Thursday, February 23, 2012

2012 Nissan Altima Review and Road Test

One of the constants in the automotive landscape is the Japanese mid-size sedan. The Nissan Altima is one of the best known in this segment. Since the late 80's buyers have flocked to their models because of their quality, dependability and re-sale value. Historically car buyers have paid thousands more for a well known Japanese sedan than a similarly equipped Korean or American model. But like so many things these days the car market is changing rapidly. The Japanese manufacturers are feeling the heat from the up-start Koreans and the re-invigorated Americans. The modern buyer will often be as likely to buy a Hyundai as a Nissan these days. The real question here is how does the 2012 Nissan Altima stack up to its competition?
On the outside the 2012 Altima has somewhat dated, but pleasant styling. There is a noticeable absence of such features as fender vents, projector headlights or LED tail lights. Some more conservative buyers may think this is positive. The Altima looks the way most mid-size sedans have all ways looked; sleek but with nothing that makes it unique in the market place.
On the inside the Altima isn't too exciting to look at but the materials are of a good quality. Our test car had nice suede-like materials on the arm rests on the doors and the centre console. The seat is comfortable with a good range of adjustment. The centre stack and dash look dated compared with many of the new entries in this segment. While the quality of materials is good the hardware is out-dated. One of the worst examples is the non-graphic low resolution display for the radio, this unit is on all models not equipped with navigation. Heating and ventilation controls are simple to use but again lack any unique touches. Our car had a leather wrapped steering wheel that has a nice feel to it. The available sunroof is a standard size, not panoramic like the Kia Optima. The back seat has enough room for most adults. The trunk has a convenient large opening with ample space and split folding back seats for added versatility.
On the road one of the first things one notices is the good rear visibility blind spots are all most nonexistent. Acceleration on our 175 horsepower 2.5L 4 cylinder model was lackluster, probably mostly due to the CVT automatic transmission. While known for returning excellent fuel economy in the city the CVT is not known for performance. Handling is sharp and well composed but the Altima is still nice to steer at low speeds. The Nissan takes corners very well, better than most cars is this class. Cabin noise levels are average for a vehicle of this class. The engine gets a little noisy when pushed under acceleration. Over all it must be said that the Altima still feels slightly more solid that its Korean or American competition.
The bottom line: The Nissan Altima is still a good car, but with strong competition coming from all sides Nissan needs to price the car aggressively.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Why You Need Dedicated Auto Repair Shop Customer Service Representatives

Hiring a CSR ensures that your auto repair shop is providing an exceptional experience by focusing on relationship-building tasks that are crucial for your business's success.
Have you ever tried to wear all the hats in your auto repair shop? You probably know the scenario. It's a busy day in the shop and your time is stretched thin so you treat one customer poorly because you have one or two problem cars lined-up and the phone starts ringing. Afterward, you fix what needs fixing but you completely forget to follow up with the first customer and you don't have time to mail Thank You cards.
Situations like these call for dedicated customer service reps, or CSRs. Industry leading auto repair shop experts recommend hiring a CSR to ensure that your shop is providing an exceptional experience by focusing on relationship-building tasks that are crucial for your shop's success For example, CSRs can:
•Greet walk-in customers and answer phone calls. You know about first impressions, but also know that a dedicated CSR can make customers feel special the second they connect with your shop by providing dedicated attention.
•Take care of all follow up calls and Thank You cards. Let your customers know they're important by having a CSR contact them regularly. Customers will appreciate the extra attention.
•Generate and send out service and appointment reminders. People appreciate news they can use. A dedicated CSR can keep your shop on your customers' minds (in a good way).
•Collect testimonials and run referral programs. Testimonials should be displayed in an obvious location so that first-timers can see honest accounts of your customer service in action. It's amazing how quickly testimonials can convert clients. Again, dedicated CSRs can speak with your customers and find out personally how your shop has solved problems.
CSRs can do all of these things so that you can focus on running your business and making sure other needs have been met. It's impossible to be everything to every customer in your shop, but customers have little sympathy for your busy schedule. They want exceptional service and to feel special. The great thing is, customers aren't picky about who provides exceptional service so as long as it happens.
After you've hired dedicated CSRs, be sure they know their first priority: to build relationships. It's a big job. Let your CSRs know how important they are in the entire process. CSRs help turn one-time customers into clients and clients into fans. Finally, be sure to select caring and charismatic characters for this line of work so that when customers think of your shop, they think of great people and good service.

Friday, February 10, 2012

A Guide to Auto Detailing

If you want to enhance the look of your vehicle, take it to an auto detailing shop. Most places charge a nominal fee for auto detailing services. If you find that you are in between paychecks and can't afford to get to an auto detailing shop right away, you can do some light detain on your own until you are able to get to the shop.
The first thing you need to do is to wash the outside of the car with soap and water. You can use a car wash liquid or you can use dish soap. Be sure to have another bucket available with just plain water. Take a hose and spray the car down to get rid of the grime and dirt. Wheel cleaner can be sprayed onto each wheel and let it sit for a few minutes. By letting it set, it will soften up the brake dust and will allow you to have an easier time to cleaning your wheels using a sponge and soapy water, clean the vehicle one side at a time. It is usually easier to start with the roof and work your way down. Then rinse off the car and then clean the wheels with a brush and then rinse them.
Clay bars can be bought at any automotive parts store. There are different grades available, but fine or medium is best. What the bar does is it gets all the bugs, grease, dirt and contaminants off of your car. Take an empty spray bottle and add soap and water. Spray each side of the car with the soap and water mixture and then take the clay bar and rub it over the parts of the car in order to remove all of the contaminants. Then take a hose and rinse off the entire car.
Polishing your vehicle can be done by hand with a rag or by using an electric buffer. Many people tend to choose an orbital buffer because it helps to prevent them from ruining the paint. As a small amount of the polish either straight onto the car or onto the buffer pads. You then need to let it dry completely before the next step.
The next step is to take a swirl remover and go over the entire vehicle with a swirl of mover which will help to get rid of scratches and swirl marks. Let the remover dry and then take a clean cloth and wipe down the car.
Take the rubbing compound and clean the taillights, tailpipes and headlights. If you find that the headlights are starting to look faded, you may need to utilize some sand paper along with soap and water. There are also kits that are sold that are used to clean the headlights and tail lights. Be sure not to utilize a lower number texture of sandpaper, because this will scratch plastic and you may not be able to fix it after that. You want the finest sandpaper but not the lowest number. You can clean the tailpipe with polish that is made to clean aluminum or metal.
Take a clean cloth and some liquid wax in order to ask the vehicle. You do not need to use a lot of wax. Let the wax dry on your vehicle and then take a clean rag and wipe the car down. The end result will be a shiny vehicle.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Should You Buy A Car Through Craigslist?

If you are in the market for a used car, you might be wondering whether you should look for one on Craigslist. You have probably heard the horror stories about people being victimized by Craigslist scammers. While that is certainly true, there are ways to avoid those pitfalls.
There are several scams that are very easy to spot. They include;
The seller offers to ship the car upon receipt of payment.
  • The seller wants payment via money gram, postal money order, etc.
  • The seller wants the payment wired to another country.
  • The seller claims to be in the military and is stationed overseas.
  • The vehicle is priced way below the book value.
  • There is no phone number in the posting or if there is one, the person is a go-between or pickup agent.
In addition to these, there are some disadvantages to purchasing a car through Craigslist. One is that you have no recourse against the seller if there is a problem with the sale or the car. Also, the seller cannot help you with financing.
There also some many advantages to buying a car through Craigslist. You can often find a good deal. Craigslist is local so it is easy to meet the seller face to face to look at the car. Many other online sites are not local. You can look at a lot of vehicles quickly without having to drive anywhere. Also, you do not have to commit to buying the car online as you do with some other sites. Craigslist does not involve itself in the transaction. That leaves you free to negotiate with the seller and pay them directly.
There are many ways to make your Craigslist used car purchase a satisfactory and safe experience. First, make sure you have the seller's phone number and not just their email address. Then arrange to look at the vehicle in a public place during the day. You will be able to inspect the car and see any defects better in the daylight. You will also want to look over the service records on the car if the seller has them. Do not bring cash with you when you look at the car as you could be walking into a planned robbery.
You should also inspect the title to the vehicle. If the seller cannot show you a title walk away. No matter what they tell you, without a title, you will not be able to register or legally drive the car. If the title has a lien on it, make sure you see the original lien release. The title should also be in the seller's name. If it is not, the seller may actually be an unlicensed or unscrupulous dealer that is jumping the title. Title jumping is illegal in most states. It is usually a sign that the car has been in a major accident, flooded or has some other serious issue.
Even if there is no problem with the title, you need to protect yourself by doing two very important things. One is to get either a CarFax or AutoCheck report on the car. These reports tell you if the car has been flooded, salvaged, junked, been in a major accident, had its airbags deployed, had multiple owners, been branded as a lemon, etc. They will also tell you the last recorded mileage. Many sellers will provide the report to you. If not, you can purchase one for less than $35. The information they provide is well worth the cost.
The second thing you need to do is have the vehicle checked out by a mechanic before you buy it. The mechanic will tell you any current problems the car has that even the seller may not be aware of.
Once you decide to buy the vehicle and agree on a price, make sure you get a receipt for your purchase and get the title in your hand.
Karen Campese is the Co-founder and CEO of Cars4Charities, a not for profit car donation center. They have over 1,000 respected charities that you can donate car to. When you donate your car, you get a tax deduction and help a good cause.