Love in the fast lane

Anibal Ortiz

Whether you are looking for a new love or you just haven’t found the right one, you can’t stay stuck in neutral.

The economic crisis has hit California students from all sides. From tuition, to books, food and bills – students should strive to make better investments.

It’s getting harder for all Californians, students included, to find and keep a job. The need to drive across town for work or school has made owning a car a necessity for many. Whether students buy a car outright or use a leasing company like All Car Leasing to get a new car, there are lots of options available.

It is crucial to create a relationship with a mechanic before shopping for a car.

“People should have a mechanic before they need one,” said Tom Fortune, assistant professor for automotive technology at Pierce College, “a mechanic they can go to and trust.”

If your search for a used car leads to a car off the street or any car being sold by a private seller, have your mechanic check the car before you take any action.

“Make that a condition of the purchase,” said Fortune. “[Your mechanic] will give you an honest assessment based on your relationship with them.”

Money definitely makes the world go round.

Before taking action, take a good look at your bank account, income and spending habits before considering the price of cars.

Additionally, if you’re thinking of buying a new car using a finance plan, it might be worth checking out a car payment calculator to find the best deal for you. These calculators can even work out any trade in value from any vehicles you have to sell. suggests calculating 36 percent of your gross income, itemizing all your monthly payments and subtracting that amount from the initial 36 percent.

For example, Consumer Reports writes, “If your pretax income is $75,000, total debt payments should not exceed $27,000 a year [which is 36 percent of $75,000]. If your existing debt payments equal, say, $20,000 a year, you can afford to pay $7,000 annually, or $583 a month, for car payments.”

“Keep in mind that there will be other charges along with your vehicle payments,” said Robyn Eckard, director of public relations at Kelley Blue Book. Sales tax, registration fees, insurance premiums and future auto repairs on your car are a few examples.

A buyer’s mind should be filled with questions. A lot of these questions can be answered online. Kelley Blue Book (, and are just three valuable sources to look for information when purchasing a vehicle.

Kelley Blue Book and serve a similar purpose. Both Web sites help users navigate through buying cars. Along with an online search, there are also helpful tips, stories and reviews on each Web site. can also serve as a great source. Looking at videos, rather than seeing the cars in person, may seem like a waste of time. However, not looking at some of these videos may hurt you more than you think.

A good YouTube search could help in finding a lot of valuable facts, including, how reliable your car would be during a crash. Compare your choice in vehicles with each others. Now that you have found an appropriate price range, think about what you want and need from a car.

Perhaps you love older muscle cars, small cars, fast cars or maybe minivans. Think about what fits your style and price range best. Include hobbies, job requirements, gas, parking, family and friends into your decision.

Don’t underestimate the importance of consulting a well established car dealership either. If you’re reading from Kansas, a company like Conklin Buick can offer guidance and support to help you choose the right vehicle.

Remember also, your trip out of town should not be cancelled due to the amount of space in your vehicle.

Slow down, you’ll blow a gasket! Before test-driving be sure to look out for smoke as it can often be an indicator for internal problems.

Justin C. Olsson, mechanic at D. Kavanagh Motors, Inc. in Sherman Oaks said, “You don’t want white smoke.”

A good idea would be to have either your mechanic or a friend stand outside as you drive away. Keep in mind that when first starting up a car that has been sitting overnight or longer you will get a little smoke so let the car warm up.

During the test drive, Fortune suggests getting on a straight stretch of road and letting go of the steering wheel a little. The car should be going straight. If not, there might be a problem with the alignment – have your mechanic look at what may be causing the problem.

“Do a few fairly hard-braking maneuvers,” said Fortune. “If the car wants to pull left or right when you hit the brakes, you may want to get it checked out.”Once you think you have found the right car – negotiate. There is nothing wrong with going for the lowest deal possible. If you do your research, you should be able to approximate the price range for the car you want to buy.

Keep in mind that cars sold by dealers are sold at higher prices than those sold by private owners.

A Ford salesman said, “Negotiate using the full price and not monthly payments.”

At long last you’ve found a car that meets your needs, a car that completes you ­— that will share your pain and triumphs along the many roads you take. A sense of accomplishing something you’ve only dreamed about. It may not be marriage but the respect between a car and its owner should remain mutual for as long as possible. Be sure to care and nourish your new love as it will take care of you along your many journeys.