Car Tips

5 Tips When Buying A New Car

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Many often ask us, “What is car a good car to buy?” There is no one simple answer for that. In today’s highly competitive car market, it would be too simplistic to say that Car A is a good car and Car B is a bad car. What determines a ‘good’ car and what’s a ‘bad’ car really depends on who is buying it and what the car will be used for.

Here are some tips to help you make a better, more informed decision.

1. Make A List Of Your Requirements.

It is not good enough to say you want a car that looks youthful, offers good driving performance and sporty handling, is comfortable, affordable, reliable, comes with many safety features and has good resale value.

Such a car doesn’t exist. Out of those many attributes mentioned, you need to decide which is the most important, which is the next, and so on.

No matter what the marketers tell you, a highly sophisticated car fitted with many cutting edge technologies cannot be expected to be as durable as another that uses older, but proven technologies.

Similarly, a new car model from a strong brand with a proven reputation cannot be expected to be as cheap or come with as many features as a lesser known upstart brand eager to win-over new buyers.

The established brand is likely to have a wide and reputable after-sales network, complete with a well-stocked parts delivery centre and body-paint collision repair facilities. These brands have a higher operating cost and customers will need to pay more for these benefits.

Deciding on what your purchase priorities are depends on how you will use the car. What’s your driving distance? Do you drive more on urban or highway roads? How many people will you be carrying most of the time? Will it be a primary or secondary car in your household?

With this hierarchy of priorities sorted out, you can then proceed to narrow down your list of potential candidates.

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2. Choosing the right body type

There is little point in buying a large multi-purpose vehicle (MPV) if you are only going to carry seven-people once a year, while carrying no more than two occupants for the remaining 51 weeks a year. Buying a cheaper, more fuel-efficient model and renting an MPV for the once-a-year event would make better sense.

MPVs and sports utility vehicles (SUV) offer a higher driving position which some drivers like, plus better utility. However, MPVs and SUVs are generally larger, heavier and consume more fuel than a similar class sedan or hatchback model. Tyre wear and replacement costs are also comparably higher.

Pick-up trucks are generally cheap to buy and are very durable, but urban users should be aware that they are not that practical. Try climbing onto the high deck of a pick-up truck to load and unload cargo, and you will understand why. Plus, you can only keep your groceries in the cabin.

A sedan may offer the added functionality of a boot, but has a conservative image. A hatchback may be smaller, but it is also a lot more practical in urban traffic. However, hatchbacks are less safe in a rear-end collision.

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3. Safety features

Automotive safety features are split into two main categories – active safety; features to help avoid a crash, and passive safety; features that minimise injuries. As prevention is always better, active safety should be placed on a higher priority.

A car with a good mix of passive and active safety features is one that is fitted with anti-lock braking system (ABS) with electronic brake force distribution (EBD), dual front airbags and electronic stability control (ESC). This mix is better than a car fitted with more airbags but no ESC.

Studies by the FIA, Global NCAP and ADAC have shown that ESC is the single most important safety feature after seatbelts, more important than airbags. Where possible, only choose cars with ESC. The feature is no longer limited to high-end cars as even an entry-level model like the Kia Picanto comes fitted with it.

ESC is a generic term and different car companies may have different marketing names for the feature, but they all work the same. Toyota calls it VSC. Mitsubishi calls it ASC while Honda calls it VSA. Some German manufacturers refer to it as ESP or DSC.

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4. Maintenance

Sales and after-sales are two different sides of the business, so it is not realistic to expect the sales person to furnish you with complete information of your car’s maintenance. Even if he/she does share this with you, a prudent buyer will still do his own homework to verify the information.

Some manufacturers publish maintenance costs of their vehicles on their websites. Maintenance information for Honda, Nissan and Perodua vehicles can be found here, here and here respectively.

For other brands, the information can be obtained by dropping into their respective authorised service centres and speaking to the service advisors there.

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5. Warranty

Many manufacturers now offer extended warranties that extend beyond the standard factory’s two- to three-year warranty to five-years. While extended warranties are attractive, it should not cloud your judgement. Remember that the best warranties are those that you don’t need to use, so evaluate the car’s reliability before evaluating its warranty.

Warranty claims are always a hassle and even if your vehicle’s repair costs are covered, you are still looking at a downtime of around one to two weeks.

Remember that items like clutches, brake pads, wipers and batteries are wear and tear items and are usually not covered by your warranty.

Most extended warranties are covered by a third-party insurer. Do check the terms and conditions as the coverage may differ between the first and second-half of the warranty period.

There are also brands that arrange their five-year extended warranties in a way that there is no distinction throughout all five-years, so they often avoid further complicating matters by highlighting that fact.

Five Tips To Get Good Value For Your Used Car

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So you have set your eyes on a new car, but before you make any payments, you will first need to sell off your current car. Here are some tips to help you get a good deal and to maximise the resale value of your vehicle.

1. Restore Your Car To Its Original Specifications

As a general rule of thumb, the closer your car looks to its original condition when you first bought it, the higher its value will be when it’s time to sell it off.

What this means is that you should remove any after-market parts that you have added to your vehicle. That sporty looking set of wheels, that set of lowered sports suspension, that deeper sounding exhaust muffler and that thumping audio system – they all have to go.

All the customisation that you have done to the car is only valuable to you in your eyes, but the next buyer is unlikely to share the same tastes as you. You are more likely to get better value by selling these after-market parts individually online, to people who are specifically looking for such products, rather than trying to push it with the car to the next buyer.

Of course, this is assuming that you are still keeping the original parts from the car. If you didn’t, well, then there is nothing much that you can do now other than to accept a lower price for your car, and consider it a lesson learnt for your next car.

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2. Touch-up Its Bodywork

The first impression matters the most. A car with a poor paint job gives the impression that the car was not properly maintained, never mind that it is mechanically sound under the bonnet.

Spend a few hundred Ringgit to touch up the car’s paint. Buff off any scratches and fix the small dents.

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3. Getting The Highest Value For Your Car          

Generally, car dealers tend to offer a higher trade-in value for the same make. For example, if you are looking to sell a used Toyota Camry, it is very unlikely that you will get a higher value than what’s offered by Toyota’s own used car retail network, Topmark.

You should then use the value quoted by Topmark as your reference price in deciding which dealer to sell your car to, or, if you want to sell your car privately, without any assistance from a used car dealer.

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4. Selling Your Car Via A Dealer Or Privately

There are pros and cons to using the service of a used car dealer versus doing it yourself. The former is clearly a lot less time consuming and safer, but you may get a slightly higher price by selling the car on your own.

If you are selling your car privately, be very vigilant when vetting through potential buyers asking to view your car. There have been many reports of people getting robbed and having their cars stolen by car theft syndicates posing as a potential buyers.

Where possible, do not invite buyers to view the car at your house. Instead, ask to meet them at a high-traffic, busy location, preferably an area monitored by CCTVs like a petrol station. Bring a friend along too.

Allocate at least one working day to complete the necessary paperwork with the Road Transport Department and maybe for the bank to transfer the ownership of the car.

If you are selling the car via a used car dealer, confirm with the used car dealer that the ownership title of the car will be temporarily transferred to the used car dealer. This is to protect you from any traffic summonses or legal liabilities that may occur after you have released the car to anyone else.

Under the e-Transfer system implemented by the Road Transport Department, the ownership of used cars can be temporarily transferred to the used car dealer. This transfer is only for administrative purposes and will not be reflected in the vehicle’s registration card, thus it will not affect the car’s resale value.

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5. Take Good Pictures

If you are putting up an advertisement to sell your car, spend a bit more effort in taking good pictures of your car. A listing with a clear picture that shows the car in a good light is far more likely to be viewed by potential buyers than another listing with a poor picture.

Take at least five pictures of the car – a front three-quarter angle, rear three-quarter angle, interior shot showing the dashboard, interior shot showing the conditions of the seats, and lastly a shot of the engine bay.

2014 Perodua Axia Aiming To Sell 7,500 Units A Month, Gets 3,000 Orders In Five Days

By 2 weeks ago 0 comments

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This just in: when the all-new 2014 Perodua Axia goes on sale in a matter of weeks from now, Malaysia’s No.1 carmaker will be looking to sell a total of 7,500 units a month! And here to eventually replace the popular Perodua Viva as the most affordable car in the country, don’t be too surprised to actually see it happen.

From a starting price of RM24,900 (estimated) onwards, the all-new Perodua Axia (pronounced a-zee-a) will come to us in four prime variants: E, G, SE and Advanced, with manual and automatic variants offered between the G and SE.

Also, Perodua president and CEO Datuk Aminar Rashid told members of the media at a recent event that since the order books were opened (August 15th), the company has since received 3,000 bookings already: that’s a staggering 600 a day!

So far, we’ve pretty much uncovered the car in proper detail for you in our previous stories, which you can check out here:

Stay tuned for more new surrounding the all-new Perodua Axia as we get closer to its launch dates!

2014 BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe (F36) Launched In Malaysia: 428i From RM390k

By 2 months ago 0 comments

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BMW Malaysia has just launched its all-new 2014 BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe (F36). Here to directly take on the 2014 Audi A5 Sportback (RM359,900), here’s how the four-door coupe Beemer gets on for prices:

  • BMW 428i Gran Coupe Sport Line: RM389,800 (without insurance)
  • M Sport Option: RM29,000
  • Vehicle Track and Recovery with Safety Upgrade: RM5,900

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Buyer’s Guide:

If you’re wondering how this differs from a similarly-proportioned BMW 3 Series GT, well, the 4 Series Gran Coupe is shorter in length, lower in height, and narrower in width overall. But don’t forget, this is still a coupe, so you can expect all the sloping roofline and frameless window arrangements. And like the Audi A5 Sportback, the Gran Coupe here has a one-piece liftgate for better boot access.

BMW 428i Gran Coupe:

  • Engine: 2.0-litre BMW TwinPower Turbo engine
  • Transmission: Eight-speed Steptronic Auto
  • Horsepower: 245 @ 5,000 – 6,500rpm
  • Torque: 350Nm @ 1,250 to 4,800rpm
  • 0-100km/h: 6.1 seconds
  • Top speed: 250km/h
  • Combined consumption: 6.6l/100km

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Exterior Styling:

On the outside, the four-door Gran Coupe features all the recognisable traits of a regular 4 Series, but for the slight increase in overall height by 12mm – the rest of the Coupe’s exterior dimensions appear exactly the same, but of course for the addition of two extra doors from the original Coupe.

Detailing is identical as well, with high-gloss black fitments here and there, nine-slat kidney grille, Air Breathers, frameless windows, 18-inch alloy wheels, and more. The only other difference to note is that the F36 has four pillars (A, B, C, D – like the F34 3 Series GT), while the F32 gets on with just three pillars.

But as always, how your car ends up looking, is highly dependent on your choice of options, in which case here, includes a BMW M Sport package as an option, while the Sport Line trim is standard. See more on this below.

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Interior Design:

Inside the all-new 4 Series Gran Coupe, you’ll find all the common fitments of a modern BMW, more so the recently-launched line of 4 Series variants (Coupe, Convertible). The immediately visible free-standing 8.8-inch LCD Control Display features has a split-screen function, and is equipped with BMW’s Navigation System Professional. To manage the system, BMW’s latest iDrive Touch Controller is seen ready in the center console.

The seats are you see them here are in an exclusive Ivory White, integrated within a black interior scheme – of course, all this is subject to change, depending on the BMW Line and package of your choice.

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SPACIOUSNESS: Where practicalities are concerned, the four-door coupe has a 2+1 rear seat arrangement with a 60:40 split-folding rear backrest: folded flat, this creates up to 1,300 litres in conjunction with the boot’s standalone 480 litres of space.

Speaking of the boot, the 4 Series Gran Coupe has a one-piece liftgate, which uniquely features a larger opening for better usability. And, there’s also BMW’s contactless opening and closing of the boot lid, which need only a foot swipe beneath the rear bumper to open the hatch.

Looking at BMW’s technical sheet, cabin space comparisons with the regular 4 Series Coupe reveals that the Gran Coupe has 27mm more headroom and 44mm more door-to-door space in the rear, but it loses out only in door-to-door width in the front by 18mm.

M SPORT PACKAGE: Taking things even further in the four-door 4 Series, you can opt for your 428i with an M Sport package, which as we know adds a few more M badges, an M-specific bodykit (aero pack), 18-inch M light-alloy wheels, and an M Sport suspension amongst many other M goodies. An Estorial Blue metallic and Carbon Black metallic paint finish is reserved just for this package.

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Driving Dynamics:

To tame the 2.0-litre BMW TwinPower engine available here, are two neat additions that bring to life the 4GC. For starters, you have the Adaptive M suspension (available as standard on both variants), which allows you to modify you damper settings to suite your current driving styles: choose to stiffen your ride for your exuberant getaways, or soften it all up to turn your car into a cosy cruiser.

Then you have BMW’s four unique driving modes, available via the Driving Experience Control feature: ECO PRO, Comfort, Sport, and Sport+. Each of the modes represent various configurations of your car’s accelerator pedal, transmission as well as air-conditioning settings, and shape them up according to which settings you prefer at the time.

If you haven’t already been clued in to how this works, ECO PRO mode will, for example, save you up to 20% of fuel by reducing the A/C’s strength, taming the throttle response and optimising your transmission’s shift points to save you the most fuel. Likewise, shifting the car into Sport+ mode gets everything working for maximum attack, even switching the Dynamic Stability Control off in favour of Dynamic Traction Control.

 

 

Seven Rules of Owning a Car: Here’s A Quick Checklist

By 10 months ago 2 comments

 

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Owning a car sounds like an easy thing to do; you just get the keys to one, and drive it wherever, right? Wrong. There are loads of things to consider before you’re actually considered a responsible, safe and worthy owner of a car.

Here’s a quick guide for you to consider:

Knowing Your Road Rules:

While most drivers often study hard for their written driver’s license exam, it’s all often forgotten the moment they set a wheel out onto the road. Knowing what every road sign and white line is absolutely important to being a responsible driver, and to avoid getting a ticket for illegal driving manoeuvres like crossing over a double line.

Being financially stable

Before you even think about buying car, you need to know if you can really afford all the costs that go into owning one. After you’ve paid the price and have taken the keys to your new car, there are still plenty of costs to consider, like your car’s monthly instalment, regular maintenance services, insurance renewals, damage costs, broken parts that may need replacing, and all other things that come with owning a car. Anything could happen at any time with your car when you drive out on the road, so it’s always good to be financially prepared.

Knowing when to service your car

If you want your car to be properly functional and operable throughout the years, then be sure to keep track of all your servicing dates, and make sure to meet all your appointments. Once you know it’s time, head over to the mechanic and perform all the necessary checks and fixes. Delaying this can prove highly costly, so don’t procrastinate!

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Give it some TLC

Be sure to give your car all the ‘tender, loving, care’ that it needs: from a good wash every few weeks to a wax or a polish ever so often. Keep your car looking new and fresh at all times, and you’ll be rewarded with a car that looks great, and will maintain its resale value much better when or if you plan to sell your car after a few years.

Keeping track of your insurance, road tax and drivers’ license

These may have very little to do with the actual action of driving a car, and it can also be one of the most tedious to monitor as they’re often out of sight every time you drive. And, not only is driving with an expired license or road tax illegal, they’ll also warrant a nasty fine from the authorities if you’re caught without the proper documentation.

Keeping an eye on your oil and tyres

Be sure to check all the liquids in your car are okay, and always have an eye out for the condition of your tyres. Oils (engine, transmission, brake) are absolutely crucial to your cars operation, while making sure your tyres are properly inflated constantly and have a good amount of thread on them is just as important. Get some initial help from your local mechanic or someone who’s familiar with these issues to learn what and where to look for problems.

Knowing your priorities

Owning and driving a car is a major responsibility. As a driver, we’re often responsible for the lives of the passengers we carry, and those around us on the road as well – one bit of carelessness is enough to end the lives of many. So how do we manage this? By knowing your priorities.

Arriving at your destination safely and without endangering the lives of others should be on top of your list of priorities – miles ahead of arriving at a location quickly, or faster than someone else. Always do everything you can within your abilities to take the safest measures possible, and never be too confident about your abilities on the road – accidents often happen to the best of us, even when we think we’re perfectly in control.

DIY: Replacing a Sway Bar Link

By 10 months ago 0 comments
A sway bar link in need of replacement

A sway bar link badly in need of replacement

A sway bar link, or “dog bone” as known by more enthusiastic petrol heads and repair related personnel, is one of the various components of the suspension system. Basically a metal rod bolted to anti-roll bar on one end while the other usually onto a suspension arm or chassis, this simple contraption twists the anti-roll bar and limits the amount of roll whenever the vehicle is cornering or on imbalanced surfaces.

But because this little metal rod is connected via at least one ball joint, they would require replacements whenever the rubber bush is torn or it has loosened in its socket. This is usually indicated by the sound of something loose while driving over rough roads. Fortunately the repair procedure is fairly simple. Here’s how

Tools:

  • Socket wrench or closed end spanner
  • Antirust spray
  • Replacement sway bar link
  • 2 car jack sets or one jack plus jack stands

Method:

1. Loosen the wheel nuts, jack up the vehicle before removing all together the nuts and tire. Place the wheel under the vehicle in case the jack fails

The link connects the stabilizer bar to the  chassis or suspension

The link connects the stabilizer bar to the chassis or suspension

2. Locate the link and spray some antirust. The rubber boot covering the ball joint is probably torn and possibly leaking grease

3. With the correct-sized socket wrench or spanner, remove the nuts holding the link in place, then pull out the link itself

Raising the lower arm eases fitting of the new unit that's much stiffer

Raising the lower arm eases fitting of the new unit that’s much stiffer

4. A new sway bar link should have its ball joints tight. Therefore depending on its design, it is possible that both ends are not wide enough to fit through the openings. Rather than changing the mounting bolts’ angle by brute force, it is a lot easier to raise the lower arm or wheel hub assembly with another jack until both the link’s bolts fit.

5. Screw back the nuts at both end until tight

6. Refit the wheel and lower the vehicle