First Gear English edition


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Everything you need to know about your first car.

Welcome to the wonderful world of wheels!
We know that every single person dreams of owning a car. It’s understandable: a car epitomises independence. Success. Stature. Mobility. The freedom to go your own way. But we also know that the decision to purchase a car can be fraught with challenges. What car do you buy? What can you afford? What about the servicing requirements? What safety features should you look out for? What about safety out on the road? These and many other important questions plague your mind. First Gear aims to address all these topics and many other essential issues associated with car ownership. We have canvassed the opinions of the world’s leading authorities and this book aims to give you independent, authoritative and utterly essential advice. We want to take the mystery and malaise out of car ownership, and replace it with easy to follow advice and tips… so that your road to car ownership isn’t filled with potholes! We trust that it will provide you with a stress-free introduction to the world of wheels.

Enjoy your first car; you’ve worked hard for it!

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First Gear English edition

  1. 1. Everything you needto know about your first car
  2. 2. FirstGear Everything you need to know about your first car
  3. 3. Welcome to the wonderful world of wheels! We know that every single person dreams of owning a car. It’s understandable: a car epitomises independence. Success. Stature. Mobility. The freedom to go your own way. But we also know that the decision to purchase a car can be fraught with challenges. What car do you buy? What can you afford? What about the servicing requirements? What safety features should you look out for? What about safety out on the road? These – and many other – important questions plague your mind. First Gear aims to address all these topics – and many other essential issues associated with car ownership. We have canvassed the opinions of the world’s leading authorities – and this book aims to give you independent, authoritative and utterly essential advice. We want to take the mystery and malaise out of car ownership, and replace it with easy- to-follow advice and tips… so that your road to car ownership isn’t filled with potholes! We trust that it will provide you with a stress-free introduction to the world of wheels. Enjoy your first car; you’ve worked hard for it! 2  First Gear   First Gear  3 
  4. 4. Table of Contents Meet Jack and Jill First Gear is a hands-on guide aimed at men and women who are purchasing their very Chapter 1: First things first 06 first car. Bearing this in mind, the authors of this book chose to come up with two fictional characters called Jack and Jill, because they represent archetypal readers. Chapter 2: Choosing your ride 14 So who are Jack and Jill? Well, we believe that they are typical first-time car buyers. Jack is a young guy who aspires to buy an ultra-fast sports car (although maybe his Chapter 3: Dealing with the dealer 22 wallet won’t quite meet his aspirations). Jill is a young lady who wants a stylish car that suits her lifestyle and her desire to be at the height of fashion. Chapter 4: Signing on the dotted line 28 We’re talking two typical young people – a man and woman with hopes, aspirations and dreams that are shared with millions of people all over the planet. Chapter 5: Technology on wheels 36 We hope that you can relate to Jack and Jill… and that you can learn from some of their experiences at the dealership, out on the road or whenever you drive your car. Chapter 6: Safety in your car 44 Chapter 7: Safety on the road   52 Chapter 8: Avoid fuel funk 62 Chapter 9: Tech talk 70 Chapter 10: SOS 78 Chapter 11: Bling it on 84 Chapter 12: Green 88 First Gear Everything you need to know about your first car Published by Ford Communications 20th Floor, Lake Rajada Office Complex, 193/82-86 Ratchadapisek Road, Klongtoey, Bangkok, 10110, Thailand. Director/Publisher: Whitney Foard Small; Managing Editor: Mia Barrett; Editor: Charleen Clarke; Writers: PRISM Asia Pacific and Africa Content Factory; Illustrator: Junho Kim; Design: Content Factory, Europe. A publication of Ford Communications Network. December 2011. 4  First Gear  First Gear  5
  5. 5. CHAPTER 1: First things first Money isn’t everything but it sure does help when you want to buy a car. So, unless a long-lost great uncle has left you a small fortune, the first question most of us need to ask before shopping for a new car is: “What can I afford to drive?” But your answer needs to take into account more than just the purchase price. This, we’re afraid, is just the tip of the motoring iceberg. The costs of financing, maintaining, repairing and insuring your car – along with incidental expenses such as parking and registration fees – also need be factored in. As Ford Asia Pacific and Africa Director of Sales Mark Winslow points out: “It’s not only the price of the car itself, but the cost of ownership that impacts affordability.” Of course, most guys – take young Jack for example – can’t wait to take their girlfriend for a cruise in a flashy new convertible or a racy Focus RS. After all, they do have a certain image to maintain. But, for most first-time buyers, the more affordable Figo subcompact or the Fiesta are more realistic choices. And the really terrific news is the fact that they are still fun cars to drive – you really don’t need to spend a small fortune in order to have a cool, hip motoring experience. It all boils down to what you can afford. “Customers should not feel too much pressure from their car payment,” notes Ford Automotive Finance (China) Vice President of Sales and Marketing Eric Chou. “If a customer chooses to finance a car, his monthly dispensable income (money left over after taxes, rent or mortgage payment, and basic living expenses are deducted) should be more than twice the amount of the monthly payment. 6  First Gear   First Gear  7 
  6. 6. fan pages exist for many new vehicles, and “Or, to put it another way, the customer’s their personal finances, because everyone estimated fu el mileage to lots of helpful information, from both average bank account balance should be should aim to save at least a small portion many litres of figure out ho petrol it will w current owners and the manufacturer, can at least double the amount of the car pay- of their pay check. where you ne take to get yo ed to go. Don u be found there. ment,” he adds. “The first question to ask is how much you for future pr ’t forget to al ice increases low Even the most reliable cars on the market The authoritative Consumer Guide can afford to pay on a monthly basis,” says you could ru at the pump n out of mon – or need periodic maintenance and repairs. Automotive says it could even be a good Keith Watson, director of strategy and out of fuel! ey before yo u run Tyres, filters, fluids and belts need to be idea to shop for finance before going car business support, Standard Bank. If the car When estim ating the co replaced regularly. A stray pebble on the hunting. “Decide how much you can afford is going to add 10 percent to your monthly new car, repa st of owning irs and maint a highway could damage the windscreen. and how much you are willing to pay debt, that is probably manageable. As much come into pl enance also ay. Once you’ And, if you are unlucky and have an before you shop for a vehicle. If, like most as guys such as Jack get a kick out of driving model and br ve chosen th and that tickl e accident, you could be replacing a fender consumers, you have to borrow money, the latest, sexiest set of wheels, your car a good idea es your fanc to gauge the y, it’s or headlight – and more. shop for a loan before you shop for a should not cost more than your house! target vehicl reliability of e. Informatio the vehicle,” it suggests. How much fuel your car will consume is of repairs a sp n about wha ecific model t types Standard Bank of South Africa advises also an important budget consideration. over time is is likely to ne available on ed prospective car buyers to very carefully Estimate the average distance travelled consumer gr line and with consider how a car purchase will impact each month, and divide this by the car’s oups, as wel consumer co l as data abou mplaints an t d recalls. Fa cebook 4.5l/100km The fabulously low fuel consumption of the Fiesta 1.6 TDCi – a fun but sensible buy. 8  First Gear   First Gear  9 
  7. 7. The cost of replacement parts can vary greatly. Imported vehicles are often the most expensive – and take longer – to repair because spare parts may need to be shipped 7 out of 10 from abroad. The number of car purchases in The more frugal among us save up all their pennies before heading to the dealership to make their purchase. which women are involved in the UK. But most car-buyers only have enough money saved for a down payment and will need some sort of financing plan to complete the sale. Dealer finance is often the most convenient and popular option. At reputable dealerships, the staff will sit down with the customer and tailor a payment plan to meet their individual needs, after calculating monthly income, household expenses, mortgage payments, and food and entertainment expenditures. They can adjust the amount you must pay each month, or the number of payments you have to make over the lifetime of the contract, depending on the buyer’s financial situation. 5 Five fast buying tips • Keep your emotions under control. Be conservative and don’t rush; you’ll have to live with this purchase for years to come • If you’re financing your car purchase, your monthly payment should not put a big strain on your budget. Don’t bite off more than you can chew • Make sure you understand all the terms of your buyer’s contract, paying special attention to the interest rate and whether there is a balloon payment required • Figure out how much it will cost to keep the car running before you buy. Remember: cost of ownership counts! • Shop around for the best insurance rates10  First Gear First Gear  11
  8. 8. Keep in mind that lower monthly In conclusion, it’s very important not topayments mean you’ll be paying off thecar for a longer period of time, and more overreach. (You know what they say about car sickness: it’s the feeling you Insider insurance tipsof your hard-earned money will be going get when the monthly payment is due!) Insurance requirements vary from country to thrilled; this was a price he could afford.towards the interest. And remember that So it’s best to be conservative when country, so be sure to check the laws in your But, after reading the policy closely, Jack wasinterest rates rise and fall. Rising interest calculating what monthly instalment you country before you purchase a vehicle. confused.rates could affect the terms of your car can afford, especially if this is your first Irrespective of the rules and regulations within “What’s this bit about a USD 2,000 ‘excess’?”repayment, along with other debts like a car purchase. It’s seriously bad news to your specific country though, insurance is a no- he asked.home loan or credit card. Even a small default on a car payment; this could brainer, because that car of yours represents a The salesman explained to Jack that, if he hadrate hike could raise your monthly affect your credit rating and thus your massive investment! As such, Ford Asia Pacific an accident, he’d be responsible for any repairspayments across the board and bust ability to get a loan, buy a house, or a and Africa Director of Sales Mark Winslow advises that cost less than USD 2,000. If the car need-your budget, so it’s advisable to allow for second car in the future. customers to purchase comprehensive coverage ed two new doors and a fender, and the bodysome wiggle room. In certain instances, to fully protect their investment. “If you can’t shop charges USD 2,300 for the job, Jackyou can fix the interest rate (this means afford comprehensive insurance, perhaps you would have to pay USD 2,000, while the insur-that it will neither increase nor decrease, should consider a less expensive car,” he says. ance company would pay USD you know exactly what you will be Sports cars are generally more expensive to insure, “Wait a minute!” Jack told the insurancespending for the entire duration of the and young drivers often pay higher monthly pre- agent. “I can’t afford to pay USD 2,000. After Ifinance plan). Chat to the dealer aboutthis possibility; he/she will be able to 611 million miums than older, more experienced drivers with an established safety record. For smaller monthly payments drivers can opt to buy this car, I won’t have any savings left!” The salesman crunched the numbers again,explain exactly how it works. The predicted number pay a larger “excess”, or deductible, in case of an and came up with another plan for Jack, which provided the smallest “excess” possi- of cars in India by 2050, accident. This is the amount the car owner must ble, USD 100. But this time, the monthly pay before the insurance company will reimburse making it the world’s him/her. A higher deductible means lower pay- payment came out to more than USD 235 per month. Before you sign on the dotted line, largest car market. ments, and vice-versa. “That’s almost twice as much!” Jack pro-make sure you can see the bigger picture For example tested. “I can’t afford that!”and understand all the payments that Jack visited his local insurance salesman to see “I’m very sorry, sir,” the salesman replied.need to be made. Some finance plans how much it would cost to insure a new Ford “But this is how insurance works. The morecall for what is known as a “balloon Focus. Since the down payment on the car you pay up front, the less you will have to If you begin to miss monthly car was going to wipe out his savings, he was pay for any damages later. If you want topayment”. This is the total balance payments, sometimes the dealership looking for the lowest monthly payment pay the minimum premium possible,remaining on the car at the end of the can arrange a new payment schedule. plan possible. He didn’t want to spend that’s fine. But further on down the road,payment plan, and it usually needs to be But, if you fall too far behind, you could more than USD 1,500 per year for compre- it could cost you a lot more.”*paid in full as a lump sum after all the lose the car entirely... and all the money hensive coverage.monthly payments have been made... you have invested thus far! The salesman, after factoring in Jack’s Source: Progressive Insurance Co.which even though it’s at the back of So make 100 percent sure you commit driving record, age, marital status andyour mind, is still a nasty surprise if you to a monthly payment you can handle to vehicle model, offered Jack a plan that *This statement is a guideline only, anddon’t have the cash. If you don’t avoid an unpleasant visit from the Repo fitted his budget: USD 130 per month not advice that should be relied upon.understand all the terms and conditions Insurance advice must be sought from Man (just in case you don’t know this would pay for comprehensive cover-of the contract, ask an independent an accredited financial services provider. guy; he’s the chap who comes to age of the new Focus. Jack wasfinancing professional to look it over repossess your possessions when youbefore you make any firm commitment. don’t pay!)12  First Gear First Gear  13
  9. 9. CHAPTER 2: Choosing your ride 14  First Gear   First Gear  15 
  10. 10. As the Wisebuyer’s Guide notes: “Buying a “green” vehicle, sports car or SUV perhaps car requires commitment. The two of you – will be defined by your motoring are going to be seeing a lot of each other, requirements. Ultimately, there is no right so it’s best if you’re happy. There’s a lot of or wrong choice: the type of vehicle you money at stake, so you don’t want to be select is dependent entirely on your disappointed.” individual needs and budget. So where do you start? How do you pick the vehicle that’s absolutely perfect for 2. New or used? you? Should it be something practical and We all dream of buying a brand new set of sensible or something wild and wicked? wheels, complete with that incredible new And how do you know you haven’t selected car smell but in reality used cars often do a complete lemon? Follow our ten-point offer a good value for money proposition. If guide and chances are excellent that you you cannot afford a new car, invest in a low will meet your dream date (in terms of mileage used car instead. But make sure Prefer something a little sportier? wheels anyway). you buy a car with a full service history (a Then consider a hatchback or a coupe. 7 service history is a record of all the 1. Decide what type of vehicle hours mechanical work that has been done to you want the car). And only buy from a reputable There are so many different kinds of organisation. Resist that unbelievable vehicles on the market, and your choice – bargain at all costs; remember… if the deal The average length of time that three quarters of car buyers a sedan, hatchback, coupe, 4x4, pickup, appears too good to be true, it probably is. spent online when making a new vehicle purchase in 2008, according to J.D. Power and Associates. Do you want something that’s especially 3. Evaluate the value adds that you won’t have any unexpected versatile, and can be all things to all people? All cars come with extra bits and pieces. motoring expenses that will blow your Maybe a Sport Utility Vehicle (SUV) could be the answer. We’re not talking about dangling dice and monthly budget out of the water. fluffy seats; we’re referring to value-adds such as service plans and warranties. 4. Google it These can vary significantly from car to car The Internet is a wonderful source of and, when things go wrong, they can make information on your potential car. Google a huge difference. A warranty generally whatever cars interest you and see what covers all the major mechanical items on pops up. If that car is unreliable, you will the car – ideally, you want a warranty that find loads of motorists complaining about is available for as many years and it on consumer sites. You will be able to kilometres as possible. The same can be read reviews by independent motoring said of a service or maintenance plan – you journalists too, which could steer you in the want it to be valid for as long as possible, right direction (if you will excuse the pun). Do you want something so that you have peace of mind and know practical with a boot? A sedan will work for you.16  First Gear First Gear  17
  11. 11. How about something that’s dead sexy? Hello sports car… Do you really need a bigger engine? Fancy the idea of heading off-road? A 4x4 could be the ideal vehicle for you, or maybe even a pickup (if you fancy the notion of being able to toss stuff in the load box). 5. Consider colour Colour is important due to resale values. fuel just as fast. Similarly, a vehicle such as a large saloon or SUV will typically be thirstier 8. Pick a brand Now that you have decided what type of Common errors Cars in popular colours may be easier to sell and boast better resale value. When than a small hatchback or sedan. That’s because bigger cars are generally a bit vehicle you’d like, and whether you’re going the new or used route, it’s time to nail your when buying a car deciding on colour, also bear in mind that heavier, so while they do offer sensational colours to the brand mast of your choice. certain colours are more popular in certain versatility and practicality, there is a price to This can be a tough one: you may be Rushing into a decision markets than others. pay at the fuel pump. There may also be a tempted by the bargain basement pricing Buying with your heart only price to pay in terms of CO2 emissions. options of some lesser known brands or the 6. Fuel consumption to the fore glamour of an exotic one. It’s very important Blowing your budget Before you sign on the dotted line, you need 7. Safety features are important to be sensible in this regard though. Deal Only considering the to investigate the facts and the figures. It We have a whole chapter devoted to the with a company with a proud heritage, one purchase price costs an arm and a leg to fill a fuel tank – so vital issue of safety. Decide which safety that has been around for a while and has an how economical is your potential car? That features are the most important to you and excellent reputation for delivering quality Purchasing a cheap, sports car may accelerate faster than a ensure that your new car has these features products. You’re making a substantial unknown brand rocket, but remember that it may gulp down before you make your purchase. investment, so only deal with a company18  First Gear First Gear  19
  12. 12. that is ethical. Take Ford Motor Company, 9. The test drive Ideally, you want a warranty that is available for instance. It has been recognised as one (and pay attention) for as many years and kilometres as possible. of the world’s most ethical companies by Once you’ve decided on a short list of the Ethisphere Institute, an international vehicles, you need to take each one for a business ethics think tank. This is quite test drive. The single most important some honour; thousands of companies in question you need to ask yourself is this: 10. Finally... pick a ride a bigger (and often thirstier) engine? Do you more than 100 countries and 36 industries would I be comfortable and happy in this So you have made your decision. You have need the luxury specification level? Are were evaluated and Ford was the one vehicle each and every day for the next few decided which car to buy. The last factor you electric windows really necessary at the and only automaker to receive this honour years? It’s a good idea to test drive the car need to take into consideration is the back of the car (when you will hardly ever in 2010. on roads that you will typically drive on specific model. Cars are generally available use the back seat)? What safety features once you have purchased a vehicle. If, for in a range – models within that range will are on offer with each specific model? instance, you spend most of your time in differ in terms of engine capacity and Remember: the bigger the engine and the city, ensure that your test route includes specification level. Carefully compare the the more luxurious the car, the higher its driving on busy city roads. models within the range. Do you really need price tag. Are you looking to save money? A vehicle with great fuel economy could be what you’re looking for. 20  First Gear  First Gear  21
  13. 13. CHAPTER 3: Dealing with the dealer Walking into a big, shiny car dealership showroom for the first time can be really exciting – and often intimidating. But don’t be scared. Remember, at every step of the way, that the sales team is there to serve you. The customer is king – or queen – of the showroom!22  First Gear First Gear  23
  14. 14. Keep in mind, however, that a car is just like agirlfriend or boyfriend: Joseph Cueter, operations manager forLooks are not Ford’s Customer Service Division, Asia Pacific and Africa.a guarantee “Your local dealer should be what we at Ford like to call a ‘hometown hero’,” he happiness. “They should be engaged with the local community – supporting local schools, sponsoring sports programmes.” Dealers that advertise in smaller, local newspapers and support education, sport, Choosing a dealer that’s right health and environmental initiatives in the for you community are more likely to form a long- Start by looking at dealer outlets that are term relationship with customers. “Look for close to your home or workplace. “You can anything that indicates they are not just build a lasting relationship and get better looking for a one-time sale,” adds Cueter. follow-up service if you stick to your Of course, you may be able to get the car hometown or where you work,” advises you want at a cheaper price from a that prove the repair shop meets international standards. Ask to see the qualifications of the technical staff and service advisors. Certificates from the Society of Automotive Engineers, for example, are good professional credentials. dealership in a neighbouring province or city. So are factory certifications from Ford- But any discounts you find may not be authorised dealerships that show the worth it in the long run. It’s inconvenient and mechanics have been specifically trained to costly to travel a long way to bring your car work on certain components. in for service or repairs. Since dealers are generally the best Communication is key source for warranty-covered repairs and Dealership sales staff should be friendly and maintenance, take a close look at the helpful, but not pushy. You should be service centre. Ask around: have your warmly welcomed when you enter the neighbours or colleagues been satisfied with showroom. The salesperson ought to ask the service provided by the dealership? It’s how they can be of service and offer some also a good idea to look for certifications general information about the dealership 24  First Gear First Gear  25
  15. 15. before trying to steer you towards any As you do a particular vehicle or promotion. To avoid 360-degree stroll the hard sell, you may want to tell the around it, check salesperson that you won’t be making a model. If you live in a tropical climate, you purchase today, and are only visiting to may need air conditioning. If you drive a the seams gather information. vast distance to work every day, you’ll need between body “You want a salesperson who listens to a car that cruises well and has excellent you and asks meaningful questions about fuel economy. If you have a big family, a panels and doors; your transportation needs,” says Cueter. roomy interior will be a requirement. are they evenly spaced, You also want a salesperson who treats “Make a checklist of what you need to be without gaps or you with respect; someone who truly has a satisfied owner,” advises Cueter. “If the car your best interests at heart. meets all of these requirements, performs irregularities? Does Prepare a list of the top ten features that well on the road and appeals to you the colour look good? you require in your new vehicle; this will visually, you’ll be in good shape.” help the salesperson direct you to the right Is the paint smooth, with make sure the seats are comfortable and that the controls are easy to reach. The The test drive mirror like reflections? speedometer, fuel gauge, and other Ensure that you test drive and carefully instruments should be clearly visible. The inspect a car before buying it. You wouldn’t driver should be able to glance at the buy a USD 15 jacket without trying it on instruments and adjust the controls without first. So why should you buy a USD 15,000 performance, etc. If you haven’t driven taking his/her attention off the road. car that you have never driven? much, you may not be able to realistically If you are an inexperienced or unlicensed Fast facts compare the car’s features or performance driver, bring a qualified driver along who can to competing models. evaluate the vehicle’s driving dynamics: Check the exterior carefully, with an eye handling, acceleration, braking for details. Open the boot to see if there’s enough storage space. Is there a full-sized 100 spare tyre? If you drive on rough roads you may need one. Consumer Reports, a U.S. magazine and Find a dealer near your workplace website published by a non-profit consumer or home who you can trust and advocacy group, recommends walking in a with whom you can build a lasting Do your research – on the Internet circle around the car to perform an overall relationship and with consumer groups and quality check: magazines – before negotiating Keep in mind, however, that a car is just Make a checklist of what features a purchase price like a girlfriend or boyfriend: looks are not a you need to be a satisfied owner guarantee to happiness. And while it’s great and bring it to the dealer It’s a good idea to test drive the to have a sexy car, you and your passengers car before you buy will be travelling inside the vehicle. So Look for a salesperson who listens The number of new dealershipsto you and is focused on your that Ford plans to establish inneeds. Avoid the hard sell China to meet demand.26  First Gear First Gear  27
  16. 16. CHAPTER 4: Signing on the dotted line eets your a vehicle that m anaged to find Once you’ve m alership, it’s tim e to start a trustworthy de about needs at the salesperson u should chat to financial negotiating. Yo to protect your rvice plans in order per work warranty and se to get all the pa tshell, you need interest. In a nu in order. We all know that you’re dying to get behind can save. If you learn how much others are the wheel and head out on the road – but paying for the car you want, you’ll know it’s very important to focus on all the immediately if the price you’re being details. quoted is competitive. “Do your research,” recommends Joseph Knowledge is power Cueter, operations manager for Ford’s First things first: you need to agree on a Customer Service Division, Asia Pacific and price. The more you know, the more you Africa. “By visiting chat rooms and reading 28  First Gear   First Gear  29 
  17. 17. u are s and blogs, yoonline car forum payinggoing to see whaand find a pr As we’ve alread t people are ice range.” y stressed, the sticker $5,000 ning th e window of price that’s ador The amount you be negotiable. showro om vehicles may s hat sort of sale should budget for Depending on w e m anufacturers ar incentives auto t bonuses car maintenance alers, and wha offering their de eir sales the dealers m ay be offering th over five years of erson may be willing to staff, the salesp cessories. ownership (if you lower the price or add ac s staff always have Remember, sale won’t have a service to achieve… and targets that they need e t to achieve thos they will do a lo or maintenance plan). targets. “Ask what kind of wiggle room is model, that’s a good indication that the 5 available,” Cueter advises. “Ask the salesperson might accept a lower price. dealer: ‘What can you do today to make Likewise, when car companies roll out me buy this vehicle?’ “ new models, dealers will often be Keep in mind that car sales operate in motivated to clear out existing cycles: there are high and low seasons. inventory to make room for the latest When sales in your market traditionally product line-up. drop off, such as during the Lunar Festival in China and Taiwan, Christmas As Jill discovered when she went car shopping, there is nothing wrong with Fast facts in Australia and Tet in Vietnam, dealers buying what is known as a “previous Do your research may be even more motivated than generation model”, especially if you can For more bargaining power, buy at usual to make a sale. get it at a great price. When car the end of the year or month There are other times when sales companies launch so-called “new” staff might be more willing to give models, they are generally one of two Read the fine print: don’t pay for customers a better deal. For example, things: a completely new car boasting accessories or services you don’t at the end of the month, when all sorts of fabulous new features need dealerships are trying to meet sales – known as a “new generation model” quotas and companies are eager to – or a “face-lifted model”, which has Make sure there are no out-of- post record monthly sales figures, you had moderate changes. In the case of pocket expenses for warranty- may have more leverage to negotiate. the latter, they do not offer huge covered repairs If you see lots of promotions and benefits over the models they are Compare the warranties offered rebates being offered for a particular replacing (much like many movie stars, with different models30  First Gear  First Gear  31  First Gear  31
  18. 18. and tell you the repair is free of charge? Or purchase but, in most markets, you must when you go in, do you have to fill out a pile purchase the extension before the initial of paperwork, pay for the repair out of your time period runs out. own pocket and then submit a claim to be The terms and prices of the warranty reimbursed under the warranty? Some agreements generally cannot be companies out there make you do that,” negotiated. But you can shop around and explains Cueter. “When you bring your compare the different warranty options vehicle into a Ford dealership for a offered for a variety of new vehicles. warranty-covered repair and provided the Consider the following example: one component you’re after is covered, you vehicle has a sticker price of USD 10,000, don’t have to pay anything up front and you and comes with a one-year bumper-to- don’t have to fill out lots of paperwork to bumper manufacturer’s warranty. The get the service you’re entitled to.” dealership will sell a three-year warranty The warranty period can be extended for extension for USD 3,000. Another vehicle an additional fee. Warranty extensions do has a sticker price of USD 12,500. It comes not have to be bought at the time of with a five-year warranty. Even though the they have just had a nip and a tuck here afraid to query any items on the invoice. and there). Jill opted for an older model Remember: you are the one with when she decided to invest in a nippy the power! hatchback because it had all the safety and technology benefits of the face-lifted Protect your investment model, but the exterior and interior styling Now that you’ve successfully negotiated a was slightly different. However, this did not purchase price, it’s time to think about how bother Jill one iota when she discovered best to protect your investment. All that she could knock 10 percent off the reputable manufacturers offer a warranty sticker price. with new car purchases. If you want to be the first one in your A good warranty offers complete town to drive a new model, you will pay for coverage and easy repairs at any dealership the privilege, and Jill decided that this with no out-of-pocket expenses for simply was not worthwhile. So, do as Jill warranty-covered repairs. Read the fine did, and buy a previous generation car. print carefully, as you would with any After you’ve agreed on a price with the warranty, to understand the terms and salesperson, check the invoice carefully for conditions exactly. hidden fees. Make sure you’re not paying “When you take your vehicle in for a for accessories or additional services that warranty repair, will the dealer just hand you don’t want, need or order. Don’t be you an invoice explaining what was fixed32  First Gear  First Gear  33 
  19. 19. The sticker price that’s adorningthe window of showroomvehicles may be negotiable. first car boasts a cheaper purchase price, schedule. You don’t need to fret about this; This really is a great way of ensuring that “If you buy a new car and intend to keep the second vehicle may be a better value just take your car to a franchised dealer your car is constantly in tip-top condition it for five years, you can buy a scheduled for money proposition when you factor in when its service is due – the professionals while never having to stress about breaking maintenance plan and lock in service at the warranty coverage. So weigh up all in the workshop will know precisely what the bank or cutting back on your today’s prices for parts and labour. This these factors before deciding which vehicle to do. entertainment budget. “It’s just like buying protects you from fluctuations in the cost to buy. The only snag, of course, is that it can be insurance,” Cueter says. “Pay a little today of oil and raw materials that could drive up Remember, for your warranty to remain expensive to service a car. One way to to avoid a big hurt later on.” the price of components,” explains Cueter. valid, you must maintain your vehicle and negate this expense is to sign up for a In addition to meeting warranty adhere to the servicing recommendations maintenance or service plan that will requirements, there are other benefits to of the manufacturer. For instance, the oil ensure that all the necessary work is buying a service plan up front. For instance, must be changed regularly, and all hoses, performed at a manufacturer-authorised you can avoid future price increases in belts and filters must be replaced on dealership free of charge. parts and lubricants.  34  First Gear   First Gear  35 
  20. 20. CHAPTER 5 Technology 0n wheels Gone are the days w hen your car was jus contraption with four t a mechanical wheels that got you B. These days, it is m from point A to ore like a supercompu with possibly more th ter on wheels, an 100 mini compute controlling ever ythin r systems g from the door lock s and brakes to 36  First Gear   First Gear  37 
  21. 21. without the risk of stalling or rolling Defying gravity backwards. This also eliminates the need Rolling backwards on an incline can be to engage the handbrake to hold the car scary. Ask Jack. The last time he momentarily, leading to a smooth and attempted to pull off on an incline, the simple start when pulling away on a hill car rolled back and he ended up or in one of those multi-storey car parks. rearranging the front bumper of the car It transforms even the most junior of behind him (that car’s owner wasn’t drivers into geniuses. particularly pleased with the new arrangement). Music on wheels If you don’t want to play bumper cars CDs … what are they? Cassette tapes … with the vehicle behind, your best bet is never heard of them! You can now test to pick a car with a Hill Launch Assist the acoustics in your car and turn it into feature. It prevents your car from rolling your personal rock concert by playing back for up to three seconds as your foot music from your MP3 player, USB stick or travels from the brake to the accelerator phone. You don’t even have to worry pedal. about battery power on long journeys As soon as sufficient engine torque is – the system charges your device as you available, the feature releases the brakes play it. the starter and ignition system. under the collar because they’re being Cars are becoming more and more delayed. As the stress builds up, Jack high-tech as automakers work towards starts to think how nice it would be making safer vehicles that are also if someone could park the car for him – or better still, if the car could just Over 100 easier and more enjoyable to drive. There is loads of car technology out park itself. there (some technology is more useful The thing is – it can! If it has an Active than the others!). Here are some of the Park Assist feature, that is. To activate most useful and fun features that you the system, just press a centre console The number of mini computers should consider having in your car. button which activates ultrasonic in the average car sensors that measure and identify a Bye bye to parallel feasible parking space. It then calculates parking woes the optimal steering angle and quickly For the fifth time, Jack is trying to steers the vehicle into the parking spot reverse his car into that ever-so-tricky for you – hands free. The driver must parallel parking bay. Will I ever get this maintain control of the vehicle by right, he asks himself. In the meantime, shifting the transmission and operating a long queue of cars has lined up behind the accelerator and brake pedals. him. Some of the drivers are amused Yippee, hassle-free parking. Plus you at the Jack parallel parking sideshow; never ever need be embarrassed at your others are getting dangerously hot parallel parking skills again!38  First Gear First Gear  39
  22. 22. Car of the future What do you think cars will look like in the next 10 to 20 years? That was the question we posed to J Mays, group vice president of design and chief creative officer, Ford Motor Company. Here’s what the designer behind Ford’s personality-driven Start concept car has to say… "From an exterior standpoint, it’s going to be more of the same. Exterior design is always going to be the thing that characterises first and foremost, what the car should represent in the customer’s mind. But over the last 10 years, interior design has become more and more important because that’s where people spend all of their driving time." To activate the microphone that Look Ma, no hands detects your voice command, Jill simply One of the funkiest yet affordable presses a button next to the steering features of new cars today is wheel and speaks her command. If she Bluetooth® with Voice Control. This wants to access her climate control allows you to operate your mobile, system, for instance, she just says climate control and audio system “Climate”. Or, for the phone, she says using voice-activated commands – all “Phone” and so on. The system allows wirelessly. Practically, this leaves you Jill to receive and make phone calls, and free to keep your eyes on the road and also access her mobile’s phone book your hands on the wheel. This feature and calling history… all hands free. digital information or favourite music helps Jack to drive safely, even as he behind while on the road. chats with his buddies. At one with your car For example, Ford has built on its Bluetooth® is a trademark of Bluetooth SIG The latest buzzwords in car technology award-winning SYNC device connectivity Inc., and is used under licence. are “seamless integration”, meaning that system to deliver an intuitive connected automakers are finding ways to help you driver experience called MyFord. It connect with your car so that you won’t replaces many of the traditional vehicle have to leave your communications, buttons, knobs and gauges. With more 40  First Gear   First Gear  41 
  23. 23. voice commands, clear, crisp LCD up-to-date information includingscreens that can be customised and business listings, news, sports andfive-way buttons such as those on cell weather – without the need for a built-phones and MP3 players, drivers can in navigation system.choose which information is front and The new thing that is probably goingcentre through a button click, voice to dominate car design in the next 10command or touch-screen tap. years is going to be the human-machine Developed with Microsoft, Ford SYNC interface, where all the navigation takesis an advanced software platform that place inside the car. The human-allows motorists such as Jack and Jill machine interface will becomethe convenience and flexibility to bring increasingly sophisticated with voicedigital media players and Bluetooth®- activation and multi touch-screenenabled mobile phones into their technology. Cars are becoming morevehicle and operate the devices via like rolling computers and that’s goingvoice commands or with the steering to transform the way people drive. It’swheel’s radio controls. In the U.S., it can also going to transform the way weeven deliver personalised traffic reports, design automobiles.precise turn-by-turn directions and42  First Gear First Gear  43
  24. 24. CHAPTER 6: Safety In Your Car So here’s the thing, guys a new (or pre-l nd gals: whe oved) set of n you buy a important th wheels, the ing is not ho single-most sounds. Yes w good the c , a hot colou ar looks or And what’s b r and flash in eneath the h terior are cru never forget: ood is also im cial. it’s the safety portant. But the differenc features tha e between lif t could mea e and death n . Today’s cars come with a bunch of sci-fi technology manager, Ford Asia Pacific stuff, with all sorts of weird acronyms. and Africa, points out: “Beyond the And so we’re often clueless as to what vehicle’s structure and design, there are they mean. ABS, EBD and ESP...? Go an increasing number of safety features figure… available which at either an individual But these weird and wonderful or combined level of offering serve in contraptions all play a vital role, as Jamie contributing towards enhancing a McCullough, cross carline feature and vehicle’s ‘accident avoidance’ and/or44  First Gear First Gear  45
  25. 25. Zen and the art of crash testing New cars must pass certain safety and pole test. Separate pedestrian tests before being sold. Most have a tests will score the pedestrian rating. Euro NCAP safety rating (European Euro NCAP also rewards cars with New Car Assessment Rating). Or, if it’s intelligent seatbelt reminders. Australian, an ANCAP (Australian Since 2009, Euro NCAP has released New Car Assessment Program) rating. only one overall star rating for each For cars tested before 2009, Euro car, with a maximum of five stars. This NCAP has three ratings: adult protec- comprises the scores in adult, child tion, child occupant and pedestrian and pedestrian protection, and safety protection. These ratings are achieved assist. The tests are identical to pre- from three impact tests: frontal, side 2009 ones, with the addition of a test talities which fa reduced 50 a g e by Percent s c a n be us injurie age. and serio us seatbelt t hanks to ‘occupant protection’ performance. Wise Jill, who’s often sharper than for whiplash neck injury protection in ous/fatal injuries for buckled-in adult Ford is a safety leader; you can see it in Jack’s buddies realise, asks how safe rear impact. Also, Euro NCAP rewards occupants. The 64 km/h test speed our innovations that help customers it is. not only seatbelt reminders, but also represents a car-to-car collision with avoid crashes or protect them if one is “Well, it’s got seatbelts,” the speed limiters and standard fitment each car doing about 55 km/h. unavoidable.” salesman announces proudly. That is a of ESC. Steering wheel-mounted airbags are And so, it’s important to buy a car good thing: according to the National So how do they do crash tests? The quite critical, and Euro NCAP encour- that has as many of these features as Highway Transportation Safety frontal impact test takes place at 64 ages seatbelt pretensioners, load lim- possible… not that all young drivers Administration (NHTSA), seatbelts km/h, and readings taken from the iters and dual stage airbags. remember to prioritise. Picture Jack in reduce the risk of fatality and serious test dummies assess the protection So essentially, the more stars out of the showroom, or used car lot, inspect- injury by 50 percent when used by given to adult front occupants. Con- five your car has, the better. Drive a ing the gleaming array of fine machin- drivers and front-seat passengers. tact between the occupant and superstar and your chances of surviv- ery. And there’s the salesman trying “Seat belts are your first line of defence intruding parts of the passenger com- ing the roads are better. to sell him that cool hotrod, which is against injuries or death,” declares partment is the main cause of seri- chromed to the hilt and emits a fire- David L. Strickland, administrator, breathing roar when you step on the gas. NHTSA. 46  First Gear  First Gear  47
  26. 26. But, of course, seatbelts are a given relief, “Honest” Bob (as he’s known) lists today. The salesman shouldn’t be so the car’s safety features. proud. It’s actually an old car: truth be There’s ABS, he says, or an anti-lock told, it’s a bone-rattler of note. braking system. This helps prevent the Jill shakes her head. Uh-uh. She prods wheels from locking during sudden Jack in the ribs, and points to a newer, braking, like when you slam on anchors bigger, but infinitely less flashy vehicle. when a driver in front of you stops How about that one, she asks. And with unexpectedly. By allowing the car to slow in a more controlled manner, ABS helps maintain steering control. Some ABS systems include brake assist, which senses emergency braking by detectingStrapped for cash? the speed or force at which you press the brake, boosting the power asHere are the most needed. Under certain conditions, brakeimportant safety features assist can reach the braking force needed to activate the ABS faster, andin any car: help reduce stopping distance by• Seat belts: With all of the technological eliminating the delay caused by not advances, seat belts are still the top life-sav- braking hard/soon enough. ing device in cars today He says the car also has ESP, or an• Anti-lock braking system (ABS): it pre- Electronic Stability Programme, which vents the wheels from locking during braking; means drivers are better able to control you have far more control over your vehicle as a result the car in intense steering manoeuvres. Times to take extra care Venture out onto the road and you’re taking• Electronic Stability Programme (ESP): your life into your own hands: we all know that. this is a very clever electronic system that But there are high-risk periods, when you really steps in if your vehicle is about to skid out of should be extra careful. According to the control; it takes over by selectively applying Automobile Association of South Africa, this the brakes and helps prevent things from is when accidents are statistically the most going pear-shaped likely to occur:• Crumple zones: this is a structural feature of your car; it compresses during an accident, thereby absorbing the energy and minimising • Between dusk and dawn the impact of the accident on people sitting • During morning and evening peak traffic in the car • At “closing time” for bars and clubs• Airbags: these are, quite literally, bags of air • Late in the week and at weekends when that inflate in milli-seconds if you have an the use of alcohol increases accident; they help prevent you from knock- ing your head on the dash, for instance • On public holidays and weekends when many motorists are paying more attention to• A well trained driver: you can never ever sightseeing than to proper driving have too much training; it needs to be cou- pled with the right attitude out on the road48  First Gear First Gear  49
  27. 27. ESP helps prevent a car from spinning There’s also a host of airbags that out by constantly monitoring and help protect you in the event of an applying braking force to one or more accident. Depending on the impact wheels as needed. speed and the stiffness of the object It has crumple zones. This means that, struck, front airbags inflate to help in the event of an accident, the car’s reduce the risk of occupants hitting the body parts are designed to absorb the dashboard, steering wheel and energy from a crash’s impact. As a windshield. Side airbags reduce the risk result, the passenger compartment is of you hitting the door or objects not as badly damaged, which means the crashing through it. Some cars have driver and passengers are less likely to head airbags, which deploy in side be injured. impacts, while some deploy during It also boasts a high amount of ultra rollovers. Both provide additional high strength boron steel in its door protection to help reduce head injuries. intrusion beams, which helps protect Then there’s AWD, or all-wheel-drive, occupants in side-impact collisions. which distributes power to both the Boron steel is very good news for road front and rear wheels to maximise safety – because it delivers a rigid, yet traction. This means that you’re less lightweight passenger cell, providing likely to go barrelling off the road. greater side and frontal impact Jack and Jill decide it’s a no-brainer. protection. “I read an article about this The cool hotrod is rejected in favour of steel,” Jill tells Jack proudly. “The use of the far more sensible vehicle. Honest these high-strength steels has helped Bob has done it again: Jack and Jill are Ford perform extremely well in crash sold. So’s the safety conscious car! tests, earning its vehicles more U.S. government five-star safety ratings than any other brand!” 50  First Gear   First Gear  51 
  28. 28. Everyone thinks it won’t happen to them. Especially TER 7: young drivers – they believe that they’re invincible. But the reality is that anyone can have an accident while driving – even CHAP professional racing drivers! Even if it’s not your fault, you Safety oad on the r can still lose life or limb because of some other road user’s silly mistakes. Can you avoid accidents? Sure – not Besides, she knows what she’s doing… just by piloting a safer car, but by being or so she believes. aware of potential pitfalls, and Actually, she doesn’t. Well, not all the exercising more caution. time, anyway, as Jack regularly points out. For starters, this too cool for school Speed kills young lady has a bad habit of going flat As for Jill, she drives way too fast for her out and then standing on the brakes as own good. This is, of course, quite she’s cornering. Generally speaking, she common behaviour for someone like Jill. drives way too fast (even keeping within As the Royal Society for the Prevention the speed limit can be unsafe, for of Accidents in England points out: example on wet or icy roads or on “Young drivers are more likely to see narrow, winding rural roads). speed as exciting. They are particularly She tailgates trucks too… and other prone to approaching bends too fast cars. So she has to keep crossing into and to dangerous overtaking.” the oncoming lane to see what’s ahead Jill, of course, thinks this is all and if it’s safe to overtake. Jill has had nonsense. Hey, her hot hatchback was many close calls, but hasn’t learned. designed for speed, so why not?52  First Gear First Gear  53