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The Best Time to Buy a Car

If you’re thinking about buying a car sometime in the near future, you might want to consider expediting your purchase. The best time to buy a car is now.

It’s a good time to be in the market for a new car – especially if you plan to finance the purchase, as nine out of 10 Americans do. Buyers with good credit can take advantage of some very low interest rates.

Rates for new and used car loans are at “their lowest point in the past few years,” according to a new survey of 157 lenders by the website WalletHub. The average interest rate for new-car loans is currently 4.29 percent and 4.96 percent for used cars.

Their 2015 Auto Financing Report also found that interest rates vary greatly from lender to lender – so it really pays to shop for that money.

“People in the market for a new car should start their search for financing with the manufacturer,” said WalletHub’s Jill Gonzalez. “Car manufacturers are pumping out vehicles in record numbers and they’re really pushing lower interest rates to stimulate sales.”

WalletHub found that the average loan from the manufacturer is currently about 35 percent below the national average. Car loans at credit unions are 25 percent below average, national banks are roughly average and regional banks are 40 percent above average.

The manufacturers currently offering the lowest financing rates, based on this survey are: Nissan, Toyota and Chrysler.

Jack Gillis, author of The Car Book 2015, cautions buyers that the financing arranged through a dealer may be higher than what’s offered from the manufacturer.

“Often the low interest rates advertised by dealers require extraordinarily high credit ratings and sometimes are accompanied by extra fees,” Gillis told NBC News. “Before you talk financing with the dealer, check with your credit union and banks to see what they offer. It’s the only way to know if the dealers’ financing is a good deal.”

Read more here:

How To Make Traffic More Tolerable

Let’s face it, traffic sucks. Especially if it’s something you battle every single day. The good news is, it doesn’t have to suck quite so bad if you’re in the right kind of vehicle.

Automakers love to show us commercials with these evocative scenes of fantastic roads surrounded by dramatic scenery, with nary another car as far as the eye can see. It’s just man and machine, and an exhilarating jaunt on that alpine road, or in the open desert, or maybe it’s that coastal highway. The reality of course, is most people have to deal with the daily crunch, the crushing sea of cars on roads and freeways, more taillight than tailspin. But the daily obstacle that makes getting to the office or dropping kids off at school a mind-numbing chore, it doesn’t have to be all that horrible

Here are a few vehicles that just might make your weekly commute a little more pleasant:

  • Lexus RX350
  • Dodge Charger
  • Mercedes S550 Sedan
  • Honda Odyssey

Click here for more.

How Will Cadillac Bring Back Their Brand

Cadillac was once a top end car, but now their brand is slipping away from them.  Cadillac executives are taking a huge risk in the branding campaign that is illustrated in the first TV ads for their new “Dare Greatly” positioning. They will air Sunday night during The Oscars telecast on ABC, and General Motors GM -0.13% is hoping they score the kind of emotional connection with viewers that was achieved by Chrysler in 2011 when that brand telecast its now-iconic two-minute commercial starring Eminem during the Super Bowl. That ad, titled by insiders “Born Of Fire,” catapulted Chrysler into its new “Imported From Detroit” identity, and the brand has never looked back.

Certainly the moment could be that big for Cadillac, CMO Uwe Ellinghaus and even CEO Johan de Nysschen. They have reached an important intersection in their efforts to turn around the General Motors luxury brand, whose U.S. sales trailed off by 6 percent last year amid an overall market — and, especially, a luxury segment — that was up strongly. In the wake of some price cuts on its vaunted sedans, and with the the lack of a compact sport-utility vehicle leaving a gaping hole in its product lineup, right now Cadillac hugely needs to redefine its brand in a way that stands out.

“The Cadillac brand needed to change,” Ellinghaus told me. “We’ve lost some of our old customers and we’re not conquesting enough new customers — because we lack relevance. We need to have a new point of view to show why we’re relevant and to get across how much Cadillac has changed. You can’t just put product — even great product, which we have — in front of people. If the brand isn’t relevant, people don’t care.”

But as admirable and out of traditional character as this bit of risk-taking might be for Cadillac, even to “Dare Greatly” alone won’t cut it; Cadillac needs to succeed greatly with this effort. The brand has been in tatters for a while. Cadillac owners, dealers, GM executives and third-party arbiters have agreed that its sedan lineup comprises the best the brand has ever had, and an expanding line of  “V” super-charged versions is enhancing the credibility of that assessment. Meanwhile, on the large-SUV front, Cadillac is selling every Escalade it can make.

Fortunately for Cadillac, the actual merits of its vehicles add up to a huge advantage enjoyed by the brand as it nears its moment of reckoning in the 87th Annual Academy Awards broadcast this weekend, compared with the threadbare lineup that afflicted the Chrysler brand when Fiat Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne and CMO Olivier Francois took a huge gamble on brand elevation with the “Imported From Detroit” campaign.

And Cadillac will be unveiling its new top-end CT6 sedan at the New York auto show in a few weeks, the first fruits of a $12-billion commitment to new products — including a hurry-up small utility — that de Nysschen managed to secure from GM CEO Mary Barra.  Will this be enough?

Read the full story here:

What Do The Millennials Want

Millennials are a new breed and want new things. Car company bosses and media types are obsessed with these children of baby boomers born between the early 1980s and 2000, or so. And with good reason.

A new Deloitte study found that the typical millennial car buyer cares three times more about the customer and buying experience than the actual design of the car. Old school boomers who grew up embracing a love affair with cars will collectively cringe at this.

Pat Ryan Jr. and Patrick McMullen of the retail consultancy MAX Digital write millennials “are a generation that is more into technology than cars – there just aren’t a lot of ‘car guys’ and ‘car gals’ in this age group.

“Because millennials aren’t that into cars and haven’t necessarily been dreaming of buying that particular car anyway, their focus is instead on the buying process, which puts tremendous pressure on dealers to rebuild their process around this emerging majority of car buyers,” they argue in a research note.

The consultants point to how the baby boom echo generation, or Generation Y, have been raised – “buying products on Amazon and music on iTunes” which has trained them to expect “a streamlined, fact-based, convenient (buying) process, and find the idea of the stereotypical car buying experience repelling.”

Some – perhaps their Baby Boomer parents – might have the temerity to suggest millennials are petulant, impatient and spoiled. It’s clear boomers, their parents and their Gen Y kids all want the same things when shopping for a new ride: a high quality, convenient experience.

Ryan and McMullen suggest dealers learn to speak the language of millennials, in the showroom, on the web and in advertising. Strip out all that “car guy talk” in ads, and replace it with objective “evidence” gathered from across the web “to build value in each car and trust in your dealership.”

Match the focus on objective evidence with a sales staff who are product experts, “practiced and certified in the walk-around for each model.” The “deal” should be easy to conclude with a minimum of negotiation, they add, noting 65 per cent of millennials don’t want to dicker with a salesperson.

Finally, these young buyers embrace technology and so should every dealer and salesperson. Get over the fact that millennials are pulling out their mobile phones in the showroom.

“It is naïve to think that they won’t use the computer in their pocket to help them level the playing the field when spending tens of thousands of dollars,” they argue.

The obvious conclusion: if you are a millennial looking for a deal, you’ll be happiest at a retailer staffed a well-informed professional sales staff who embrace technology, recognize that today’s shopper has done plenty of pricing and product research, and who back up their recommendations with strong evidence.  Will millennials change the industry forever?

Read the full article here: 

The New Ford GT is a Bombshell

The all new 2017 Ford GT is a beautiful car.

Few within Ford even knew much about the mysterious hypercar before its surprise revelation at the North American International Auto Show.

“We actually had a little skunkworks in the Dearborn studio downstairs that no one knew about,” said Moray Callum, Ford’s vice president of design, in a one-on-one interview following the GT’s debut in Detroit. “And it was done on the quiet, with a limited amount of people.”

The 2017 Ford GT was conceived to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the company’s legendary victory at the 1966 24 Hours of Le Mans race, in which three Ford GT40 race cars swept first, second and third place. It had to be fast tracked from concept to production, with testing and development compressed into the next 18 months in order to go on sale by the end of next year.

“We’ve done this in record time,” Callum said. “I tell people it’s the ‘fastest’ car we’ve ever designed”—he means, the fastest in terms of development time, and the fastest in terms of acceleration and speed.

Ford says the GT will have one of the best power-to-weight ratios of any production vehicle, thanks to ultra-light carbon-fiber construction and more than 600 horsepower from a new 3.5-liter twin-turbocharged EcoBoost V6—an engine derived from a similar one used in Ford’s IMSA Daytona Prototype race car, which recently won The Rolex 24 at Daytona 24-hour endurance race.

The GT is revolutionary in it promises to elevate Ford to a level with Ferrari, McLaren, Porsche and other high-clout makers of seven-figure hyper cars. Like the Ferrari LaFerrari, McLaren P1 and Porsche 918 Spyder, the Ford GT’s body is made almost entirely of carbon-fiber, and it features exotic technology like an adjustable suspension system similar to that of a race car and a huge rear spoiler that raises and lowers to increase downforce depending on the car’s speed.

But unlike other luxury automakers and their million-dollar machines, Ford aims to eventually democratize the technology showcased on the GT. For example, it announced a partnership with the U.S. Department of Energy and DowAska, is a joint venture between The Dow Chemical Company and Turkish carbon fiber manufacturer Aksa Akrilik Kimya Sanayii. They will collaborate on ways to develop high-volume, low-cost ways to produce carbon fiber.

Ford has not released full specs or pricing for 2017 Ford GT, but it will likely cost a fraction of a hypercar such as the Porsche 918 Spyder, given that the GT’s predecessor, built from 2005 to 2006, had a starting price of $149,995. Granted, the new GT forgoes the complicated and costly hybrid-electric systems used on the Ferrari, McLaren and Porsche hyper cars.

The design of the Ford GT is perhaps a bit of a paradox: familiar yet otherworldly, aggressive yet somehow restrained. It was striking enough for a panel of noted automotive designers to award it the Eyes On Design award for best design at the Detroit auto show.  Will it win?

Read the full article here:

Why The Electric Car Struggles

The electric car is something many consumers want.  One of the biggest challenges with electrical vehicles is the ever-present range anxiety–the fear that you’ll run out of juice before you reach the next charging station. Elon Musk promised to solve this for Tesla drivers with the Supercharger network. Now the American divisions of BMW and Volkswagen are teaming up to build 100 direct current (DC) fast charging ports across the US to improve long-distance travel.

The two car makers are also partnering with ChargePoint, a startup that provides the network for getting access to charging stations. The 100 additional charging stations will be tied in with Charge Pt’s current 20,000 stations in North America.

“Many of our customers voiced the concern about availability of public chargers,” said Robert Healey, BMW’s head of EV infrastructure, in a phone call. “We listened to them and we have committed to building out the infrastructure. To do that efficiently, we need partnerships betweens OEMs.”

BMW and Volkswagen will be providing the majority of the cash for all 100 stations with some money coming from ChargePoint. The group has already begun construction of the ports in San Diego and plan to get all 100 up by sometime this year. “The build out schedule is literally as fast as humanly possible,” said Healey. “We’re fully funded and fully staffed. The only limiting factor is normal construction time.”

The stations will be placed along high-traffic areas of Interstate 95 on the east coast that runs from Boston to Washington, D.C. On the west coast, the new charging stations will connect cities running as far north as Portland and as far down as San Diego. The charging stations will be placed no further than 50 miles apart.

The fast charging ports will include either two 50 kW DC Fast chargers or 24 kW DC Combo Fast chargers. A 24kW port will charge BMW i3 and Volkswagen e-Golf up to 80 percent in 30 minutes, and in 20 minutes at a 50 kW station. The 100 locations will also include Level 2 chargers, which are slower chargers but are compatible with all electric vehicles.

The charging stations will of course support the two companies own electric cars–the i3 and e-Golf–but will also support any vehicles with DC fast charging capabilities and vehicles that use the SAE Combo connector, which is the standard favored among American and European car makers. “From BMW’s perspective, we’re committed to support electric car mobility, not only for BMW but for others,” said Healey.

Tesla has also started the process of building out a vast network of “Supercharger” stations that can power up a Tesla vehicles in 30 minutes. Currently, the Supercharger network numbers around 150 stations in North America. The only problem is, these charging stations only work with Tesla cars.

As opposed to Tesla’s propriety Supercharger stations, the charging stations BMW and Volkswagen are building use the popular SAE standard.

Last year, Tesla opened up its patents to the Supercharger system that would, in theory, allow for other electric cars makers to adopt the technology and use Tesla’s infrastructure. But we’ve yet to see any results of this. Although the Financial Times reported that Nissan and BMW may be interested in working with Tesla on the charging technology, Healey from BMW would only say: “we have committed to the SAE standard.”  How will this change the electric cars fate?

Read the full article here:

The Heavy Hitters Have Arrived At The Detroit Auto Show

The heavy hitters are ready to face off this month.  Mercedes, BMW and Audi will lead the European assault on the U.S. market with new SUVs, sports sedans and coupes at Detroit’s North American International Auto Show (NAIAS), but domestic manufacturers are starting to crank up some effective retaliation.

The Europeans, fresh from a strong 2014, will be helped this year by the fall in the value of the euro against the dollar, and will share with U.S. manufacturers the boost to sales at the gas-guzzling end of the market from the surprising and deep fall in the price of oil.

New vehicles from the upmarket Germans include a sporty SUV from Mercedes-Benz , the GLE Coupe, a big new SUV from Audi, the Q7, and a revamped BMW 6-series range. The 6-series comprises a two-door coupe, a convertible and a four-door Gran Coupe, making their world debut. Porsche is holding its cards close to its chest, only saying it will launch two versions of existing models. FCA’s Alfa Romeo will be marking its return to the U.S. market after nearly 20 years absence with the little 4C Spider. Alfa Romeo, the storied sports-car maker now emerging from a dormant period, won’t emerge as a strong player in the U.S. probably for a couple of years yet.

U.S. manufacturers though are getting ready to rumble, according to Kelley Blue Book senior analyst Karl Brauer.

“The high-end, high-performance European cars are poised to succeed, but so are the largest SUVs and trucks produced by the domestic manufacturers, and those have been growing faster than the luxury brands in the past year, though the luxury brands have grown too. Audi, BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Porsche should continue to grow in 2015, but probably not as quickly as brands like (FCA’s) Jeep and Ram or models like the (Ford) F-150, Ram 1500, (Chevrolet ) Silverado, Suburban, (Jeep) Cherokee and other trucks and SUVs,” Brauer said.

New models from domestic producers include hot versions of the Ford Mustang and Ford GT, and GM’s Cadillac CTS-V. GM’s Buick will launch the Cascada, borrowed from the European Opel division.

The European threat will be helped by the 13 per cent rise in the dollar against the euro since mid-year, which means Americans need fewer dollars to buy these cars. But the yen has fallen even more, 15 per cent over the same timescale, so expect an increasing Japanese threat, especially from manufacturers still making large proportions of their vehicles at home. Japanese content ranges from 85 per cent for Mazda down to Nissan and Toyota’s 52 per cent and 48 per cent, while Honda is the lowest with 22 per cent.  Which car giant will win?

Read the full article here:

Chrysler Falls Flat

Chrysler has fell over that past few years but this new news brings them down even further.  Did I find it at all ironic that on the same day I was driving a refreshed 2015 Chrysler 300 the brand’s parent company, FCA, announced it would no longer utilize ”Chrysler” as part of the corporation’s official name? Maybe a little. But the truth is, names in this industry seem to have as much staying power as the price of oil. Just when it seems like things have stabilized, everything changes. And while dropping “Chrysler” from the corporate title feels like putting down the last vestiges of a once-pround American icon, that name will continue to appear where it matters most to consumers, in advertising messages, on dealership signs, and adorning the bodywork of vehicles coming from the Chrysler division of FCA. And if these vehicles display substantial improvements in the areas of styling, performance, fuel efficiency and quality, the Chrysler brand will become a more respected global brand regardless of corporate naming conventions. We’re already seeing the effect of improved Chrysler product at Kelley Blue Book, where brand sales and consideration have risen in recent months.

Which brings me back to the 2015 Chrysler 300, a nameplate celebrating its 60th anniversary this year. As a fan of automotive history I’ve always appreciated the philosophy behind Chrysler’s 300 (a premium car offering both luxury and performance) even as the nameplate’s reality underwent some uninspired growing pains over the past six decades. But ten years ago the 300 entered it’s most promising era yet, returning to a V8-powered, rear-wheel-drive platform offering the kind of performance and luxury inspired by the original model. The 300 experienced a substantial makeover four years ago, at which time the exterior styling, interior quality and drivetrains were all updated. For 2015 all three areas have been reworked again, starting with updated styling that includes a 33 percent larger mesh grille, a new ‘floating” Chrysler 300 emblem within that grille, and a new lower grille to tie it all together. Lighting elements have been improved as well, with LED daytime running lights and full LED tail lights (these now sit flush with the trunk lid) as standard equipment. Reduced exterior chrome accents and optional LED fog lights and headlights round out the exterior changes.

The 2015 Chrysler 300′s updated interior reflects a similar design philosophy, combining the best of modern technology with a straightforward approach. The most obvious change is the 300′s new rotary shifter, which attaches to an 8-speed automatic transmission. The rotary knob replaces the large autostick shifter, streamlining the center console’s appearance and effectively coordinating with a cleaner, simpler center stack featuring fewer buttons and knobs. The gauge cluster also benefits from updated technology, with a new 7-inch digital display screen between the analog gauges. Everything from system warnings to odometer and fuel status information to navigation guidance can be shown here, while new steering wheel controls make it easy to configure the screen. This gauge cluster display is in additional to the standard 8.4-inch central touchscreen, which returns for 2015 with updated UConnect access features like a mobile app that let’s drivers start the engine and lock or unlock the doors while away from the car. Perhaps the biggest news for techies is the 300′s new mobile wifi hotspot, making internet access available for passengers without a cell phone.

That 8-speed transmission attaches to either a 3.6-liter V6 or 5.7-liter V8. Both powerplants are carry-overs, and both benefit from the transmission’s wide range of gearing to maximize acceleration and fuel efficiency. The 3.6-liter V6 still makes 292 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque, but fuel efficiency jumps to 19 mpg city and 31 mpg highway for rear-wheel-drive models (18/27 mpg for all-wheel-drive versions). Will this new car be able to bring Chrysler back from the grave?

Read the full article here:

Top Tips For Holiday Safety

Stay safe this holiday by following these great tips.

Avoid alcohol.  If you are planning on drinking then organise a sober driver or get a taxi.  If you think you might be tempted to jump behind the wheel after a few to many it might pay to taxi to the event to remove the temptation!

Be courteous to other road users. Most people understand that if you are towing a caravan or boat you are restricted 90km/h and often that speed is too fast.  If you are towing or driving slow, keep an eye in your side and rear vision mirrors for traffic building up and look for opportunities to pull to the shoulder and let people pass.

Don’t text and drive.  Vodafone’s DriveSafe auto-replies to text messages to say you are driving.  There’s also free apps like Drive Safely

Get your vehicle checked.  Just because it passed it’s last WOF doesn’t mean your vehicle is safe.  VTNZ will check your vehicle for just $20 with a WOF inspection or $30 without a WOF inspection.

Take care overtaking.  Ensure you will have 100 metres of clear road ahead of you once you have finished passing.  Keep a reasonable distance from the vehicle you wish to overtake so you can accelerate before overtaking.

Keep a safe following distance from the vehicle in front; remember the two-second rule for normal conditions and the four second rule when wet or towing.

Pick a fixed point on the roadway – e.g. a road sign, mailbox, line/crack/patch in the road. After the car ahead passes a given fixed point, the front of one’s car should pass the same point no less than two seconds later.

Pay attention to your high and low beam.  Dip your headlights as soon as you see an oncoming vehicle.  If you are on windy roads and don’t require high beam then try to avoid using it as it can be hard to dip your headlights in time.

Avoid fatigue.  Get a good rest the night before, take breaks and share the driving.  When driving at night avoid staring at the lights of oncoming vehicles.

Expect the unexpected!  Overseas drivers were involved in more than 400 crashes on New Zealand roads last year.  Failure to keep left, poor handling and fatigue were the leading causes of deadly crashes.

Drive to the conditions. It’s not always safe to drive at the speed limit.  If there’s been rain after a long fine patch roads often become slippery with oil deposits that have built up.  Wind gusts can make your vehicle less stable and bright sun can reduce your vision, especially when the sun is lower in the sky.

By staying alert to all of these things you are able to guarantee your holidays stay safe.

Read the full article here:

The Web Is Killing Car Dealerships

The web has created new customers that are educated and ready to buy. You go to to buy a book or a television. You can pick up a couch at You can purchase an entire vacation – flights, hotels and a rental car – at The opportunities to empty your wallet are but a few clicks away.

But are you willing to spend tens of thousands of dollars over the Internet on your next set of wheels? According to many recent studies, an increasing number say, bring it on. In a poll of 1,002 people in the U.S. by conducted this year, 83 per cent indicated they would love to avoid the haggle associated with purchasing a car in a dealership; one in five said they would rather give up sex for a month than go through the traditional car-buying experience. Another worldwide study of 10,000 people by Capgemini (a global consulting and technology firm based in France) for Cars Online found that 44 per cent of car buyers expect to purchase their next vehicle over the Internet

While the options for purchasing a vehicle online are relatively limited, auto makers and dealerships are slowly recognizing consumers’ embrace of the Internet when it comes to making their second-largest purchase. But all of this still doesn’t mean the end of the brick-and-mortar dealership just yet.

In August, Volvo opened sales for its latest XC90 SUV model online and sold the first lot of 1,927 in just 47 hours, with 61 of those going to Canadian buyers. After paying a deposit online, the buyer was obligated to visit a local dealership to secure financing before picking up the XC90 vehicle early next year.

“In Canada, the core business of most car retailers is the service, and if you ask retailers where they sustain their business, it’s on the service side,” says Margareta Mahlstedt, vice-president of marketing with Volvo Canada. “So, for us, it’s a way of making the time invested in the upfront purchase less from a retailer’s perspective and, at the same time, increasing their car park and opportunities for service.

“We don’t want it to ever be a pure retail transaction online, at least not now because that’s not what the market is ready for.”

The internet is already a driving force for car consumers, whether they buy online or not. McKinsey Global Institute research showed that the average number of dealership visits by car buyers has dropped from five in 2005 to less than two today, a result of people visiting manufacturers’ websites and reading car reviews before actually going to see any car.

And this should be good for the car business, says Michael Hatch, chief economist for the Canadian Automobile Dealers Association (CADA). “It means that the person walking through the doors is already nearer to purchasing a car, whereas, in the past, people just came in to kick the tires and take a look.”

Still, a car is not a computer nor a pair of jeans. Most customers want to touch the leather, see the sparkle of the paint and take in that new-car smell before they lay down their money. More and more, however, Many dealers are coping with the new realities by adapting the Apple retail sales model, notably by equipping their sales reps with tablet computers, as Audi Downtown in Toronto will soon do. The car maker itself offers an interactive app, the Audi Configurator, enabling consumers to spec and price a vehicle, and point them to nearby dealers. BMW is placing product geniuses on the front line at dealerships to answer questions before handing over customers to a sales person, averting the pressure of the initial interaction. Lexus and Mercedes are developing similar models with “Lexperts” and “product concierges.”

Customers are walking through the doors with more knowledge than ever. Some websites provide prices, sales incentives and even compare deals on the same car from different dealerships.   Will dealerships be able to capitalize on this new customer? 


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