Auto Repair Basics

Buying can be fun, repairing never is!

This is the sixth in a series on Auto Buying and Owning. The earlier articles, for the most part, have dealt with the acquisition of a car. Today’s article turns to the need to repair and maintain our purchased vehicles. A list of the previous articles:

  1. Buying a New Car

  2. Buying a Used Car

  3. Used Car Warranties

  4. Service Contracts

  5. Renting a Car

The next article will address the question of Buy vs. Lease.

FTC Feature
Like the previous five, this article will be based on the FTC web site feature, Buying & Owning a Car. Tri-Town Apple strongly suggests you visit that site, maybe bookmark it. We all, at some time or another, are faced with acquiring an automobile (new or used), deciding about service contracts and, of course, having the car car serviced. Many of us have also experienced the sticker shock of a repair bill. Maybe that invoice was fair, reasonable, and justified. And maybe it wasn’t. To minimize that chance, and all the the other pitfalls of automobile ownership, reading the FTC web site article isn’t to high a price to pay. You may wish to download the Auto Repair Basics document (PDF) to keep handy.

Continue reading here to see the highlights from the FTC web site. Continue reading

Renting a Car

Today we continue our series on Buying and Owning a Car (OK, renting is neither buying or owning, but you get the idea). This is our fifth in a series on purchasing owning and automobile. Click on the articles below to view the first four. Content for all articles is taken from the FTC Consumer Information web site, Buying and Owning a Car.  Future articles will cover Repair & Maintenance, and Purchase vs. Lease.

Buying a New Car

Buying a Used Car

Used Car Warranties

Automotive Services Contracts

Even though most of us do own a car, we have the need to rent a car now and then, e.g. for vacation or business travels. Comparing prices online can save you a bundle. But make sure you compare the total cost — not just the advertised rate — because fees and options can increase the base price dramatically. For a look at what these fees and options might be, along with other considerations, continue reading the FTC advice. Continue reading

College Financial Aid: The Future Is Now!

It’s Time to Fill Out a College Financial Aid Form for Fall 2015

The new Free Application for Federal Student Aid, known as the Fafsa, became available online on Jan. 1. This is the starting point for students and families seeking federal aid. It is used by most states and colleges as part of the student aid process. The form collects financial and personal information about students, and their parents if they are dependents, to determine eligibility for scholarships, grants, work-study awards and loans. It must be completed every school year for students seeking aid.

Ann Carrns wrote an article recently in the New York Times that offered several good pieces of advice and information.

Filing the Fafsa as soon as possible after Jan. 1 increases applicants’ chances of getting the best financial aid packages for which they are eligible. Those who file the form from January through March receive, on average, twice the amount of grant money as those who file later, said Mark Kantrowitz, publisher of the financial aid website Edvisors.com.

Automotive Services Contracts

Buying and owning an automobile for most all of us, is a life-long experience. The purchase cost, especially for a new car, may be second only to a home purchase or college tuition in size. Buying a used car is fraught with it’s own set of hidden pitfalls. And whether new or used, auto ownership will involve maintenance & repair questions, warranty issues, and eventually  questions about trade-in value.

This is our fourth in a series on purchasing owning and automobile. Click on the articles below to view the first three. Content for all articles is taken from the FTC Consumer Information web site, Buying and Owning a Car.  Future articles will cover Renting a Car, Repair & Maintenance, and Purchase vs. Lease.

Buying a New Car

Buying a Used Car

Used Car Warranties

 

A service contract is a promise to perform (or pay for) certain repairs or services. Although a service contract is sometimes called an extended warranty, it is not a warranty as defined by federal law. A service contract may be arranged any time and always costs extra; a warranty comes with a new car and is included in the original price. Used cars also may come with some type of warranty coverage included in the sales price. The separate and additional cost distinguishes a service contract from a warranty.

To decide if you need a service contract, consider:

  • whether the service contract duplicates warranty coverage or offers protection that begins after the warranty runs out. Does the service contract extend beyond the time you expect to own the car? If so, is the service contract transferable or is a shorter contract available?
  • whether the vehicle is likely to need repairs and how much they’re going to cost. You can determine the value of a service contract by figuring whether the cost of repairs is likely to exceed the price of the contract.
  • whether the service contract covers all parts and systems. Check out all claims carefully. For example, “bumper to bumper” coverage may not mean what you think.
  • whether a deductible is required and, if so, the amount and terms.
  • whether the contract covers incidental expenses, like towing and rental car charges while your car is being serviced.
  • whether repairs and routine maintenance have to be done at the dealer.
  • whether there’s a cancellation and refund policy for the service contract, and if it has cancellation fees.
  • whether the dealer or company offering the service contract is reputable. Read the contract carefully to determine who is legally responsible for fulfilling the terms of the contract. Some dealers sell third-party service contracts.

The dealer must check the appropriate box on the Buyers Guide if a service contract is offered, except in states where service contracts are regulated by insurance laws. If the Guide doesn’t include a service contract reference and you’re interested in buying one, ask the salesperson for more information.

If you buy a service contract from the dealer within 90 days of buying a used vehicle, federal law prohibits the dealer from eliminating implied warranties on the systems covered in the contract. For example, if you buy a car “as is,” the car normally is not covered by implied warranties. But if you buy a service contract covering the engine, you automatically get implied warranties on the engine. These may give you protection beyond the scope of the service contract. Make sure you get written confirmation that your service contract is in effect.

If You Have Problems

If you have a problem that you think is covered by a warranty or service contract, follow the instructions to get service. If a dispute arises, try to work it out with the dealer. Talk with the salesperson or, if necessary, the owner of the dealership. Many problems can be resolved at this level. However, if you believe you’re entitled to service, but the dealer disagrees, you have some options:

  • If your warranty is backed by a car manufacturer, contact the local representative of the manufacturer. The local or zone representative is authorized to adjust and decide issues of warranty service and repairs to satisfy customers. Some manufacturers also are willing to repair certain problems in specific models for free, even if the manufacturer’s warranty does not cover the problem. Ask the manufacturer’s zone representative or the service department of a franchised dealership that sells your car model whether there is such a policy.
  • Contact your state Attorney General or the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators. You also might consider using a dispute resolution organization if you and the dealer are willing. Under the terms of many warranties, this may be a required first step before you can sue the dealer or manufacturer. Check your warranty to see if this is the case. If you bought your car from a franchised dealer, you may be able to seek mediation through the Automotive Consumer Action Program (AUTOCAP), a dispute resolution program coordinated nationally by the National Automobile Dealers Association and sponsored through state and local dealer associations in many cities. Check with the dealer association in your area to see if they operate a mediation program.

If none of these steps is successful, small claims court is an option. Here, you can resolve disputes involving small amounts of money, often without an attorney. The clerk of your local small claims court can tell you how to file a suit and the dollar limit in your state.

The Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act also may be helpful. Under this federal law, you can sue based on breach of express warranties, implied warranties, or service contracts. If successful, consumers can recover reasonable attorneys’ fees and other court costs. A lawyer can advise you if this law applies.

Was This Helpful?

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Thank you for reading the Tri-Town Apple.

Managing Someone Else’s Money

Millions of Americans are managing money or property for a loved one who is unable to pay bills or make financial decisions. This can be very overwhelming. But, it’s also a great opportunity to help someone you care about, and protect them from scams and fraud.
Naomi Karp – CFPB

Indeed, many of us at sometime must manage the financial affairs of a parent, another relative or close friend. It’s challenging enough to manage one’s own finances. Taking care of someone else’s financial assets and managing expenses can be downright daunting.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) provides four easy-to-understand booklets to help financial caregivers. The Managing Someone Else’s Money guides are for agents under one of four different circumstances. These are available as PDF documents or print copies can be ordered.

  1. Powers of Attorney
  2. Court-appointed Guardians
  3. Trustees
  4. Government Fiduciaries (Social Security representative payees and VA fiduciaries.)

These Guides are to help someone who has this responsibility now, or may in the future. They are not for legal advice. More information is available on the CFPB web site Financial Protection for Older Americans, including the print copy ordering.

The guides are written for the “everyday” person and are easy to read and understand. A portion of the “Powers of Attorney” is reprinted below to provide a sense of what to expect. Continue reading

Guide for Seniors: Protect Yourself Against Investment Fraud (SEC)

 Senior citizens are the number one target of investment con artists. The files of state securities agencies are filled with tragic examples of senior citizens who have been cheated out of life savings, windfall insurance payments, and even the equity in their own homes.

Illegal telemarketing is a crime, and fraudulent telemarketers are criminals. There are an estimated 14,000 illegal telemarketing operations bilking thousands of victims every day. This fraud adds up to at least $40 billion annually, according to Congressional surveys. Additionally, surveys by the American Association of Retired Persons indicate that over one-half of those victims are age 50 or older.
Allan Wilson, South Carolina Attorney General

But there are ways senior citizens can protect themselves. Several government offices have published guidelines to help seniors protect themselves (and it’s not bad advice for those of any age). Reprinted below is the content from a booklet offered free of charge by the SEC and can be seen here. Other places to look are:

How To Avoid Fraud

Seniors are often the target of fraud. However, with some basic understanding of how scam artists work, you can avoid fraud and protect your hard-earned money. Learning how to invest safely can mean a huge difference in your retirement years.

Seniors are particularly vulnerable to tactics of scam artists who are “nice” or attempt to develop a false bond of friendship. Scam artists prey on seniors who are polite to others and have difficulty saying “no” or feel indebted to someone who has provided unsolicited investment advice.

WHAT CAN I DO TO AVOID BEING SCAMMED?

Ask questions and check out the answers.
Fraudsters rely on the fact that many people simply don’t bother to investigate before they invest. It’s not enough to ask a promoter for more information or for references—fraudsters have no incentive to set you straight. Savvy investors take the time to do their own independent research and talk to friends and family first before investing. Make sure you understand the investment, the risk attached, and the company’s history. And remember, if the product sounds too good to be true, it is!

Continue reading

Used Car Warranties

Buying and owning an automobile for most all of us, is a life-long experience. The purchase cost, especially for a new car, may be second only to a home purchase or college tuition in size. Buying a used car is fraught with it’s own set of hidden pitfalls. And whether new or used, auto ownership will involve maintenance & repair questions, warranty issues, and eventually  questions about trade-in value.

This is our third in a series on purchasing owning and automobile. Click on the articles below to view the first two. Content for all articles is taken from the FTC Consumer Information web site, Buying and Owning a Car.  Future articles will cover Service ContractsRenting a Car, Repair & Maintenance, and Purchase vs. Lease.

Continue reading