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5 entries from October 2015

Gearing Up for Seasonal Car Shopping – or Selling

Buying a new car

I saw eggnog for sale in my local grocery store this week and thought “TOO SOON, SAFEWAY!” But apparently the holiday season approacheth and with it, the best time to purchase a new car. Experts say that the winter months are the best times of year to buy a new car, for a few reasons, such as:

  • The upcoming year’s models are arriving and room must be made for them in the showroom, so deals on the current year’s vehicles may be available as dealers try to clear out their stock.

  • When it’s dark and cold outside, driving is less fun, so car dealers try to entice potential buyers with seasonal deals.

  • The closer we get to the end of the year, the closer dealerships get to deadlines for meeting their monthly and yearly quotas; their urgency to make their quotas may work to your benefit.

If you can hold off on purchasing a car until the frost is on the ground, here are a few tips from our post about questions to ask when buying a new car:

  • Has the car been used as a demo or test drive? Not all test drives go smoothly; make sure you get the details on how the car has been treated. Did the salesperson practice doing donuts in the parking lot on Sunday morning? A small amount of mileage may be acceptable, but make sure you know what kind of mileage it is.

  • What is the total price of the car after fees and licensing? Dealerships will often try to focus you on the monthly payment rather than the total price of the car (after all, most of us budget on a monthly basis). But a few more dollars a month can really add up on a 5 year loan. Make sure the total price you're paying is in line with what you expect to pay. You may need to compare your options such as manufacturer's rebate vs 0% interest or the deal your bank offers vs the loan the dealership offers. Make sure you understand the dollars and cents of the deal.

  • Does this car make me happy? After you've taken it for a test drive, assess your mood ... does it make you happy when you drive it? Is everything comfortable and in reach? Will it fit your lifestyle (kids, large pets, surfboards)? Do you enjoy driving it? You don't want to buy such a big ticket item if it doesn't put a smile on your face.

  • Is that the best you can do? It's always worth asking this question at least once in your purchase process. Make sure you are taking advantage of manufacturers' rebates and incentives as well as incentives from the dealership. But car purchase negotiations can be incredibly stressful and aren't for everyone. There is help through services like Unhaggle and Car Cost Canada.

So you’re buying a new car – but what about your current vehicle? Trading it in may be an option; but depending on the state of your vehicle, you may make more money simply selling it yourself. Here are a few tips from our post about preparing your car for resale:

  • Perform routine maintenance. The number one way to get the best value for your vehicle is to keep up-to-date with vehicle maintenance. Regular maintenance keeps your car running safely and prolongs the life of your car. When you decide to sell, have a trained technician give your vehicle a thorough going over before you put it on the market.

  • Prepare your documentation. Gather all the documentation for your vehicle, including proof of ownership, owner’s manual, warranty information and any records you've kept of repairs and maintenance. If emissions tests are required in your area, have the results of your latest test available as well. Include any spare car keys in your documentation package.

  • Take your own test drive. Try test driving your car the way a buyer might. Does the car start easily? Does the gear shift work properly? Are the brakes soft? After your drive, check under the hood for any drastic reductions of fluid which could indicate fluid leaks. Address any performance issues.

  • Hit the car wash. Washing and detailing your car can go a long way towards improving a potential buyer’s opinion. Vacuum the interior of your vehicle as well, paying close attention to mats and underneath the seats. If pet or tobacco odours linger, consider taking your car for a full professional shampoo.

  • Say cheese. You may have luck putting a "For Sale" sign in your car window, but most private car sales these days take place online. Make sure you take a good - and accurate - set of photos of your vehicle. Again, think about photos YOU would like to see before agreeing to take a car out for a test drive.

  • "Car! For sale. Email for more info." No. Write an ad for your vehicle that's detailed, accurate and easy for prospective buyers to scan. It doesn't have to be literary gold - but take the time to write an ad that's truly representative of the state of your vehicle.

  • Know your value. You may have paid top dollar for that Dodge Aspen back in 1977 but what's it worth now? Check out an online resource like the Kelley Blue Book to get an idea of your car's value - and check out the local listings on eBay Motors or Craigslist to get an idea of what similar vehicles are going for.

Of course, if your vehicle is on its last legs, recycling it may be the kindest option.

Are you in the market for a new vehicle this year? Do you wait until you can track down the best possible deal or do you just know what you want and just go for it? Let us know in the comments.

- Rose R.

Will this “See-Through” Transport Truck Technology Improve Driving Safety?

I live near the Port of Vancouver, so getting stuck behind 18 wheelers is a regular thing. Sometimes it’s frustrating, because you can’t see what’s going on in front of them – and sometimes it’s dangerous for the same reason. But this prototype “Safety Truck” that Samsung recently tested in road-accident-prone Argentina might change the way we interact with transport trucks on the road.

From the Samsung blog:

“The Safety Truck consists of a wireless camera attached to the front of the truck, which is connected to a video wall made out of four exterior monitors located on the back of the truck. The monitors give drivers behind the truck a view of what is going on ahead, even in the dark of night. This allows drivers to have a better view when deciding whether it is safe to overtake. Another advantage of the Safety Truck is that it may reduce the risk of accidents caused by sudden braking or animals crossing the road.”

Check out this video of a “see-through” truck in action.

Neat, right?

Personally, I love this idea; even if passing a truck isn’t on my agenda, being able to get a clear view of what’s ahead would be helpful on the road (even if what’s ahead are more big trucks). But some argue that the screen might encourage drivers to stop leaving adequate distance between them and trucks (in the video, for example, the cars passing are dangerously close to the trucks). Another argument is that the screens might mesmerize drivers so that they try to drive through the truck. The technology would certainly take some getting used to.

The truck in the video is just a prototype and Samsung says they’re working on next steps with driving safety NGOs and government to try and have this technology adopted more widely.

What do you think? Would a “see-through” truck improve driving safety or would it potentially cause more problems that it solves? Share your thoughts in the comments!

- Rose R.


Monthly Poll: Do you eat in the car?

Eating in the car

A sweet friend of our once drove us from the airport in San Francisco to our hotel in Monterey, where we were attending a conference. (It was the TED conference – JEALOUS?) We were all a little peckish, so we stopped at a drive-through for some dinner.

I was surprised when our friend ordered a meal that included a salad and fries with dipping sauce. I assumed that we would pull over so that she could enjoy her meal but I was incorrect.

I watched in horror and fascination as she managed to fork her way through her salad and dip every one of her fries, all while roaring down the highway. In the dark. I’m pretty sure that me driving the car with my mind from the passenger seat was the only thing that kept us out of the ditch.

Of course, that’s a pretty extreme example of eating in the car but it opened my eyes to the fact that some champion car-eaters walk among us. These days, with vehicles designed around our beverage needs, eating in the car is almost expected. But not everyone enjoys snacking in the car and some people outright forbid it, in an attempt to keep their cars mess-free.

There’s also the matter of distracted driving; taking a sip of your coffee at a stop light is one thing, but buttering your toast on the way through an intersection is quite another. It’s not technically against the law to drink or eat in your car, but if an officer feels you’re driving erratically because you’re trying to get the last few drops of your smoothie, you can be issued a ticket.

Over to you, drivers – where do you come down on snacking on the go? Take our poll below! 

If you or your passengers do frequently eat in the car, be sure and give your car a thorough cleaning on a regular basis! Check out our post on how keeping your car clean can help keep you healthy for some cleaning tips.

- Rose R.

Recycling Your Ride – Good for the Earth and Your Wallet

Recycle your car

I read today that the average vehicle gets retired after about 11 years of service. This is good news – back in 1995, a car generally lasted about eight years before being scrapped. But I felt a pang of anxiety when I remembered that our beloved Saturn Vue, Chloe, is coming up on 10 years old.

I’m not going to lie – I dread the day that we have to retire Chloe. She’s so reliable and comfortable and Saturn doesn’t make cars anymore, so finding a vehicle to match the glory of Chloe will be a challenge. Fortunately, she is well-maintained and is driven sparingly, so we expect her to last far longer than the average, non-glorious vehicle.

Still, it got me thinking - what do you do with your vehicle when it’s time for it to retire? Well…it turns out you can recycle it!

You can check to see if the manufacturer of your vehicle has their own auto recycling program; often auto manufacturers will offer incentives, like a substantial credit towards purchasing a new vehicle, if you recycle your ride with them. But if your car manufacturer does not run such a program, check out Retire Your Ride.

Retire Your Ride is a national program that the federal government started back in 2009 as a way to incentivize drivers with vehicles from years prior to 1995 to retire their high emissions cars. The program was meant to wrap up in 2011 but it was so successful that it still exists today, though it’s now managed by the Automotive Recyclers of Canada.

How does it work? When you’re ready to say goodbye to your vehicle, you fill out a form on the Retire Your Ride website and your vehicle information is passed on to a network of local certified auto recyclers. Each of them bid on your vehicle and Retire Your Ride presents you with the highest bid. If you accept the bid, then they’ll come get your vehicle and leave you with a cheque. Pretty sweet!

The recycling process is composed of three parts. The auto recycler will:

  • Dispose of your vehicles toxic fluids and/or parts in an environmentally responsible way
  • Salvage any parts that can be re-used
  • Recycle the remaining parts of your vehicle into a multitude of other items.

Check out the Responsible Recycling page on the Retire Your Ride website for more in-depth details about the car recycling process.

Recycle your car
Image credit: 

Ready to retire your ride? I know, it’s hard to say goodbye. But all you have to do is fill out the Retire Your Ride form to get started.

What’s the longest you’ve ever driven one vehicle for? Have you ever recycled your ride? Share your stories in the comments.

- Rose R.

Talking Sustainability and Transportation

Talking Sustainability and Transportation

Here at PumpTalk, we try to keep the focus on practical car and driving information, but every once in a while something comes up that our readers might be interested in that is tangentially related to driving. So this week, here are a couple of quick snippets for you.

Talking Transportation with The Walrus
First, our parent company, Suncor, is sponsoring an upcoming "The Walrus Talks" event and this one is all about transportation! "The Walrus Talks Transportation" features eight diverse speakers on the subject of transportation and mobility. I'm particularly keen on hearing John Lorinc from Spacing Magazine (one of my personal favs!) as well as Cherise Burda of the Ryerson City Building Institute (formerly from the Pembina Institute).

"The Walrus Talks Transportation" is on Wednesday, October 7, 2015 at the AGO in Toronto. You can check out the full list of speakers and read more about the event on The Walrus' site. []

Talking Sustainability and Our Energy Future
We recently released our 2015 Report on Sustainability. In conjunction with the report, we're also hosting a series of conversations on our "What Yes Can Do" site. This week's topic is about our shared energy future: Why do you think finding better ways to produce and use energy is a shared responsibility? We'd love to hear your thoughts.

And if you're not sure that chatting about our energy future is up your alley, check out this video from our senior advisor of social innovation, Lori Gammell with her take on who should be involved in these conversations.