A Guide to Organizing Your Car’s Paperwork

As winter retreats here in Aurora, we look ahead to the spring and one of its inaugural activities: spring cleaning. Much more than dusting windowsills and scrubbing sinks, spring cleaning is an opportunity to take inventory of your life, a conscious un-cluttering of both your personal space and your mind as you prepare for the year ahead. 

Part of this process includes properly organizing your paperwork. As with anything else in modern life, car ownership involves a great deal of documentation. It can be overwhelming to keep everything straight – but simplifying your auto needs is what we do here at Charge-A-Car, where you can purchase and finance your next car in the same afternoon! 

What You Should Have 

License & Registration: If you’ve ever seen someone pulled over in a movie, chances are you know to always have your license and registration handy while driving. Make sure your registration is up to date; if the expiration date is near, take the necessary steps to renew it. It should then be signed and stored somewhere in your vehicle, such as the glove compartment or beneath the central console. As for your driver’s license, hopefully it’s already safely stored away in your purse or wallet – otherwise, your spring cleaning to-do list just got longer. 

Proof of Insurance: Owning vehicle insurance is a requirement for every licensed driver. It’s another item you’ll want to keep in your car in the event that you’re pulled over. You should also have it on hand in case of an accident, so that you can exchange insurance information with the other driver. At the very least, keep a photo of your insurance card available on your phone.

Vehicle Title: Unlike your registration and insurance cards, the title to your car needs more protection than your glove compartment can offer. This piece of paper is the only proof of ownership of your vehicle that you have, making it immensely valuable. Keep your title stored away in a secure place you’ll remember, such as a home safe. 

Service & Maintenance Records: Though documenting your vehicle’s history of service and maintenance isn’t a requirement, it’s still a good idea. It will keep track of what services were performed when, so that you’ll know the next time you’re due for, say, an oil change. More importantly, keeping detailed records of your car’s history will serve you well when it comes time to sell. 

Keeping Your Paperwork Organized 

While your registration and insurance should be kept inside the vehicle, we recommend keeping all other paperwork together. A safe space in your home is preferable, as it allows you regular access. This includes the title and service records, but also any other relevant paperwork, such as warranty and emissions test documentation. If necessary, divide and categorize accordingly, i.e. keep your insurance payments bundled together. Make sure you have the proper storage space to accommodate everything. 

In today’s digital world, it’s important to back everything up. Make physical copies of your paperwork if that’s your preference, but also consider uploading your files to cloud storage. By digitizing, you’re ensuring your files will remain available to the world – even when you’re having difficulty tracking down their physical counterparts. 

One Last Step 

Once you’ve collected and organized all relevant paperwork, your future suddenly becomes much more open. For starters, you now have everything you need to trade in your ride today! Any vehicle in our extensive inventory could be yours when you schedule your test drive at Charge-A-Car, Aurora’s number one spot for used car shopping. 

Presenting the Car Buying Dictionary

The used car buying experience can sometimes feel like it’s operating with its own language. Gap insurance, loan-to-value, negative equity… understanding all the terminology thrown at you can be intimidating.  

Here at Charge-A-Car, our goal is to make the car buying process as simple as possible. For that reason, we’ve assembled this convenient dictionary to break down some of the auto jargon you’ll encounter on your car buying adventure.

Down Payment: 

A down payment is a lump sum of money you give to the dealer upfront before purchasing the car. At virtually all buy here pay here (BHPH) dealerships, a down payment is required to get approved for a loan. If you’re able to put down an amount larger than the minimum required, it means lower monthly payments moving forward.

A down payment at a BHPH is typically around 20% of the car’s selling price. Since BHPH dealers rarely run credit checks, this amount may be higher than at other dealerships, to help mitigate the sellers’ risk. Fortunately, a higher down payment means lower interest rates for the duration of your loan.

Gap Insurance: 

Gap insurance – also known as loan gap coverage – is an optional car insurance coverage. In the event that your car is damaged or stolen and you owe more than the car’s depreciated value, gap insurance is there to help cover the difference. It’s called gap insurance because it helps pay the gap between the depreciated value of your car and what you still owe on it. 

Because the average used vehicle depreciates quickly – 20% after driving it off the lot and 10% in the first month of ownership is the general barometer – it’s not unusual to owe more on a loan than your vehicle is worth, making gap insurance a crucial investment. 

Interest Rates: 

Interest rates – or simply loan rates – are what you’re charged every month as part of your loan agreement. A percentage of the total loan, interest rates represent what you pay monthly in addition to the base amount. Many buyers choose to finance with longer-term loans in order to reduce interest rates, with average loans landing between 70-80 months. 

Loan-to-Value Ratio: 

A loan-to-value ratio (or LTV) is the total dollar value of your loan divided by the actual cash value of your vehicle. For example: if you take out a $25,000 loan to buy a $30,000 car, your LTV would be 83%.  

LTV changes over time as you pay off your loan. That can be largely attributed to the vehicle depreciating as it ages and racks up miles. LTV also naturally declines as you continue to pay off the loan, lowering the loan portion of the ratio. 

Monthly Payments: 

Perhaps the most straight-forward term here, monthly payments are simply the amount you’re paying towards your loan every month. What’s important here are the guidelines you should follow to make sure you’re not biting off more than you can chew. The average monthly payment for used cars is approximately $533. In general, no more than 10-15% of your monthly take-home income should be spent on your monthly payments. 

Negative Equity: 

Negative equity is when you owe more on your car than it’s worth. For example, if your loan amount was $30,000 and you still owe $15,000 – but your car is only valued at $10,000 – $5,000 is your negative equity amount. Many factors can cause negative equity, including low down payments or putting excessive mileage on your vehicle. 

For more info on how to bridge this divide, see “Gap Insurance.” 

Experience Great Deals, Redefined 

Transparency is of the utmost importance to us at Charge-A-Car. We’ll work with you through every step of the financing process, breaking down each component and defining each term. After all, used car buying should be a pain-free experience. Schedule your test drive at Charge-A-Car today, and drive into tomorrow with a clear path forward. 

Why Used Car Buying is the Way to Go in 2024

As the first month of 2024 comes to a close, there’s never been a better time to shop for used vehicles. Thanks to modern day enhancements, cars are built to last in ways they never were before, creating a robust and diverse used car market. 

Today, Charge-A-Car presents five reasons why it’s time to pay a visit to Aurora’s number one used dealership.

1. They Cost Less Now 

Let us first confirm that, yes, a used car still costs less than a brand-new car, and always will. The economy’s ups and downs have compounded the new car market in recent years. However, used car shopping remains as approachable as ever.  

By buying used, you’re able to bypass several of the fees and taxes typically associated with new car buying. Insurance costs are curtailed, as used cars have already depreciated in value and thus come with reduced premium rates. Furthermore, if there’s a specific new model you have your eyes set on, chances are you can find a comparable, more affordable model that’s only a year or two older. 

2. They Also Save You Money Down the Line 

When you buy used, you’re not just saving money on the purchase price – you’re making a wise investment. Used cars generally tend to be cheaper to maintain and repair than new cars. Used cars have been on the market for years, making their parts more readily available for purchase.  

New cars straight off the assembly line may not have odometer readings, but they also have no previous owner history, leaving you with no point of reference when something goes amiss. Before you purchase a used car, make sure you look into the vehicle’s history report, which gives you a comprehensive overview of its health and potential warning signs to stay alert for. Use CARFAX or a similar site to complete your due diligence. 

3. Less Vehicle Depreciation 

The adage about new cars is that they depreciate the moment you drive them off the lot. New cars typically depreciate by roughly 20 percent upon leaving the dealership. Their value then decreases an additional 10 percent during their first year of ownership. 

Used vehicles have already weathered that initial, unavoidable depreciation hit. As such, they’ll continue to depreciate at a much slower rate moving forward, making your cost-to-value ratio more stable as a result. 

4. A Larger Selection 

Variety is the spice of life. New car shopping automatically limits you to the styles and trends of this year’s models. But there are plenty of fish in the sea, and millions of unique used cars to select from. From vintage cars no longer in production to optional colors and features that were exclusive to a particular year’s model, your dream car awaits amidst a sea of virtually infinite options. 

5. More Car for Your Buck 

Modern vehicles are built to last in ways we never imagined at the turn of the century. 200,000 miles on the odometer is the new 100,000 (or close enough to it). Most new vehicles come with generous manufacturer warranties that could potentially be transferred to you after you buy. And with the advancements that have been made with safety features and apps, buying an older model carries less risk than it did in the past.

For these reasons and more, there’s never been a better opportunity to get the most bang for your buck when you buy used. 

Discover the Used Car of Your Dreams Today 

Now that we’ve covered how much sense it makes to buy used, your next step is finding your dream car amidst our used selection here at Charge-A-Car.  

Schedule your test drive today and prepare for the huge savings heading your way. We’ll get you completely financed and squared away before you drive off our lot. After one trip to Charge-A-Car, you’ll discover why used car shopping is the only way to car shop. 

Fix or Flip? How to Handle a High Repair Estimate

We’ve all been there. You encounter an issue with your vehicle, dutifully take it to a garage or dealership, and are rewarded with a repair estimate that blows past your budget. Inevitably, the question enters your brain: do I bite the bullet and pay for repairs, or is it time to trade my vehicle in for another ride? 

It’s a genuine dilemma, because there aren’t necessarily right or wrong answers. But with Charge-A-Car‘s help, you can make an informed decision and proceed accordingly. 

Step One: Analyze The Cost 

First off, don’t beat yourself up over a large repair bill! Even for drivers who are as diligent with their self-maintenance as possible, some high-priced repairs are unavoidable. No automobile is designed to last forever, and wear-and-tear items like belts and brake rotors inevitably need to be replaced. Then there are battery failures, which almost always cost a pretty penny. 

Keep in mind that it’s almost always less expensive to repair your car than buy a brand-new car, and it’s often still cheaper than trading for a newer, used vehicle. But when you’re dealing with a big-ticket issue such as a failed transmission or blown motor, and the estimate surpasses $5,000, it could be time for a big decision. 

Step Two: Weigh the Pros and Cons 

For the sake of this example, let’s say you’ve just been handed a $5,000 service estimate. It’s a daunting number, making the decision to fix or flip more overwhelming. Before the situation can snowball, break it down into a list of pros and cons. Then, after considering every factor, decide which side you fall on. 

Pros for Fixing: 

  • FIX if you’re saving for a brand new car and are confident the repair will keep you on the road in your current vehicle for another year or two. If a new car still seems like a viable option afterwards, you’ll hopefully have saved enough to make it possible.
  • FIX if you’re planning to trade for a comparable vehicle. Although trading for a used vehicle may be cheaper than paying for the fix, there’s no guarantee that any vehicle you trade for won’t come with its own set of issues. Check CarFax.com or a similar source to check the vehicle’s history before deciding. 
  • FIX if the car means a lot to you. Seriously, don’t discount sentimental value. If the car was a gift from a loved one or a dream car you worked hard to afford, don’t give up on it just because a calculator tells you you’re making the right move. You may wind up regretting it. 

Pros for Trading Up: 

  • FLIP if your current car has been experiencing recurring issues. If you’ve been making frequent trips to the garage recently, it’s most likely time to move on from it. 
  • FLIP if the repair bill is more than half the value of your vehicle. Consider trading up at this point, as the next issue you encounter could lead to a total loss.
  • FLIP if your current car is seriously lagging behind in modern safety features. If your car lacks emergency braking, collision detection, blind-spot monitoring, or other modern safety amenities, consider trading up to a more recent model for the sake of your own safety. 

Step Three: Make the Call 

Ultimately, the decision to fix or flip is your own. If you’re still having doubts or have questions, our team of professionals will guide you to the right path. Value your trade with Charge-A-Car today, and if you decide it’s time to flip, schedule a test drive! We’ll settle the finances before you drive off our lot, ensuring you some much-needed peace of mind as you drive towards life’s next destination. 

5 Ways to Keep Your Car Smelling Fresh in the New Year

We’re getting set to flip the calendar on another year, meaning your vehicle officially becomes one model year older. But even if a new vehicle isn’t in your 2024 plans, you can still get your current car smelling brand-new.

Courtesy of Charge-a-Car, here are five strategies to avoid complacency and keep your car smelling fresh year-round.

Clean the Upholstery

Let’s start with the essentials. Dirt, debris, and pet hair accumulate quickly within your car’s interior, and without constant upkeep, you could find yourself wondering how you let things go. Vacuuming regularly not only eliminates unwanted material, but it also reduces odors that get trapped in the upholstery. You should utilize the vacuums at the car wash whenever you take your car to be washed (which you should do bi-monthly), but it also might help to keep a hand vacuum in the car for more regular maintenance.

As we gear up for New Year’s resolutions, let’s also make 2024 the year we ditch smoking in the car. Besides being an unhealthy habit, the smoke leaves behind a permanent, ashy smell and could potentially damage the car’s upholstery. Let’s kick this bad habit in the butt and ensure fresh air for our rides!

Don’t Let Garbage Linger

Many drivers don’t bother having a waste bin in their car – for them, the car itself becomes a dumping ground. It’s important to treat your car’s interior just like any room in your house. Make it a habit to promptly dispose of any trash you generate.

Consider purchasing a car trash can if your vehicle is spacious enough to allow it. Most of them are available for under twenty dollars. Stick it in a safe spot next to your seat and properly dispose of snack wrappers, ATM receipts and beverage containers rather than letting them join the collection amassing on your floor mats. (Also make sure you shake out those mats every week or so.)

Leave Baking Soda Out Overnight

Baking soda: the secret ingredient of the cleaning world. If you’re dealing with persistent or overpowering odors in your car, here’s a simple trick: just sprinkle a small amount of baking soda on your mats and carpets. Allow it to sit overnight, and then vacuum up the remaining residue the next morning. You’ll be pleasantly surprised at the fresh scent left behind after the baking soda has absorbed many of the unwanted odors in your vehicle.

When you’re pressed for time and can’t pinpoint the source of an odor, baking soda comes to the rescue. No need to rush to the detailer. Simply leave an open box of baking soda in your driver’s door pocket for a few days if the smell lingers.

Use an Air Freshener

They may be passé, but there’s a reason you still see air fresheners dangling from rearview mirrors: they consistently do the job. It’s important to choose an air freshener that neutralizes odors instead of simply masking them. With a wide range of top-notch products available, there’s little sense in finding a temporary fix for a problem that can be actively resolved.

You can also invest in an oil diffuser. In addition to masking unwanted odors and replacing them with a rich fragrance, essential oils have been known to reduce stress and keep you alert while you drive.

Know the Difference Between Cleaning and Detailing

When you detail your car, you give it a complete makeover, focusing on deep cleaning and restoring the interior. Forget about regular surface cleaning and quick vacuuming; detailing goes beyond that, paying attention to the smallest details. It’s about giving neglected areas, like air vents and spaces between seats, the care they need.

Car detailing involves a thorough cleaning that demands hours of your time and a variety of cleaning materials. You can even go the extra mile by shampooing the upholstery and applying a protective coat of wax. Keep in mind that each additional step you take not only eliminates odors but also restores your car with a fresh, like-new appearance.

So Fresh and So Clean

Head into the new year with your car smelling factory new by implementing these strategies. And when you are prepared to change vehicles, our inventory at Charge-A-Car is guaranteed to have what you’re looking for. Buy and finance your car at the same convenient location today! Schedule your test drive at Charge-A-Car and drive into the new year with a clean slate.

The 10 Best SUVs to Buy for Under $20K

In the market for an SUV but not in the mood to break the bank? Join the millions of others looking to avoid big spending this holiday season. Prices have risen seemingly everywhere, and the auto market is no exception. The average price of a new car has risen to upwards of $48,000 – and SUVs are often at the upper echelon of the price spectrum. 

Luckily, the used car market has started to level off, and several high-quality, recent models have rejoined the ranks of affordability. Here are ten of the best used SUVs available, each with a confirmed minimum average price of less than $20,000.

2017 Ford Escape 

The 2017 model of the Escape went through a thorough cosmetic update and gained an optical 245-horsepower turbocharged four-cylinder engine. It took home numerous top awards as a result and can be yours today for a beyond reasonable price. Best of all, its vaunted, top-of-the-line Titanium trim should now be out there in the world for under the $20K mark. 

2017 Kia Niro 

The Niro was introduced in 2017 as a swift and efficient hybrid hatchback, with fuel economy ratings of 52 city/ 49 highway. But the Niro stood out as a more affordable option than the Prius and outdid Toyota’s hybrid in many ways. For instance, the car’s tight steering and maneuverability make it ideal for tight parking spaces and city driving. But it all comes back to efficiency, and six years later, little has changed on that count. 

2018 Jeep Renegade 

The perfect choice on this list for the off-road adventurer, the Renegade’s boxy frame highlights its excellent headroom and overall solid build. Consider it a more affordable alternative to its big brother the Cherokee. If able, seek out the Limited trim – a top choice for regular features – and the off-road enhancing Trailhawk trim. 

2018 Chevrolet Equinox 

The Equinox’s third generation began in the 2018 model year, offering three available engines and a choice between front-wheel and all-wheel drive. The Equinox is a great choice for young families, as it earned fantastic reliability and safety scores. It’s deceptively spacious, the interior is soft and comfortable, and this 2018 model handles quite gracefully. 

2019 Hyundai Santa Fe 

Like the Equinox, the Santa Fe features a level of spaciousness you wouldn’t expect from the outside. It sports an abundance of passenger room and cargo space in equal measure. The second-row seats can be folded from the tailgate area. It may not blow you away with innovation, but with its high safety scores, driver assist, and active safety features, the 2019 Santa Fe is fueled by practicality. 

2019 Subaru Forester 

The Forrester won’t blow you away with performance and speed, but what it lacks in flare it more than makes up for in all-around capability. It’s powered by a four-cylinder engine with 182 horsepower, has a technically modern and comfortable interior, and generally lacks downsides. Though the more popular Limited and Touring trims still fall out of our price range, it’s hard to go wrong with the 2019 Forester when it comes to checking every box. 

2019 Buick Encore 

Although not technically a luxury brand, Buick’s vehicles often feel cut from the same cloth. The Encore is no exception, with a flashy exterior and an interior that guarantees a smooth, comfortable, and quiet ride every time you hit the road. A range of popular, unique trims include the luxury-enhancing Essance and upgraded Sport Touring. You’ll be hard pressed to find a subcompact this fleet-of-foot at such a price point. 

2019 Hyundai Kona 

Ah, the quirky subcompact of the group. Although it lacks the cargo space of more traditional SUVs, the Kona rocks a funky design and is as much fun to drive as it is to gawk at. The 2019 model added crucial standard features such as automated emergency braking, lane-keeping assist, and a driver-attention monitor. Overall, the Kona feels more expensive than it actually is. 

2020 Kia Sportage 

Style points abound for this sharply designed compact SUV. Though it may not perform to the level of some of its competitors, the interior gets the job done. Perhaps most importantly, no one would be able to guess you were able to purchase this nearly new crossover for under $20K. 

2014 Lexus RX 

The RX’s value has largely held thanks to Toyota’s corporate reliability – and also because the RX offers a superior amount of luxury with a low risk of costly repair bills. You’ll probably have to go back nearly a decade, and some of the features and tech will be dated. That said, to be able to purchase an SUV of this quality at this price point speaks for itself. 

Get On the Road in No Time 

These are some great deals, and you won’t find a better dealer to hook you up than here at Charge-A-Car. Make car buying easy again; choose your car, get financed, and drive it off the lot! Schedule a test drive today and go off into the night with your heart light and your wallet full. 

The Advantages of Buy Here, Pay Here Dealerships

When car buying, there are more options available to you today than ever before, from manufacturers and models to payment plans. Unfortunately, transactions at traditional dealerships can be complicated by several cumbersome factors – especially with the economic uncertainty that surrounds everything today. Thankfully, there’s help to be found. 

Buy Here, Pay Here dealerships include several inherent advantages. They don’t traditionally involve credit checks on loans, instead using income verification as part of the sale. This makes them ideal for people with average, bad, or no credit and people who recently filed for bankruptcy. If you’ve recently become financially independent and don’t have much in the way of a credit history, Buy Here, Pay Here may also be the route for you. 

Read on to find out why you might benefit from making your next auto purchase at Charge-A-Car

Credit Where It’s Due 

Traditional car transactions require a credit check in one form or another. It’s a proposition that has gotten increasingly complex thanks to our precarious economy. Unfortunately, it can take some people years or even decades to claw themselves out of an unfavorable credit history. 

We believe that no person is solely defined by their past, and that everyone has a right to the road. Whether you’ve got negative credit or have recently filed for bankruptcy, Charge-A-Car can put you behind the wheel today without having to drudge up your credit history and enter a lengthy loan process. 

Start Me Up 

Perhaps you’re just starting out, looking to establish your financial identity anew or for the first time. If so, chances are you don’t have much of a credit history to speak of. It can be intimidating to wade into the waters of car ownership regardless, but Charge-A-Car is the perfect entry point: a reasonable dealership that you can trust. 

We’re confident when we say we offer the best Buy Here, Pay Here plan in Missouri. We put a warranty on every vehicle we sell, a system we stand behind. Here at Charge-A-Car, the customer truly does come first, and that’s the mantra we’ve proudly staked our reputation to here in Aurora. 

The Trade Deadline Has Not Passed 

Think your car is too old for a trade-in? It may be time to think again. Buy Here, Pay Here dealerships are generally more flexible than traditional dealerships when it comes to the status of older vehicles. Remember, Buy Here, Pay Here is all about keeping your options open. So even if you’re doubting the condition of your old car, bring it by and explore those options! 

For more information on valuing your trade, simply follow this link.

Quick and Easy 

Make your car buying experience simpler than ever with a dealership where you can buy your car and get financed at the same time. Stop by Charge-A-Car today, and we’ll have you behind the wheel of your new ride in no time.

By applying now, you can get pre-approval for financing on your next vehicle! Schedule a test drive and discover the road to car ownership is more wide-open than you could’ve envisioned.

4 Automotive Innovations To Be Thankful For This Season

Thanksgiving is just around the corner – a time for second helpings, second cousins, and getting through the second quarter of the Cowboys game before the tryptophan sets in.

It’s also a season that calls for introspection, for renewing your appreciation of the things that make life worth living. Whether you’re out picking up the turkey or chauffeuring the family to Grandma’s place, the constant holiday travel serves to remind us how important it is to have a reliable vehicle.

We can’t give thanks to our cars with acknowledging the recent advancements that have been made across the automotive industry. With a plethora of modern features, today’s driving experience is safer and more convenient than ever before. Before you get set to preparing Thanksgiving dinner, here’s four courses of recent and semi-recent automotive innovations we should all be thankful for:

Collision Avoidance Technology

The introduction of airbags was a huge leap forward for vehicle safety, providing a vital shield of protection following an accident. However, modern automakers are now focusing more on preventing such incidents from occurring altogether. This is where collision avoidance systems (CAS) come in and play a critical role.

The first (extremely rudimentary) rearview backup camera was introduced way back with the 1956 Buick Centurion, and today, that feature comes standard with most new vehicles. But car manufacturers’ goals have expanded to include fully-integrated driver assistance systems. These systems go beyond just alerting drivers about nearby vehicles; they can assume full command of the car’s functions to avert potential accidents. It’s the closest we’ve come to enveloping our cars in a force field (for now), and every day its presence saves lives.

Mobile App Interconnectivity

The world is more interconnected than ever, and your car plays a vital role in this never-ending web. While Bluetooth connectivity and other ways of linking your phone to your vehicle have been around for more than a decade, there has been a recent surge in the popularity of connected mobile apps.

For many car manufacturers, the integration of as many compatible applications as possible has become a top priority. In theory, it will make the transition from your home or office to your vehicle increasingly seamless. Assuming this trend continues, when it’s time to give thanks ten years from now, it might actually be easier to list the things your car isn’t capable of doing.

EcoBoost Engines

Any technological advancement becomes moot if we don’t prioritize our planet’s health first and foremost. Ford’s EcoBoost engine is a sustainable alternative to traditional engines, developed with this core belief in mind. This turbocharged petrol engine uses direct injection technology and aims to deliver comparable power and torque to standard engines, while significantly improving fuel efficiency. The result is a 20% boost in fuel economy and a 15% reduction in greenhouse emissions.

When we look ahead at the future of automobiles, electric vehicles and green-first options are bound to become more widespread. EcoBoost engines, being more affordable and versatile than conventional gas or diesel engines, will likely continue to gain popularity.

LED Headlights

Since their introduction in 2004, LED headlights have gained popularity among manufacturers, especially luxury brands. The reasons are clear – LED lights offer numerous advantages over traditional halogen and tungsten lights. These benefits include longer lifespans, better visibility, and reduced electricity consumption. As a result, LED headlights significantly reduce the cost of maintenance.

The Rest is Gravy

We have plenty to be thankful for here at Charge-A-Car – especially our loyal customers. Come check out our entire vehicle inventory. It’s a bit like an elegant Thanksgiving spread – plentiful, variable, and there for your fulfillment. Bon Appétit, and have a happy holiday!

5 Tips to Ensure You’re Buying a Reliable Used Vehicle

Used car shopping can be intimidating, especially when you’re entering with little to no preparation. When so much information is being thrown at you, it can be difficult to maintain focus on the vehicle’s most important aspects.

No two vehicles are alike, and when you shop Charge-A-Car‘s large inventory of cars, trucks, SUVs, and hybrids, you’ll be presented with a multitude of disparate options. Here are five tips to help you pinpoint exactly what you should be looking for in a vehicle to ensure you’re driving off our lot with a reliable ride: 

Look Up the Vehicle History 

Just as we all have personal records documenting our lifetimes of accomplishments and mistakes, every vehicle has its own recorded history. Researching a car’s history prior to purchasing it is vital, as it chronicles all previous owners and any accidents they may have been involved in.  

Like when a sports team balks at offering a player a long-term contract due to their concerning injury history, you should be cautious when investing years of your future to a vehicle with a lot of baggage in its past. Use CARFAX, AutoCheck, or a similar VIN history service to get the dirt on your potential next vehicle before you commit to it. 

Check the Mileage 

If a vehicle’s history gives you its comprehensive life’s tale, a simple look at the odometer is often enough to give you the gist of its story. Missouri boasts the fourth-highest per capita mileage in the country, trailing only Wyoming, New Mexico and Mississippi for the highest average of miles driven annually. 

Knowing this, you’ll want a car with that either a.) has a relatively low odometer reading, or b.) is made by a brand with a reputation for building cars with longevity. Do your research before you arrive at the dealership and compare any potential vehicle’s odometer reading with its age to determine how much wear and tear it’s already endured under previous ownership.

Thoroughly Inspect the Interior and Exterior 

Be as thorough as possible in checking every crevice of both the outside and inside of the vehicle. Some exterior damage will appear obvious, such as dents, scrapes, and frayed paint. But you’ll also want to closely review the tread of its tires and the condition of everything under the hood. In doing so, you should be able to confirm the information purported in the vehicle’s history. 

Don’t neglect the interior of the car either. We recommend a test drive (see below), but at the very least, turn the car on to make sure electronics and other features are starting properly. Be aware of any unusual odors or blemishes to the upholstery. Even if these imperfections don’t impact the performance of the car, it may be enough to talk you down to your preferred price range. 

Take It for a Test Drive 

There’s no better way to get a feel for a car’s health than putting yourself behind the wheel of it. Insist on a test drive before you make a decision, and don’t be afraid to put the car through its paces. Drive it both fast and slowly, make turns both sharp and wide, and take it on a variety of surfaces, from highways to off-road terrain. 

Your new vehicle is responsible for keeping you on the road in a variety of scenarios, so make sure you test out as many of those scenarios as possible before you permanently drive it home. 

Get a Second Opinion 

When making any major life purchase, it never hurts to have a second pair of eyes. Ideally, you’ll be able to get an expert’s opinion; making an appointment with an independent mechanic before you purchase, though time-consuming, will alleviate much of your car-buying anxiety. 

At the very least, bring a friend with you to the dealership, preferably one with automotive knowledge. Share with them your checklist of details you want inspected before you purchase, in case you get personally sidetracked in dealing with the salesperson. 

Drive Off Happy Today 

If you’ve followed all these steps and you’re satisfied with your findings, you should be good to go! You’ve researched the car, taken its odometer reading, inspected it inside and out, driven it for yourself, and gotten a supplementary opinion.  

Schedule your test drive at Charge-A-Car today. The biggest remaining problem you’ll have? So many of our vehicles will meet these criteria that choosing which you’ll drive off our lot will become a dilemma of its own. 

5 Auto Myths that Movies Continue to Perpetuate

Films and cars have have experienced quite the love affair throughout cinema history. Car chase scenes, popularized by actors like Sean Connery and Steve McQueen, became a staple of the New Hollywood epoch in the 1960’s. Countless beloved movies, from Back to the Future to Ferris Bueller to Mad Max: Fury Road, are synonymous with the iconic cars associated with them.

This cinematic romance with automobiles has only grown stronger over the years, with Ford v Ferrari earning a Best Picture nomination in 2020 and Fast and the Furious releasing its tenth mainline edition this summer, with an eleventh (and two additional spin-offs) in the pipeline. The racing video game franchise Gran Turismo even transitioned to the big screen recently.

However, a lot of our understanding about automobiles, gleaned from these cinematic portrayals, is more fiction than fact. Let’s attempt to separate movie magic from reality, especially when it comes to the following myths.

Landing a Jump Means the Car is Totally Fine

Cinema would have us believe that cars can make perfect jumps from ridiculous heights and continue on their journey unscathed. (See the 2004 version of Starsky and Hutch for one of the most egregious examples). The laws of physics denounce this concept resolutely.

Even minor jumps or unorthodox terrains can lead to a slew of car problems including tire damage, suspension failure, and engine issues. Even if there don’t appear to be issues on the surface, your vehicle could be suffering from internal damage.

Nitrous Oxide Activates Warp Speed

The nitrous oxide button, made famous in movies like Fast and the Furious and Mad Max 2, is often portrayed as a deus ex machina, a magic button capable of thrusting cars into a hyper-accelerated state. When all is looking bleak for the protagonist, a boost of N.O. is a cure-all solution.

Nitrous oxide actually is a practical resource, capable of optimizing engine power for a brief period. That doesn’t mean it causes cars to defy the laws of physics. At most, nitrous oxide increases engine power by 10-15%.

“Drifting” is a Logical Racing Maneuver

The concept of “drifting”, made most famous by the third Fast and the Furious entry, Tokyo Drift, is a curious one. While drifting, drivers engage in a controlled sideways skid meant to propel them forward at a boosted acceleration.

In reality, skidding during a race is counterproductive. Maintaining speed requires rolling in corners, not skidding. The next time you watch a Formula One race, take note of the lack of skid marks on the racetrack. It’s almost as if the greatest drivers in the world are aware of how counterintuitive drifting actually is.

Cars Are Impervious to Mother Nature

In the sunny Hollywood, dramatic weather is less an act of nature and more a tool for creating tension in the plot. Unless the director has a fascination for chasing tempests in their free time, the extreme rain and snow you witness are often the fruit of meticulous set design or CGI. Similarly, the vehicles in these scenarios behave in ways that stretch the imagination.

For every film like I’m Thinking of Ending Things, where Jesse Plemons makes a case for the practicality of snow chains, there exists a scene like the one in Fate of the Furious, where vehicles race and skid across a frozen tundra as though it’s an empty parking lot. Before you consider pushing your vehicle to perform against the harshness of a blizzard, bear in mind that even dropping temperature typical of Autumn can lead to increased risk of battery failure.

A Lone Bullet Hitting the Gas Tank Causes an Explosion

Villains in movies always aim for the gas flap, because a perfectly aimed shot equals an instant explosion, right? In reality, a bullet striking a fuel tank would merely create a hole. For an explosion to occur, a blend of fuel and oxygen is necessary, and fuel tanks do not contain the required amount of oxygen for such an event.

Also be aware that using your car as a shield is not truly safe. Most cars in the real world are not, we repeat not, bullet proof.

Now that we’ve established the difference between fiction and reality, continue to enjoy your movie nights! Just because we don’t live in a world of Matrix physics doesn’t mean you can’t appreciate the ludicrous highway scene from The Matrix: Reloaded

While you’re scrolling through your streaming service, deciding what to watch tonight, take a moment to check out our virtual showroom. If and when you like what you see, schedule a test drive today at Charge-A-Car LLC!