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New vs. Used Car – 6 Benefits of Buying a Slightly

Other than your home, your car might be the most expensive purchase that you ever make. I love nice cars, but I also try to manage my finances responsibly. As a result, I have reluctantly come to the conclusion that a new car is an unnecessary expense.
Sure, you can find overpriced used cars and bargain buys on brand-new vehicles, but it’s not just the sticker price that makes a new car a waste. The associated fees, subsequent costs, and losses in value (i.e. depreciation) add up to thousands of dollars over the first few years of new car ownership. This is especially bad news if you end up upside down on your car loan.
On the other hand, a “slightly-used” car – one that’s only around two years old and has under 30,000 miles on it – can help you keep cash in your pocket without sacrificing quality. Below are 6 benefits of buying a used car (in like-new condition) over a brand new one.
1. Used Cars: Lower Price Tag, Less Depreciation
Remember the old adage that a new car loses thousands of dollars in value the moment you drive it off the lot? It’s still true, and it’s why used cars are better bargains. It’s also why you can buy a 2007 Porsche for the price of a 2011 Honda. Someone bought the Porsche for $50,000 and now it can be yours for $25,000.
Think about the average price of buying new. Figures from CNW Marketing Research show that the average price of a new car in 2008 was $25,536 before taxes and fees. That car could now be worth around $13,000. Would you rather be the original buyer, who lost $12,000 or $13,000, or the second buyer who saves that much?
If you buy a car that’s one or two years old, it’ll still depreciate, but you’ll lose less money less quickly. And you’ll avoid that big initial hit that the previous owner took.

2. Sales Tax on New Cars  

Every ad for a new car glosses over the tax issue. Many state laws subject new cars to state sales tax, but not used cars. In Georgia, for example, if you buy a used car from a private seller, you won’t owe any sales tax at all. Comparatively, the sales tax that dealers have to add to the price of a new car can be thousands of dollars. Don’t underestimate the savings, and research your state’s laws on the subject before you make a decision. 

3. Falling Registration Fees  

In most states, the rate of your annual registration fee is based on your car’s value and its model year. In Colorado, for example, registration fees fall dramatically during the first few years after a car is manufactured. The rate is highest in the first three years, and then levels off after five years. If your state has similar rules, you can save about a thousand dollars by avoiding the new car registration fees and buying a car that’s at least three, or better yet five, years old.

4. Useless Extras on New Cars, Cheaper Features on Used Cars

The oldest trick in the dealer’s book is to install additional dealer options. They’ll add a pinstripe, a protective film, or the immortal “anti-rust coating,” but new car buyers who want these add-ons can easily get them for a much lower cost from an after-market installer. Regardless, these changes don’t add a dime to the car’s resale value anyway. When you buy used, you may not get every feature you want, but you certainly won’t end up paying extra for things you didn’t ask for.
On the other hand, when you search for specific features that you do want in a used car, like a sunroof or navigation system, you’ll pay far less than the original owner did. Instead of needing to decline a dealer’s expensive navigation package with fees and surcharges, you’ll be able to afford the built-in features.

5. Dealers and Their Crazy Fees 

As if paying $500 for rust-proofing isn’t bad enough, dealers hit new car buyers with shipping charges, destination fees, and “dealer preparation.” These fees feel even worse because unlike the unnecessary, unwanted pinstripe, owners have absolutely nothing to show for these charges except a lower bank account. When you buy a used car, you’ll have to visit the DMV to pay tag, title, and registration fees, but you won’t deal with any of the nonsense that dealers add.
Instead of caving to dealer fees and buying new, you take on a more powerful role when you’re in the market to buy a used car. You have a much better case for negotiating when you can tell a private seller you might just walk away from their old car. If they bought new, they’re not going to know everything you know about the benefits of buying used. They’ll be eager to keep you at the negotiating table.

6. Condition 

Nowadays, cars are built to last for at least 100,000 miles, so you don’t have to sacrifice reliability and overall condition just to get a good deal on a used car. You can get a used (or “pre-owned”) car that’s scratch-free and in excellent mechanical shape. In fact, if you know anything about cars, you should be able to find one that is in “like new” condition.
However, if you’re not comfortable under the hood, you can rely on the certification programs and extended long-term car warranties that most car makers offer. When you buy a used car at a manufacturer’s dealership, you’ll know that they’ve inspected the vehicle and that it meets the strict requirements for certification. The biggest benefit you might find is the manufacturer’s warranty for used cars. Toyota, for example, offers a seven-year 100,000-mile warranty on certified used vehicles. This kind of peace of mind is crucial when buying a used car.

Final Word 

New cars smell great, but how much is that scent really worth? By looking beyond the sale price and considering the total cost of buying new, you can get a better idea of how much you are really going to pay for the privilege of being the first owner of your next car. You might have to spend a little extra time on research, but from the initial price to the long-term costs, you’ll thank yourself for buying a slightly-used car that’s in good condition.

Originally Published on moneycrashers.com
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Meet Dominator Fore, the Storm-Chasing Subaru Fore

Extreme meteorologist Reed Timmer, of the upcoming National Geographic show Category 6, talks up his trusted (and dented) ride.

When Subaru trended on Twitter recently, Reed Timmer saw it as an excuse to post a picture of his 2018 Subaru Forester. The sapphire wagon looked like it had been tied to a post and left outside as a dare to mother nature. If this were a matter of neglect, the neighbors might have placed a call to rescue the Forester from a bad situation (or tidy up the street).
But the Forester took its hits in the line of duty. Timmer, who lives in Golden, Colorado, is a storm chaser. "Saw my first tornado in October of '98," he said, "and been storm chasing nonstop ever since. I've seen over 700 tornadoes, dozens of hurricanes, about 40 tropical cyclones, flash floods, lake effect snow, blizzards. I just love to chase it all."
It didn't take long for Timmer's work to leave its mark on the Forester's sheetmetal. "A week after I got it, I took it into baseball- and softball-sized hail down in Colorado Springs. Blew the windows out, covered it in dents." Then he drove it into Arizona's monsoon and haboob season, the Subaru's boxer-four engine forced to inhale copious detritus. "The dirt has little baby Scorpions and fungus [in it], so you get something called valley fever when you breathe it in." It's possible Timmer's lungs look like his car.

Such storms are how the Subaru earned its name: Dominator Fore. The wagon is the fourth in a line of custom-built Dominator storm chasing vehicles, its golf ball dimples inspiring the second half of the name.
The Subaru is the only car among the Dominators, though; its precedents are heavy duty pickup-truck-based tanks covered in sheetmetal armor and double-pane Lexan windows, created to survive ground-zero encounters with tornadoes.
As opposed to being a specialist, Dominator Fore is a multi-tool for storm-chasing. Hurricanes, for example, need a small footprint and quick reflexes. "You can maneuver in there and stay clear of the debris paths, and use vehicles or big concrete structures to park downwind to protect yourself."
Timmer's put 120,000 miles on the Subie in two years. "My comfort zone is sleeping in my car, so when all that [Covid] uncertainty happened, I just hit the road." He travels with his Yorkshire Terrier, Gizmo, and they chased just about every storm the rest of us are trying to forget happened this year.

Timmer said he's had no mechanical issues with his ride. "It seems like any hailstone will leave a mark on a Subaru, but the engine is incredible." He said he goes though "about four or five windshields per year," and the only painful bills come from replacing headlights and taillights. "Those Subaru light fixtures are like the most expensive part of the entire vehicle."
The reliability is a boon for his temperament; in the past, he didn't pay much attention to maintenance. He started storm chasing in his first car, a 1985 Plymouth Reliant, followed by a 1991 Mercury Topaz, then "a 2002 Chevy Lumina that was held together by duct tape." He didn't change the Lumina's oil "for like 25,000 miles, and I ended up leaving it on the side of the road near the Kansas-Oklahoma border in the middle of the night on the way back from a storm chase."

Dominator Fore gets much better treatment. "I bring it to the Subaru dealership in Colorado quite a bit, and they're just appalled."
Timmer leaves the exterior au naturel on purpose. "Emotionally, I associate a storm chase with every dent or mark that's on the vehicle."
The only modifications made so far have turned the Forester into an Ecto-1 for hunting weather systems instead of ghosts. There's an anemometer on the roof, and a couple of aluminum panels to replace a sunroof and a window blown out by giant hail. Inside, Reed stores ground-based and launchable probes, model rockets with sensors in their nose cones, and a model rocket launcher.

More upgrades are on the way, including Lexan windows, "a rocket launcher with pan-and-tilt capability on the roof, and I'd love to make it float, too." Timmer's two fabricator friends who keep him rolling, told him perhaps an already-waterproofed Watercar Panther might be a better idea. "But down the road I'd like to have a vehicle where, when you're chasing a hurricane and storm surge flooding comes in, you could just drive into the flood and it would behave like a boat and you could go rescue people that need to be rescued and we could continue to measure our data."
Asked what he might replace the Subaru with, "at some point storm chasing is going to have to go electric," he said, and when it does, "one of those Cybertrucks looks pretty awesome."
Until that Tesla is ready, Timmer expects to drive his current rig until it dies. "I want to modify the Dominator Fore into an all-purpose all storm vehicle. If it survives another storm season, that is."
He recently finished shooting a new show for National Geographic called "Category 6," and based on Timmer's plans for 2021, Vegas might put long odds on the Subaru's survival.
"The most fun," Timmer said, "is when it's just you in the middle of the night with an F4 tornado coming at you that you can't see, and then all the lights go out and [an exploding] transformer illuminates the whole thing, and it's just you out there with that tornado and you know if it hits you and throws the Dominator Fore into a field, no one will probably know for a couple of weeks."

Originally Published on CarAndDriver.com
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