How a DUI Can Destroy Your Budget

Driving under the influence has a number of potential repercussions, both financially and in other arenas of your life. There’s also the potential risk to property and life that you put others and yourself in when you drive under the influence. If you’re wondering just what ways a DUI can destroy your budget, have a look below to see its major financial implications.

You Will Pay Fines and Legal Fees

The fines that you pay as a result of DUI arrests vary from state to state, but they generally don’t come cheap. In Massachusetts, for instance, a DUI conviction may attract 30 months in jail as well as a fine of anywhere between $500 and $5,000. The more convictions that you get as a result of DUI, the higher the fines and jail terms will be. This is done with the aim of discouraging people from committing the offense and repeating it.

Your Insurance Premiums Will Be Increased

The moment your auto insurance providers learn of your DUI, they will increase your insurance premiums. This is because your liability increases and the insurance providers are a business looking to make a profit. They simply want to make sure that providing you with insurance coverage won’t be a massive cost for them that results in a loss. If you have to pay higher premiums, you will definitely have less money left over for other uses, effectively leaving a negative spot on your budget.

You Pay Impound Fees

Because you won’t be allowed to drive from the place you get arrested for a DUI, you will have to pay the impound and towing services to move your car. This means that you’ll not only be inconvenienced and have to find alternative transport, but you will also be out of pocket for the amount that you pay. The legal limit for alcohol when driving varies from state to state. In California, for instance, if you have a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08% and above, you will be arrested as you will have surpassed the limit.

You May Need to Pay a Mechanic to Fix Damage

If you damage your car or someone else’s car or property while driving under the influence, insurance may not cover the entire cost of fixing the damage. This means that you may have to match what they pay or even pay the whole amount by yourself depending on the circumstances. Auto repair charges could have a wide range depending on the specific damage that is being fixed. If not careful, you may need to pay a premium amount out of pocket, something that will leave you feeling the consequences for a long time to come.

Your Job May Be Impacted Negatively

Finally, information about your DUI could reach your employer and future employers as well. When employers know about it, depending on the policies of the organization, you may be out of a job. Even if you don’t lose your job, your reputation may be impacted negatively, leaving you ineligible for certain privileges. You may need to attend DUI classes, which are typically short programs designed to show the dangers that accompany driving under the influence. These may take up time you could have used to work on a project that would make you some extra money or do work that would help you become eligible for a raise, among other things.

Clearly, there’s nothing good to be said about driving while under the influence. The potential price that you stand to pay far outweighs the benefits, if any, that you feel you would get out of driving under the influence. Secure your budget and safety by avoiding DUI so that you can minimize the negative outcomes and live your best life.

How To Fix Your Brakes On A Budget

How To Fix Your Brakes On A Budget

Although many people put off costly car repairs, it is impossible to ignore the terrifying squeal of failing brakes. Every time you come to a screeching stop can feel like a constant reminder of the price tag that comes with the repairs. However, if your brakes start to feel “soft” or scream at the lightest pressure, it’s time to take your car to the mechanic. But, what happens if your emergency funds have run dry? Although it will still require an investment, here’s how you can stay under budget to fix your brakes.

What Is the Average Cost to Fix Your Brakes?

Before you have your brakes looked at, you should know how the repair shop will quote the work and have a general price range. However, the actual cost will vary greatly depending on their labor fees, the number of hours required, how many need to be replaced, and the extent of the damage. The longer you ignore the issues, the more components it will affect.

When the shop gives you an estimate, it is quoted by each axle. The final bill will be much cheaper if you only need to replace one. Unfortunately, the price will double if they need to repair both.

The average price will probably be around $300 – $500. But budget brake shops may start as low as $40 while the most expensive charge over $1,000. Hopefully, your quote will be on the cheaper end of the spectrum.

Here is a rough breakdown of what you can expect:

  • Brake Pads: $30-$75 per wheel/$60-$150 per axle
  • Rotors: $30-$75 per wheel/$60-$150 per axle
  • Calipers: up to $130 per axle
  • Labor: $50-$100 per hour

What Are the Cheapest Places to Have Your Brakes Done?

Based on the current market, these providers consistently offer quality service at the best prices. Each one will have slightly different rates for labor and parts. However, they frequently run discounts and promotional rates to help you save. And, they will typically guarantee their work and use parts that come with warranties.

AutoZone

Once you give them the make and model of your car, AutoZone can give you an exact estimate for the repairs. And, they use their top-of-the-line parts. Depending on what needs to be replaced, it will usually be between $300 and $1,000.

Jiffy Lube

Many car owners like Jiffy lube because they have quality parts and low prices. A simple brake job starts at $40, but more serious issues will cost you somewhere in the neighborhood of $500.

Firestone

Many happy customers continue to have their work done through Firestone because of the good service and product warranties. They also offer competitive prices on brake repairs, ranging between $175 – $450 per axle.

Midas

Although their labor fees start at $80 an hour and complex jobs can cost nearly $1,000, Midas still has some of the most competitive rates.

Pep Boys

Pep Boys is another good option for budget brakes since they offer frequent discounts. You can expect an invoice ranging between $210 – $300 per axle.

Other Budget-Friendly Options to Fix Your Brakes

DIY Brake Replacement

While these retailers will give you a fair price, the cheapest way to fix your brakes is to do it yourself. So, if you can turn a wrench, you may want to consider this option. In addition to saving on the cost of labor, you can also look for the best prices on the parts themselves through sites like Rock Auto.

Phone a Friend

Another option would be to talk to people you know who are more mechanically inclined. Perhaps you have a friend or family member who would be willing to give you a hand or could refer you to a trustworthy mechanic.

Go Online for Cheaper Options

You may also be surprised to find how many capable mechanics offer their services through online marketplaces like Craigslist, Angi, Next Door, and Facebook. A quick search in my area brought up several local professionals who offer their services for about half of what the repair shops charge for their time.

From my encounters, many of them are people with experience working in garages but have since moved on to other careers. They have always done quality work at a fair price for me. However, there are always risks when you hire people from these sites. It’s easier for them to take advantage of unsuspecting people since they don’t have to guarantee their work or adhere to industry standards. So, I prefer to ask for a referral from someone I trust first.

How to Avoid Excessive Repair Fees

No one wants to be taken advantage of. To help you avoid excessive repair fees when you are shopping for budget brakes, here are a few tips.

1. Ask for an inspection report.

Even if you know what’s going on with your vehicle, ask for an inspection report before you commit to anything. Most places offer free estimates for their services. But, they will also sell you the report for future reference and quotes. This will come in handy if you want to shop around to compare prices.

2. Beware of scams.

One of the best proactive methods to prevent yourself from being taken advantage of is to stay informed. Before you visit any repair shop, read up on the commonly reported problems and quirks that are specific to your car. It will also make you appear more knowledgeable to the mechanic if you are already aware of these issues.

Furthermore, it will make you aware if they are trying to perform unnecessary repairs to drive up the bill. When the inspection report comes back, you shouldn’t receive a laundry list of unexpected issues. This is a major red flag.

Other indications that the shop may be trying to scam you is if they are vague with the costs and lifespan of parts or try high-pressure sales tactics to have you commit to the costly repairs right away.

3. Do your research.

As stated above, knowledge is your most powerful tool. The more informed you are, the more aware you become. Take some time to familiarize yourself with your vehicle and review the inspection report.

You can go online and look up the cost of the parts to make sure they aren’t overcharging you. Another idea is to call around to other shops to compare their rates. It never hurts to get a second or even a third opinion.

However, I believe the best resource is the customer reviews. Places that have hundreds or thousands of positive comments from their customers are usually a safe bet. If you spend some time sorting through them, you can surely find a reputable mechanic for a fair price.

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5 Tips for Saving Money on Car Repairs

Saving money is always an important goal. There are ways to save money on everything, including saving money on car repairs. These five tips will help you to easily save some money on your next car repairs.

Start With a Good Maintenance Plan

If you want to cut costs on car repairs, the easiest way to do that is by taking good care of your vehicle. A good maintenance plan can help you to avoid costly, unexpected breakdowns. Regular oil changes, replacing parts before they fail, and being proactive with maintenance is the single best way to keep costs down.

In 2020, there were about 234,700 auto shops, many of which provide maintenance services, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. There is a shop near you that can help you manage maintenance. It is less expensive to have maintenance done than it is to make repairs.

Invest In Good Insurance

Sometimes you must spend money to save money. Getting good auto insurance coverage can pay off if you are ever in an accident and need repairs. For example, if you live in Texas and get into an accident, you may be equally responsible for the costs. According to the Texas Department of Insurance, if a driver is found to be more than 50% responsible for an accident, they will need to ante up and cover costs. Texas is a “shared fault” state. Repairs can run into the thousands after a car accident. Get good insurance to protect your investment and your finances.

Use a Local Mechanic For Repairs

About 75% of repairs are done by locally owned independent mechanics while only 25% of repairs are done by dealerships, according to Car And Driver. Why? That is a simple answer. Local mechanics are cheaper than going to the dealership. You can save money on auto repairs by finding a reputable local mechanic.

Learn How To DIY Some Repairs

Not every car repair requires an expert. A great way to save money on car repairs is to learn how to do them yourself. There is so much information online about how to manage car repairs that anyone can make basic repairs on their own.

A little DIY can go a long way when it comes to stocking up on savings. With some basic tools and the right parts, you can easily do some car repairs on your own. If making your own repairs is off the table, the next tip may be the right one for you.

Buy Your Own Parts

A good way to shave off some of the cost of professional car repair is to bring your own parts to the mechanic. Retail costs for auto parts can be marked up as much as 5,000%. Buying parts online or even from a salvage yard can drastically cut the cost of parts. Check with your mechanic to see if they will let you purchase your own parts. Most will. If they do not, consider switching mechanics. The cost saving of making your own part purchases can be significant.

Some Final Tips

Before you agree to a large repair bill, ask for a discount. Negotiate the costs. Most people do not realize that they can negotiate costs with a repair shop. You can, and you should. If the cost is still too high for you, consider a second opinion. You do not have to accept the cost of repairs based on one shop’s opinion. Mechanics often vary widely in their pricing. You can save money by asking for estimates from several different mechanics.

Finally, saving money on repairs comes down to putting a little extra effort in on your part. Sticking to a maintenance schedule, doing some of the work on your own, and making smart decisions about insurance and who it is that will make repairs, all fall on you. The extra effort can add up to hundreds of dollars in savings. Make the effort.

Why You Should Wait to Buy a Car

Why You Should Wait to Buy a Car

Last year I moved back to the U.S. after living overseas for nearly a decade. I lived very modestly and didn’t need a car as I worked and traveled through Southeast Asia. However, living in the U.S. is an entirely different story. Since I was working from home, I thought I could get by without having to commute daily. Unfortunately, getting around in the U.S. with only public transportation was much more difficult than I expected. Needing convenience and independence, I began shopping for a used car. Imagine my shock when I discovered the market had completely transformed since my last purchase. It was one of the most stressful and difficult shopping experiences I have ever had. Unless you have an urgent transportation need, here’s why you should wait to buy a car.

Looking to Buy a Car in 2021

I spent months researching different vehicles. Although I wasn’t driving every day, I was often going long distances and using back roads. Ultimately, I settled on the Toyota RAV4 since it met all of my minimum requirements of reliability and safety. With the decision made, I focused on the search. I started with models that were about 10 years old since that’s what I expected was within my budget.

However, even these older models were extremely overpriced. Furthermore, none of them had all the features I needed. I adjusted my search once again since newer models had better fuel efficiency with only a slightly higher price by comparison.

Once I narrowed my scope to 2017-2019, I spent hours calling dealerships and arranging test drives in the area. At the same time, I was also scouring national websites looking to see if I could find what I wanted at a better price. After a few failed negotiations and missed deals, I finally found a car. The catch was that it was in another city. So, my husband and I picked it up in Chicago and drove it home.

3 Reasons Why You Should Wait to Buy a Car

What I learned from this experience was that had I been able to, I should have waited to buy a car. Here’s why.

1. There is a global microchip shortage.

There is an ongoing global shortage of semiconductor chips. And, no one can be sure how long it’s going to last. Some industry experts say it could extend well into 2023. Not only does it mean that there are fewer new cars available, but it has also supercharged the demand for used vehicles.

These microchips are required for many systems, so manufacturers had to cut production due to the shortage. Dealerships are receiving fewer vehicles and new car inventories are only a third of what they usually have. Many lots sit empty as they wait for more vehicles to arrive.

In an attempt to meet consumer demands, manufacturers are eliminating things that rely on the semiconductor chip to function. So, even if dealerships are getting new cars, they may not have all the features you would expect.

2. Less inventory equates to higher prices.

Right now, the car industry is a textbook case study of how supply and demand work against the consumer. Limited inventories and increasing demands for new and used vehicles have caused prices to skyrocket. Many dealers are charging more than the MSRP because people are willing to pay it.

According to Edmunds.com, 50% of people are paying more than the sticker price. In June, the average price for a new vehicle was $42,331 which is 8.6% than last year. For a used car, the average price shot up to $26,457, a 27% increase from the previous year.

Unfortunately, this also means dealerships are less likely to offer discounts or negotiate on price. If you aren’t willing to pay the asking price, you can be certain someone else is.

3. It’s harder to find what you want.

There is no doubt that it is currently a seller’s market. What makes it even harder is that many vehicles never even hit the lot. It is becoming more common for buyers to make deposits even before the new cars arrive, sight unseen.

Some analysts suggest that the car market may never return to normal since manufacturers are rethinking production and sales strategies. So, if the car you want isn’t in your budget, you may have to compromise. Many consumers have to settle for cheaper options. This could mean choosing older models with higher mileage, different colors, fewer features, or a different make and model altogether.

If You Can’t Wait to Buy a Car…

The simple solution is to ride out the price increases and wait to buy a car. Unfortunately, not everyone has the luxury of waiting for the market to improve. Even though it is a tough climate, you can find good deals. But, timing your purchase is important. Many customers shop during sales promotions and other events to get better prices. However, there are also a few other factors to consider.

Sales Quotas

Any used car salesman will tell you about the quotas they must meet each month or quarter. So, if you shop around the end of these cycles, you are likely to have more room for negotiation.

Choosing the Best Time

You should also avoid going to a dealership on the weekends since many other people are likely to be shopping at the same time. Instead, try to go during a weekday when you will have the salesperson’s undivided attention.

Psychologically speaking, it’s also a good idea to go earlier in the day. People tend to be more flexible when they are in a better mood. So, if you can make a deal before the stress of the day sets in, the sales reps will probably be more open to negotiating.

Know Your Bargaining Position

If you don’t know where to start, read the latest consumer reports to help you choose the best vehicle to suit your needs. And, if you have a vehicle to trade, the market will work in your favor. Elevated prices guarantee that dealers will give you the best trade-in value possible.

Although these tips might save you a few bucks, you can be sure you are going to pay more for a vehicle if you buy today. And until microchip production returns to current levels, you can expect it to be that way for a while to come.

CarExpert can help you learn about different vehicles.

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What Does the Future Hold for Autonomous Vehicles?

What Does the Future Hold for Autonomous Vehicles?

Although we are still years away from full maturation of the AV market, the future is here. Self-driving vehicles are hitting public roads, testing new automated driving software. While developers are still perfecting their technology, huge strides are being made in autonomous vehicles. In fact, Intel and Strategy Analytics estimate that the industry will be worth $7 trillion by 2050. And, with the cost of technology dropping, they could be commercially available sooner than you expect. This leaves many investors like myself asking, what does the future hold for autonomous vehicles?

Who is Leading Autonomous Vehicle Technologies?

Three AV Developers to Watch

If you have been following the news, there are some exciting advancements happening with AV technology. However, there have also been several deaths during beta testing and an unfortunate accident involving a pedestrian. So, industry watchdogs are calling for stricter safety standards to ensure they operate safely. As developers continue to improve their AV technologies, here are three companies to watch.

1. Alphabet inc. (Nasdaq: Goog and googl)

What first started as Google’s pet project has grown into one of the industry leaders. Waymo first launched in 2018. Since then, it has logged millions of miles with its autonomous vehicles. On average, the data shows that their cars can complete 13,219 miles in automated mode before needing manual intervention. With a combination of sensors, short-range lasers, radar, and lidar technology, their vehicles have a 360-degree view that can detect and track moving objects in a 300-meter radius.

Now, they even operate a fully driverless fleet of vehicles in the Phoenix area. Through the Waymo One app, users can now call for a car that does not require a human driver. While safety remains a huge concern, Waymo is forging ahead. In addition to their self-driving ride-share program, it also hopes to break into local and long-distance transportation.

2. Tesla Inc. (Nasdaq: TSLA)

Company CEO Elon Musk has made several ambitious claims about Tesla’s Level 2 AV technology. He hopes to transform the driving industry with the addition of its Autopilot feature to electric vehicles. Although they have yet to use lidar technology, it utilizes cameras, radar and ultrasonic sensors in conjunction with it software and computing platform.

They have also been testing a beta version of its Full Self Driving (FSD) on public roads. Select customers can also purchase it, creating an even larger pool of software testers. However, recent tragedies have brought a harsher look upon the program’s safety features and protocols.

3. XPeng Inc. (Nasdaq: adr, NYSE: xpev)

This EV maker, backed by Alibaba, has made several announcements that pose a serious threat to its competitors. During a recent press event, XPeng sent a fleet of 15 sedans on an eight-day trip along the eastern coast of China. After completing the 3,600 km (1,864 miles) trek, executives claim it surpasses Tesla’s Autopilot software in several areas.

Just this week, XPeng also showcased their newest model at the Shanghai Auto Show. The P5 will be the world’s first smart EV to include its automotive-grade lidar tech. Its XPILOT 3.5 autonomous driving technology has a total of 32 sensors. It incorporates 2 lidar systems, 5 mm-wave radars, 12 ultrasonic sensors, and 13 high-res cameras. Although pricing is not yet available, you can be certain it will be a major player in international AV markets.

What Safety Concerns Exist for Autonomous Vehicles?

Despite recent safety failures, manufacturers hold that automated vehicles are statistically safer than human drivers. They claim this technology will reduce fatal car crashes by removing human elements like negligence, drowsiness, and drunk driving. However, several fatal crashes involving pedestrians and onboard operators leave consumers skeptical.

Statistics show that most accidents involving autonomous vehicles are the result of other drivers’ failure to follow traffic laws. However, industry watchdogs like the National Transportation Safety Board and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration are calling for more accountability. Many want to impose stricter standards that require AV pilot software to outperform human drivers. They want the software to incorporate more intelligent technology to improve decision-making, detection, and response to other drivers.

Other unpredictable factors create significant safety threats as well. Weather conditions, poor infrastructure, traffic congestion, and the behavior of other drivers are just a few that come to mind. In many instances, AV systems still require an onboard pilot to take manual control when reacting to unexpected environmental factors.

What Does the Future Hold for Autonomous Vehicles?

The million-dollar question for investors is what the future looks like for autonomous vehicles. Although no one has a crystal ball, experts can offer insights into how this technology could transform our lives. In his research brief “Autonomous Vehicles, Mobility, and Employment Policy: the Roads Ahead,” MIT professor John Leonard takes a hard look at AV technologies. He discusses both the current progress that has been made and future applications as the software becomes more reliable.

Current AV Technologies

Presently, most operating systems would best be described as driver assistance. While there are many more Level 2 and Level 3 automated vehicles, most still need a human driver on board. Leonard believes it will likely be another decade before fully automated Level 4 vehicles become widespread.

However, you can be certain that manufacturers will be racing to perfect technologies after Amazon, FedEx, and UPS committed to electrifying their fleet of delivery trucks.

The Future of Autonomous Vehicles

AV technology could potentially be one of the biggest technological breakthroughs of our generation. It has limitless applications in several industries such as trucking, delivery, and rideshare services. However, its success will be largely dependent on consumers’ acceptance of electric cars and driverless technology. You can be certain though that affordability and government incentives will speed up the transition.

It will also have a huge impact on the job markets and labor requirements to support the new technology. Although some fear it will reduce the number of human jobs, developers believe that it will merely change the nature of the jobs they need. With proper workforce training, the driving and transportation workers will be able to transition into support services. While much is left to speculation still, there will be a huge demand for technical and maintenance staff, call center and dispatch operators, and engineers.

The growth and application of AV technology will likely be a gradual expansion on a regional basis. Once developers determine when and where it will be most profitable, they will continue to target specific types of transportation. However, a slow rollout will probably be the most effective way to gain consumer acceptance. Not only will it allow manufacturers to improve the safety features, but it will also help ease critics’ concerns.

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Buying a New or Used RAM Truck without Hassles

Whether you are buying a new or used RAM truck, there are factors that can make the experience smoother or more difficult. One of the usual issues with buying a new or used car is what choice of car to buy. However, since you have already decided on the type of truck you want to get, you may only have two more things to consider. The first is the model you want to purchase and the second is the dealer to buy from.

Read more about the RAM truck here.

In this article, we shall focus on these two factors you will need to consider to make your purchase a lot easier.

About the RAM Truck

Let’s take a closer look at this very popular American truck brand. The RAM truck has a long history which started in 1932. It started out as a part of the trucks under the Dodge brand. Today, RAM Trucks is now a brand line on its own, manufactured by Fiat Chrysler Group LLC, an Italian, American auto manufacturer.

RAM Truck Models

There are a number of models available under the RAM truck brand and we will try to look at these and their specifications, so you can have what you need to make an informed decision. Some of the brands include: Ram 1500, Ram 2500, Ram 3500, Ram 4500 HD Chassis, and Ram 5500 HD Chassis.

Ram 1500

The RAM 1500 is a ½ ton, class 2a truck. This makes it a light truck with a weight limit of between 6,001–10,000 pounds.

You may want to take a look at the difference between the 1500 and 2500 in this video.

Ram 2500

The RAM 2500 is a ¾ ton, class 2b truck. It is also a light truck but with a higher weight limit than the class 2a. Its weight limit is between 8,501–10,000 pounds.

Ram 3500

This is a 1 ton, class 3 truck. Its weight limit is between 10,001–14,000 pounds.

Ram 4500 HD Chassis

The Ram 4500 is a class 4 truck which makes it a medium truck with a weight limit of between 14,001–16,000 pounds.

It is a model is designed to offer outfitters room to have custom cargo area, flatbed or whatever additions they need. This means it comes only with a cab and rear frame with industry standard width and wiring.

Ram 5500 HD Chassis

The Ram 5500 also comes with a cab and a rear frame for outfitters. It is a class five truck which means it is a medium truck with a weight limit of between 16,001–19,500 pounds.

Just in case you are not clear on what a cab and chassis (rear frame) is, read this for clarification http://www.dieselhub.com/compare/chassis-cab-vs-pickup-truck.html.

Aside from these trucks, you may also be interested in the vans such as the Ram Cargo, Ram ProMaster 1500, Ram ProMaster 2500, and Ram ProMaster 3500.

Choosing an Auto Dealer