Vehicle Emissions & Arguments of Moral Responsibility


I simply wanted to understand vehicle emissions a little better. Before I knew it, I was reading scholarly articles on the arguments, logic and reasoning behind moral obligations to reduce recreational Sunday drives. There’s no question that the topic of emissions is a hot potato, because it’s personal. For anyone who drives or breathes air, it’s personal. We all have a connection to the issue of car emissions, whether or not we feel a responsibility for it. Let’s begin where I began.

Vehicle Emissions

How Does a Catalytic Converter Reduce Vehicle Emissions?

Wanting to know how a catalytic converter works, I set off. The idea was developed through the 1950s. In the 1970s, the three-way converter came into production. Essentially, this wonderful little assembly takes the hot, dirty exhaust from the engine’s combustion and catalyzes redox (reduction or oxidation) reactions to convert toxic pollutants to less toxic pollutants. (That is to say, one substance loses electrons, another gains them, and the ingredients all rearrange themselves into new compounds that aren’t as bad for the environment as the ones that came out of the engine). Allow me to quickly summarize the molecular gymnastics that goes on in a catalytic converter.

  • Nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and carbon monoxide (CO) are two of the main pollutants exiting the engine.
  • Once in the catalytic converter, NO2 converts to plain old N2 and O2 (nitrogen and oxygen). These are good.
  • In the next segment of the converter, nitrogen, carbon monoxide and hydrocarbons (basically, unburned fuel, or HC), plus oxygen, encounter each other.
  • Poisonous carbon monoxide meets oxygen: CO + O2 = CO2 (The resulting carbon dioxide is better for our world than carbon monoxide).
  • The hydrocarbons (HC) mix with oxygen (O2) and rearrange to become H2O and CO2.
  • Finally, the overall output is carbon dioxide (CO2), nitrogen (N2) and water vapor.

It’s really quite brilliant. But not perfect. Too much CO2 is causing trouble for our atmosphere. There’s more of it than can be used by plants or absorbed by bodies of water. Lots of cars are putting lots of it into the air. Of course, industry contributes a fair bit too. Let’s not forget about that. I think this is what the scholar was on about when he was complaining about frivolous Sunday drives.

Anyhow, depending on where you live, you may or may not be legally required to regularly test your car’s emissions. State and provincial law varies greatly on this one. If you’re looking to sell a car, you might get an emissions test done. It’s $30 that might be very well spent, in proving that an engine runs well and is road-worthy. Over the last few years, come Canadian provinces and American states have removed requirements for emissions testing, or just never had them. On-board diagnostics (OBD) in newer vehicles is impressive. Cars can diagnose their own emissions and turn on the ‘Check Engine’ light to let you know.

When you bring it to a mechanic, a diagnostic can be run to narrow down the problematic area. If work needs to be done on the catalytic converter- for example, liquid fuel is getting in there, causing it to burn too hot and melt the ceramic blocks within- make sure your mechanic finds out why the liquid fuel was getting in there in the first place. Fix the problem that caused trouble in the converter. If a replacement one goes in and the same thing happens, a manufacturer’s warranty will not cover it.

That was a rabbit trail. Back to emissions. If you want to you’ll find a heap of tricks and hints about how to pass an emissions test with a vehicle that is expected to fail. Know that behind this bothersome emissions testing lies the truth that we all need to breathe the air into which your car is kicking fumes. Emissions testing is a government’s way to protect its people and resources— albeit an controversial and money-making one.

As for my search leading me to scholarly and philosophical arguments, I have to admit that I find the question intriguing, “Do individual citizens have a moral responsibility to decrease emissions?” It’s a question worth asking, then arguing about- because arguing means you care about something, and caring is good.

The Psychology of Car Buyers Remorse & What To Do When It Hits


The second I hung up the phone, I realized that the 5-day cruise that I had just booked us onto was a mistake. I immediately called my credit card company but was too late. I called the BBB, hoping that I had, at least, given my money to a reputable company. Yes. Phew. Then it set in… that heavy, aching and ominous feeling, in the pit of my stomach. It’s called “buyer’s remorse.” It has a few others names too- “buyer’s regret” or “post-purchase dissonance.” Whatever you call it, it’s not fun.

Car Buyers Remorse

Chances are you’ve had a similar experience. Car buyer’s remorse happens frequently. Psychology would tell us that its root is in cognitive dissonance, which is the tension you feel when your thoughts, beliefs, attitudes, feelings or behaviors are at odds within yourself. You purchased that new car and perhaps paid beyond what you intended to, and now you’re at home wondering how massive of a mistake you just made.

I can’t afford this. Shame on me, it’s way too extravagant. I got conned. These are the thoughts behind car buyer’s remorse. This after-the-fact reasoning is, unfortunately, not the reasoning that convinced you to sign the sales contract. Once that sales contract is signed, the car is yours. Full stop. As soon as you drive away, the dealer does not want it back. Law likes contracts, and it will side with a dealer who has your signature on a sales contract.

But what about the 3 days I have to return the car? There is no “3 Day Rebate” law, not for a sale done with disclosure, for a car that performs as you were told it would, providing you didn’t misrepresent your credit score or who you were buying the car for. The US Federal Trade Commission’s ‘Cooling-Off Rule’ pertains to sales made at your home, workplace or other temporary location. It’s aimed at high-pressure door-to-door sales, not vehicle dealerships. Most car dealers don’t have written policies about returning a vehicle, so you’re fully at their mercy. Of course, it would be wise to talk about this in the negotiations before a car’s purchase. After a sale, it would be well worth any reputable dealer’s time, to discuss how you might renegotiate ownership of a more affordable car. However, they are under no legal obligation to extend that to you.

How to Avoid Buyer’s Remorse

Do your research. Read our car buying tips. Know what features you want and why. It’s OK to buy a pair of shoes on impulse, but not a vehicle. Be prepared by getting your credit score and financing set up ahead of time. Make sure you know how to read the numbers in the sales contract.

Make sure that you test drive the model, maybe even rent one for a week to really get a sense of its driveability and fit for your lifestyle, driving habits and body size.

Ensure that your purchase is based on reason, not emotion. Go in with a strong sense of agency- “I am prepared. I know what I want and I will walk away from a deal that isn’t perfect for me.” There will always be another deal at another time. Remind yourself that you don’t owe a sales person anything for their time. If it’s not right for you, it’s not right.

Ask yourself, “How will this be of value to me after I buy it?” That way, when you do feel a sense of regret creeping in, you can remind yourself that your decision was well-researched and made for what is important to you.

Last year was a record-setting year for vehicle sales. The 17.5 million cars and light trucks sold in in the US in 2015 broke a sales record that was 15 years old. According to the Autodata Corporation, 70% of those buyers experienced car buyer’s remorse. You owe it to yourself to do what you can to help turn that statistic around.

As for our accidental cruise, the remorse hung around while I spent the day trying to figure out how I’d tell my husband that I’d just committed $5,000 that we didn’t have to a trip that we had no idea we were even thinking of taking. His response? “The Bahamas…. Let’s do it! Let’s make this awesome.” So we set out to make something out of the regret. With a shift of thinking about the mistake, I managed to trivialize the voice that told me that I was a failure. No, I just failed at making a good decision. Big difference. Now I know better.

2016 Ford Fiesta ST Real Driver Reviews


There is no denying that the 2016 Ford Fiesta is a hot item. I’ve been hearing the buzz so I had to do some looking for myself. I have to admit, I got hung up on the Fiesta ST, so that’s what you get to hear about.

2016 Ford Fiesta

There is no shortage of very formal, and technical, reviews of the 2016 Fiesta ST. A quick search and you’ll land on more video reviews than you can watch in an evening. No, I went looking for real driver, real owner reviews- no specs, just opinions based on ownership. Many were super informative, some entertaining, and all commanded at least a little of my respect. Here is the collection of what I found out about the 2016 Ford Fiesta ST….

The 2016 Ford Fiesta, Affordable, Practical and Sporty

The 2016 Ford Fiesta ST is sporty, but refined too. It’s an affordable and practical performance car. From the rear spoiler and visible brake calipers to interior ambient lighting, it has style and appeal. Cosmetic improvements and a restyled front end are just the beginning of why Ford’s designers deserve applause. The Fiesta ST has Recaro seats to hold you in well during its quick, responsive handling around tight corners. Generous room in the front seats is afforded at the cost of the room in the back seats; there isn’t much. The seats have side bolsters such that they don’t quite fold down flat. The Sync 3Infotainment system, developed by Blackberry is way, way better than the My Ford Touch that it replaced. A super quick response touch screen- even in the corners!- makes up for its plain graphics. The dashboard gauges even have a sporty look in their font, but the boring digital display/trip meter is nothing to look at.

The Ford Fiesta is a pleasure to own and even more fun to drive. Drivers can’t help but smile, or at least smirk, as the turbocharged engine does its thing on acceleration. A smooth clutch engagement makes it an easy drive. Drivers can ‘feel’ what gear they’re in or moving to through feedback of the gear shifter. If that’s not sufficient, there’s an upshift indicator that, itself, is responsive to throttle engagement- when driven hard, the indicator does its job a little earlier so that you have adequate time to respond properly. Cool. The brake pedal gives good feedback to the driver. The Fiesta ST is absolutely amazing on corners, with tight steering and great handling all-round. You can drive it with abandon on corners and still not break the law.

Safety-wise, the 2016 Fiesta ST gets a 4 out of 5 for overall crash test protection. Driver visibility is great; you can see plenty out the side and back windows. Obviously, as a sub-compact it’s easy to park anywhere. Its CO2 emissions rating is 122 g/km. (This is on par with other subcompacts, but far lower than most performance cars of its class).

Overall, it’s obvious that those Ford folks did lots of quality checks, but Fiesta ST drivers have a few complaints too:

  • It has a small gas tank (12 gallons).
  • There are cheap knobs on the climate controls.
  • Pedal box is narrower than most cars. Wide shoes might accidentally nick the brake.
  • Leather-wrapped steering wheel feels good, but the design seems awkward and a bit too big for the car.
  • Recaro sports seats are quite narrow. Larger drivers will want to get standard seats.
  • Heated seats (in the ST-2) only have one, too-hot setting.
  • A compact console means the cup holder so close to handbrake, it’s hard to use either.
  • The cargo space is smaller than what its competitors offer.
  • The Sound Symposer is awesome when roaring down the highway but is a dull annoyance when the car is driven at slower speeds.

If I could, I’d be going out to get myself one right now, and not just because drivers consistently call it an amazing ride with a sporty feel. I’m also fiscally intelligent. The projected 3-year old resale value of the 2016 Ford Fiesta is set at 50% of its sticker price , with a 5-year resale value of 39% of its sticker price. This, by the way, puts it 3rd in its class for resale.

If buying the 2016 Ford Fiesta ST was the next big choice you made, I’d say you made a great one. Sporty, stylish, fast and fun… and it’ll hold its value. Plus, you’d have my respect; anyone who owns one of these cars will.

The Top 20 Coolest Fictional Vehicles of All Time


Think about your favorite iconic fictional cars from movies, television and other forms of pop culture. What makes them special? What is it that makes them different than any other car on the road? Sure, some of these cars look the part, but the real reason these cars are considered iconic is the fictional features hidden under the hood. You can’t get an MSRP for a 2015 Dodge Avenger with rockets and laser cannons, and you certainly can’t read an Edmunds car review of a VW Beetle with a personality of its own, but that doesn’t mean you can’t let your imagination run wild and envision yourself behind the wheel of them. This infographic features 20 fictional cars, their unique fabulous features and the MSRP or cost of these cars if you were to buy one (sans features) today.


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The Basics of Vehicle Reliability & Dependability


For many people about to purchase a car- whether it is a new model or a used one- one of the chief questions remains- how reliable is it? After all, when so much money is sunk into an investment like a vehicle, we want it to work. We want to drive it, not drop it off at the repair shop. There are a few great tools out there to help you with determining vehicle reliability , especially if purchasing a newer model. Disclaimer: Any data needs to be received with discernment and maybe even skepticism, so don’t take my word for it. Do your own research. Talk it up- word of mouth might just be your best tool for you to evaluate your best, next car.

Vehicle Reliability

Vehicle Reliability and Dependability Studies

The J.D. Power 2015 U.S. Vehicle Dependability Study was released in February 2015. Having almost completed its 26th year, this study categorizes 177 problem symptoms that your new vehicle may experience into 8 categories. The 2015 study is the result of input from 34 000 original owners of 2012 models, following up during and after 3 years of owning. In this study, the “PP100” (or, “problems per 100”) is a measure of how many problems were reported per 100 of a said model. A lower PP100 score is better.

Several key findings emerged. Primarily, 60% of the top problems reported aren’t due to malfunctions or defects but are design-related. The top trouble category was “Exterior,” followed by “Engine/Transmission” and, in third place, Audio/Communication/Entertainment/Navigation” (especially as it pertains to connectivity and usability of technology- specifically Bluetooth pairing and voice recognition). As more technology becomes standard in new vehicle models, this category will certainly become a focal point for manufacturers looking to earn re-purchase loyalty. Because I know you’re curious, the top five scoring vehicle makes in the J.D. Power study are: Lexus (4th year in a row at the top, with a PP100 score of 110), Toyota (111), Cadillac (114), Honda & Porsche are tied for fourth ranking (116). The bottom-ranking brand earned a PP100 score of 273. The industry average was 147 this year. Note that this 2015 study was redesigned significantly, so be careful in drawing comparisons between it and previous years’ reports. Look for the 2016 report to be released next month.

Another popular report to consider is the 2015 Consumer Reports’ Vehicle Reliability Study. It seems to be relatively consistent with the findings of the J.D. Power Report. Again, Lexus tied with Toyota (2nd year in a row) on the top of this list. Audi comes in at number two for reliability and a three-way tie happened for third between Subaru, Kia & Mazda. Surprising to many, Be warned; whatever reasons, there exists some opposition to Consumer Reports. I’m just letting you know that the tool, the information is there.

I stumbled across the Long Term Quality Index (LTQI); it caught my eye mostly because the above-mentioned reports look closely at new models, but the LTQI does the opposite. It’s an interesting tool, and worth looking at. It’s quantified data from 300 000+ cars, based on information given at time of trade-in. (Yes, I know, such gross possibility for under-reporting might be cause to throw out said data, but I figure that the skew caused by a Toyota owner who underreported something is balanced out by the Mazda owner, the Ford owner, the ­(insert brand here)­­ owner who also did the same). If nothing else, it’s an intriguing set of graphics displaying a variety of issues around longevity and vehicle reliability, as well as life span mileage. For the data heads among us, it’s worth a peek.

On a purchase- no, an investment- of this magnitude, you owe it to yourself to look a little beyond the flash that sometimes blinds you when you walk onto the car sales lot. Take some time, ahead of your visit, to explore and learn from the stories of vehicle owners who may be able to save you some precious time and money. There is no best car for you to buy; just a best car for you. It is up to you to do the work to find out which vehicle that is. Good luck!

Tips to Resell Your Vehicle


Part of the rhythm of being a driver is to own, then sell, then purchase, then sell… you get the picture. Make life a little easier for yourself and read these vehicle resale value tips for how to get a great resale of your car. First of all, though it may be too late for the car you are currently looking to sell, know that from the moment you buy a car, you are prepping it for resale down the road. Care for it thoroughly, maintain it regularly, and keep organized records of service.

Vehicle resale value

But let’s talk about the car that you own right now. Do you want to sell it yourself? Typically, this will put the most money into your pocket, but it certainly comes with a few hassles that you may be happy to pay someone else for. Maybe you want to bring it to a dealer and trade it in? Some states offer tax benefits when you choose to do this. Regardless of how you sell it, the question remains, “How can you get the best vehicle resale value and experience from the resale of your vehicle?”

Most Important To Remember When Aiming For Highest Vehicle Resale Value:

Above all, remember that first impressions are all that many people have to go on. Some would-be purchasers have done research on the car (your car) that they are about to evaluate for purchase. But most are not car experts; they will go on their first impressions of how the car looks, smells, sounds. Have it professionally washed, detailed and waxed. Money spent on this will easily be recovered in a higher sale price. Have minor scratches buffed. Do any repairs and maintenance that you can- get an oil change, top up fluids under the hood, pump up tires. Take time to get it ready for showing. Be sure to answer emails and messages promptly if you are trying to sell your vehicle. Consumers like customer service.

Get a fair sense of what your car is worth before listing it. Be honest about the condition it is in. Car Buying Strategies is an excellent resource for getting started on this. It’s a repository of helpful car buying and selling information. You’ll resell your car at a competitive price when you’ve done good research.

When you write up a listing, be choosy with your words. Every word, especially in your title, should count. Use keywords that you know buyers might be searching for- sedan, great condition, low mileage. Don’t just list the year, make and model but also any extras such as whether it has any added equipment or special features that you have added to it. Give details that may become an issue because you don’t want to surprise a potential buyer with it when they come to view the car- for example, if there is mentionable wear and tear. Be succinct and honest about the car. Describe what you’ve enjoyed about driving and owning it. Is it great for families? For an active lifestyle? The ideal commuter car? This will help draw an appropriate, interested buyer. Take good quality photos, in suitable light, and lots of them- inside and out- but especially of things like the body of the car, trunk, side-view of interior. Market it online for a broad audience. Putting out an ad in local hard copy print materials won’t hurt either.

Check with your insurance company to make sure that a test drive by a stranger is covered. When the potential buyer shows up to see the car, have paperwork ready, in case the car is the right one for them. Contact the DMV to be certain that you’ve got the right information on the paperwork. If going on a test drive with the potential buyer alone is uncomfortable to you, feel free to invite someone else along. If all goes well, you’ll get to the actual transaction. Accepting cash is never a good idea; a certified check is the best way to go about it. The more paper trail you can leave, the better. Make sure that you save a copy of it for yourself!

It takes time to resell a vehicle well, to make sure that both parties get a fair deal. Take the required time, don’t be afraid to ask some experts for advice on it, and you might even find it an enjoyable and empowering experience!

Auto Repair: Service by Dealership or Local Mechanic?


It’s a question for which there is no single, best answer- only the best one for you. Whether you should or shouldn’t get your your auto repair performed at the corner repair shop or at a dealership depends on several factors. Only you can answer that question.

Auto Repair

At a dealership, the technicians (aka, ‘mechanics’) are trained for and experienced in working on the car that you bring to them- in so far as the mechanics aren’t fresh out of their schooling. That being said, a privately-owned auto repair shop is usually staffed with mechanics that have experience over years of working in different shops (often got their start in a dealership) on a wide variety of car makes and models, and they have expertise on what’s under the hood of a vehicle. They could be a one-stop shop for your family’s vehicles of multiple makes.

An experienced auto repair mechanic is not just a parts-replacer, but can diagnose a vacuum leak just by the sound he is hearing; he or she is familiar enough with the specific mechanics of the parts in a vehicle to know the interchangeability of older parts with newer versions of the same. Regardless of who services your vehicle, make sure that they are certified to do so. It is perfectly fine for you to poke around a bit and ask about certification and extra training.

Specifically, look for some of these standards of auto repair certification:

  • Automotive Service Excellence, “ASE”
  • AAA (or CAA, in Canada)
  • NAPA Autocare
  • Better Business Bureau, “BBB”
  • PPG Certification
  • Parts Plus Car Care
  • I-CAR
  • AIA (in Canada)

As far as figuring out what’s wrong, access to electronic diagnostics is par for the course at a dealership. It helps a mechanic more quickly figure out which specific valve or sensor or (insert trouble car part here) needs replacing. The equipment is micro chipped for different makes and models and a mechanic simply needs to insert the chip required for the specific car being worked on. This diagnostic equipment is expensive for the local mechanic; however, many are choosing to purchase them as part of the increasing overhead costs to remain competitive with the service that a dealership can offer.

At a dealership, mechanics use original manufacturers’ parts. These genuine parts- usually kept in a centralized dealership for cost and ease of storage- are ordered and delivered as they are needed. Hopefully for you, that can happen quickly. However, more and more dealerships do not carry parts in an inventory, so it is not uncommon to have to leave your car at the dealership shop for a few days, waiting for a specific part to arrive and be installed. The other option is to take your car home and make a second appointment once the part comes in. The original parts used by a dealership are more expensive, but usually of higher quality. A local mechanic, on the other hand, has the option to order (and have same-day, express-delivered!) parts from a local parts store, as he or she is not bound to using original, genuine parts. A corner shop mechanic can choose to use ‘jobber’ parts that have been refurbished and are available at a much cheaper price.

Knowing your mechanic may or may not be critical to you, but for some people it is. At a dealership, there is no guarantee that your car will ever be worked on by the same person twice; whereas at a local, smaller shop, the mechanic can get to know you, as well as your car and its quirks, with consistency.

Generally, the costs at your local mechanic shop are a bit higher; they have a higher overhead costs, and mechanics working there tend to be paid a higher hourly rate. At a dealership, money often comes from your pocket and into perks like shuttles or loaner cars, technician training in proprietary information and skills for new yearly models, plus a comfy waiting room with a fancy coffee machine. Again, if you feel that what you pay is buying dependable service and quality work, that is what answers the question for you.

Loyalty is, perhaps, the biggest part of the answer to our question. Ultimately, a driver will take their car to a mechanic or shop that they trust. If you have been bringing your vehicle to a dealership while under warranty for all maintenance and repairs, and find that the customer service is consistent and reliable and the cost is justified, then by all means, let that loyalty lead you. Other drivers might choose a local repair shop simply because it means that they can also get to know their car’s mechanic, not just the front-desk guy.

Regardless of where you get your car maintained and repaired, the important thing is that you get it done. Replacing the timing belt regularly isn’t just something a garage tells you so that you’ll come in and spend your money. Getting frequent oil changes means far more than a new sticker on your window every once in a while. Make sure to do your homework by checking out wherever you are considering. Ask around… word of mouth turns out to be a pretty reliable indicator of the quality of work and service that any shop can provide to its customers.

Wanna buy a Subaru?- A Peek Into the World of Right Hand Drive Cars


I am a traditionalist. I like convention and norms. Over the last few years, as I see an increasing number of right hand drive cars on the road, and after my little brother tries to convince me to buy his right hand drive car Subaru from him, I ask myself, What is the draw to these right hand drive cars? Are they worth owning?

Right Hand drive Cars

People make their choice for a vehicle by a variety of criteria- novelty, cost, functionality, interest and a dozen other reasons. In a world where two-thirds of its citizens drive a LHD on the right side of the road, more and more North Americans each year are choosing to import right hand drive cars. When the craze first hit the continent, the imports were often high performance cars; think, twin turbo with intercooler and the power of 300 horses. In the hands of eager, young drivers, right hand drive cars initially got a bad name. But times are changing. A wider range of motor vehicle imports are landing in the hands of a wider range of people. Many right hand drive cars are available for low cost, and they often come with very low mileage and a body that is in great condition. Shipping of such a car begins at a cost of around $1 500 USD to several thousand, depending on the car and shipping company.

Unfortunately, for those who want to import a right hand drive car into North America, registration, licensing and insuring a right hand drive car is a most difficult endeavor. Dozens of insurance companies may reject you before you find one that won’t. Studies around procedural road safety have scared away wannabe RHD owners. Making a left hand turn or passing another car seem to be the most popular accusations. In the numbers and details of insurance claims for RHD vehicles, however, there is no corroboration for these arguments. There simply seems to be not-enough data to make any sweeping claims either for or against RHD safety.

Other Considerations for Right Hand Drive Cars in North America

Another consideration for importing a RHD car is the inconvenience around maintenance and repair, which translates directly into cost for the owner. A foreign vehicle sometimes requires foreign parts which are expensive and very slow to make their way across the globe to your mechanic’s repair shop. You can be certain that some modifications will be required (e.g. headlights that were directed to the ditch on the left are now shining in the eyes of an oncoming driver). These should always be done by a certified mechanic. Converting your car to a LHD is also possible, at a variety of levels and costs. For a professional conversion, it will run you up a bill of around $20 000 USD.

Make sure that you are committed to your RHD vehicle. When it comes time to sell your imported car, it may not be as easy as you’d wish it to be. Very few dealers will take it as a trade-in, and personally selling a specialty car is just that much more difficult.

RHDs are not just a hot topic in North America, by the way. Around the world, there are interesting stories going on and lobbying on both sides of the issue. Recently, the president of Rwanda lifted a ban on 20+ year old RHD trucks and buses only, so that the country might increase cross-border transportation and thus, investment. In Spain, only immigrants are permitted to import and register a RHD; residents are not. Many governments ban imports that are not of a minimum age. In the US, a car older than 21 years is exempt from meeting EPA restrictions. If it’s 25+ years old (from the date of manufacture, which you’ll have to prove), it is also exempt from having to comply with DOT Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards. Canada may allow a car that is 15 years or older to be imported as long as it complies with Canadian safety standards; regulation and licensing is governed provincially. (For example, Quebec currently has stricter legislation around RHDs than other provinces).

One thing is clear, however, no matter where in the world you look at the issue of importing a RHD vehicle into a LHD country; there is often a lot of red tape surrounding it. Make sure you’ll be allowed to register it. Make sure it’s going to be street legal and meet all inspection requirements- or have a plan to pay for someone certified to make those changes. Ahead of time, find someone willing to insure it. You can get started now in filling out the governmental forms you’ll need to import your RHD- there’s a lot of them. In short, do your homework.

I have to admit that I was tempted to buy my brother’s right hand drive Subaru from him. But I never did. Right now, someone else is enjoying it. I wouldn’t have known what to do with that many ponies under the hood, anyway. I instead purchased a Camry. Each to his own, I suppose.

Is It Possible to Outsmart Vehicle Depreciation?


I asked myself this question sometime in the last few weeks as I am considering getting a new, used car. It’s an emotionally charged issue because the dialogue touches on value. The conversation is not just about how you spend money or how much money you spend on a vehicle that is new to you, but also about why you choose to spend it. Some see buying a new car as fiscally unintelligent and have vehicle depreciation at the forefront of their mind; others go out of their way to buy new.

Vehicle Depreciation

The best way to address the question is to say a tentative “Yes, there are ways to be smart about depreciation.” However, depreciation exists to knock off dollars from a vehicle’s worth over either a short or long time, so no it cannot be entirely outsmarted or avoided. Really, it’s beyond the scope of one article, but I will summarize the findings of my short time of research.

First of all, I will not assume that you even know what vehicle depreciation is. Essentially, it is a fact of the car industry that used vehicles sell for less than new ones. As soon as you buy a new vehicle and take it off the lot, it has now become a “used” car and will be worth less. That is depreciation. This specific, “off-the-lot” depreciation runs anywhere from 10-30% off the price you just paid for it. (I know, a ridiculously big range. Stick with 10-20% and you’ll cover most of the figures I found online). Add to that, the additional loss of value with each passing year of a car’s life. The curve of a depreciation line is much steeper in the first several years, a small but critical fact to remember in the topic at hand. Depreciation is a complicated mix of the economy at the time of resale, the condition and accident history of the car, mileage, and current market demand for it. It has a lot to do with perceived value of ‘new’ over ‘used’; ultimately, dealers need to make the purchase of a ‘new’ car compelling. Generally, a vehicle with high reliability will have a much lower depreciation rate because car owners seek out a vehicle that is dependable and not a sinkhole for repair costs. This popularity buffers a vehicle from rapid depreciation.

You have three choices to combat vehicle depreciation:

  1. buy used and let someone else pay that depreciation;
  2. buy new with the intent of holding onto the vehicle for at least 10 years;
  3. lease a new car so that you will not have to deal with a loss in value of the car you are driving. You’ll simply finish your lease and walk away.

When a new car is acquired, depreciation is an expense that the new owner must cover. He just has to absorb it; he will never get it back. If you were to purchase a used car that is 3 or 4 years old, the previous owner has already paid over half of that vehicle’s depreciation for you, since the depreciation rate is much higher in those years. Even better, buy a car that is 7 or 8 years old and avoid having to absorb depreciation almost entirely. Be sure to find out the consumer complaints that the model you are looking for has, so that you can have a sense of likely repairs that may be around the corner.

If you plan to buy a brand new car, know the depreciation rate of it. To not do so, is to have no real idea of the cost you are about to absorb. (I’m guessing that if you’re reading this article, you aren’t one of the lucky few who can purchase a car without worrying about the price tag). There are several great depreciation calculators online for you to use. Though they are unable to consider all of the factors of depreciation, they are a good place to start. Based on average rates, they can help you have a sense of what you’re heading for. Also, know that you can haggle over the sticker price with the car dealer; it’s just a suggested price. Why not pay less from the start? Plan to hold onto your car for as long as you can. After about ten years, the depreciation rate is negligible. Do some research- buy a car with a reliable reputation, maintain it well inside and out, and you will be doing much to slow the depreciation of your car until you consider reselling it.

Your third option is to lease. In leasing, you essentially pay only for the depreciation of the new car. When you are done your 2 or 3-year lease, you can walk away and begin again on another new car. Leasing appeals to many people for reasons that may or may not be financial; some of the benefits have to do with lifestyle, or risk aversion, or just wanting to try out new cars. Don’t be quick to judge or dismiss leasing as a possibility for you. Though it does not build equity like owning a car does, it can offer other benefits that may be of value to you.

Know that from the moment you buy your next car, you are prepping it for resale down the road. Care for it thoroughly, maintain it regularly, and keep organized records of service- but most of all, enjoy it! No matter how you acquire your next car, let Car Buying Strategies walk with you through that process. Expertise goes a long way in this industry and Car Buying Strategies has it- guides, tips and advice, whether you’re buying new or used.

Are ‘American-Made’ Cars Still a Big Deal?


As it turns out, no- not to everyone. The once-pronounced gap between “foreign” and “domestic” vehicles has narrowed. Many car brand companies are global companies, moving money, parts and increasingly, plants, beyond their own borders. Purchasing a Toyota no longer guarantees a car manufactured in Japan. Do not be misled, however; this does not mean there is still not a very vocal contingent of North Americans that will lobby until they (or you) are blue in the face with the many reasons why you should buy a car from one of the Big Three. Nevertheless, what it does mean is that some of the lines that once demarcated foreign from domestic vehicles are blurred.

American Made Cars

There will always be loyalists- to a make, to a model, to a nation. But in this ever-increasing global economy and milieu, the world’s citizens are becoming less focused on the origin of a car whether it be an American made car or other and more concerned with its functionality, cost, reliability and resale. The gap in quality and reliability has somewhat narrowed over the last several years.

Though some may not like to hear it, foreign cars continue to dominate when it comes to dependability. According to the 2015 J.D. Power U.S. Vehicle Dependability Study, of the 19 brands above industry average, 8 of them are foreign cars. Of the top ten brands, four are a foreign make. Even more telling, perhaps, is that only one in the bottom ten is a foreign car.

Similarly, Consumer Reports’ 2015 Reliability Study places only Buick in its top ten, with the rest of the Big Three in the bottom half of the rankings. This is not good news for some. European brands finished ahead of most domestic cars, but behind those from Asia. Even Tesla dropped from average to below average over the last three model years. Over 1 400 owners of the Model S were polled for that one. Despite very high results on the road test, Consumer Reports cannot recommend the Tesla as it just didn’t perform when it came to dependability.

As for mileage, it’s still not much of a competition. The Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) index is the result of manufacturers giving their mileage numbers to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration who passes it onto the EPA for verification. Look it up and you’ll see the walloping that domestic cars are getting when held up against the mileage of foreign vehicles.

But it’s an argument that loves to be had. Does a vehicle qualify as “American-made” when it has at least 50% of its parts made in America? What percent of a car qualifies it as foreign? Does it matter where it is assembled? In whose factory? And by whom? Does it depend on where that company’s headquarters are? The companies that manufacture vehicles are global companies. From headquarter offices, to assembly plants, to distribution networks, to franchise owners, these companies end up creating cash flow at a variety of levels and in a variety of locations. They (hopefully) pay taxes in more than one country. They buy supplies locally and source parts from as nearby as they can (which, lucky for us, results in lower sticker prices!) You need to decide how much you care about these issues. If the argument of domestic vs. foreign matters to you, then what kind of a car you invest in matters for you. But if it doesn’t, those are moot points.

Ultimately, you will have to make a choice for your next car. After that, you will have to live with it. The only advice I dare throw your way is to remind you to do your homework. Ask around- even digital word-of-mouth (aka, online reviews) will be a great help for you in choosing a good fit. Don’t be afraid to test drive vehicles, or even rent them for a week from a local car rental company. You want to trust the car you buy, regardless of where it was made. Good luck! (By the way, if you’re curious, look at your car’s vehicle identification number on the manufacturer’s label. If it begins with a 1, 4 or 5, it was assembled in North America).