coverage, however, could become part of what is known as a “family” insurance policy. Ensure every driver in the household is signed on to the best car insurance company to receive what is essentially a “bulk discount”: volume savings, similar to a “two-for-one” deal except a lot more costly than pizza. Unfortunately, there is no way to avoid the financial penalty for letting your teenager drive, but going without insurance is unthinkable. Consider obtaining house insurance with the same organization and save even more money without losing essential coverage, and be sure you are insured for $3M liability.

Rewards for Education

Find out if your insurance agency rewards their customers for achieving higher driving standards. It might be worthwhile to enroll in defensive driving classes or highway driving sessions. Students are particularly well advised to embark on these training courses in order to bring their insurance rates down more quickly than otherwise.

Servicing Your Car at a Local Garage vs. the Dealership

When your car develops a serious mechanical fault, you have two possible options for repairing it: you can either take it to your local auto repair shop or the dealership. Each of these options has its advantages and shortcomings. Knowing the pros and cons of each will make the decision-making process much easier for you. Your chances of having the car properly repaired will also increase tremendously if you make the appropriate choice for your particular situation.

local mechanicExpertise

Car dealerships have technical staff who are specialists and factory-trained by the manufacturer to repair specific makes and models of vehicles. Dealerships are also equipped with professional advisers, service managers, and support staff to ensure the job is completed successfully and in a timely manner. Therefore, you can be assured that the problem will be dealt with effectively the first time. Dealers also hire the best auto technicians in the market and pay them top dollar to retain their services.

Local, independent repair shops, however, have mechanics who are “jacks of all trades.” You can easily find one who is an expert in electrical and electronics, and others who specialize in mechanical systems. While they can fix your car, their skill-level may be lower than dealership technicians.


Since authorized dealers have specialists who are well-compensated for their services, they often charge a considerable amount for labor and cost of parts. You should know that dealers only quality, original equipment manufacturer (OEM) parts, which are usually very costly and may increase the cost of the repair. While getting quality parts is an advantage, the cost may be prohibitive.

Local mechanics have access to quality spare parts from third parties. These parts, also known as aftermarket parts, cost much less but can be just as reliable as OEM parts.


The location of local garages can be quite convenient. They can typically be found just around the corner, so you don’t need to drive your car hundreds of miles in order to find an authorized dealership. Additionally, you likely won’t need to wait in line for your turn. The slower pace of the corner garage often means that the mechanic is ready to take care of your car immediately.

Guarantee on Work

If you take your car to your local Richmond VA auto service, you will pay for both the service and parts. On the other hand, a dealer can perform free repairs if your car is still under warranty. The dealer is then compensated by the manufacturer for the auto service. Authorized dealers can also offer manufacturer-backed extended warranties. In terms of warranties and guarantees, dealerships are typically the best choice.

Personal Relationships

Dealers often have a large number of staff. There are managers, the technical team, and the customer support staff. The numerous different faces can make it difficult for customers to build a personal relationship with any one person at the dealership. Your corner garage typically has only a few mechanics with whom you can speak directly and build trust.


If you are a performance-oriented motor enthusiast, going to your local garage will be your best bet. This is because car dealerships only handle specific makes and models – and don’t make any special modifications to enhance the car’s performance or appearance.

Depending on your needs and your budget, the local repair shop around the corner and the car dealership in town both offer significant advantages and disadvantages. Knowing what each can and can’t do, and how they price their work, is crucial in helping you receive the best repair service for your car.