Good Choices For Graduates

Whether marking the passage from high school to college or starting out in life with student loans, the last thing recent graduates need is to become saddled with a big automotive expenditure. So for the sake of teen drivers and their parents – along with virtually anyone on a tight budget who’s looking for a decent and inexpensive used car or truck – we combed through crash test and owner-reported performance data for vehicles from the 2012 model year to come up with a list of a dozen affordable five-year-old vehicles that come highly recommended in terms of both safety and reliability. 
Each of the five-year-old models on our list are solid choices for novice and under-funded young drivers with great levels of performance and utility. Here they are in no particular order:
Volkswagon Jetta
Volkswagon Golf
Chrysler 200
Chevrolet Malibu
Ford Fusion
Hyundai Sonata
Subaru Legacy
Buick LaCrosse

Subaru Outback
Honda Element 
Volvo S80
Subaru Forester


Car detailing is a great gift – even a do-it-yourself one. A clean car is like a clean house – or a clean pair of underwear – as a mom, you just feel better about yourself being in them.

Music- a family-friendly playlist of music is an effective way to bring a family together – it is really hard to tune out a car full of people singing.

Car Lashes – for the fun mom who wants a fun car.

Family Car Stickers – for the super proud mom.

Car First Aid Kit- for the practical mom.

Fluid Checks- for the mom that doesn't know much about car maintenance. You could help her avoid costly repairs by having the oil changed and the coolant and other fluids checked.

April is National Car Care Month

Each spring vehicle maintenance is a trending topic across the country because April is National Car Care Month. Automotive technology has advanced at warp speed in recent years. But no matter how complex our cars have become, they still need regular service to keep them running safely and efficiently and at full power. That means carefully maintaining motor oil and other fluids, items such as hoses and filters and tires. These are some basic assessments you can make that are universal to just about every car, and that could help you prevent costly and time-consuming repairs down the road. As a suggestion, your regular oil change interval is a good time to give your car some additional attention:

Check all fluid levels (engine oil, transmission, coolant, brakes, differential, windshield washer) and top off as needed with the correct fluids – and look for evidence of leaks
Check tire condition and air pressures – uneven wear could indicate wheel misalignment
Check the battery for corrosion and loose cables
Check all lights for proper operation
Check wiper condition and operation
Check the condition of belts and hoses
Check the engine air filter
Check the fuel lines and filter (if visible/accessible)
Check the cabin air filter
Inspect the brakes (pads and rotors, shoes and drums, brake lines)
Inspect suspension and steering components
Inspect the chassis and lubricate as needed
Inspect ignition components (wires, plugs, coil packs, etc.)
Check the exhaust for holes and leaks, and loose hangers. If all of this seems too much then feel free to drop your car off at our service department for a complete check up.

How To Choose The Perfect Family Car

Determining the best family car depends largely on what kind of family you have. For example, if you and yours are the outdoorsy types, an SUV may be the best way to go. Urbanites might benefit from a minivan or sedan. Those in between, well, that's what crossover SUVs are for. The good news is that the days when station wagons were the only choice for families are long gone. The market has responded to these different circumstances with a plethora of shapes and styles to suit virtually any need.

Comfort plays a key role in any car, and it goes double for a family car. After all, if you, your spouse and your kids aren't comfortable, it's going to be a long, long drive to Grandma's, no matter how nifty the features may be.

Virtually every car on our lot boasts very good crash test scores. More importantly, active safety systems are becoming commonplace on more and more vehicles, and at more reasonable prices. That means things like collision and blind-spot alerts, backup cameras, lane-keeping assists, and other computerized systems are an important consideration. In fact, it's gotten to the point where if features like backup cameras and blind-spot alerts aren't standard, we're a little surprised.

While not every family needs to carry baby seats everywhere, how well they fit is an important consideration for many buyers. After all, they're mandatory for smaller kids, and frankly, what kind of parent wouldn't use one anyhow, regardless of the law?

Rear-Seat Entertainment is an interesting category, as some on staff think that stand-alone rear-seat entertainment systems will soon go by the wayside as more cars adopt 4G LTE and wireless hotspot options. Still, there's something to be said for plugging in your family's Wii on a long road trip, and the inclusion of a built-in rear-seat screen is still an advantage.

Choosing a vehicle is a personal choice but be sure to bring your family along to the dealership for insights and opinions. You'll want them to try out the car in which they'll spend hours over the next few years. Maybe it's the one that will become their first car. :)

Things You Should Always Have In Your Car

It's always a good idea to get your car in order. Would you have what you needed if your car broke down? Or if you were stranded somewhere? Check out our list of things you should have in your car - then knock on wood that you never need to use them.

For roadside emergencies and repairs:
Tire changing supplies
The number one item on our list is actually a collection of items - a spare tire, tire iron, lug wrench, tire jack and some WD-40. If you've got these essentials on hand, then you've got everything you need to change a tire should one go flat. A can of fix a flat could also come in handy.

Jumper cables
A dead battery can take you by surprise, so don't rely on a good Samaritan to supply jumper cables.

Owner's manual
You know, that book that came with your car that you never looked at? Keep it in your glove compartment. You never know when it might come in handy.

Tire pressure gauge
So your tire needs air. Great! You pull up to the air compressor at your favorite gas station, and... wait, how do you know when you've added enough air? Did you add too much? How lucky that you've stashed a tire pressure gauge in your trunk.

Duct tape
Great for everything from temporary auto repairs to roadside first aid, duct tape is a no-brainer.

Gas can
Sure, you can walk to the nearest gas station when you run out of gas, but then how do you get the gas back to your car? It's probably not wise to keep a full gas can, though, so bring an empty one.

Windshield wiper fluid
I have two terrifying words for you: Winter Splashback. I can say with authority that there is nothing worse than driving across Virginia in a snowstorm with passing semi trucks constantly kicking road slush up onto your windshield, and then running out of wiper fluid. Been there, done that.

Fire extinguisher
Heaven forbid your engine ever catches fire, or a campfire jumps its boundaries. But if you're thinking of the giant, heavy wall-mounted fire extinguishers you see in schools and corporate stairwells, you'll be pleased to know there are much smaller, more portable options on the market.

For health and safety while stranded:

First Aid Kit
You never know when you're going to need a first aid kit.

Flashlight or mini-lantern
Ever tried to change a tire in the dark? Or lose your wedding ring under the seat?

Emergency food
If you might be traveling off the beaten path, it's a good idea to keep a few non-perishable, melt-proof, calorie dense food items in the car, like energy bars, granola bars, dried fruit

Water bottles
A couple of bottles of water can literally save your life when you're stranded and facing dehydration.

Reflective triangles
You're already having a bad day, so make sure that night drivers can see you when you're pulled off onto the shoulder to help prevent it from getting any worse.

Printed maps
Thick cloud cover, tree foliage, tall buildings and mountains all can block a GPS signal, and your battery isn't going to last forever.

Especially in the winter:
Ice scraper and snow brush

A traction helper
The debate over whether you should use a carpet remnant, kitty litter or sand seems to be way more heated than it needs to be, but whatever works for you, keep it handy.

Little stuff

Paper towels
Quick cleanup options are a good thing. Wipe bugs off of windshields, grape jelly off of little faces and fingers - you know, all the usual stuff.

Notebook and pen
Jot down directions when you're lost. Or your contact and insurance info after a minor fender bender.

A roll of quarters
For unexpected tolls, parking meters, etc.

Plastic grocery bags
Yes, these too. While the reusable totes are great for porting your stuff, you wouldn't want a carsick passenger to puke into one of them. Also great for cleaning out the car on the go - just fill up the bag and toss it in a dumpster. Or stashing muddy shoes you don't want mucking up your floor mats.

I've gotten more mileage out of an old comforter that I stashed in the car than anything else on this list. It's warm on cool nights. It's a great picnic blanket, It covers the back seat when I have wet and muddy passengers or pets in tow. The ideal car blanket is one you've got buried in a closet somewhere.

Customer Review

I am fortunate to have Jaimey as my sales person. He found my perfect car in no time... made financing a breeze. I am retired but work part-time, and he was so considerate of my crazy hours. The F&I team looked until they found the right financing, so stress-free. I love my Kia Soul. It is worth the drive and your time to check out this dealership... I will not buy anything anywhere else... - S. Parris

Customer Review

Thank you, Dean Reyes, for your assistance with our new car and for helping us to obtain a very low-interest rate for our auto loan.
We will recommend Koons Automotive of Woodbridge and you, to our friends and family. - Mr. and Mrs. Arce

Ford Fusion Review

From the moment it was introduced, the Ford Fusion made big waves. A big car that was attractive to look at and very satisfying to drive, the 2015 Ford Fusion impresses us with its beautiful design, roomy interior, and fantastic driving manners. And with a huge selection of models and powertrains -- including one naturally aspirated engine, a pair of turbos and two hybrid versions -- buyers have plenty of Fusions from which to choose.

The Fusion didn't change much between 2013 and 2015, aside from a bit of shuffling to powertrain availability the manual transmission was dropped for 2015) and the addition of a bit more standard equipment. The 2015 model year saw the addition of a standard-fit rearview camera and power front passenger seats for the SE (6-way) and Titanium (10-way) trims.

Also largely unchanged is our opinion of the Ford Fusion: Styling, interior space (particularly in the back seat) and the engaging driving experience are all high points. We like that Ford offers two hybrid variants, including a plug-in version that can drive up to 21 miles on battery power alone. Our biggest complaints: The MyFord Touch infotainment system can be difficult to use, especially while driving, and the plug-in hybrid's large battery pack eats up trunk space.

What We Like -Handsome styling; roomy interior; fun to drive; hybrid and plug-in options

What We Don't - Complicated infotainment system; hybrids compromise on trunk space

How to Winterize Your Car

  1. Battery – Cold weather is hard on batteries, so it’s wise to check the battery and charging system for optimum performance. Because batteries don’t always give warning signs before they fail, it is advisable to replace batteries that are more than three years old.
  2. Antifreeze – Antifreeze (coolant) should be flushed and refilled at least every two years in most vehicles. As a reminder, do not add 100 percent antifreeze as full-strength antifreeze actually has a lower freeze point than when mixed with water.
  3. Brakes – Have the brake system checked. Brakes are critical to vehicle safety and particularly important when driving on icy or snow-covered roads.
  4. Tires – Check the tire tread depth and tire pressure, including the spare. If snow and ice are a problem in your area, consider special tires designed to grip slick roads. During winter, tire pressure should be checked weekly as tires lose pressure when temperatures drop.
  5. Oil – Be diligent about changing the oil at recommended intervals and check the fuel, air and transmission filters at the same time. Consider changing to low-viscosity oil in winter, as it will flow more easily between moving parts when cold. In sub-zero driving temperatures, drop oil weight from 10-W30 to 5-W30 as thickened oil can make it hard to start the car.
  6. Lights & Wipers – Make sure all exterior and interior lights are working so you can see and be seen. Check the fluid level in the windshield washer reservoir and replace wiper blades that are torn, cracked or don’t properly clean your windshield.

When Is The Best Time To Buy A Car?

It might be tempting to run out and buy a car whenever the whim strikes, but timing your purchase could save you some money. Sometimes it’s not an option because your old clunker simply gives up, but if you can plan, then make sure you walk into the dealership at a time when you’re likely to get a good deal.

Shop During the Winter- You may think standing in a car lot checking out your new ride on a blustery winter day doesn’t sound like fun. You’re probably right, but it’s the perfect time to buy. Historically, the winter months see greater discounts as dealers try to lure people out into the cold weather.

Wait Until the End of the Month- Salespeople have performance goals, and those numbers are often tallied up at the end of the month. Walk through the doors late in the month, and you may find a salesman eager to hit his monthly quota and a sales manager just as ready to cut you a better deal.

Shop Late in the Day- Time of year isn’t the only thing to consider. Time of day is just as important. A new Google/TNS survey unveils some interesting trends in foot traffic during the day. Their analysis shows that the vast majority of consumers are walking through the door at or near lunchtime. For you as a shopper, visiting a dealership just after opening, or later in the evening may allow you more opportunity to ask questions, understand your options, and even get a better deal.

The takeaway? Consider your timing when purchasing a car. If you’re buying in December, you might be fighting for a place in line. If you’re buying in January or February, there are tumbleweeds blowing through the showroom.

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