Thursday, April 3, 2008

Navigating the Web to Purchase a Car Online

Navigating the Web to Purchase a Car


A Guide to Sites That Help Pinpoint The Car You Want
Wall Street Journal March 19, 2008; Page D8

A few weeks ago, I received a dreaded phone call at 8:30 a.m. telling me he wasn't going to make it. The "he" in this case was my car, and the bearer of bad news was my mechanic. My 1994 Saab bit the dust when its timing belt broke, and after discussions about the cost of the repair versus the value of the car, I accepted the fact that I'd need to start looking at buying another vehicle.


[Screen shot]

I headed online to start researching (I was looking for a used car) but was overwhelmed by an avalanche of information. Everyone seemed to have something to say about cars, whether in blogs, community forums, editorial reviews, Kelley Blue Book values, Carfax reports or local dealer sites. As I discussed my findings with friends and family, more people than not were surprised to hear about the variety of research and price comparisons available online.


This week's column is an overview of sites that may help you or someone you know browse for a new or used car on the Web. I used sites ranging from trusted resources like ConsumerReports.org to search engine tools like Yahoo Autos. This column can't possibly mention every car-searching resource on the Web; rather, it's just a taste of what's available.


Edmunds.com and ConsumerReports.org both feature informative data on a number of new and used vehicles. Edmunds is a free site specifically geared toward cars, including an online magazine for enthusiasts called Inside Line and a Web forum for discussions about automobiles called CarSpace. I used various tools on Edmunds.com, including one that estimates the true cost to own a specific car over time. I especially enjoyed reading an article titled "Confessions of a Car Salesman," which proved uncanny in predicting a range of tricks and techniques the salespeople used when I first visited a car dealership.


Edmunds offers a four-step pricing system, which includes getting quotes from dealers, and a payment calculator, which estimates monthly payments. Edmunds teams up with AutoTrader.com to help perform searches for certified pre-owned or used cars online.


Consumer Reports covers products as well as cars but keeps much of its most useful data behind a Web-site subscription, which costs $26 annually or $5.95 monthly (magazine subscribers can pay a discounted price of $19 a year). You need this subscription to access CR's respected ratings and certain sections of its Web forums. These ratings were helpful to me, as they assessed numerous aspects of specific car models, including trouble spots by year, performance, safety and fuel economy.


CR also offers valuable lists such as "All Recommended Cars," "Best and Worst Used Cars" and "Reliable Used Cars by Price." A car-buying calculator is an asset to this site that helps you decide whether it would be smarter to buy or lease a vehicle.


Google, Yahoo and AOL all present special search-results pages when you search for a specific car for sale, using drop-down menus and various ways to sort results. Google Base for automobiles, found by selecting "Vehicles" from www.google.com/base, is a list of data submitted to Google. Drop-down menus help broaden or narrow results by sorting the data according to certain attributes, such as make or price. Vehicle-search results can be viewed in one of three formats: List View, Table View or Map View -- an illustration of each car's location in relationship to a Zip Code. I found Table View most useful because it organized data in smart, spreadsheet-like displays so I could quickly skim through columns listing price, color, amenities and mileage.


[Screen shot]

But not all car searches within Google Base returned the same drop-down-menu options for sorting. In a few instances, I couldn't sort my search results by model year. Google Base does show the date on which each car was listed.


Yahoo Autos, found at www.autos.yahoo.com, teamed up with Cars.com to offer richer content, including a Car Finder feature that helps people narrow down what type of new car they might like according to price, driving style and fuel (type and economy). Yahoo even tries to answer car questions with its Yahoo Answers Q&A tool, which lets people submit questions. I found user reviews on this site, as well as expert reviews provided by NewCarTestDrive.com, an auto-review site.


The used-car section in Yahoo Autos reminded me of Google with its drop-down menus and results that displayed in list or map views. List view shows plenty of information in one glance, including an image of the car for sale and the number of additional available photos. From this list, users can link directly to view or order Carfax reports or email the dealer, saving time wasted on excess mouse clicks and browsing.


AOL Autos, found at http://autos.aol.com, does a nice job of integrating Web 2.0 features such as pop-up menus that appear within a page rather than in an entirely new Web page. Vehicle-search results are found by entering a few criteria for a new or used car, and used-car results can be further narrowed by adding or subtracting desired specifics listed on the far left of the screen. Some specs include model type, engine, year or extras like heated seats or a sunroof.


This site can also condense numerous used-car listings into one graph that illustrates car prices in relationship to mileage or year. Selecting any point on the graph reveals a short description of a vehicle's location, price and mileage. For new cars, AOL Autos offers lengthy expert reviews from NewCarTestDrive.com, as well as user reviews.


Both Yahoo Autos and AOL Autos walk users through steps to get price quotes from dealers for new cars.


Carfax.com provides car-history reports using vehicle-identification numbers, or VINs. For a $30 fee, used-car buyers can use Carfax.com for 30 days. This report shows a vehicle's history such as if it was a rental or not, how many different owners it had, how long each owner possessed the vehicle and where it came from. Tips pop up within these reports, including one that warned me about "curbstoning," a term that describes an individual without a dealer's license looking to sell a number of cars by posing as a private seller.


As can be expected, many newspaper Web sites offer automobile sections that display digitized classified ads, so be sure to check your local paper's Web site.


At the end of the day, test-driving a car will be a true test as to whether or not you like it -- no matter how much research you've done online. But knowing your stuff before you visit a dealership can save money and time.


Thursday, January 3, 2008

California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV): Vehicle Registration Suspensions - Vehicle Suspension

California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV): Vehicle Registration Suspensions - Vehicle Suspension

Vehicle Registration Suspensions

The department is required to suspend the registration of a vehicle when:

The registered owner fails to provide evidence of insurance within 30 days after the issuance of a registration card upon initial registration or transfer of ownership.

DMV is notified that a policy has been cancelled and a replacement policy has not been submitted within 45 days.
The registration is obtained by providing false evidence of insurance.

Vehicle Registration Financial Responsibility Program Administration

Vehicle registration suspensions can only be handled by the Vehicle Registration Financial Responsibility Program.

Refer to the information on your notice to send insurance information via e-mail, fax, or by mail.

For more information, you may contact the program at 1-866-664-4545.

NOTE: DMV field office and Telephone Service Center personnel cannot process vehicle registration suspensions. They will refer you to the Vehicle Registration Financial Responsibility Program in headquarters.

Notification

If the vehicle record does not show current insurance within 30 days of the initial registration or transfer of ownership, or within 45 days of cancellation of insurance, the Vehicle Registration Financial Responsibility Program will send a notice requesting proof of insurance.

If proof of insurance is not received, DMV will suspend the vehicle registration and send a notice informing the vehicle owner that proof of insurance and a $14 reinstatement fee is due to clear the suspension.

Reinstatement

You must submit current evidence of insurance and pay a $14 reinstatement fee.

NOTE: If your vehicle is parked or driven upon California roadways when the registration is suspended, you are subject to citation (CVC §4000a).

Commercially Insured Vehicles

Personal vehicles covered by a commercial/business policy might not be identified as commercially insured. If you receive a notice requesting insurance, you must send a copy of your insurance card or the declaration page of your policy to the Vehicle Registration Financial Responsibility Program prior to the suspension effective date shown on the notice.

Non-Use

If it is time to renew the registration for a vehicle that you do not plan to use, you may place your vehicle on Planned Non-Operation (PNO) status. Vehicles with PNO status are not subject to suspension.

If your vehicle is currently registered and you decide not to use it, you must maintain insurance or notify DMV that you will not be using it by completing an Affidavit of Non Use. Upon receipt of an Affidavit of Non Use, DMV will cancel the registration. The vehicle cannot be operated on a California highway until proof of insurance is received by the department, a reinstatement fee is not due when the registration is cancelled.

Remember you MUST have car insurance for your auto, truck, motorcycle or commercial automobile BEFORE you can receive your driver's license or register your vehicle with the California DMV.

Please click now to make sure that you have either:




*Disclosure: Please note that CaliforniaDrivingTests.com is not owned, operated, or affiliated with any government agency. California Driving Tests is is a privately owned, for-profit web site with the goal to provide free information about various DMV services. The Site specifically disclaims any and all connection with any state bureau, division, or Department of Motor Vehicles, or any state or federal government agency. CaliforniaDrivingTests.com does its best to get the correct information for each state motor vehicle department on its site but does not claim responsibility for the accuracy of the information displayed herein. It is not complete or certified information. Additionally, CaliforniaDrivingTests.com expressly disclaims any and all liability for third party links or resources on the Site and any claims of negligence arising from same. For official information, please consult your state motor vehicle department.

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California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV): Providing Proof of Insurance To Register Commercially Insured Vehicle

California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV): Providing Proof of Insurance To Register Commercially Insured Vehicle


Insurance companies are not required to report commercial/business insurance policy information to DMV; however, commercially insured vehicles must submit proof of insurance within 30 days of the date the registration card was issued for transfer or original applications.

To submit proof for vehicles that are commercially insured, a Commercial Insurance Notification (REG 5085) and proof of insurance must be included with a completed transfer or original application.

NOTE: Personal vehicles covered by a commercial/business policy might not be identified as commercially insured. If you receive a notice requesting insurance, you must send a copy of your insurance card or the declaration page of your policy to the Vehicle Registration Financial Responsibility Program prior to the suspension effective date shown on the notice.


Remember you MUST have car insurance for your auto, truck, motorcycle or commercial automobile BEFORE you can receive your driver's license or register your vehicle with the California DMV.

Please click now to make sure that you have either:




*Disclosure: Please note that CaliforniaDrivingTests.com is not owned, operated, or affiliated with any government agency. California Driving Tests is is a privately owned, for-profit web site with the goal to provide free information about various DMV services. The Site specifically disclaims any and all connection with any state bureau, division, or Department of Motor Vehicles, or any state or federal government agency. CaliforniaDrivingTests.com does its best to get the correct information for each state motor vehicle department on its site but does not claim responsibility for the accuracy of the information displayed herein. It is not complete or certified information. Additionally, CaliforniaDrivingTests.com expressly disclaims any and all liability for third party links or resources on the Site and any claims of negligence arising from same. For official information, please consult your state motor vehicle department.

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California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV): Car Insurance Requirements for Vehicle Registration With Minimum Liability Insurance Requirements

California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV): Car Insurance Requirements for Vehicle Registration With Minimum Liability Insurance Requirements

Vehicle Registration and Title Information

Insurance Requirements for Vehicle Registration

Purpose of the law

The purpose of the law is to ensure that vehicles driven on California roads have liability insurance that provides financial responsibility for any damage or injury caused by a traffic accident, regardless of fault, and to remove uninsured vehicles from the highways.

Mandatory vehicle registration financial responsibility requirements

Financial responsibility must be obtained and maintained on any vehicle operated or parked on California roadways and must be provided as specified below:

When requested by law enforcement
When renewing vehicle registration (if requested)
When the vehicle is involved in a traffic accident
Within 30 days of receiving a registration card for a newly acquired vehicle
Within 45 days of the cancellation of a policy for a currently registered vehicle
You must carry evidence of financial responsibility (proof of insurance) in your vehicle at all times.

Types of financial responsibility
A motor vehicle liability insurance policy
A cash deposit of $35,000 with DMV
A DMV issued self-insurance certificate
A surety bond for $35,000 from a company licensed to do business in California
For information regarding cash deposits, or self insurance, please contact:

Department of Motor Vehicles
Financial Responsibility MS J237
PO BX 942884
Sacramento, CA 94284-0884
916-657-6520

Minimum liability insurance requirements for private passenger vehicles (California Insurance Code §11580.1b)
$15,000 for injury/death to one person.
$30,000 for injury/death to more than one person.
$5,000 for damage to property.

Liability insurance compensates a person other than the policy holder for personal injury or property damage (comprehensive or collision insurance does not meet vehicle financial responsibility requirements). Check your policy or talk to your agent or broker to make sure you have sufficient liability insurance coverage for each vehicle you own.

Remember you MUST have car insurance for your auto, truck, motorcycle or commercial automobile BEFORE you can receive your driver's license or register your vehicle with the California DMV.

Please click now to make sure that you have either:




*Disclosure: Please note that CaliforniaDrivingTests.com is not owned, operated, or affiliated with any government agency. California Driving Tests is is a privately owned, for-profit web site with the goal to provide free information about various DMV services. The Site specifically disclaims any and all connection with any state bureau, division, or Department of Motor Vehicles, or any state or federal government agency. CaliforniaDrivingTests.com does its best to get the correct information for each state motor vehicle department on its site but does not claim responsibility for the accuracy of the information displayed herein. It is not complete or certified information. Additionally, CaliforniaDrivingTests.com expressly disclaims any and all liability for third party links or resources on the Site and any claims of negligence arising from same. For official information, please consult your state motor vehicle department.

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California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV): Car Insurance Requirements for Your Automobile

California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV): Car Insurance Requirements for Your Automobile

Vehicle Registration and Title Information

Be Sure to Insure!
Here are some things you need to know about recent vehicle liability insurance changes:

As of January 1, 2006, all insurance companies are required to report insurance status information to DMV for all private use vehicles (CVC §16058).

As of July 1, 2006, law enforcement and court personnel have access to DMV records to verify that your California registered vehicle is currently insured (CVC §16058.1).

Effective October 1, 2006, your vehicle registration is subject to suspension if the liability insurance is cancelled, OR if your insurance company has not electronically provided evidence of insurance when you purchase and register your vehicle, OR if you provide DMV with false insurance information (CVC §4000.38).

What does this mean to the California vehicle owner?

You will have greater assurance that the vehicle next to you on the road is covered by liability insurance.

You will have the opportunity to renew your registration online, over the phone, or at a self-service terminal.

You will not have to submit paper proof of insurance with your private-use vehicle registration renewal.

Remember, you must carry proof of insurance in your vehicle at all times.

Remember you MUST have car insurance for your auto, truck, motorcycle or commercial automobile BEFORE you can receive your driver's license or register your vehicle with the California DMV.

Please click now to make sure that you have either:




*Disclosure: Please note that CaliforniaDrivingTests.com is not owned, operated, or affiliated with any government agency. California Driving Tests is is a privately owned, for-profit web site with the goal to provide free information about various DMV services. The Site specifically disclaims any and all connection with any state bureau, division, or Department of Motor Vehicles, or any state or federal government agency. CaliforniaDrivingTests.com does its best to get the correct information for each state motor vehicle department on its site but does not claim responsibility for the accuracy of the information displayed herein. It is not complete or certified information. Additionally, CaliforniaDrivingTests.com expressly disclaims any and all liability for third party links or resources on the Site and any claims of negligence arising from same. For official information, please consult your state motor vehicle department.

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California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) Provisional Driver Driver's License Restrictions

California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) Provisional Driver Driver's License Restrictions

Provisional driver license restrictions during the first year

After you pass your driving test, you will be issued a provisional driver license. With your provisional driver license, you must be accompanied and supervised by a licensed parent, guardian or other licensed driver 25 years of age or older, or by a licensed or certified driving instructor when you:

Transport passengers under 20 years of age at any time, for the first twelve months.
Drive between 11 pm and 5 am for the first twelve months.
This means you cannot give anyone under 20 years old (your friends, your brother(s), sister(s), cousin(s), etc.) a ride unless you have a licensed parent, a guardian or other adult 25 years old or older in the car with you. You are also not allowed to drive between 11 pm and 5 am during your first year after getting your license unless you have a licensed parent, a guardian or other adult 25 years old or older in the car with you.

With a provisional license, you can drive by yourself between the hours of 5 am and 11 pm. If you are under 18, you cannot be employed to drive a motor vehicle.

When you turn 18 years of age, the provisional part of your license ends. You may continue to drive as an adult using your photo license, which will expire on your 5th birthday after the date you applied.

Effective January 1, 2006, these driving restrictions apply to you if you are under the age of 18 and:

Are issued a provisional driver license (DL) on or after January 1, 2006, or
Already hold a provisional DL issued on or after January 1, 2005.
To determine if these restrictions apply to you, look at the date on your driver license. The date printed just to the left of your photograph is the date these restrictions begin. The new restrictions apply for 12 months following this date.

For example: If the date on your license is May 7, 2005, you will have the above restrictions through May 7, 2006. Violation of either restriction can result in a fine and/or community service.

Remember you MUST have car insurance for your auto, truck, motorcycle or commercial automobile BEFORE you can receive your driver's license or register your vehicle with the California DMV.

Please click now to make sure that you have either:



Provisional Driver License Restrictions During The First Year

Exceptions to Restrictions

When reasonable transportation is not available and it is necessary for you to drive, the law grants the following exceptions for provisional license holders to drive between 11 pm and 5 am or to transport an immediate family member unaccompanied and unsupervised.

The law allows the following exceptions when reasonable transportation is not available and it is necessary for you to drive. A signed note must be kept in your possession for any of these exceptions explaining the necessity and the date when the driving necessity will end (except emancipated minors).

Medical necessity when reasonable transportation alternatives are inadequate. The note must be signed by your physician, and contain the diagnosis and probable date of recovery.

Schooling or school-authorized activity. The note must be signed by your school principal, dean, or his/her designee.

Employment necessity and the need to operate a vehicle as part of your employment. The note must be signed by your employer verifying employment.

Your necessity or the necessity of an immediate family member. The note must be signed by your parent or legal guardian.

If you are an emancipated minor, no documentation is needed. However, you must have already declared yourself emancipated and provided DMV with Proof of Financial Responsibility (SR 1P) in lieu of your guarantors’ signatures.

Questions and Answers about the Changes to Provisional Driver License Restrictions

Q. What changes are there to the provisional driver license restrictions?

A. Effective January 1, 2006, persons under age 18 must be accompanied by a parent/guardian or other person specified by law when:

Transporting passengers under 20 years of age, at any time for the first twelve months.
Driving between the hours of 11:00 PM and 5:00 AM for the first twelve months

Q. I was issued my provisional driver license on May 1, 2005, and was already restricted for six months. Now, I drive friends to school everyday who are under 20 years of age. Will I be restricted again in January 2006?

A. Yes, you will be restricted through April 2006, or until your 18th birthday, whichever comes first.

Q. When I was issued my provisional driver license, DMV said I would be restricted for six months. Now, DMV is saying 12 months. Does that mean 12 additional months after the six months I already completed?

A. No. The restrictions last a total of 12 months from the date of issuance that displays on your provisional driver license.

Q. I am not sure when my restrictions began. How will I know when they end?

A. Look at the bottom of your driver license. Just to the left of your photograph is the date when the restrictions began. Calculate one year from that date to determine the date the restrictions end.

Q. Will I still be restricted when I turn age 18?

A. When you turn age 18, you will no longer be under the provisional driver license restrictions.

Q. There are two dates at the bottom of my license. Which one indicates the day the restrictions began?

A. The date closest to the photograph is the date the restrictions began.

Q. Will I have to get a new driver license?

A. No. You will not need to get another license.

Q. Why is the department discriminating against teen drivers?

A. The department is not discriminating. It is implementing legislation to save lives. Recent statistics show that citations/serious accidents involving provisional drivers during the 9:00 PM to 5:00 AM period have dramatically increased over the past five years. The change in law should reduce accidents and save lives.

Q. How will these restrictions show on my driving record?

A. The restrictions will read: "First 12 months of licensure may not transport passengers under age 20, and may not drive between the hours of 11:00 PM and 5:00 AM without parent/other driver as specified in Section 12814.6 CVC."

Q. When the restrictions end, will they be removed from my record automatically?< /b>

A. Yes, the restrictions will be automatically removed from your record when the 12 months have ended or when you turn age 18, whichever comes first.

Q. I work a summer job which requires me to drive between 11:00 PM and 5:00 AM. Can I apply for an exception?

A. California Vehicle Code Section 12814.6 provides an exception for a person who has to work, provided that reasonable transportation facilities are inadequate. You must carry a statement with you that is signed by your employer verifying your employment and indicating the date your employment is expected to end. An application for an exception is not necessary.

Q. Are there any other exceptions to the restrictions?

A. Medical necessity when reasonable transportation facilities are inadequate. You must carry a signed statement from your doctor stating the diagnosis and the probable date the necessity will end.

Schooling or school-authorized activities when reasonable transportation facilities are inadequate. You must carry a statement signed by the school principal, dean or a staff person authorized by the principal or dean, indicating when the schooling or school-authorized activity will be completed.

Necessity of family member including yourself, when adequate transportation facilities are unavailable and you need personal transportation or to transport a family member. You must carry a signed statement by a parent/legal guardian verifying the reason you must drive and the probable date the necessity will end.

Emancipated minor If you have filed documents with DMV to show you are emancipated and have filed either an SR-1P or SR 22 as required by law, you are not held to the provisional driving restrictions. It may be a good idea to carry proof of your emancipated status with you.

Q. I did not receive the letter notifying me of the new restrictions and I was cited by law enforcement for violating these restrictions. What can I do?

A. The department has made a reasonable effort to notify every driver and his or her parents /guardians by mail and has notified the newspapers and media about this change in the law. It is the responsibility of the driver and his or her parents/guardians to be aware of changes in the law affecting the driving privilege.

Q. My friend and I got our licenses at the same time. Why is my license restricted and his is not?

A. Has your friend turned 18 years of age? The restrictions end when a driver turns age 18. Make sure your friend is aware of the new changes in the law.

Q. When the restrictions end, will I receive a new license?

A. No, a new driver license will not be issued.

Q. Can I drive in the event of an emergency even though my provisional license is restricted?

A. The law does not provide for emergencies; only for exceptions as listed in Vehicle Code Section 12814.6. It is the discretion of law enforcement to determine if they will cite you for violating your provisional license restrictions.


*Disclosure: Please note that CaliforniaDrivingTests.com is not owned, operated, or affiliated with any government agency. California Driving Tests is is a privately owned, for-profit web site with the goal to provide free information about various DMV services. The Site specifically disclaims any and all connection with any state bureau, division, or Department of Motor Vehicles, or any state or federal government agency. CaliforniaDrivingTests.com does its best to get the correct information for each state motor vehicle department on its site but does not claim responsibility for the accuracy of the information displayed herein. It is not complete or certified information. Additionally, CaliforniaDrivingTests.com expressly disclaims any and all liability for third party links or resources on the Site and any claims of negligence arising from same. For official information, please consult your state motor vehicle department.

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Driver's Test Checklist: Prepare for Your Driving Test

Driver's Test Checklist: Prepare for Your Driving Test

Do drivers seem to stop suddenly in front of you?
Be alert and keep adequate space between your car and the car in front. Try to keep at least two seconds of following distance between your car and the vehicle in front of you.

Do cars suddenly come out of nowhere?
Be on the lookout for other cars. Make sure your mirrors are adjusted properly and are not covered by ice, snow or dust. Check your rearview mirror frequently. Don't wear glasses with side pieces that block your view of passing cars.

Are other drivers in too big a rush?
Drive the speed limit, but don't drive too slowly-that's unsafe! Drive in the right lane whenever possible.

Do you sometimes not notice a sign?
Scan the road for signs and signals. Drive on familiar roads. Make sure you know signs and their meanings by their shape and color.

Are roads getting too confusing?
Drive during non-rush hours whenever possible.

Are gaps in traffic getting harder to judge?
Don't feel pressured into making a turn or passing until you're sure you can do it safely.

Do you take medicine?
If you are taking any medicine, even nonprescription drugs, ask your doctor or pharmacist if the medicine could affect your driving.

Is it tough to make sharp turns?
Go as slowly as necessary to stay in your lane when turning. Use your turn signal, and make sure it's off after you have completed your turn.

Are highways getting to be more trouble?
Stay in the lane that has cars going closest to your speed. Avoid rush hours whenever possible.

Is night driving getting to be more difficult?
Keep your headlamps clean. Learn to look away from the glare of oncoming vehicles. Try to drive on roads you know. If night driving gets too difficult, don't drive at night. (NHTSA)

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