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Fall Auto Guide 2019 • Repairing water-damaged cars • Cut costs of owning a vehicle • Buyers’ guide to financing a vehicle • Tips for staying safe with keyless systems • Are auto financing rates negotiable? • Indicators of engine trouble

A Special supplement to The Daily Republic and ADvisor October, 2019


Fall Auto Guide

2

October 2019

Local mechanics challenged to keep up with repairing water-damaged cars By Sam Fosness The Daily Republic

Automobiles and water don’t bode well together, and plenty of Mitchell drivers have learned that the hard way. In the wake of the recent September flooding that doused Mitchell with between 7 and 10 inches of rain in a two-day span, some local auto mechanic shops are working overtime to keep up with the volume of waterlogged vehicles. Scott Maeschen, owner of Lawler Automotive., is one mechanic who has seen a big spike in vehicles that suffered from water damage during the flooding. “Some people got really lucky though, and we had one car that had water wash on top of the engine, and it started right up,” he said. “We had another truck the other day that the owner took all the sparks plug out, and the water squirted out of the tail pipe as fast as a garden hose.”

Of the waterlogged vehicles Lawler Automotive has worked to repair thus far, Maeschen estimated nearly 20 percent of the automobiles were totaled. Although the make and model of an automobile can play a role in whether a vehicle sustains more water damage than others, Maeschen said the placement of a car’s air cleaners and filters is a major component to how much water gets inside the interior and engine. “Some air cleaners can suck air right under the bottom of the front bumper, which makes it really vulnerable to get more water damage,” Maeschen said. “If the air cleaners were on top of the radiator, it wouldn’t have as much water problems. “Older cars that don’t have airbags in them, and some of the older cars that do have air bag modules are under the seat and a lot of people got water under the seat,” he added.

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Fall Auto Guide 3

October 2019

3 ways to cut the costs of owning a vehicle When buying a new vehicle, many consumers are fixated on sticker prices. And that’s understandable, as the automotive resource Kelley Blue Book noted that, in March 2018, the average transaction price for light vehicles purchased in the United States was more than $35,000. But as any veteran vehicle owner knows, the costs of owning a car or truck go beyond sticker price. Maintenance, insurance and fuel are some of the additional expenses that are part of owning a vehicle. And while it can be hard to get dealers to lower a sticker price, drivers can take other steps to reduce the cost of owning a vehicle.

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1. Make a long-term commitment. Many drivers finance their auto purchases with loans from the bank. When loans reach maturity, or if drivers pay the loans off early, only then are they free from monthly payments. But over the years many drivers have equated the maturity dates on their auto loans with a time to buy a new car, essentially starting the process all over again. By resolving to keep their cars once their loans are paid off, drivers are making a longterm commitment to their vehicles and saving some money along the way. Even keeping a car that required a $400 monthly loan payment for one year after paying the loan off can

whether the interior of the cab had water seep in. From Page 2 “If the water doesn’t get into the interior of the car and the engine or While water damage destructs the motor, the damage won’t be so bad,” engine and transmission of a vehicle, Maeschen said. “But those that had Maeschen said water can wreak havoc water in the cab were mostly totaled.” Shawn Hohn, manager of Larry’s on an automobile’s electronic system. “Some people may try to start their I-90, said most of the vehicles he car when they shouldn’t have after worked on that were deemed a total the flooding, and it may bend a rod,” loss saw water damage climb as Maeschen said, noting the water on high as the bottom of the windows. top of the piston is what causes a rod The length of time a vehicle sits in standing water and the height of to bend When fuel is ignited, it changes water the vehicle was submerged are from a liquid to gas state, causing the among the factors Hohn said are most gas to rapidly expand. According to important in assessing the health of Maeschen, the energy created from the engine and transmission. “For instance, if water gets high the explosion is what allows a vehicle to run and the piston is the component enough to get in an engine and of the engine that harnesses that transmission, oil and water don’t power. Because rods are what connect mix,” Hohn said. “We just had a the piston to the crankshaft, an vehicle that came in (recently), and engine relies on a straight rod to it was in high enough water that it survive. “That compresses the air and somehow got some water in the oil fuel mixture, and you can’t compress of the engine. So now it has a rod water, so it bends something like a bearing knocking and it’s going to need an engine.” rod,” he said. Vehicle owners who had even a To prevent a rod from bending after heavy amounts of water submerge slight amount of water seep into the a portion of the vehicle, Maeschen transmission and opt not to seek a said taking the spark plugs out of the mechanic or the advice of automobile vehicle before trying to start the car is experts run the risk of long-term an important step to reduce bending damage, adding more financial burden to potential vehicle repairs. rods. Another standard measurement of “Over time, that water will whether a car had a good chance just destroy the internals of a of surviving the water damage is transmission,” Hohn said.

save drivers nearly $5,000 in loan payments, and even more if drivers reduce their insurance coverage once the vehicle is officially theirs. 2. Downsize your vehicle. Parents cart kids around town in minivans or SUVs that have the capacity to hold sports gear, musical instruments, etc. But if the kids are out of the house or still under your roof but now behind the wheels of their own car, consider downsizing to a small vehicle. Small vehicles are typically less expensive to purchase, and they won’t cost as much to insure or fill up at the gas station. 3. Skip the bells and whistles. Today’s drivers may want their cars to be mobile offices and entertainment centers outfitted with all the latest gadgets and accessories. Though such accessories might be nice, they aren’t necessary to get you from point A to point B. When buying a new car, buy

the base model or one step up from the base model, which could save you thousands of dollars right off the bat. Driving is a necessity that does not come cheap. But there are many ways for motorists to reduce the costs of vehicle ownership.

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Fall Auto Guide

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October 2019

Buyers’ guide to financing a vehicle The price of the average car continues to rise. Analysts at Edmunds estimate the average transaction price of a new vehicle now hovers at roughly $36,000. Few people can walk into a car dealership and pay such a price in cash, which means that savvy shoppers need to familiarize themselves with the financing process in order to get their dream rides. In addition to finding the perfect car or truck, buyers must spend time researching the ideal way to pay for it. Car loans are key to the car-buying process. Too often shoppers wait until they’re in the negotiating seat at the dealership before they even know what they can spend, and this can be

a mistake. A poor financing deal hurts buyers over the long run and may lead to defaulting on the loan and dealing with the credit fallout that defaulting produces. Vehicle financing is a step-by-step process that should begin long before consumers even pick out a car. Examine your spending and saving. Start by looking at your finances and establish a budget. How much cash do you have on hand for a down payment? Also, how much can you comfortably devote to a new car payment and requisite auto insurance? You can use automotive loan calculators to get a rough idea of what a particular car will cost you in terms of monthly

payments. Know your credit standing. Great credit will give you financing leverage. Understand your credit score and which factors may be bringing it down. Resolve any issues well before you apply for financing so a bad score will not hurt you. Visit lenders. The financing deal offered by the dealership might not be the best price possible. You can get preapproved/prequalified for an auto loan the same way you do for a home mortgage at banks and credit unions. This helps you secure the best interest rate possible. It also provides negotiating power. A preapproval letter puts you in the position as

a stronger “cash buyer,” states the financial resource NerdWallet. Set a firm buying price. Preapprovals and working with a third-party lender gives you a specific amount of money you know you can borrow. Use this as a tool to keep the negotiated price low because you cannot exceed your pre-approved amount. It also may be a way to push dealership finance managers to contact their own captive lenders to try to beat the rate offered by your existing lender. Work is needed to secure the best price on a new car, and that work begins long before visiting a dealership.


Fall Auto Guide 5

October 2019

Tips for staying safe with keyless systems Auto manufacturers have long embraced technology that can streamline the automotive experience for drivers. For example, several years ago keyless entry and ignition systems were introduced, initially on highend vehicles before they became standard on many other models. Keyless entry systems require a fob, which sends a signal to the receiver inside the vehicle. The fob transmits a low-frequency code to the car’s internal computer system, which engages the locks and will allow the driver to push a button on the dashboard or console to start the vehicles. The fob can be stashed away in a pocket or purse and still send the signal, which makes it convenient for drivers. Drivers with arthritis or hand injuries also may find keyless systems an asset.

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Fall Auto Guide

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October 2019

Are auto financing rates negotiable? When buying a home, buyers are often on the lookout for the most competitive interest rate they can find. Buyers may request estimates from various lenders in the hopes of finding low interest rates that can save them tens of thousands of dollars over the life of the loan. Car buyers may not know it, but similar due diligence can be performed when buying a new car. According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, buyers

may be able to negotiate with dealers in an effort to secure the lowest auto loan interest rate possible. The CFPB notes that, with dealerarranged financing, dealers collect information from buyers and then forward that information to potential lenders. Those lenders then choose whether or not to finance the loan. Those that propose financing will offer a rate, referred to as the “buy rate,” to the dealer. The interest rate

negotiated between the buyer and the dealer may be higher than the buy rate, as it accounts for the effort the dealer put forth in arranging the financing. However, buyers may be able to negotiate to receive the buy rate, or least something closer to the buy rate than the dealer initially offered. Buyers also should know that they have options other than dealerarranged financing. Before visiting a dealership, buyers can contact banks,

credit unions or other lenders to get preapproval for an auto loan. In such instances, these lenders will quote buyers an interest rate, and buyers can then compare those quoted rates with the ones they receive from dealers, ultimately choosing the best rate for them.

the Netherlands and the University of Birmingham found that, by From Page 5 intercepting the wireless signal just twice, they could narrow down the Because fobs work on wireless possible combinations from billions systems, hackers potentially can intercept the fob-to-car signal. That to just 200,000. After that, a computer enables a thief to not only open the can figure out the code in just half an vehicle’s doors, but also to potentially hour and unlock the car. Potentially, drive away as well. Even though the a thief can gather car codes as drivers fob/car security pairing is unique enter their vehicles during the day, and can create billions of codes, then return later to steal a number researchers at Radboud University in of cars.

Thieves who purchase signal amplifiers also pose a threat. These amplifiers magnify the reach of the fob signal so that a vehicle owner can be in his or her house with the fob, but the thief can walk up to the car and open it — even if the fob is far enough away that it should not engage. One way to circumvent this is to buy a signal-blocking pouch that can hold the key fob. Also, an oldschool steering wheel or gear shift lock is an effective way to provide

another layer of protection. Drivers also should be aware of their surroundings as they approach their vehicles. Thieves may count on keyless entry systems to be able to hop into a vehicle once the owner gets within range and drive away. Vehicle technology thrives to make driving as convenient as possible, but some features also may make things more convenient for prospective thieves.

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October 2019

Fall Auto Guide 7

3 potential indicators of engine trouble

Many drivers have found themselves stranded on the side of the road at one point or another. Whether the culprit is engine trouble, a flat tire or another issue, finding oneself stranded on the side of the road in need of assistance is an often helpless feeling that no one wants to experience twice. Even drivers whose automotive clubs or insurance companies provide roadside assistance services want to avoid using such services. One way to do just that is to learn about potential indicators of engine trouble. 1. Warning lights Vehicle warning lights exist for a reason. According to the automotive retailer Pep Boys, a check engine light typically illuminates when vehicle sensors detect there are issues stemming from a loss of power. This can be dangerous, and Pep Boys recommends drivers pull over and call for a tow the moment the light comes on. In addition to check engine lights, drivers should heed warning lights referring to oil pressure and oil levels. 2. Poor gas mileage An easy way for drivers to monitor vehicle performance is to keep gas mileage in mind. If a vehicle suddenly feels like it’s not getting as much mileage out of a tank of gas as it used to, this might be indicative of engine troubles. A fuel additive such as a fuel injector cleaner might be helpful because it can clean clogged fuel

injectors that can affect performance and lead to poor acceleration. However, the automotive retailer Advance Auto Parts notes that such products are not a one-size-fits-all cure. If vehicles continue to suffer from reduced gas mileage, drivers should bring them to a mechanic for a thorough examination. 3. Jerking Some signs of engine trouble are not as subtle as reduced gas mileage. Vehicles that begin to jerk while they’re being driven are likely suffering from some form of engine trouble. Jerking might put a scare in drivers, but it’s not necessarily the result of a major problem, even if it is one that should be addressed immediately. A jerking vehicle that stalls puts drivers, their passengers and other motorists at risk of accident, so bring this issue to the attention of your mechanic immediately. Poorly functioning spark plugs may be the culprit behind jerking, and that’s a relatively inexpensive and quick fix. However, other issues can cause jerking as well, so don’t delay in speaking with your mechanic. Vehicles may indicate engine troubles in various ways. Drivers should contact their mechanics immediately whenever they suspect engine trouble is affecting their vehicles. Source: Metro Creative

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Fall Auto Guide

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October 2019

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Auto Guide Fall 2019  

Check out the Fall 2019 edition of The Daily Republic's Auto Guide. #hifromSD #mitchellSD #vehicles #fall #AutoTips #repairing #costcutting

Auto Guide Fall 2019  

Check out the Fall 2019 edition of The Daily Republic's Auto Guide. #hifromSD #mitchellSD #vehicles #fall #AutoTips #repairing #costcutting