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Smart Car Shopping

Smart Car Shopping


LAUREN MORRISON: Today’s savvy car buyers
know that spending quality time online, researching models, specs and prices will save you time
and money here, on the dealership lot. Doing your homework ahead of time is the key,
and there are plenty of shopping tools available to help guide your decision. Stephen Dupal and his fiancee Sherryn Daniel
are in the market for a small, economical commuter car to replace Stephen’s aging
Corolla. Before heading to commercial web pages for
option packages and pricing info, several federal government sites helped narrow their
search in the areas of fuel economy, safety and alternative fuels – three of their key
parameters. The Joint Department of Energy and EPA Fuel
Economy website provides convenient, one stop shopping for everything most buyers will ever
want to know about maximizing mpg in their next car. Here, consumers can compare up to four different
vehicles at a time, and their fuel economy ratings, energy and environment scores, basic
engine and transmission size, driving range, and annual fuel costs, along with real-world
fuel consumption data provided by actual owners. The website had over 25 million user sessions
last year. STEPHEN DUPAL: I like to have like those charts
and plots and graphs to kind of compare things in a numerical basis so I know what I’m
looking for and then I can verify, oh yes, this car will have what I need based on these
metrics. LAUREN MORRISON: Other useful content on the
website, and free fuel economy mobile app, includes driving and maintenance tips to help
you get the most out of your vehicle, easy to understand descriptions of new vehicle
technology, information about available tax incentives for advanced-technology vehicles,
trip calculators, and more. In the area of safety, you can start with
the government’s Safercar website (safercar.gov) for how a car fares in mandated crash testing
and rollover ratings. The site spells out which vehicles go beyond
requirements and have cutting edge safety technology. SHERRYN DANIEL: What I like about the Safercar
website is there’s just so many little applications, where all we have to do is the make and the
model of the car, and we can see if it was recalled, we can look for certain safety features,
I even learned about rollover. That this is the most lethal type of car accident
and that with the best type of car, you can prevent damage. LAUREN MORRISON: But, you’re a consumer
or a fleet manager that is up to date, maybe even ahead of the crowd. So perhaps, a plug-in hybrid or even full
electric car fits your lifestyle or business. Or a vehicle that runs on another non-traditional
fuel like e85, bio-diesel, natural gas, propane, or even hydrogen. Now, you need to know not only the specs,
but the pros and cons, and practicality of each fuel. Well, for that, more than 1.5 million users
a year check out the Energy Department’s Alternative Fuels Data Center website (afdc.energy.gov). The AFDC website and alt fuel app are designed
to eliminate your confusion over the various types of alternative fuels and their vehicles. And now that plug-in and alt fuel vehicles
are being sold with ever increasing range, the website’s fueling station database is
enjoying increasing popularity as well. SHERRYN DANIEL: There’s this link where
you can just type in your state. So, if we bought like a hybrid, or a car that
uses natural gas or something like that, we can look up stations nearby ahead of time
when we make travels. LAUREN MORRISON:
The end game in all this is to be the best informed new car shopper you can possibly
be, and ultimately, to buy or lease a new car, SUV, or truck, you can live with today,
and way into the future. These commercial-free, .gov websites can help
you to avoid costly mistakes and surprises, before and after you visit the dealership.

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