Back To School Cars

It is that time of year again when I start doing lots of “first cars” for new drivers and lots of cars for children who are going back to school. I would like to quickly touch on some do’s and don’ts when shopping for a vehicle that will help your child get from the school that will take forever to pay off, back to your basement – that they will never move out of.

 

DO:

Get something that is reliable. A 20-year old luxury car will not be reliable. While we are on the same topic, a 20-year old sports car cannot be driven in winter.

Get something good on fuel and easy to maintain… school will take a while to pay off and your child is more adept at fixing a computer than changing a flat tire. Technology is taking over.

Get cup holders. Your kids have a mountain of stuff other than beverages that they want to put in cup holders. Wallets, purses, phones, tablets, keys, cups, jewellery, pets (I have seen it), change, bills.. the list is endless.

Get something front wheel drive or all-wheel drive (winter is a thing in this country). Also, spring for a set of winter tires. They could save your retirement plan child’s life.

Get something that has useable back seats. Your study group needs to be comfortable when traveling from said school to your basement so they can eat all of your food and cram all night for an exam.

Get a vehicle that has Bluetooth! Your loved one will talk on the phone, so make sure they do it safely! I see so many kids talking and texting on a cell phone and it is very dangerous. If they cannot wait until they get home to talk about who is dating who and that awful dress someone was wearing, at least keep them safe.

 

DON’T:

Get something massive. A big SUV will coddle your pride and joy but it will get bashed in a student parking lot. Your kid got an A+ in trigonometry, congratulations. The arts major who parks next to them can’t spell trigonometry.

Get something flashy. You want your spawn to focus on school and work hard for the sweet, sweet reward of working 9 to 5, 8 to 6, being on call 24/7. If they show up in what they will call a “dope whip” (sweet car), they will not work as hard and probably spend more time taking pictures of themselves  making awkward faces in the parking lot in front of their car. Don’t let this be your spawn.

Get the snazziest model of a particular car with all the bells and whistles. All junior really needs is Bluetooth and possibly cruise control if their school is “two towns over”. Opting for navigation, backup camera, sunroof, leather and other things will blow the budget. You should spend that extra money on yourself. After all, you raised your child to university/ college age without killing them, you need a reward.

Once they have their new chariot, spend a day and teach them some life skills. Changing a flat tire, getting a car un-stuck from a snowbank, how to check the fluids, etc… this will help them to be confident in driving their new car that you are probably paying for, and it will protect both of your investments.

We have lots of great cars for back to school, and for back to mom and dad being able to rock out without interruption. Let us know what side of the fence you fall on and we would be happy to help!

 

Recalls

A lot has been said of recalls in the automotive business of late. This is not a new phenomenon. For those that live under a rock, here’s a quick re-cap: Takata is an airbag manufacturer that produces the majority of airbags used in cars today. Something like 60 million have been recalled because they were deemed unsafe. The Volkswagen Audi Group has had their diesel engine sales suspended completely because apparently they pollute more than the Donald’s hair and tanning products (sorry, too soon?). In both cases, the manufacturer is accused of knowing there were faulty parts in the components.

 

This is a list of my favorite automotive recalls:

 

Toyota Gas-pedal-gate: In 2009-10, some Toyota vehicles began accelerating on their own, affecting about 9 million cars and causing the company some wicked PR headaches. Add to that the shame of appearing in front of many a congressional panel. It also cost Toyota over $4.5 billion…now, that’s a lot of Corollas.

 

Firestone Tire-gate: Ford installed faulty Firestone tires that were prone to blowouts and thus, causing crashes, fires, death and whatnot. Someone from the Firestone family had married someone from the Ford family, so Ford tried to keep it as quiet as possible. Over 3 million tires were recalled, costing over $3 billion in the early 2000’s. Shocker: the Firestone and Ford families are no longer on talking terms. In fact, Firestone won’t bid on Ford projects anymore. Let’s just say all this makes for an awkward family reunion.

 

Audi Transmission-gate: In the 80s, Audi 5000 sedans were suddenly accelerating and the brakes simultaneously failing. Bad, right? This was largely fabricated by a 60 Minutes segment that condemned Audi for building death traps. It was 1986 and everyone believed what they saw on TV. It was at this point that Audi got the worst legal advice and admitted fault – later discovering they were not at fault, ouch – paid out a boatload of money and ruined their reputation for years. Not many cars were affected by this, but it sure put a damper on sales. This incident has been referenced numerous times by PR departments as an example of “what not to do”.

 

Ford-Pinto-gate: What a doozy!! This was Ford’s thinking in the 1970s. “It will cost $11 to fix a problem…it is better to just deal with the lawsuits as they come”. No joke, that was the company stance. Ford’s Pinto was the answer to the growing Japanese car market. The problem? The Pinto was made of thin, weak metal that provided very little structural impact resistance in an accident. Add to this the fact that the hot exhaust was routed right next to the flammable gas tank and you get free fireworks in a rear end collision! Ford is still getting over this epic fail today. The name “Pinto” is synonymous with “failure” or “garbage quality”.

 

So you see, recalls are not uncommon in the auto industry – they simply come with the territory. It seems the more stunning and flagrant the flops, the more popular they are. When you have thousands of parts and thousands of people working to make one product, having an unforeseen issue is very plausible.