Q: My one comment to these ideas is regarding the purchase of a used car. My wife and I have bought both new and used vehicles. Buying a used car that is less than three years old typically provides the remainder of a warranty, which can be extremely helpful if the car needs expensive repairs.
A: If you buy a three-year-old used car, that's the sweet spot because cars depreciate fastest -- an average of 45 percent -- during the first three years. If a factory warranty is important to you, try a "certified pre-owned vehicle." It will be more expensive than other used cars but far less than buying new. If you are interested in a car that is not certified, here's a hot tip: Ask the dealership if you can pay just a bit more for them to certify the vehicle and include the warranty.
Sleuth Out Secret Warranties
Q: Elisabeth, Please explain "car companies offer hundreds of secret warranties" (GMA 01/05/2010).
A: A "secret warranty" is when a car maker will quietly repair your car for free to avoid issuing a formal recall. It's called a secret warranty because they don't offer to do this. You have to ask. At any given time, there are about 500 secret warranties in existence, according to the Center for Auto Safety. Finding them is tricky, but you can start by searching for technical service bulletins for your make and model. To research those, click here. (http://www.edmunds.com/maintenance/select.html). For a list of secret warranties that have already been sleuthed out by the Center for Auto Safety, click here: (http://www.autosafety.org/campaigns/23.)
Make Your Car Last
Q: It would be more valuable to tell car owners how to save money on the maintenance costs that will help us keep our cars longer.
A: In fact, there is an entire chapter in "SAVE BIG" about how to make your car last and get repairs for less. I can't post the entire book here! My publisher would kill me! But I have been sharing huge chunks of my material week by week in this space. Secret warranties, mentioned above, are one way to save on car repair costs. Free is the best savings of all! My other advice is less sexy. Spend some time finding a wonderful mechanic. You may call this simplistic, but you know what? Sometimes simplicity is beauty. Click here for several creative ways of finding a great shop. (http://www.elisabethleamy.com/web_links?web_links=chapter%2016∂=Part%20II) This reader is on the right track. Most people turn their car in every five years. One way to save big is to make it last even a little bit longer. That way you will own fewer cars in your lifetime, saving thousands.
Q: I dropped the collision and comprehensive part of my car insurance in October on advice to save but on Thanksgiving day my car, which was legally parked, was broadsided by an uninsured driver. As a result, it's my loss -- a loss of $9,000 and no transportation. My car was damaged beyond repair. Not one penny did I get to help me through my insurance company.