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The National Insurance Crime Bureau’s (NICB) has issued it’s “Hot Spots” report listing the top 10 cities in the U.S. for auto thefts relative to their population size in 2014. It looks as though the Golden State is golden for auto thieves with California claiming seven out of the top 10 spots on the list.

Here are the cities that made the list with the number of vehicles stolen during 2014 noted in parenthesis.

  1. San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, Calif. (29,093)
  2. Bakersfield, Calif. (5,211)
  3. Stockton-Lodi, Calif. (4,245)
  4. Odessa, Texas (886)
  5. Modesto, Calif. (3,047)
  6. Spokane-Spokane Valley, Wash. (3,032)
  7. Vallejo-Fairfield, Calif. (2,414)
  8. Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, Wash. (20,268)
  9. Fresno, Calif. (5,260)
  10. San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, Calif. (10,531)

On the plus side, the Federal Bureau of Investigation says car thefts of all kinds are steadily on the decline after seeing a slight increase in 2012. The FBI says there’s been a 5.7 percent reduction in motor vehicle thefts during 2013 and 2014, and they’re down by a whopping 42.8 percent since 2003.

Read more here.

If you’re looking for a summer ride that won’t break the bank, you’re in luck.

A web site, ClassicCars.com, has picked five used cars that fit the bill for summer fun, mostly small roadsters and under $10,000. Here’s the lineup:

MGB convertible

The MGB is called “every bit as fun and stylish as the pricier British roadsters.” There are many enthusiasts who own them and parts are still available to fix them, which judging from those we know who have owned one, you’ll be doing often. ClassicCars.com says the best years are 1966 or 1967. The 1970s ones are the cheapest.

Triumph TR6

The Triumph TR6 is set apart by what ClassicCars.com calls as “lusty six-cylinder engine.” It says the car has been underappreciated in the last decade, which could help when it comes to price.

Mazda MX-5 Miata

Even today, the Mazda MX-5 Miata is still made and has such devoted fans that Mazda has been able to drop the “Miata” part out of the name. It was introduced in 1990 and the early ones are fun because of their hidden headlights.

Read more here.

A former car salesman of 12 years shares his top tips for buying your next car.

1. If you’re in no rush to buy a car, the end of a model year is a great time to get a deal. Determining when this is for a particular car can be difficult, but if a dealer has two years of a new vehicle on its lot (say, 2014s and 2015s), chances are the older ones are going to be priced to move. The last week of the year is another good time to buy. You’ll find lots of specials and manufacturer incentives at both times of year.

2. If you’re looking to get information on a car or talk about a deal, but you aren’t quite ready to buy, a weekday afternoon is a great time to go visit a dealership. You’ll get more personal attention than you would on a busy weekend.

3. Don’t be afraid to listen to dealership suggestions. I’m not talking about bait and switch, but salespeople offering really good alternatives. When I sold cars, it was common for people to come looking for a particular model because of its low sticker price, but then drive out with a nicer car at the same or a lower price, thanks to the special programs and incentives that they didn’t know existed.

4. If you’ve already picked out a car from a dealership’s online inventory and worked out a price, do as much of the deal paperwork you can get over the phone. In many cases, you can be in and out of a dealership in less than an hour if you started the deal-making process online and over the phone. Why sit around in a showroom if you can avoid it?

5. Test-drives are still an important part of car buying. Bring along the people who will regularly ride in the car with you, if possible. Have them try all the seats. It’s better to learn that your teenage son doesn’t fit in the backseat before you buy the car, not after.

6. When you’re trying to negotiate a lower sales price, give the dealership a reason to discount the price. If you’ll use the service department, say so. If you’ll refer friends, be sure to say that, too. If you’re likely to give a perfect survey or buy a future car from them, share that with the dealership, too.

Read more here.

If you’re sick of companies tracking and analyzing your every move, you’ll want to keep reading.

Technology related to tracking patterns in consumer-spending habits continues to improve, allowing advertisers or marketers to better target the public with specific, albeit mostly unsolicited, product offers. Now, MasterCard International appears to be looking to jump further into that game by looking for a better way to analyze purchasing data to reflect automobile choices and driving habits.

Specifically, the credit-card giant has applied for a patent related to technology that can scan purchasing habits to determine a consumer’s car type and driving habits, according to Free Patents Online. Anything from car-buying information to service-station expenses to gasoline purchases could theoretically be analyzed.

Read more here: http://www.autoblog.com/2015/06/26/mastercard-patent-car-driving-habits/

If you’re considering buying a small crossover, reliability is an important factor. Some manufacturers always seem to do a better job when it comes to making vehicles that last. In the case of small crossovers, Mitsubishi wins for reliability.

For 2014, Consumer Reports polled its readers to find out which small crossovers and SUVs proved the most reliable, and Autoblog compiled the top three and bottom three performers.

Here are the top 3 most reliable small crossover SUVs:

  • Mitsubishi Outlander Sport
  • Subaru Forester
  • Subaru XV Crosstrek

Read more here.

Self-driving cars aren’t so far off in the future anymore. In fact, Google has announced that its compact prototype vehicle will start driving Mountain View, California’s public streets this summer. Though the cars are autonomous, each will be manned by a safety driver aboard who can use a removable steering wheel, accelerator pedal and brake pedal if need be. The vehicles’ speed will be capped at 25 miles per hour.

The arrival of the Google-built cars on public roads follows Google’s extensive tests of a fleet of Lexus SUVs the company turned into self-driving vehicles. Those cars have driven nearly one million miles autonomously and are now traveling about 10,000 miles per week.

Earlier this week, Google revealed that its self-driving cars have been involved in 11 minor accidents over the last six years, though the company says they were all the fault of other human drivers that collided with Google’s vehicles.

Read more here.

If it’s time for a new set of tires, you’re probably asking yourself “what kind of tires should I buy?” All Seasons sound like an easy choice, but as you start shopping you’ll learn there are a number of different types. Here’s a quick overview.

Passenger

These are your basic all-season tires. You can expect them to last fairly long and feel comfortable on the road. There are also Touring and Grand Touring all season tires that provide better handling and are quieter. Any all-season tire includes the M+S symbol, which means they are rated to handle in mud and snow.

High Performance

If you want better traction in any weather condition compared to standard passenger all-seasons, its time to opt for some high performance models. High performance tires use special compounds that allow them to stay flexible in colder weather. This allows them to stay grippy even when the mercury drops.

Ultra High Performance

Like High performance tires, but designed for higher speed, these tires will trade off wet and dry traction for better snow and ice performance.
All Weather Tires

These are considered to be true four-season tires, rather than the typical compromised jack-of-all-trade all-season. These tires carry the snowflake and mountain emblems that indicate their qualifications to work in severe snow. If you want better performance in the snow, your only option is a set of dedicated winter tires. By comparison, all-weather tires have tread patterns that are also appropriate for warm conditions, but they’re not perfect. If you’re concerned about long-term durability and noise, all-weather tires aren’t for you.

Read more here.

Everyone has heard horror stories about people getting ripped off when buying used cars. Next time you’re looking to buy a new old car, follow these tips from other drivers and you should have no problem at all.

Know your limit.

I’m talking financially and, in a way, logically. What I mean is “I have $5000 to buy this compact sedan so I save money, drive my small family and can park in the city much…oooooo look a mustang!” isn’t logical and beyond what you need (no matter what your inner child says).

Do your research.
The most important thing I do and I’ve bought/sold a total of 20 used cars in as many years without ever having bought a lemon is:

Research the model to death (sometimes to a fault) to understand what model I want, known weak points, typical repair and cost intervals and price points. I use fan/blogs for that model vehicle when possible.

Go to used car auctions.
You likely won’t be able to do a pre-vehicle inspection with your mechanic, but you will have a good opportunity to save a lot of money. You may have some gremlins to deal with, but overall you’ll probably come out on top.

My Dad has done this on his last 3 Volvo’s and despite the mechanical issues he ran into with 2 out of 3 of them, he was thousands ahead of the curve compared to what e-bay or dealerships wanted for the same make, model, and year.

Read more here.

Today there are many distractions in the car to distract the driver. These distractions include more than just the ones mentioned by the government such as arguing kids, turning on the radio and roadside diversions. Therefore, the driver can sometimes miss accidents that are about to happen.

 

Active safety systems such as forward collision prevention and lane keeping assist can automatically take over a car’s brakes and steering when sensors detect that an accident is imminent. These so-called “driver assist” systems use cameras and other sensors as well as software to detect and then respond to potentially dangerous situations that drivers may miss.

 

While driver assist systems look at external factors to determine whether to take action, researchers at Cornell and Stanford that go by the name Brain4Cars are working on a prototype that also takes into account internal elements, namely drivers and their body language. The system uses some of the same cameras and sensors employed by driver assist systems along with a new computer algorithm to predict what a driver will do and then issues a warning or takes corrective action.

 

“There are many systems now that monitor what’s going on outside the car,” said Ashutosh Saxena, an assistant professor of computer science at Cornell who spearheaded the project. “Internal monitoring of the driver will be the next leap forward.”

 

Systems such as Driver Attention Monitor found in some Lexus vehicles already keep an eye on drivers by using a small infrared camera mounted on the steering column that detects their head position. If it senses that a driver is looking away from the road for a certain length of time, a warning sounds to draw attention forward. I’ve also tested prototype systems from Continental and Volvo that can track drivers’ head as well as eye movements to determine if they are looking away from the road.

To Read More Click Here

The Centers For Disease Control and Prevention state that in 2011, 2,650 kids in the US were killed in car accidents and 292,000 were sent to the emergency room. The most important thing we can do is teach young drivers how to drive properly.

Kia Motors, fresh off the New York auto show debut of its new Optima show, will continue to partner with BRAKES (Be Responsible And Keep Everyone Safe) teen driving school in 2015 to offer free training for new drivers. The program is expanding to San Francisco and Boston, which join a selection of other cities, listed below.

Kia is the official vehicle and presenting sponsor of the BRAKES teen driving school.

According to some scary reports, at any given time, approximately 660,000 drivers are using cell phones while driving and drivers under 20 have the largest proportion of fatal accidents involving distracted driving. Even for folks who don’t take the course, Kia and BRAKES want to raise awareness.

The BRAKES curriculum covers five main topics:

Accident Avoidance/Slalom is a two-part course that simulates an animal jumping out in front of a car. Students have to make an evasive lane change, focusing on weight transfer and hand positioning. We call it the moose test.

Distracted Driving demonstrates the dangers that cell phones, texting and other behaviors can pose while driving.

 To Read More Click Here