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Ask AAA: Do First-Time Buyers Have To Pay High Interest Rates AND Provide Big Down Payments?

Question: I’m a first-time buyer trying to borrow $16,000 for a car, and most of the lenders are telling me that I’ll pay 14-21% interest rate as well as providing a big down payment. One lender even told me that I’d pay a high interest rate AND have to put $6,000 down. Is there anything I can do to reduce the rate and/or down payment requirement?

Answer: Yes. Especially if you can delay your purchase a few months.

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How to Tell If Your Vehicle Needs Alignment

A vehicle is aligned to its suspension — a proper alignment offers control and stability. Daily driving can affect the alignment since roads can be rough, and can stress the shocks, springs, and the rest of the suspension.

Here are some indicators that your vehicle may need an alignment:

  • Tires exhibit uneven wear on the outside.
  • The steering wheel vibrates when driving.
  • The vehicle appears to be drifting to one side while driving straight.
  • The vehicle is going straight, but the steering wheel is off-center.

tire & align

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Ask AAA: Can Draining My Car’s Battery Effect My Gas Mileage?

Question: I’ve got a newer Toyota minivan and I completely killed the battery a few weeks ago. While I got a new battery, my Sienna has been acting strangely ever since I killed the battery. My fuel mileage is off, and it doesn’t “feel” the same when I drive it. Did I damage my van when I drained the battery?

Answer: Damage? Probably not. But you may have deleted all your Sienna’s engine presets, which can impact both shift patterns and fuel economy. This could make your van feel differently while driving and also reduce fuel economy.

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My Brakes Are Making Noise – What Does It Mean?

Are your brakes squeaking, squealing, or grinding? Don’t let the problem continue! You can often make an educated guess about brake problems with your ears, as different brake problems have different noises. Here’s what you need to know.

Caliper, Pads, and Rotor

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How Automakers Are Using Arbitration Clauses to Sidestep Lemon Laws

Most everyone’s heard of a ‘lemon law’. Designed to protect consumers from defective products, lemon laws often require automakers to buy back a bad vehicle (a lemon). If, for example, a vehicle under warranty has a problem that can’t be repaired after a few attempts (often 3 or 4), and/or spends more than a certain amount of time awaiting repairs (typically 30), it can be designated a lemon. The vehicle manufacturer must then offer to buy back the lemon (you can learn more about how lemon laws work here).

Lemon Car

These lemon laws are on the books in every state in the USA, and they’ve been used by thousands of people to effectively “undue” the purchase of a poorly manufactured vehicle. However, automakers are trying to bypass these lemon laws by piggybacking on to mandatory arbitration clauses hidden in most dealership vehicle purchase agreements. Not only is this practice common (almost all dealers have mandatory arbitration clauses in their contracts), but it’s also being used to limit consumer’s rights to participate in class action lawsuits.

Basically, automakers are offering consumers a false choice: If you want a new car, you have to agree not to sue us. If you don’t want to forgo your legal right to sue, than you can’t buy a new car.

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