Deferred Payments: Read the Fine Print

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Until someone downs that last Labor-Day brat, Fiat Chrysler Automobile's Summer Clearance event will allow you to finance a new Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Ram or Fiat without car payments for the first 90 days. Chevrolet's Labor Day sale has a similar deal: Finance a new Chevy, and you can take three months off before your first car payment.

Sounds pretty good, right? Not so fast.

Related: Chevrolet, Ford Kick off Labor Day Sales Early

Make sure you read the fine print. Deferred payments might seem like a win-win, but the terms can vary — and the details make a big difference in how smart it might be to put off those payments.

By Kelsey Mays | August 26, 2014 | Comments (1)

Feds: Car-to-Car Tech Can Save Lives

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A new report by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gives a sneak peek at the future of accident avoidance. The agency says two technologies, left-turn assist and intersection-movement assist, could prevent as many as 592,000 accidents and 1,083 traffic fatalities a year. They're part of a burgeoning future of V2V, or vehicle-to-vehicle, technology.

Related: U.S. Government Considers Mandatory Vehicle-to-Vehicle Communication

The 305-page report, which includes analyses of privacy and security implications, accompanies NHTSA's proposal to issue rules around vehicle-to-vehicle safety technology. The highlighted technologies, LTA and IMA respectively, have yet to be sold on mass-market vehicles. But the study suggests they could help prevent a lot of collisions.

By Kelsey Mays | August 19, 2014 | Comments (3)

Chevrolet, Ford Kick Off Labor Day Sales Early

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It's still a couple weeks before you can fire up the barbecue and watch your alma mater get steamrolled by the Southeastern Conference, but some car dealers are kicking off Labor Day early — on the sales front, that is. Automotive News reports (subscription required) that Ford launched its Labor Day sale on July 29. The sale, which runs through Sept. 2, includes most of its lineup save the 2015 Mustang, F-Series and commercial vans, according to Automotive News.

Related: July's Fastest- and Slowest-Selling Cars

We checked the offers, and most involve zero-percent financing for as long as 72 months, or offers of up to around $3,000 off an Escape, $3,500 off an Edge and $3,500 off a Fusion (all 2014s). That's more than what Ford offered on the Fusion a year ago, but incentives don't appear to have increased a great deal in the past month, so this summer sale could mostly be a new name for existing spiffs.

GM, meanwhile, started its Chevy Labor Day Sale early because, as GM spokesman Jim Cain told Automotive News, "Ford started its Labor Day sale a little bit early." The brand's sale includes three months' deferred payments on the 2014 Silverado, Traverse, Cruze, Malibu, Camaro and Impala. Cash incentives on those models amount to $2,500 on the Cruze, $2,000 on the Malibu, $1,000 on the Impala, $2,000 on the Camaro and $2,000 on the Traverse (all 2014s). Chevrolet is GM's only brand that's offering the 90-day deferrals, Cain told us. GM isn't offering the deal for its Buick, Cadillac and GMC brands.

By Kelsey Mays | August 15, 2014 | Comments (0)

Report: GM Can't Find 6.4 Percent of Ignition-Recalled Cars

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Of the 2.2 million small cars in the U.S. that GM recalled for faulty ignition switches, the automaker can't find nearly 140,000 owners. A July 25 regulatory filing to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that 139,592 recall notices for the Chevrolet Cobalt, Saturn Ion and other compacts couldn't be delivered, according to The Detroit News. That amounts to 6.4 percent of the cars, which GM recalled in a series of campaigns between Feb. 25 and April 9.

GM Ignition-Switch Recall: What Owners Need to Know

"Six percent is not really high at all, in terms of unreachable [owners]," GM spokesman Alan Adler told us. "We couldn't find owners for them at the end of the quarter. I'm sure the number's much lower now. That's all June 30 numbers."

The information comes as the automaker has reached out to owners of the cars, which range from the 2003 to the 2011 model years, through mailed notices, social media, English and Spanish versions of a recall website, gmignitionupdate.com, and full-page newspaper ads, The Detroit News reports.

By Kelsey Mays | August 8, 2014 | Comments (2)

Feds Fine Hyundai $17.35 Million for Late Recall on Genesis

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Hyundai has agreed to pay $17.35 million to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for failing to report in a timely manner a safety defect on the brakes of the 2009-12 Genesis.

Related: More Recall News

The penalty comes after the agency determined that Hyundai was aware in 2012 that the brake fluid wasn't up to snuff when it came to stopping corrosion on certain braking components in the Genesis. That, in turn, could decrease the car's stopping power. Rather than issue a recall, Hyundai told dealers to change the brake fluid without explaining to customers the gravity of the situation, according to NHTSA's press release. An investigation by the agency prompted the Korean automaker to recall the Genesis in October 2013.

This latest fine is about half of NHTSA's $35 million maximum. The agency has stepped up its civil penalties in recent months, and Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx asked Congress earlier this year to increase the agency's cap to $300 million. That would certainly push automakers to step up their own recall scrutiny. For car shoppers it could increase the number of recalls but also could bring more transparency from an industry that's already seen a record number of callbacks this year.

Cars.com photo by Evan Sears

By Kelsey Mays | August 8, 2014 | Comments (0)

Top 10 Best-Selling Cars: July 2014

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Today's sales figures continue to pave the road for a strong 2014. As the sales year steams into its second half, we've seen new optimism from analysts and automakers that expect total new-car sales this year to land close to where they were in the heyday years of the early 2000s.

Related: Top 10 Best-Selling Cars: June 2014

With the largest seven automakers reporting numbers so far today, industry sales increased 9 percent over July 2013. Honda was the odd one out (down 3.9 percent), but Hyundai-Kia, Toyota and recall-beset GM reported single-digit sales gains, while Chrysler, Ford, Nissan and Toyota reported double-digit gains. All of that is compared against a pretty good month a year ago for the industry, too.

Thanks to big gains from the Sentra and Versa, Nissan sales gained 11.4 percent. Small-car sales overall were mixed: Shoppers had more interest in the Ford Focus (up 5.7 percent) but not the recall-besieged Chevrolet Cruze (down 17.8 percent), the Honda Civic (down 7.3 percent) or the Hyundai Elantra (down 7.9 percent).

By Kelsey Mays | August 1, 2014 | Comments (4)

Auto-Recall Database Still on Track for Aug. 20

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Almost a year ago, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced it would have an online recall database for shoppers to check if a car they're shopping had an unrepaired recall. Current owners could also check the database to see if their car needed recall work done. At the time, NHTSA set a deadline of Aug. 14, 2014, for automakers to furnish the data to the agency, post it on their own websites and update it weekly. (Some already do this.)

Two auto-industry groups appealed to move the date back two months. But The Detroit News reports that NHTSA is still on track to have the database running on Aug. 20 through its consumer website, safercar.gov. Automakers that sell at least 25,000 cars per year must comply, so certain exotics may be exempt.

Our friends at The Detroit News have the full story. Click here to read it.

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By Kelsey Mays | July 29, 2014 | Comments (0)

Are You Here Yet? Glympse Has the Answer

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Tucked beneath a canopy of tower cranes in Seattle's booming South Lake Union neighborhood stands a single-story office building that houses Glympse, a 5-year-old internet startup with a laser focus on answering one question: Where the heck are you?

Related: Texting-While-Driving Consequences Vary by State

Not the existential, where-are-you-in-life sort of query, but the more practical where are you and when will you get here. And there lays the in-car potential. Glympse, whose app launched in 2009, allows you to share real-time location via a GPS-enabled mobile device with your friends (or the whole world, if you post to social media) for a period of time you choose. BMW/Mini, Ford, GM, Jaguar/Land Rover, Mercedes-Benz, Volkswagen and Volvo have current or forthcoming integration in their multimedia systems.

I can see why.

By Kelsey Mays | July 29, 2014 | Comments (4)

Report: GM Cars in Ignition-Cylinder Recall Selling for Less

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A new report by iSeeCars.com says cars involved in the most serious of GM's ignition-related recalls have lower prices on the used-car market. The Woburn, Mass.-based automotive site, and Cars.com partner, analyzed more than 11 million cars for sale and found the listed price of recalled cars has dropped more than double the rate of non-luxury used cars in general.

More on GM's Ignition Recalls

The website looked at listed prices for the 2005-2007 Chevrolet Cobalt, 2007 Pontiac G5, 2003-2007 Saturn Ion, 2006-2007 Chevrolet HHR, 2006-2007 Saturn Sky and 2006-2007 Pontiac Solstice. All six models were among the 2.2 million cars recalled in the U.S. between Feb. 25 and April 9 for faulty ignition switches and then, ultimately, faulty ignition cylinders.

By Kelsey Mays | July 25, 2014 | Comments (3)

Porsche, Hyundai Top New J.D. Power Study, Volvo and Mitsubishi Sink

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Porsche and Hyundai topped their respective luxury and nonluxury peers in J.D. Power and Associates' 2014 Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout study. Volvo and Mitsubishi, respectively, placed last in each group.

Related: Porsche Flies, Fiat Flails in 2014 J.D. Power Initial Quality Study

APEAL tries to assess what people like in their cars. This differs from J.D. Power's other major automotive studies, the 90-day Initial Quality Study and three-year Vehicle Dependability Study, which both rate things that went wrong.

For the APEAL study, new-car owners rate their vehicles across 77 areas, and the results give a composite rating on a 1,000-point scale. Not surprisingly, premium brands beat their mass-market counterparts with an average score of 840 points among the study's 12 premium brands while the 20 nonpremium brands average 785 points.

Overall results slipped one point between the 2014 and 2013 APEAL studies, however; J.D. Power notes that in-car technology left some owners less than thrilled.

By Kelsey Mays | July 23, 2014 | Comments (2)

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