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Entries in Automobiles (14)

Wednesday
Sep282011

OnStar Reverses Policy, Won’t Track Non-Subscribers

Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images(DETROIT) -- OnStar, the service that connects to people’s cars by cell signal and can tell where they are if they have an accident, has now promised not to keep tracking people even if they cancel their subscriptions.

“We listened,” said OnStar’s president, Linda Marshall. “We hope to maintain the trust of our more than six million customers.”

OnStar stepped on a public relations landmine earlier this month by announcing some changes to its privacy policy. In a routine email to customers, it said it reserved the right to provide its traffic data to law enforcement, credit card processors and marketers. And it said that unless people asked, OnStar would keep tracking people’s cars even if they canceled the service.

Several senators piled on, expressing “serious concern” for people’s privacy; Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., called on the Federal Trade Commission to investigate.

OnStar said it wasn’t actually selling or sharing its data and had no plans to do so, but that wasn’t good enough. It has now revised the policy, promising that if people cancel their OnStar subscriptions, the cellular connection with their cars will automatically be disconnected.

“We regret any confusion or concern we may have caused,” Marshall said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Sep012011

American Auto Sales See Strong August

Jim R. Bounds/Bloomberg via Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- American automakers improved their sales performance in August.

Strong sales of Jeeps and minivans led Chrysler to its best August in four years, up 31 percent from 2010. General Motors saw sales rise 18 percent. Chevrolet Cruze, the new compact known for its fuel efficiency, accounted for one in every ten vehicles GM sold. Ford also improved its performance in August, with sales up 11 percent.

With consumer confidence at a two-year low, industry analysts had expected a weaker month.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Aug222011

Buying a Used Car: How to Save Money, Avoid a Lemon 

Comstock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- With parents sending their kids off to college, some of them might be in the market for a reliable used car for trips to school or back to the nest for holidays. Experts have some tips to help parents not pick a mobile money pit.

The first step is to make sure the model you choose was well engineered. After that, you must scrutinize the individual cars you are considering to make sure they have never been in a crash and have always been well-maintained.

You can start your used car search in your slippers, by consulting the car resources available right on the Internet.

The Consumer Reports Used Car Buying Guide has been an essential resource for decades. You can get it instantly online at www.ConsumerReports.org.

Advice from Consumer Reports stands out because the publication doesn't accept any advertising dollars from car companies or anybody else. You also get the benefit of Consumer Reports' own anonymous testing of vehicles. If you want a shortcut, Consumer Reports puts out a list of Used Car Best Bets and a list of Used Car Bad Bets.

Auto website Edmunds.com also puts out an annual Best Bets list. It weighs reliability and safety, but also availability. That can be key, because if a vehicle is more widely available, by the law of supply and demand it will be cheaper.

Edmunds is best known for its vehicle pricing tools. The website offers what it calls the True Market Value price or "TMV." Edmunds gathers sales data from dealerships across the country to see what cars are selling for in the real world.

Once you've settled on a model, you have to settle on an individual car. A good vehicle check will prevent this and is a two-step process.

Carfax reports remain a godsend to used car buyers. There are other vehicle history websites out there now, including some affiliated with the government. But Carfax is still way ahead of the pack. Carfax charges $30 for a single report or up to $50 for unlimited reports.

Be aware that vehicle history reports do not always catch traffic accidents. If the car you're considering was in an accident that was not large enough to generate a police report, it might not show up on the vehicle history report. Carfax now has agreements with some collision repair facilities and insurance companies to try to fill this information gap. And the U.S. Department of Justice recently got involved and is trying to compel insurance companies and salvage shops to report accident data to a central authority.

Now for the other crucial step that you must take: Get the vehicle inspected by a qualified mechanic. Take the used car to a mechanic before you buy it. There are mobile mechanics who can bring their diagnostic tools right to the car. Also, AAA-approved repair shops offer AAA members a free 24-point inspection of their vehicle.

You can get this same inspection for a vehicle you are considering buying. If the dealer or owner won't allow you to get the vehicle inspected by a mechanic, walk away from the deal.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Jul142011

June Retail Sales Up 0.1%

Tom Pennington/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Retail sales increased 0.1 percent last month, bolstered by an unexpected increase in the sales of automobiles, the Commerce Department reported Thursday.

While the increase was better than most economists had predicted, the relatively small jump signals that consumers remain somewhat reluctant to spend.

Bloomberg News reports that as unemployment remains high, some major retailers are bettering discounts in hopes of bolstering overall sales.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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