Everyone wants to have the key to the best vehicle out there. If you owe the one, then you’re the lucky person because when something breaks down or needs repair in your car, it often turns into a disaster. How do you find a car that’s right for you?
...when it comes to your vehicle, you're not happy, when it's broken, you're miserable… When the car’s running fine, everything's great. You don't even think about it. You get in it, you go, you live life.
We asked a well-known automotive expert, Lauren Fix, to share her auto tips and tricks with consumers. Lauren is the CEO of Automotive Aspects and the Editor-in-Chief of Car Coach Reports, a global automotive news outlet. Having nearly 40 years of experience in the automotive industry, she knows all the ins and outs of every car offered on the market.
Watch this video interview to uncover the best expert tips on electric vs. gas cars, auto warranty, Lemon law, and autonomous vehicles. Find out the steps to choosing the right car for you.
Top Automotive FAQs covered in this expert interview:
- Electric or gas car?
- Why is electric car insurance more expensive?
- How does an extended warranty work?
- What is Lemon law?
- Lemon law requirements
- New or used vehicle?
- Tips to buying a car
- Covid-19 effect on the auto industry
- The auto industry future and autonomous vehicles
- Lauren Fix's Guide to Loving Your Car
Lauren Fix: Well, thank you for having me. I've been involved in the auto industry for about 40 years. All I have done is automotive and energy. So we'll focus specifically on automotive. I have worked in all aspects of automotive, but my background came as a kid working on cars, living in Detroit, so I'm a motor city gal.
My father worked for the Big Three Automakers and on the weekends he would work on his Corvette or his Barracuda, the boat, Thunderbird, or whatever. And I would ask questions and help. And I was never told I couldn't do it. So I've always thought whatever I wanted to do, I could. And when I turned 16, my father was not into racing. He was just like cars that were fast, I bought a Camaro, and the first chance I got someone said, "Hey, do you want to go to a race track and try driving, try racing?"
And this is back in the '80s and is a little different than it is today. And I started racing. So my racing career started amateur, worked its way to professional. I've raced internationally in the FIA, doing all that. And I taught my husband how to race. And he's been pretty big in the prototype series. But beyond that, I have so many different runs of different automotive.
We restore cars. We make parts for the automotive industry. And I work in the auto industry, reviewing cars. I'm a past president of the North American Car and Truck of the Year. It is one of the top three awards that tell consumers by independent jurors, there's 50 of us, including Canada, that we help you make good choices. From different aspects, performance, and reliability and price and good value and all the things that you want when you buy a new car.
But beyond that, I have been the Car Coach and had CarCoachReports.com as well as on social media. And I also do car smarts and I'd been on every national news show that either exists or doesn't, from Oprah to every national news outlet, Ellen DeGeneres. So Kelly and Ryan now, but it's changed hands.
I have my own radio show that is syndicated. I'm also on a bunch of local stations. So I'm really loving what I do. My content literally goes everywhere because I believe knowledge is power. And the knowledge you have can help you make better decisions so you don't have buyer's remorse.
And what I've been helping people for almost 40 years, and my three books also follow that, is to educate people, inform them, because this is the one thing you never think about until you have a problem. And then it's too late because you're already in it. I bought the wrong car, I got ripped off. I pay too much for insurance. I bought an extended warranty from an unreliable company.
There are a million things that can happen. But on top of that, there's also a lot of really good car companies and suppliers and aftermarket. They're there to support people. So it's a good mix, like any other industry, but I love helping people. And I say that if you do what you love and love what you do, you never work a day in your life.
Electric or Gas Car: Which Is Better?
Mike: The car industry went through quite a transformation in the past 10-15 years. Electrical or gas?
Lauren: Personally, I think there needs to be a mix. I am not an electric car person. And the reason for that is I think people are being sold on what the press is telling them. And I'm talking about the mainstream press of watching television and maybe some places. What you forget is that…
...when you purchase a new car, typically your insurance goes up. But when you purchase an electric car, the insurance is twice as expensive.
So that's the first thing you have to think about. The cost of that vehicle is more expensive than a gasoline-powered vehicle. So you have to calculate that into your budget, into your life. And yes, there are some $7,500 tax credits except for General Motors and Tesla. But then I always tell people, "You forget they need to be serviced." And servicing these cars, and yes, there are moving parts, is more expensive than it is on a gasoline-powered car.
And then you've got the charging costs and the infrastructure for that is not there. So high-speed charging you really can't get at your house, and then it goes into a whole nother area of potential magnetic fields that might impact your health. But that is a whole nother conversation.
But you have that put in your home, having a level two charger or plugging it in the wall, that's your expense as well. And it starts to add up and you start realizing, "What are you really saving when you add it up?"
And if you look, we call it in our industry cradle to grave, from the time the thought of the vehicle comes, all the components, all the rare earth minerals that go in those batteries, to the time that vehicle is done and it's parted and what's recycled can be…
...you'll find that electric vehicles are not that green, and they're equivalent to that of a gasoline-powered vehicle.
And the one thing about gasoline-powered vehicles is they last a long time and they're becoming more fuel-efficient. And there's a lot of recycled materials in both vehicles. So you're seeing a lot of great things. And I think one of the types of propulsion that's overlooked, actually two of them, one of them is diesel.
I'm a huge diesel fan. I have two diesel SUVs. They go 700 miles on a tank at 34 miles to the gallon. And the demand for used diesel is super high. So if you're looking for one, whether it be a Porsche, a Land Rover, Jaguar, or a Volkswagen, good luck finding them, because they're sold like that. And the reason for it is people that are doing their homework, realize that.
Now there's also compressed natural gas and hydrogen, both of which are available online and both have zero emissions and no tailpipes. So before you make a decision, look at your options, do your homework. Because once you buy one of those electric cars, after three years if you have to replace that battery, you're going to get a bill for close to $10,000.
That's a lot of maintenance. You're not going to put that much into a regular gasoline-powered vehicle. So I think that the answer is, if you want to buy electric, you should do so. Decide what works for your family and for your budget. But there needs to be, it's part of the answer. Should it be gas it's going to be diesel.
There should be other propulsions. And there is a new fuel coming online, have been talking about it on national TV called E-Gas. Now it's not ready for prime time yet, but it's being worked on with Volkswagen group and with Exxon, and it is a chemical that would go in place of gasoline that has zero tailpipe emissions. So that could be an interesting answer. So you can keep your 20-year-old car because the average car on the road is 16-years-old, why buy a new one if yours is working fine.
Why Is Electric Car Insurance More Expensive?
Mike: Why is car insurance on electric cars three times more expensive? Do you have any insights on that?
Lauren: Yes, I do. When you're looking at the computer processors that are involved, you heard about that with the semiconductor chips, you're talking about 10 fold more than that of a gasoline and electric car, even with the cool new screens and technology and awesome safety features that require more technology, which is why there's a slowdown now of getting the product to market because it's semiconductors. But you will note that...
...if that car is damaged in an accident, it has to be replaced or repaired. And the repair costs are more expensive and the replacement costs are more expensive. And so, therefore, your insurance is higher.
And also there's a higher risk. If a fireman doesn't know how to shut off the power properly, or somebody, a first responder who gets hurt, that leads to other insurance costs. So if it costs more for the insurance company and they have what's called a reinsurance company, it's going to cost you more money.
Mike: Again, electrical cars are just starting to go onto the market, and of course, the service, regular repair guy that works on gasoline-powered cars knows very little how to service electrical vehicles today.
Lauren: You'd be surprised. Because of the ASE, the Automotive Service Excellence of which I am an ASE certified technician and I am an engineer as well, an automotive engineer. We have been trained on these things for years. You remember we had the Prius before, we had the EV1.
The Nissan Leaf has been out for over 10 years. You had the Chevy Bolt, and the Bolt they've been out for a while. And Tesla's been out for over 10 years. So people do work on these. Although, Tesla is very specific. If you buy a Tesla, you have to use their Tesla service centers.
How Does Extended Car Warranty Work?
Mike: Car warranties and extended car warranties, as a normal U.S. consumer I get a dozen phone calls per week selling me extended car warranties. What's going on?
Lauren: Then you've also got Jaguar, Land Rover, I'm trying to think, Volkswagen, a couple of years, six years, 50,000 miles. I think Audi has now stepped up to that as well as Mercedes and BMW. And a lot of the domestics are still three years, 36,000 miles. So once you've reached outside that warranty, it depends on the vehicle.
Some people will lease them and you don't have to worry about it, but that's why you never want to lease outside that warranty window. It's important that you know that, that's a very important factor. But if you do go outside that window, it's like a bell goes off somewhere. And every extended warranty, automated system calls you, "Your car is out of service or it's out of warranty. You should let us know."
There are two ways to look at this. There are a couple of good companies, but in the past, we've had a lot of them go out of business. So if you've paid for that company's service through a dealer or through a used car lot, and you have a problem, you should always do what I tell people. What the big print gives you, the small print takes away.
And a lot of that is the repair isn't done at the dealer. There is a deductible, certain things haven't covered that break normally, like air conditioning or suspension components. So what does it cover? It would cover major situations. And in that case, it might be worth getting rid of the car.
And these are things that people need to think about, because if you were to pay $300 a month and over 10 months, that's $3,000, and you start adding that up. You're thinking, "That's a lot of money, I paid this company $10,000 over three years," and you've never had a claim.
The company's very happy that you don't make a claim, but if you do need to call in on that claim, that repair could only be a couple of thousand dollars. So the smartest thing to do is to set money aside and hope that nothing happens. And if it does, you've got special savings or checking account where you've been putting money in every month.
Now, a lot of people can't do that. They can't afford that. They want to somehow roll that into the purchase of a used car. You have to be careful which companies, and it's really hard to find a good resource for what is best in which plan to buy. And that's very difficult.
There's a couple of websites you can go to, but pretty much every website is going to try and sell you on the same thing. The only thing that could be a problem is if that company goes out of business, and that has happened in the past and the dealer or the used car lot that sold it to you cannot back it up. It's not them. You bought the service through them, but it came from a dealer.
So you need to really think about, "What am I doing with this car? How many miles I'm going to put on?" Are you using it for long-distance driving, or you're just driving it around town? And you do that basic maintenance that it says to do your owner's manual. If you do that, you shouldn't have problems.
If you fail to go after the vehicle when there's a check engine light, you hear a squeak while it's breaking, maybe there's trouble starting, or it's making noises in weird places, and you ignore it, that's when a little bill becomes a very large bill. And you hope to God that you have this extended warranty and that it's covered because it's not covered under every single warranty.
What Is a Lemon Law?
Mike: So when the person buys a car, a new car from the dealer, we hear it a lot on our website, "I bought a lemon." What does it mean? Often dealerships don't want to deal with it. What would you recommend to consumers? What to do if they believe that they got a lemon?
Lauren: That's a good question. If you have one, how do you know if you have a lemon first? You take the car to the dealer. It doesn't start, or there's a problem that's inherent, not just a little teeny squeak. It's got to be something that's mechanical, or maybe there's a software problem that you can't get the center screen to turn on, or it shuts off when you're driving.
Something along those lines that's much more serious than just, "Oh, it was a little teeny squeak I only hear at 60 miles an hour when I drive over a pothole" That's going to be a tougher one to track down, and it's certainly not going to qualify for the lemon law. So you have to be reasonable in what the problem is. So when you take it in, you want to have documentation.
You don't just want to hand the keys over and say, "Here's the problem. Fix it."
What you want them to do is write up a work order, that work order, and this is true, because there's a 90-day warranty on vehicles unless you purchase it as is, which I do not recommend. So during that 90-day period, before then, you got a problem, you want to be on top of it, but have them put it in writing.
Sign the work order, you sign it, they sign it, keep a copy, put it in a file folder.
The problem goes away, great. But if it comes back again in a short period of time, they didn't fix it, or maybe they can't fix it. And if you've gone back a second time, still no luck. By the time we get to the third time, a good service writer, the person at the counter talking to you should say, "Let me talk to my manager about a lemon law."
And what that is, is you brought it back three times for the same exact problem that's inherently serious. It's electrical, it's mechanical. It's some sort of flaw. In that case what will happen is, the service manager will get involved and they'll help you with Lemon law.
Now let's say they don't, "Too bad, bring it back four, five, six times. We'll keep fixing it." That's not what you paid for. And if you don't get any luck, you're not getting any satisfaction, you can go to the district attorney for your state, here in the U.S. can go to your DA. It's no charge to you.
The Better Business Bureau can get involved. And you say, "Listen, I have a lemon. I have documentation three times bringing in the exact same problem, a signed work order with no resolution." Then they get involved and they'll do all the legwork for you.
I've helped a few people that had lemon laws on some pretty expensive cars and they bought it back. And the nice thing about it is you can buy from that dealer or you can take the money and go to another dealer, or go to another brand for if that's what you choose. But know that when you're building anything, whether it's a phone, a computer, a refrigerator, or a car, not everything's going to be perfect with every single item that comes off the production line.
What Does Lemon Law Require?
Mike: So, what is important to highlight here is three times with the same problem. If you got a vehicle that is really not well put together, and you are getting a problem one after another, does Lemon law require the same problems three times?
Lauren: That's typically what they call a consistent issue in the court of law. But if you come in and you say, "Hey, the engine blew," and they go, "We'll get you a new one." Remember that's going to decrease the value of that vehicle if that engine is not the original engine, and guess what? They report that to Carfax and Vehiclehistory.com and a bunch of others.
And the result of that is your vehicle could lose some of its value. So that's something to keep in mind. So if your brakes fail the next week, and then you come in and this transmission, then the air conditioning, you've got a real problem. At that point, you should have an in-person conversation with the general manager of the dealership, whether it be a used car, a new car, or whatever, and say, "We have a problem. You should be aware of it."
And remember, this is a business deal. Going in and screaming and yelling and making a scene, anybody can do that. But going in and saying, "Listen, we have a problem. How can we resolve this so that I'm a happy customer and you sell a vehicle?" Typically they'll contact the manufacturer who will buy the vehicle back.
New or Used Vehicle: Which One to Buy?
Mike: Everyone makes their own decision on whether to buy a new vehicle, maybe a used vehicle, a dealer reduced vehicle, a rental car. I saw a video on your platform where you are considering making a recommendation on purchasing a rental vehicle because it used to be in rental service. What is your view on purchasing a used vehicle?
Lauren: I honestly, I wouldn't buy a rental car. Rental cars are abused. They typically beat up. The maintenance may not be up to date. They may have not done all the recalls, technical service bulletins that have to be done. And you can get those done at a dealer at a later date.
But the fact is, they've not loaded vehicles. They don't have all the goodies. And what you do also have is that when people rent cars, they take them to the beach and they're sand grounding, or there are food stains on the seats. They're not well-loaded vehicles and they're just, they're beating up, and yes, you can clean them up. And if you just need transportation and you don't care, it's just a utility for you. That might be an option.
I would personally never buy a rental car when it comes to used cars.
If I had a choice, I'd highly recommend a certified pre-owned, but there's a key to that. So if you're looking at buying an old Kia, I would go to a Kia dealer and say, "What do you have on a certified pre-owned?"
In other words, something that came off a lease, something that someone traded in for another vehicle that's two to three years old. The reason is because you're getting the best value and you're not getting the biggest loss.
The biggest loss is the day you buy the car, you put the key in the ignition or press the button to start it and you drive off the lot you've already lost money on. That second you've lost money, but you're going to use the vehicle and it has a purpose for you. So note that they're making the biggest financial hit, it's called depreciation.
And after the certified pre-owned hits, then you're getting the best value. But you don't get to pick the color. You don't get to pick the options. You don't get to pick anything about it other than what it is. But typically there's still some warranty left on the vehicles that offer warranties. But if you're looking at a used car, I always tell people…
Don't just buy a used car off of a friend, someplace, and they call them to curb stoners, people that sell on street corners and off their front yard, or a used car lot without taking it to ASE certified technician.
They have blue and white gear. I'm an ASE tech. I don't wrench on cars, I have in the past, but mostly my own. But I tell people to have them check it out. It's about $125, $150. They're going to literally go through that vehicle top to bottom.
They're going to open up the cover that's on the fuse box. They're going to look underneath and they are going to take the wheels off. The reason you want that. If it's a flood-damaged car, you want to walk away. You always have to be willing to walk away.
You have to have it in your head because if you don't and you buy a flood-damaged car, there's no warranty at all, not even the rest of your protection. And if something fails, which typically would be a safety feature, you wouldn't know until you're in an accident. And then you got nothing. So there's no warranty, you're on your own. So there's a lot of issues with that, including mold.
So if you find a car that has been a flood-damaged car, I don't care what anybody says. You want to walk away from that.
But if a car needs work, like you find out it needs brakes. Well, then you have a negotiating tool, or you find out that the engine has an oil change in a while, they can tell that. Those are all tools to lower the price. And then you have to decide at what point does it not make sense?
Like, "Wow, this vehicle was not taken care of. There are no records. There's no documentation." And I think they used to say in the past, "Oh yeah, the vehicle's only driven back and forth to church on Sundays. It's got so low miles." Because they used to turn odometers back in before the year 2000.
But now that's not, as far as I know, it's not happening. I know you can do it. I've seen it. You can do it electronically. But the fact is you still want a mechanic to look at it. Don't just trust what somebody is saying. Well, even if it's your personal car, meet them someplace and have them check it out.
Tips for Buying a Car from a Dealership
Mike: When coming to the dealership to purchase a car, how do you efficiently negotiate with the dealer? Would you be able to give a couple of tips?
Lauren: So from the consumer side, I think what people are starting to do now, especially because of COVID, is they've got a lot of downtimes because they're working from home. And I always tell people, the first thing you should do is kind of decide what you want.
I've had more people ask me that. It's the first line in my third book, which is, "What's the best car out there?" That's a pretty broad question. What's your budget? How many seats do you want? Do you want a convertible, a hardtop, an SUV, a sedan, a truck? I mean, there are a million questions.
So we kind of have to pair it down to, "I want an SUV." Great. What size do you want? They come small, medium, large, and teeny even, and then the extra-large. You have kind of decided that, I think it's now seven different variants of sizes, what fits with you? Do you need a throw, a two-row?
So once you've kind of decided, "All right. I kind of found out that I want a smaller SUV." Okay, great. Now, do you have a price point? So that's where again, keep tapering it down. So when you kind of figure out what cars you're looking at, my suggestion is to go to websites like mine, Car Coach Reports, and look at all the car reviews.
I just did the Hyundai Tucson. And then you'll look, "Well, I wasn't sure, I'm thinking CRV or RAV4," very popular cars, go and look at everyone's reviews.
Get a multitude of opinions, not one, but I mean like three or four. It's the smartest thing you can do because then you can see the strengths and weaknesses that each person finds. And we're all going to find different things.
Now that you've kind of known, I'm down to like, "Oh, I'm going to say it's either a Hyundai Tucson or a CRV," great choices. Then you know you're going to two dealers to test drive cars. So when you walk into the dealership, they're going to ask you, they're not supposed to. I used to be a dealer trainer. They're supposed to find out, "What are you looking for? How can I help you?"
Not direct questions. You do not want to deal with a salesperson who says, "So are you buying or leasing today? Do you know how much you want to spend? Well, how much can you afford a month?" Those are not questions you should be looking at right now. Right now you want to decide, you've done your homework. You've got a file folder full of information.
And you can print it out if you want, you can put it on your phone or your iPad. And what I tell people is, go in and say, tell them upfront, "I'm not buying today. I'm test-driving today, but I will take your card when I'm done. And I will let you know what I decide." As long as you follow up, it's a business deal.
It's not a flea market. And I tell people that all the time. So when you go in, you test drive the car, you've already set the groundwork. "I'm not buying today. It doesn't make a difference what your deals are. I know it's the end of the month. I'm going to decide in the next couple of weeks," keep it vague. Test drive the car. They may go with you or not depending, because on COVID. But when you drive the car, you obviously want to make sure to put it in a parking spot.
If you can put it out in your garage, whatever, a place that you have trouble maybe maneuvering, and that would include U-turns. And if they ride with you, they'll have you go on the highway and in the street. And when you come back, you'll have a good feel for it. Then you can say, "Listen, give me your card. You got a brochure. Give me a copy of this window sticker."
Or you can take a picture of it. "I'm going to get back to you." And then drive all your other choices the same way. When you're done, go home. Go back and look at all your paperwork and say, "Okay, this car totally uncomfortable, had no lumbar. Or this car, the only way I would buy it is if it had heated ventilated seats and a heated steering wheel, which brings me out of my price point."
So you have to kind of be realistic. So then maybe you want to step down and go to an HRV, which is the next step down, and then get that loaded. Or maybe you were looking at Tucson. It's too expensive, and you end up with a Kona that's got every option. So you have to kind of be flexible a little bit. And then once you've driven it all, that's when you go, "This is the car I want." Whatever it is, "I want the brand new Hyundai Kona. That's the car I want."
Then I would contact your local dealer. Let the other people know, "Hey, thanks. I went a different direction." You don't have to be, you can send them an email, a text message, whatever. But let them know so they're not badgering you, because they'll hunt you down and that's their job, so you have to give them credit for that, to sell you a car.
So now you've found your local Hyundai dealer. You call them to call around three other dealers, maybe just outside of town. If there are three dealers in town, call them because it's great to keep the money local to support your town. But if you're not getting any headway, they don't have the vehicle you want.
Maybe you don't like the experience you had. Don't be afraid to get online and contact as far as you're willing to drive. I've picked up cars in California. I've got a car coming in right now from the UK. I've picked up two cars recently out of Chicago and I live in Buffalo. So I'm not afraid to get on a plane and bring a vehicle back. I bought cars in D.C., Boston, literally all over the country, Dallas.
So it's easy. You take a low-cost flight. You get there, they pick you up at the airport. The dealer does the paperwork and you're on your way. So don't let that intimidate you. But once you get your best price, go back to that local dealer and say, "Hey, they were $2,000 less or $1,000 or 500 bucks." And I wouldn't, if they can't do it, they can't do it for whatever reason.
But sometimes they'll say, "You know what? We can do that. We will meet that number in order to keep your business."
And don't let any sales consultant tell you, "Well if you buy it elsewhere, we won't service it."
Absolutely not. It's a federal law through the franchising laws that if you buy any brand, you buy a Ford anywhere on the entire planet, a Ford dealer will take care of you.
So you can be in New Zealand and they'll take care of you. So don't let the dealer intimidate you, that just tells you they have bad business practices. So I've got a whole bunch of stuff in my book. It's called Lauren Fix's Guide to Loving Your Car. Actually, it's funny, I have a copy here, but you can get this anywhere.
But the thing is that I give people a lot of those tips because if you don't have that ammo if you don't have that process, it's very easy to be intimidated. And nowadays you don't even have to go to the dealer to do the negotiation. You just do it from your home in your pajamas, it's great. And then when you're done, you can send over the paperwork, the vehicle can be delivered and you're on your way. Very easy to do, and much less stressful than it was.
How Does COVID-19 Affect the Auto Industry?
Mike: Last year was COVID. How did it affect the auto industry? How would it affect consumers this year?
Lauren: The impact has been crazy. Starting with the fact that at first, no one knew what to expect. So everyone was kind of locked down. Most auto dealers, depending on what state were allowed to remain open because they're considered essential because you need transportation as are the repair shops.
But then on the other, it's funny because I had a lot of people calling me who lived in New York and San Francisco and who didn't have cars, said, "I need a car like now, like now, like today before the end of the day." Two of them were anchors on different national news networks. And I'm like, "Okay." I made it happen for them because it's the right thing to do.
But that's the worst way to buy a car. So you have to look at what the situation is. Everything's shut down. Production of cars shut down. So what was left in the dealer funnel, in other words, that were produced, waiting to be delivered, got delivered?
What was on the lot was there. Leases were being traded in, but they had nothing for them. So some people were extending their leases and that hurt the dealer because they couldn't get them into a new car. Plus he didn't have enough inventory to give incentives or discounts to get you into a new car.
So people started looking at used cars, so you watch new cars have less inventory, less incentives, used cars went up 10 to 15%.
You were looking at trucks and large SUVs at the highest point because you likely lost jobs, he said, "I've got this great skill and I'm going to use a pickup truck for that because you can do anything with a truck." And you started watching all the prices of everything go out of control.
So now that we're back up on production, now we have another we actually have two issues that most people don't know about. One of them you may have heard of this semiconductor, the chip shortage. That's partly China penalizing us because of the tariffs that they don't want. We're only getting about 80% of the chips that we want.
They're looking at other suppliers from other countries and other materials, but in the meantime, they've got cars, they can't produce cars. So they shut down plants. There's no overtime when they were trying to catch up. If you're looking at a new F-150 pickup truck, they're fabulous. We reviewed them actually, went there during the middle of all this COVID to test drive one.
But what I did find out is that they can't produce them as fast as the demand. So unfortunately it hurts the car companies, which means they have less incentive.
So now we're back to where we were where used cars are now going back up. New cars are not becoming available.
And just about last week, we now have a rubber shortage. So that means tires, windshield wipers, belts, bushings, all the parts, a lot of the new parts inside those CVT transmissions. And that's a problem. So now we have an additional shortage. And the thing with rubber is it takes seven years to grow a tree.
So it's not that you're just going to grow a tree. So there have to be other resources, other ways. And sometimes when these things happen, it causes people to be more creative. And that's how things are invented when there is nothing. So we're hoping that there'll be some new types of products coming out, new ways of using these chips, maybe some fiber optics.
So we'll see how this all unfolds. But right now the impact to consumers is, I say, if you have a car that's coming off a lease, see if you can extend it, to the fall would be great. If you're saying, "No, I got to get a new car. Mine had a problem."
Note that be very, very, very aware that new car prices are not negotiable if they have the product, and used car prices are higher and more expensive.
So you may have to buy something older or something that's not certified pre-owned because nobody wants to give up their vehicle. And more people are buying vehicles when we thought rideshares were going to be the answer. After this, I don't think rideshares have a chance, because people don't want to ride in other people's cars because of COVID.
Are Autonomous Vehicles the Future of the Auto Industry?
Mike: I am thinking, should I teach my son how to drive, or autonomous vehicles will just do the trick? Where are we with autonomous vehicles?
Lauren: Well, here's the truth. I was sitting with the CIO, the chief information officer of a very large car company. I will keep that person's name to myself because I don't want to expose their information. But we spent two nights together at dinner. I was test driving the Hyundai Tucson just last week. And I had that conversation.
He was talking about interfaces and technology and firewalls and I've told him, I said, here's ... Because we were talking, he asked my opinion about autonomous cars. He said, "In 2009 I rode in an Audi from Palo Alto, California, where the software was developed all the way to the Consumer Electronics Show. We stopped at the border. We changed license plates. We had someone riding with us and it was so weird that you would want to sit with your arms crossed. It was like, I want to grab the wheel."
I have written in Volvo’s. Oh my gosh. More than 10 years ago, Mercedes. A lot of different brands, Ford, GM, and Super Cruise. There is no such thing today as autonomous cars that are available.
So, even though Tesla says its autopilot is level five, it is not, it is level three. So there are five different levels.
Level one is nothing. You have nothing. And then you start adding on things like blind-spot detection, rear cross-traffic alert, forward collision warning, and emergency lane control, mitigation. So there's a lot of things that are available.
The maximum we have today, and includes Super Cruise, Tesla's Autopilot. Nissan has a ProPILOT 360, there's Co-Pilot 360 from Ford. Whatever you want to call it is level three. No one is beyond that in a production car. Now, why will you not see autonomous cars?
And this CIO agreed with me. He says, "You're very smart that you caught this because a lot of people don't." There are five reasons. First off, people love the self-parking stuff. They show their friends. Because there's a lot of cars that have self-parking. One of the first ones was Ford. They did with the Lincoln. It would parallel park. Now just perpendicular.
Or you can get the car like a smart park, where it comes out of the spot from Hyundai. Well, that's cool. But you show people every once in a while and you don't use it on a regular basis. And the other thing is if you don't practice that skill of driving, like riding a bike, maybe you're not so good at it.
The other thing to consider, the next factor is insurance. The insurance companies don't want this. And the reason they don't want autonomous cars is if somebody has an accident, whose fault is it, did something override? Was it a software problem? The car manufacturer's problem, the other person's problem?
And there again, they're supporters of their re-insurance companies, and they don't like it either. So that could be overcome. People could be overcome. There are no government regulations as of today, Elaine Chao, the past Department of Transportation chairperson never made any laws for autonomous cars. And I don't think this administration has either because they don't know exactly what makes sense.
Now the other part of it is the weather. You can't control the weather. It'd be nice, but you can't. So you're driving through the desert and there's a sand storm or you're, I live in Buffalo, we've had freak snowstorms. Today we had six inches of snow. It was totally unexpected. If you're, all those radars, LIDAR, and all those sensors are covered, you've got nothing. You're not going to get anywhere, especially without a steering wheel or pedals, so the weather is a big factor.
And then you get into the other factor is, this is a big one. This is the hackers. And there's no solution for this. So that's what I was talking to the CIO about. I said, "So how good is your firewall?" He said, "Well, it's as good as the last firewall." So they put up a firewall and I asked him, "Are there really kids sitting around the world just going, 'Well, this is great. I'm going to hack into this.'" He said, "Yes. And they do."
And it's a challenge to say, "I hacked into whatever brand." And they've hacked into Tesla. They've hacked into a Jeep. They've hacked into a lot of different brands. And the interesting factor on this is, there's no firewall. So they go and put up another firewall and they keep getting around it.
So there's a consortium of different car manufacturers. But to this day, this is one of the reasons the insurance companies don't like it…
... there's no firewall that's 100% guaranteed that you get in this vehicle and it's an amusement ride with no pedals and no steering wheel.
I would not trust it, because again, there's a lot of factors that are outside your control. And if you can't take over, that's a problem, which is why Super Cruise requires you to stare at the gauges. If you don't steer upfront, it seems you're looking away, it shuts off. It warns you and starts to shut off.
We see that with Infinity, we see it with a Nissan, Ford, all of the brands are doing that. Because they need you to pay attention, but you're not practicing your skills. So I just don't see, consumers are a big factor. They have to want it, and the demand is not there. And when that person died in Arizona by an Uber driver who wasn't paying attention because they were told, "Don't worry about it. It's working."
That was sort of a wake-up call for a lot of people, as well as all the manufacturers. So they don't think that we'll ever actually, this person said, and I'm not going to even give you a clue who it is said, "You may never see autonomous cars, but some of that technology will make driving safer, driving better, and make it easier for people who aren't a 100% paying attention."
Lauren Fix's Guide to Loving Your Car
Lauren: I have three books out. One of them is Driving Ambitions. And as someone who has trained people to race who are now professional racers, that is sort of my past and the book is still good. It's good. It's evergreen for a reason, just as the same reason I wrote Lauren Fix's Guide to Loving Your Car because what you learn in driver's ed is how to pass the test. We don't do that.
What we do, is we try to give you information so that every time you're buying a car, you have a repair. Those what-ifs that happen, this book will answer those. This is what should be taught in driver's ed. Because today they'll tell you there are three fluids in a car. No, not true. Not even in an electric car.
Gasoline-powered cars there are nine fluids and there are seven in an electrical vehicle. So that's an EV or a plugin. So I just tell people, "Do your homework. Know the information, it's a great resource to have if you got a new driver. So I'm going to college, you'll be grateful that you have this because it talks about how to jump a dead battery. What to do when you have a flat tire, what if you have an accident?"
All those things you don't think about, but it's also not just about that. It's about selling a car and the experience about it because I always tell people ... And this book is available on Amazon or my website. But I always tell people that, "When you're trying to figure out what's right for me, you don't think about the auto industry until there's a problem."
It's not like food or fashion or buying a home. All that stuff is every day that people discuss. But when it comes to your vehicle, you're not happy when it's broken, you're miserable and you make sure people know about, "Oh my car's in the shop again. I can't believe it."
When the car’s running fine, everything's great. You don't even think about it. You get in it, you go, you live life. So the key is, that if you start collecting this information like you would if you were buying a house or replacing a roof or buying an appliance, just knowing a little bit of information can help you not just an automotive, but it can help you in other areas.
And I've always said to people, having car smarts, because knowledge is power is one of the smartest things you can do. And we give out information every day we review new cars. We give you the first looks at new vehicles, new technology. And I'm always trying to educate people, things that you might not find out anywhere, I'm on all forms of social media.
It's @Laurenfix. So whether you're on MeWeed or Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, I'm always putting up great content because the goal is to help you so that it's very natural. When you have a problem or you're looking to buy something, you're confident in making the right decision. And that's what I've been doing here for almost 40 years. And you might find me on the weather channel. I'm also an Inside Edition.
I'm on all the national news outlets. And of course, I'm also on the radio. So if you're not sure, you want to get information, you don't go to any of those sources. I have a newsletter on my website at carcoachreports.com, and you can click the link there and we'll get you a newsletter once a month to sort of update you on what's going on. We just keep the highlights in there. And there's always more on my website, which is in English and in Spanish, and we have other contributors there as well.
Mike: Lauren, thank you very much. Thank you for your time today. It was a great chat. I really enjoyed it.
The more you research, read reviews, consult dealerships, and search online, the more reasonable your choice is. Before you buy a car, check several options, do test drives, and gather as much information as possible. As Lauren Fix says, “...if you don't have that process, it's very easy to be intimidated.”
We thank Lauren for auto tips and for useful insights on how to choose a car. You’re welcome to share your thoughts in the comment section below. For more expert interviews and tips, please subscribe to our YouTube channel.
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