Forget the Lemons- How to Avoid Buying Bad Car

With the recent 8.5 million Toyota recall it makes you wonder just what you’re getting yourself into when purchasing an auto of any kind. When you’re in the market for a vehicle there are a number of places to find information, used or new. Great sources for safety and crash test information are the National Traffic Safety Administration,, and the Center for Auto Safety,, where consumers can find information about recalls, defects, and consumer complaints.

It is also helpful to do a general internet search and read up on different forums about a vehicle that you may be considering. By reading through postings and owners comments you may find additional complaints and suggestions that may either tell you to fix or avoid certain models of a particular vehicle. When reading these forums it’s also important to try and recognize a trend in complaints.

When you think you’ve found a vehicle you would like to take for a spin, be sure and run a vehicle history report. These will include the number of drivers, accidents, and some additional information as well. A great source for a vehicle history report is To run a report here you will need the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) and will need to pay for the report, much like a background report.

Additional sites for auto information about a specific year and model include and These sites give great information on what you should expect to pay for a vehicle or get for a trade in at a dealership according to the condition of the vehicle and mileage. They also provide recent consumer reviews as well as safety information. The more educated you are about the vehicle you are about to test drive the better off you are.

If the deal’s too good to be true, it very well may be. Before purchasing a used vehicle be sure to read up on the vehicle history, run a background report with the VIN number, test drive the vehicle, and lastly have it inspected by an independent garage or a trusted mechanic. Although Massachusetts thankfully has lemon laws, if you can identify a large problem before purchasing you will not have to go through the trouble of returning the vehicle or investing in something that will need to be in an auto shop for a significant amount of time. Avoid a lemon by researching each vehicle you are seriously considering, it will make you a better consumer and give you greater knowledge to leverage a deal with.

Specifics on Toyota Recall & At-Fault-Accidents

Drivers who own vehicles recalled by Toyota over the past month have raised concerns about what this means for their insurance coverage and rates. Drivers who were involved in an accident prior to the recall have faced surcharges other related costs of an “at-fault-accident” that may have been due to the manufacturer’s defects and reason for recall.

Thankfully Massachusetts drivers have an appeal provision that protects these drivers from additional charges and costs of an accident due to Toyota’s recalled parts. The Board of Appeals hears approximately 50,000 cases each year, of which about half the original verdicts are reversed. Once overturned the “at-fault-accident” affecting a drivers record and increasing a driver’s insurance rates will be removed.

Drivers who wish to appeal a decision should discuss the appeal with their local agent first. Speaking with an agent will give the driver a better understanding of the terminology and may share a greater knowledge of auto insurance w to use in Massachusetts insurance carriers are required to use specific standards of fault when determining someone’s responsibility or fault in an accident. One of these standards includes the “Standard of Fault 19” in a collision that a single vehicle is involved, the fault is assessed to the person driving that vehicle. In other words if the accelerator of a recalled Toyota became stuck and the vehicle drove into a tree or other object, besides another vehicle, fault would be assessed to the driver. This is an at-fault-accident someone would want to bring to the Court of Appeals to remove this at fault accident from their record.

The Massachusetts Division of Insurance issued a Consumer Alert that announced hearings for drivers who appealed a decision prior to the recall would be reopened. The board was not previously aware of the manufacturer’s defect and is seeking to right any court decision that a Toyota driver may feel would have been different with the recall. After an at fault accident a driver should automatically receive a notice for their right to appeal the decision.

Appeal hearings are open to the public and for the most part informal. The written appeal is read by the hearing officer and the driver is then going to make his or her case for the appeal. It is also good to be aware that a representative for the insurance carrier will also be present. A person’s driving record is one of the most important determinants of auto insurance premiums. It should not be taken lightly when you are wrongly assessed fault of an accident.

Toyota Resumes Auto Production

Toyota resumed production in eight North American plants yesterday after a full week stand still. Toyota claims to have enough replacement pedals to resume production after they had shut down production plants in Canada, Indiana, Kentucky, and Texas making a detrimental chip in production as well as sales.  January 21st Toyota had recalled 2.3 million vehicles and stop the production of eight models accounting for almost 60% of their sales before the pedal recall.

According to Toyota spokesman Mike Michels the company has enough replacement pedals to resume production of vehicles this week.

There are sufficient repair parts for customer cars, as well as a reserve of pedals from last week’s stoppage, that we can begin production

– Mike Michels, Toyota Spokesman

The Toyota recall models include 2009 – 2010: RAV4, Corolla, and Matrix; 2005 – 2010 Avalon; some 2007 – 2010 Camrys; the 2007 – 2010 Tundra; and the 2008 – 2010 Sequ0ia. Toyota dealerships worked constantly last week to fix the sticky-pedal problem, some accommodating customers around the clock. New models will be sold on a car by car basis, only selling vehicles where the pedal has been replaced. The wide spread knowledge of Toyota’s recall will undoubtedly leave the manufacturer’s reputation anything but intact.

As wonderful as the news is the company will be replacing and fixing all recalled models, the recall itself may not be over just yet. A potential recall in the U.S. and Japan for the 2010 third generation Prius hybrid may still be on the table. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration claimed to have received 124 complaints about the vehicle including reports of four different accidents. Toyota adjusted software in the Prius braking system last month to resolve breaking issues, however hasn’t said how it will address current vehicles. The United States and Japan will be investigating the vehicle’s safety and if necessary Toyota will issue a Prius recall.

Toyota Recall & Massachusetts Residents

Toyota’s freeze on the productions of popular vehicle models and recall of 4.1 million additional vehicles may be reason enough take look at your own vehicle. Toyota announced last week accelerator pedals made by CTS may stick or slowly release from a depressed position on 2.3 million U.S-built cars and light trucks, causing them to speed uncontrollably. Toyota’s public accusation was not lightly taken as CTS shares have fallen 18% since January 20th, day before Toyota pin pointed CTS as the reason for recall.

Massachusetts Division of Insurance has ruled Toyota owners who believe the cause of a previous accident was caused by the sticking CTS pedal may appeal recent and older auto insurance surcharges. The driver appealing auto insurance surcharges must be able to prove the cause of the accident was uncontrolled acceleration. Toyota drivers must also be able to prove the vehicle involved was a recalled model. If you would like to appeal an insurance surcharge know that you must lodge an appeal by March 3oth or within 60 days of receiving a recall notice, whichever occurs latest.

Toyota plans on shipping the necessary replacement parts to dealerships across the country later this week. Technicians will still need to be trained to install the essential parts however Toyota is working to solve this major safety issues as quickly as they can. This is the car manufacturer’s second major recall, the first caused by floor mat entrapment, shaking Toyota’s confidence and share of the auto market.

Ford Takes the Lead: Auto Industry In Recovery

Ford released a report this week of their first full-year profit since 2005. Over the past year Ford reports a $2.7 billion profit in 2009 and exceeded economists expectations in the fourth quarter. Ford forecasts another year of profits in 2010, a well needed change from the $30 billion losses between 2006 through 2008. It has been predicted the average hourly employee will receive a profit sharing of $450. The local economy and families should benefit from the extra bonuses workers expect to receive sometime in March.

The profit sharing is a long deserved break by employees. Over the past few years with losses rising forcing Ford further into the red, Ford let go of about half of it’s employees. The hard days are not forgotten and will not be for quite some time. Part of Ford’s reorganization and efforts to scrounge funds still requires the closing of assembly plants in Wayne, Minnesota and Ontario over the next three years. Ford remains up to it’s ears in debt from the borrowed funds to keep from going under. The company will also continue to face the difficulties of a recovering economy, rising gas and commodity prices. Although it seems GM and Chrysler will have more to work on than Ford. Chrysler and GM’s bankruptcy claims have landed them in debt up to their ears owing the government a significant amount of taxpayers money previously used to keep the companies in an operating condition.

Over the next year and some Ford plans on introducing seven new vehicles. These automobiles include the redesigned Edge, Lincoln MKX crossovers, and Mustang GT, and a brand new Ford Explorer SUV. Launching these new vehicles gives Ford hopes of taking a larger share of the auto market from competition. Meanwhile Toyota struggles to maintain their large portion of the auto market as they issue recalls and a freeze on eight vehicle’s production. If Toyota’s troubles continue, Ford will have a fighting chance at stealing part of the foreign auto market share.

Ford has even offered $1,000 to customers who trade in a Toyota, Lexus, Scion, Honda or Acura and purchasing a Ford vehicle. Continuing to push forward with reorganization efforts and cutting costs Ford seems to be taking the lead in the path to recovery.

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