Alcoa Auto Center Blog

Buying a New vs. Used vs. Leasing a Car

Options, options, options...

Going to the car dealership is always a fun experience. The thought of driving off the lot in a car that's brand new or new to you is like Christmas morning about to open presents. There is a whole process that goes into buying a car and it's one that takes a lot of planning which is discussed for used cars in the next blog post. The biggest question that goes into the car buying process is whether to buy a new or used car or to lease a car. 

What Are the Big Differences in Each?

Buying New is by far the most expensive option out of the three and also the longest term option. A new car most likely comes under warranty for several years at least. A lot of people buying new cars drive them for at least 5 years or more. Unfortunately, much of the time, the price is a bit out of people's budget. The major thing to keep in mind when looking at buying a new car is the depreciation that occurs immediately after you drie the car off the dealership lot. Average depreciation of a new car in the first month of ownership averages 10 percent and can exceed 20 percent in the first year in some cases. This is a big detterent when car buyers are looking at new cars and not something everyone factors into the equation. 

Leasing New allows you to get into a new car for a much cheaper price for a period of usually three years. The only thing is, you are left with nothing to show for the thousands you paid to drive the car. If you really want to drive a new car on a budget, this might just be what you're looking for. Just remember, that a lot of money spent with nothing to show for it at the end of the lease. 

Buying Used lets you get into a car for much cheaper than a new one. This being said, cars are made to last a long time so you can find a very reliable option for a good price. However, late model used cars usually give you a few years of driving before anything major needs to be repaired or the car needs to be replaced in extreme cases. Everyone will tell you, buying a used car is how you get the best bang for your buck. 

What Should You Do?

The first big question to ask yourself is, does the car provide any additional value aside from transporting you from point A to point B? The answer to that question depends greatly on what you do for work and how much time you spend commuting and driving to various places. The most logical answer for most people is to steer towards the used car route and let someone else take the initial depreciation hit. This is the smart, budget friendly route to take. 



Tips for Buying a Used Car

One thing that most people will tell you is to never buy a new car. This is because right after you drive it off the lot it loses a large chink of it’s value. The best option for buying a car is to get one that is used from a reputable dealer. Here we will be discussing the main points to look for and do when buying a used car to make sure you’re getting a good deal.

Set a Budget

Setting a budget gives you a good range on what you can afford in the long run. Being able to budget right can help you get the most bang for your buck when it comes to used cars. 

Choose the Right Type of Car

Different people have different needs for their vehicle. Whether it be for your daily commute to work, a family car for road trips and picking the kids up from school, or a car to cruise around in on the weekends, you’ll want something that fits your needs. 

Check Ownership Costs and Reliability Ratings

Maintenance on cars is inevitable. You’ll want to look for a car that has reasonable ownership costs and stands up to the normal wear and tear of being driven over time. This can help save you a lot of money in the long run by choosing a car that isn’t a money pit. 

Check Pricing Guides

Price checking the cars that you find online is a major factor in the process of buying a used car. You’ll want to find a car that isn’t overpriced for the model year and number of miles it has. This helps you to know what cars aren’t worth going to look at and which ones are the better options.

Vehicle History Report

Whenever buying a new car it is always important to check if the vehicle has been in any wrecks, has a rebuilt title, and how many owners it has had. This can give you a great idea as to what might be wrong that you can’t and how the car will perform in the years to come. Getting a car with a clean title with no wrecks and preferably 1-3 owners is always the best to look for. 

Go on a Test Drive

You can always love the way a car looks, but you won’t know if you actually love the car until you see how it drives. Taking a test drive is a crucial part of buying a used car. This allows you to tell if there is any maintenance that needs to be done and if you will like driving it for years to come. 

Close the Deal

Once you’ve finally found your next car, it’s time to make that purchase! There are two options to paying for a car. You can either pay in full in cash or finance it and pay over a number of months. Financing is the most common way of payment in the US. Alcoa Auto Center offers great financing rates compared to it’s competitors so come check out our inventory and take a test drive today!

I Heard I Shouldn't Leave My Registration in My Car?

It may sound a bit out of the ordinary and something not everyone thinks they should do, but hear us out. Regardless of what you've seen in the movies or on TV, keeping your registration in your car can lead to some serious consequences in the wrong situation. In addition to this, your title should be kept outside of your car as well or you could become the victim of more serious crimes other than a car break in or carjacking. This all has to do with your personal information  -- so keep it safe!

Protecting Your Personal Info

Regarding your registration, consider this. Thieves break into your vehicle and take both the garage door opener and your registration from the glove compartment. Then they use the registration to get your address, drive to your home since they know you're not there, and open the garage to take all of the valuables you have in there. This is another reason to always lock the door going from the house to the garage in case they try to get inside and access the rest of your belongings. 

That is one of the worst case scenarios, but it could be worse if you leave your documents behind. What's the solution? Keep your registration and insurance in your wallet, purse, or even on your phone!

Lastly, it is a good idea to take your garage door transceiver with you when you leave your car unattended or just get one that can fit on your keyring so that you always have it with you. 

When it comes to your car title, this should always be kept in a secure location such as a home safe or a safety deposit box. It won't be needed during everyday occurrences or a police stop. If you do happen to get your car's title stolen or lose it somehow, it is extremely hard to get a replacement from the Department of Motor Vehicles. On top of all of that, it is very easy for an adept criminal to use a stolen title to create fake ones that can be used to sell stolen cars. 

Regarding any form of personal identification in addition to your registration and insurance, experts suggest you never leave any kind of paperwork in the car which, in the wrong hands, can leave you vulnerable to identity theft. This includes your driver's license and passport, as well as bills and receipts that have your name, home address, email, or even a credit card number on them. A combination of these documents could allow them to open fake bank accounts or even apply for a mortgage in your name!

What Should You Do?

If you are leaving your car's documents at home, professionals say the best thing to do is to take a picture of your car registration and your car insurance so that they are always on your phone. Another good idea is to save the photos to a cloud storage platform in the event that you don't have your phone. This way you can access them from someone else's phone in the event you don't have yours.Another thing is to never leave your car unlocked or leave your keys in the car. This just makes it too easy for someone to break in and steal belongings or the car in general. Always keep your keys or fob with you at all times. 



How To Sell Your Car

Is it about time to get rid of your car? Whether you're hoping to get the most money out of itor make the whole process as simple as possible. the proper preparation will help you meet your goals. The following steps will help you get a good idea of the car selling process and what you need to be prepared. 


There are quite a few ways to sell your car nowadays. These include trading it in to a dealer to go towards your new car, selling it to a dealer (online or in person) or third-party buying program, or selling it to another person which will generally get you the most money for it. Preparation is key to a successful selling process and experience. 

It is very important to understand the key tradeoff whe you sell your car: You're likely to get the most money selling to another person, but it is also the most time consuming. You'll sacrifice some cash by selling it to a dealership or third-party, but you also don't have to worry about handling the paperwork making it a ton easier. 

Educate Yourself

First things first, get a vehicle history report. Many buyers use these, but for a seller a report can alert you to potential issues that could steer a buyer away. It is also a good way to show how well you've maintained the car overtime as well. Next, figure out what you should be selling the car for. For this you can use the Carfax history based value tool or a simple Kelly Blue Book search can give you a good range. These are t=very good tools for determining the best price you should charge based on mileage, condition, and any damage that may be present. 

Have The Paperwork Ready

When you begin the process, make sure you have all og the necessary paperwork from when you bought the car. You can check with your state to see what other documentation you'll need. These documents can be:

Clean the Car

With all of the paperwork ready to go, you'll want to get your car as clean as you can. This is not only for photos, but also for in-person viewings. First impressions are everything.You should consider investing in a professional detailing job. This shouldn't cost more than $200 or so, and makes your vehicle look it's best. 

Trading In/Selling To Dealership Your Car

Trading in your car might be a good option if you are planning on buying a car from the dealership you're trading in at. In this scenario, you're not getting cash for your car, but instead it is going toward the cost of your new car. If you owe more than the car is worth, then the dealer may offer to add the leftover payment amount to the new loan they give you. It is a good idea to get your trade in valued at different dealerships as well to ensure you're getting the best price possible. 

Private Sale

Selling your car to another person starts with listing the car online. Make sure you have really good photos of the car and that it looks clean inside and out. A well written description of the features and everything important about the car really helps as well. Use a car value tool to find out what you should be charging for it so that you can be competitve with other cars in the same category. This will get you more money for the car, but is usually a lot longer process and more arduois as well. 

How To Keep Rodents Out Of Your Car

This might sound like a far fetched article, but it's not. Mice, squirrels, rats, and other rodents love finding warm, confined places to nest. This makes your car a very appealing prospect for their new dwelling. These rodents can make their new residence under your hood or even in the cab of your car. Once they do infiltrate your vehicle, they can cause massive damage costing thousands of dollars to repair. This is especially an issue if you have kept your car in storage for an extended period of time. 

Here Are 8 Tips for Keeping Rodents Out of Your Car

1. Park or store your car in an enclosed garage. Parking and storing your car outdoors makes it an easy target for rodents. They are drawn to tall grass and vegetation which is why parking your car in the yard where you can't mow the grass underneath is the worst possible place to park. Since you can't mow the grass underneath the car, rodents find this as a safe haven and will eventually take up in your car.

2. Keep the windows and sunroof closed whenever you park or store. Even a small opening in your car's window or sunroof can let rodents in. They can squeeze into surprisingly small spaces.

3. Keep the cabin of your car clean. Items like old food, paper, wrappers, tissues, and other forms of trash can attract rodents and make your car a more desirable place for their home. Rodents have very sensitive noses and will sniff out the smallest crumbs and go searching. 

4. Use oils or commercial products that repel rodents. Certain essential oils give off smells that act as a rodent repellent. Perppermint oil is one of the best essential oils for this purpose as well as oils from cloves and cayenne pepper. Just spray these oils in and around your car to keep the rodents at bay. Another good way to make use of oils is by soaking them in cotton balls and sticking them in and around your cabin and under the hood. This ensures you get concentrated aromas throughout. While this is the most environmentally friendly and safest way to do it, there are also commercial grade products that will do the same job. Be careful with these though as some can be harmful to humans. 

5. Cedar shavings, saw dust, and mulch are also good rodent repellents. Cedar contains phenols that rodents hate to be near. These phenols will deter rodents and in some cases kill them if they use the cedar in their nest. Cedar also repels all kinds of insects as well, so you can use it in a variety of locations in and around the car. For the mulch and saw dust, place these in a ring around your car to ward off rodents.

6. Another great way to make sure rodents can't climb up into your car is to wrap your tires in rodent tape. This rodent tape contains capsaicin, which is derived from cayenne peppers and does a great job of keeping rodents at bay. 

7. Another, less conventional way to deter rodents is with ultrasonic devices. These emit ultrasonic sounds that the rodents hate and will stay far away from. 

8. If you suspect your car has already been infested with rodents, set up traps to exterminate the existing ones and follow one or more of the above tips to keep them away. 

Noises That Come From Your Car And What They Mean

When your car starts acting up and making weird noises, it's usually not a good sign. It is probably time to take it to the shop and have a mechanic check under the hood and run a diagnostic test to discover the source of the noise. Depending on the noise it can be a very easy fix or mean you need to get a new car entirely. The noises most often occur when you are performing specific actions like steering, braking, or accelerating which can give a better idea of what is causing it. Here are a few noises that a car makes and what they mean.

1. Clicking noise and the car won't start. If the car doesn't start when you turn the key and you hear a rapid clicking noise, this usually means the battery is dead. This can be fixed by jumping the battery off with another car or getting a new battey entirely. 

2. A loud whining or squaling noise coming from under the hood. This usually has to do with the serpentine belt on your car. This is the belt that delivers power to the car's accessories. This caused by the belt being loose or worn out. You can fix this on your own with a little work. You will need to replace the belt or tensioner or both.

3. If you hear a gurgling or bubbling sound when you turn the car off, this could be caused by the engine coolant expansion tank. This is part of the cooling system along with the radiator that keeps your engine from overheating. It is not necessarily a major problem, but you should still have the cooling system checked by a professional.

4. Hissing or sizzling noise coming from under the hood after you turn the car off. This is usually caused by oil or coolant leaking and dripping onto a hot engine component. If you hear the hissing coming from outside the car it could be that one of your tires has been punctured. 

5. If you hear a knocking noise while driving, this is usually a minor problem. This is caused by detonation of when accelerating and usually from using a lower grade gasoline than your car manufacturer recommends. This can be fixed by using a higher grade of gasoline. If this does not fix the knocking, then you need to take the car into the shop as it may be a greater problem. 

6. Hearing a popping noise coming from under the hood while driving is another common noise. This could be caused by old spark plugs, spark plug wires, or the fuel filter may be clogged. If this is not the cause it could be coming from the catalytic converter in the exhaust system.

7. If you hear a grinding noise when shifting gears, this is most likely a transmission issue. This could mean the clutch is worn out, you need more transmission fluid, or signs of a more serious problem. After checking the transmission fluid, take the car into the shop immediately. 

8. If you hear a screeching or grinding noise while braking it usually means your brake pads are worn out. Go have your brakes checked out at the nearest auto shop. 



How Old And Possibly Dangerous Are Your Tires?

 The traditional way of checking to see if tires still have enough tread on them is the penny test. This test is a good measure of tread depth, but can tell you nothing of tread quality. Assuming a tire still has life despite its age can be a fatal mistake in the wrong situation. Older tires are dangerous regardless of the depth of tread. Unfortunately there is no federally approved guidance on when a tire is deemed too old to be safe, many tire manufacturers recommend a replacement every six years. 

What Happens to a Tire as It Gets Older?

Experts compare the aging on a tire similar to that of a rubber band. If you take an old rubber band and stretch it you will start to see cracks form on the edges of the rubber. Cracks begin to form on a tire’s surface and interior wall over time just like those on a rubber band. This cracking can lead to other failures within the tire such as causing the steel belts to separate from the tire. I know you’re probably thinking isn’t there a way to stop this from happening? Unfortunately no, there is a way to slow the effects of aging, but time takes its toll eventually.

How Long Does a Tire Last?

Car, tire, and rubber manufacturers each have different opinions on the lifespan of a tire. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration unfortunately defers the recommendation of guidelines on tire aging to manufacturers, because they don’t have any of their own.

Many large auto manufacturers tell owners to replace every six years regardless of tread life. The best advice we can give is that a tire can last up to 10 years, but make sure to get them checked every year after the fifth. There is no definite answer to how long a tire can last because people drive in an infinite number of conditions so there is no way to tell. 

Don’t Buy Used!

Yes, we know tires are expensive, especially when you factor in the cost of mounting and balancing them. This is why used tires become more attractive to people who have tighter budgets. When you buy a used tire, you have no idea how well it has been maintained or what the conditions in which it was used.

Make Sure You’re Getting What You Pay For

 Just because you bought a “new” tire doesn’t necessarily mean it’s new. People buy tires every day without even knowing that the tire was manufactured years earlier. Two problems arise in this situation. The first, is that they will have a shorter life on the road. The more important one is that it could be past it’s warranty period. 

Spare Troubles

When buying a used car many people forget to check the spare tire until it is too late. Spares in used cars can go years without being used. When the time comes, you want a tire you can depend on to get you to the nearest auto shop. We always recommend getting the tire checked after buying a new car just to be sure it is in working condition.



Should I Fix or Trade In My Old Car?

Your car broke down again, and now you’re stuck looking at a high repair bill. It’s not the first time or the last time this will happen with this vehicle and you’re tired of pouring money into it. A new car would be nice, but take a minute and think if it’s worth it first. In this article you’ll get a basic idea of when it’s a good time to fix and when to trade. 

Costs of Wear and Tear

Even if you have taken excellent care of your car, some expensive repairs are unavoidable simply due to excessive wear or time itself. Rubber belts, O-rings, and hoses dry out, rotors get worn too thin, and electrical parts stop working. Some costly repairs usually happen around 100,000 miles so that is a major factor that comes into play when thinking about fixing something that’s broken.

Fix Up the Car...

Or Buy a New One

 When Is The Right Time To Buy A New Car?

Extend The Lifespan Of Your Vehicle

If you are still driving an old car and have few or no major repairs then it is a good idea to have everything checked out every time you take it in to get an oil change. Have the recommended in depth maintenance checks at the specific milestone mileages. This will help preserve the life of the car so you can get a better value when it’s time to sell or trade it in.


Aftermarket Vs Original Equipment Manufacturer Parts - Are They Worth the Extra Cost?

When you take your car to it’s manufacturer specific dealership, you will always be getting the Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) car parts. On the other hand, if you take your car to an independent auto shop, you’ll more often than not get aftermarket parts. This article will answer the questions: Is there anything wrong with aftermarket parts? Do less expensive parts mean they are poorer in quality? And when should you only use OEM part replacements?

To answer these questions, here is a list of pros and cons to help you make an informed decision when it comes to picking the parts that will go in your car.

Aftermarket Parts

An aftermarket part is any part for a car that was not bought through the car’s maker. In most cases if the parts are direct replacement then they won’t void your car’s warranty. Quite a few companies make parts designed to work identical or in some cases even better than the car’s original part. It is important to know the details about the parts an independent shop is using as the majority use aftermarket parts.



OEM Parts

OEM parts are all only made by the original vehicle manufacturer. These parts are exactly the same as the ones that were originally installed on the car.


Easier to select: If you order it from a dealership, they’ll usually only have one type.

Better assurance of quality: These parts should work the exact same as the original part.

Warranty: These parts all come with a warranty so you can get a new one if it breaks.


More expensive: These parts are usually about fifty percent more in cost than aftermarket. 

Need to be bought from certified vendors: These parts can only be bought through certain verified vendors to ensure authenticity.

It might not be as good as aftermarket: The increase in price doesn't always mean an increase in quality. Sometime you would have been better off going with the aftermarket.



Are Small Cars Safe To Drive?

This is a big question today as technology continues to advance at a rapid pace. Some people are looking for a more compact car to save money and others are looking for a first car for their teenagers. Whatever the reason may be, safety is always a concern when getting a smaller car. In this article, we will discuss if small cars are safe.


The Larger the Car, the Safer the Ride

New small cars are safer than they have ever been, but bigger, heavier trucks and SUVs are still safer than small cars. The reason behind this is that larger cars weigh more and have larger crush zones in the front and back of the vehicle, which gives them an advantage in crashes. This has been proven through countless crash tests and real world statistics. For example, the lowest death rate by vehicle type is for large SUVs at 13 deaths per million registered vehicles. The highest death rate is for mini cars at 64 deaths per million registered vehicles.

Older SUVs and Trucks Are Not Safer Than Smaller New Cars

As technology has advanced, it has left many slightly older cars in the dust when it comes to safety features. Just because you’re driving an older beefy vehicle, doesn’t always mean it performs better in a crash than a new smaller car. Most cars just 10 years old don’t have side airbags or electronic stability controls. Just recently car manufacturers are implementing collision avoidance technology, which has decreased the number of wrecks on the road significantly. If a newer car is out of your budget, two of the major safety features to look for on an older vehicle are side airbags and electronic stability control. 

Crash Tests Don’t Compare

One thing that confuses many car buyers are crash test ratings. Vehicles of all sizes can carry the same test rating, making it seem like they are equally as safe. This is far from true as experts say the ratings can not be compared in different classes of vehicle. Keep this in mind when deciding whether or not you are going to decide on getting a small car. 

More Technology = Safer Cars

Over time, vehicles have seen incredible advancements in safety from the seatbelt all the way to autonomous driving. One recent change in the standards of safety came with the introduction of automatic braking. As phones have become more and more a part of our lives, it's hard to put them down sometimes. When people use their phone when driving, their reaction time is cut exponentially. Cameras and lasers to detect an imminent collision tell the computer to slam on the brakes and stop the car in time. It’s advancements like this that have led to the decade of falling death rates in vehicle collisions. 

Should You Get A Small Car?

While it seems like everyone should be driving a large SUV or truck, that may not suit everyone on the road. Some people live in the city or have to commute long distances and want to save money on gas and be mindful of the environment. Whatever the car may be, take this article into account if you are looking at buying a small car.