Category Archives: Buying a Car

What to look for in a Crossover

The SUV of the 90s and early 2000s has largely been superseded by the crossover, that blend of car and SUV providing the utility of an SUV with a more car-like driving experience. They’re great grocery-getters, carpool carriers, and general stuff haulers. As the fastest-growing new car segment in the US, they’re also easily found on the used market. But before you fall in love with that crossover, here’s a few considerations.

Small, medium, or large?

Crossovers come in lots of different sizes now, from subcompacts like the MINI Countryman to large crossovers like the Chevy Traverse. Figure out how much you need. If you regularly carry a lot of people or stuff, spring for the bigger one, but understand that you’re probably going to have to pay a bit more, both in the initial purchase price and in fuel over the long term, since larger crossovers tend to be powered by V6s, with some luxury models offering V8s.

How big is your crowd?

Your initial thoughts on size may be influenced by how many people you need to carry – and how big are those people. Subcompact crossovers generally are limited to four people, and the rear seats may not be comfortable for larger adults. Some midsized crossovers have a third-row seat option, giving you capacity for as many as eight people… or the ability to put the kids as far from the driver as possible! And if you go for the third-row seat, remember to try them out yourself and see if they’ll be comfortable, and don’t forget that your kids are going to grow!

And now for the feature.

Crossovers can be feature-rich, particularly as you get into high-line models. Consider things like cupholders, which can be numerous, power ports and outlets, and maybe rear-seat entertainment if you’re going on long trips. Other niceties can be power liftgates, which make access easier, and large moonroofs to make the interior seem bigger.

Drive it!

If this will be your first crossover, make sure to take a test drive. While crossovers are essentially cars under the skin, they tend to be heavier and taller, changing the center of gravity and their handling. Some handle really nicely for a large vehicle, but you have to expect a different driving experience, and it’s important to know if you’re going to like it!

When you take that test drive, make sure to get a little highway time to make sure you have enough power for passing maneuvers. If that unloaded crossover runs out of steam with just you and the salesperson, imagine that it’s probably not going to do as well with a full load.

Once you’ve figured out your needs, it’s time to head to your local US Auto Sales and pick out your crossover!

Southern Cities Weekend Road Trip Series part 3

We span Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Florida, so we’re taking advantage of that local knowledge to create a series of short road trips. We looked at some of the cool places where we have US Auto Sales dealerships, figured out some great roads between them and mixed in some sights to see. The result – the US Auto Sales Southern Cities Weekend Road Trips. The third and final trip in the series is all Georgia, all the time.

Athens: If you’re a University of Georgia (UGA) football fan, you know Athens! If you’re going in the fall, of course a visit to Sanford Stadium is practically a requirement. Did you know that UGA was chartered as the first state college in the United States in 1785? The city wasn’t even chartered until 1806, with UGA there, of course it had to be named after Athens, Greece – the ancient center of higher learning.

Beyond the college, there are 15 neighborhoods on the National Register of Historic Places. The Victorian downtown boasts a great food scene and an active creative community, everything from plein air artists (who like to work outside) to lacemakers.

Roads to the next stop: you can go directly to the next stop via US-78 and I-20, and get there in under 2 hours. But antebellum architecture and quaint small towns about in this area, parts of which are known as the Antebellum Trail. Take US-441S into Watkinsville. From there, take GA-15S to Greensboro, and follow US-278E to US-78E into Augusta.

Augusta: Welcome to the home of the Masters Golf Tournament, held at Augusta National Golf Club since 1934, when it was won by Horton Smith. The tournament started by Bobby Jones and Clifford Smith wasn’t even known by that name at the time – it didn’t pick up the Masters name until 1939.

Not into golf? Being on the Savannah River, there’s a lot of great recreational opportunities both in and around the river, from paddling and kayaking to the Riverwalk. You could even pick up an Augusta Greenjackets minor league baseball game!

Roads to the next stop: This is one of those rare cases where the direct route is the best one. Take US-1S to GA-88W to GA-24N to GA-540W and GA-57W to Macon. If you’ve got a little time on your hands, stop in Milledgeville and wander the grounds of the abandoned Central State Hospital, at one time one of the largest insane asylums in the United States.

Macon: Let’s talk about rock and dirt. No, seriously, when you’re in Macon, you’ve got to check into the Allman Brothers Band Museum at the Big House, with memorabilia from their former home! What about dirt, though? Go all the way the other direction in history to the Ocmulgee National Monument and see the Native American earthen mounds from around 1000 CE. Don’t be fooled, by the way – they’re not burial mounds. You’ll have to go to Macon to find out the truth!

Roads to the next stop: Go pretty much any way you want! I-75S to GA-96W is fastest, or you can follow US-80 the whole way. Either way, you’re going to be rolling through a little less than two hours of rural area with picturesque farmland.

Columbus: The final stop on this tour, and in this series, takes you to Columbus. You’re just across the Chattahoochee from Phoenix City, Alabama, in this old industrial town. Your visit here wouldn’t be complete without a tour of Springer Opera House, originally opened in 1871, and graced by such acts as Buffalo Bill, John Phillip Sousa, Ethel Barrymore, Burt Reynolds, Oscar Wilde, and W.C. Fields. And once you’ve toured it, there’s no better way to experience a theater than with a live show! There are several production companies that call the Springer home!

We’ve put on a lot of mileage in this series! Every one of these cities is also graced with a US Auto Sales location. Please feel free to stop in and check out our inventory!

Mindshift – Back to School Driving

While we’ve all enjoyed the shorter commute times that come with summer, school is starting! With that, of course, comes longer commute times, which can be frustrating. Don’t let the frustration get in the way of making sure that the kids get to school safely, and you get to work safely and on time! With that, here are a few tips on driving as school starts back in.

  1. It’s big. It’s yellow. You kinda can’t miss it. The obvious sign of school starting back up is the school bus! When you see them, put yourself in the bus driver’s shoes. You’re driving a huge, slow vehicle filled with 40 children. The noise is crazy, and the responsibility for getting them home is yours. Probably pretty stressful. So give them a break. And of course, be aware that it’s illegal to pass a stopped school bus from either direction on undivided roads.
  2. Trade your smartphone for smart walking. According to Safe Routes to Schools, a third of young pedestrian vehicle strikes can be attributed to kids darting out in the road. While there’s no available data about how many are looking at their phones, it’s safe to say that fewer distractions while walking are better.
  3. You’re in the zone. Be aware of school zones with reduced speed limits on your commute. If you need motivation, speeding fines in school zones are higher than tickets outside of school zones.
  4. Pool rules. If you’re driving your kids to school, nearly every school has carpool drop zones and rules designed to keep kids safe and traffic flowing. Try to find out what they are before you show up. If nothing else, you’ll avoid the wrath of angry parents.
  5. Stay alert! Kids are kind of unpredictable, and they’re comfortable in the areas around their school, and getting on their bus, so they’re not likely to be paying as close attention. Avoiding distractions is a good idea in general, but in school zones and around buses it’s especially important.

Keep these tips in mind, and give yourself a little more time to get where you’re going as school starts in your district, and everyone should get where they’re going safe and happy.

De-Bunking the Myths of Used Cars

De-Bunking the Myths of Used Cars

Are you in the market for a used car? There are many things to research before making such a big purchase but before you do, let’s debunk the most common myths around buying used cars.

The best used cars are sold online.

False. Yes, there are many great deals online, but going to the dealership to see the car and negotiate in person is a better option, especially when buying used. It is also important especially when buying a used car to inspect and test drive it before purchasing. In fact, 54% of consumers would buy from a dealership that offers their preferred experience, even if it didn’t have the lowest price. (Autotrader)

Dealers want to get me into a car I can’t afford.

False. If you can’t afford the car you’re sold, everybody loses. The dealership wants to sell you a car. You want a car. Most responsible dealers will go over your income, expenses, and budget to determine what you can afford. Ultimately, the dealer wants a happy customer who may come back for another vehicle or refer friends or family. 

The car buying experience is stressful.

False. While life is full of difficult and stressful situations, and car buying can certainly be one of them, it doesn’t have to be. If you come with the right information, seek out the right help at US Auto Sales, and stick to your budget, there’s no reason you can’t find the right car for you quickly, easily, and affordably.

There’s no way to know if the car will be reliable.

False. If you have the VIN number of the car, it’s very easy to find out the vehicle’s service history. In fact, here at US Auto Sales, an AutoCheck vehicle history report is offered on our website, so you can check it out even before you come see the car yourself. Many dealers, including us, also offer limited warranties and service contracts.

Overall, these myths need to be busted. When buying a used car, don’t let the fear of price, time, deals or overall stress prevent you from looking into used cars.

3 cars that won’t break the bank

3 cars that won’t break the bank

When you’re shopping for  used cars, price isn’t the only thing that matters. Insurance, maintenance costs, depreciation, and gas mileage all factor into the total cost of owning a car. We’ve done the research for you to present five used vehicles that offer the lowest projected total cost of ownership over a five-year period.[1]

  1. 2015 Chevy Spark – One of the keys to the Chevy Spark’s long-term affordability is the low entry point. New, the Spark started around $13,000, with a current used value between $8,500 and $10,100.[2] The hatchback makes for a great urban commuter, and the size means it will fit in a small garage or parking space. You can still fit four passengers in there, too, and the interior is larger than you’d imagine. The Spark has the added bonus of coming in a variety of fun colors.
  2. 2015 Nissan Versa – When the Versa was new, not only was it the least-expensive vehicle in the Nissan lineup, it was thought to be the least expensive new car that you could buy in this country, starting at only $12,800, with a current used value between $7,900 and $11,600. Available in both sedan and hatchback models, the Versa is roomy and fuel-efficient, with a combined EPA mileage rating of 30MPG. If you need passenger space, the sedan has room for 5 passengers!
  3. 2015 Toyota Corolla – You really can’t go wrong with a Corolla. Toyota has been making them since 1966, and they’ve been available in the US since 1968. Toyota has sold nearly twice as many Corollas than VW did the original Beetle, and almost three times as many as Ford Model T’s. The resale value on most Corolla models is renowned. The driver and passenger accommodations are roomy and comfortable. The current used value of a Corolla ranges from $12,900 to $15,400. With nearly unmatched reliability, you may have a running Corolla long after you’ve made the last payment.

[1] Based on 2015 Kelley Blue Book 5-Year Cost to own Awards

[2] All values quoted based on current Kelley Blue Book values