Savings for your Wallet and the Environment

Have you been wondering about a fuel-efficient car? There are three types gaining in popularity; the hydrogen fuel cell, compressed natural gas, and plug-in electric car. All could lessen fuel costs and tailpipe gases that contribute to air pollution and global warming.

Plug-in electrics
These cars will run on a battery-powered electric motor for up to 40 miles on one charge—a distance that covers the daily round-trip commute of more than 75% of Americans. Some models will have a small gasoline engine—but only for recharging the batteries once they begin to get low; it will not drive the wheels.

Compressed natural gas cars
U.S. natural gas supplies are plentiful, and the technology is already pretty well-demonstrated. The big issue is refueling; because of this, most natural gas cars have been sold in the past to state and local governments that had their own refueling stations.  If your home already has a natural gas supply, you potentially could install a natural gas pump for a car.

Hydrogen fuel cell vehicles
A fuel cell uses a chemical reaction that produces electricity. This is the most innovative new technology, but also the furthest from producing large numbers of everyday vehicles. General Motors says it hopes to be selling fuel cell cars within a few years, but the fuel supply issue remains problematic.

It isn’t yet clear when these models will be widely available, so right now, the best way to save on high gas prices for most people is to buy a smaller car with better gas mileage than their old vehicle.

If you’re thinking of trading in or purchasing a vehicle, visit Hopewell Federal to discuss all your financing options.

Thinking About a Test Drive?

Another part of the buying process for a car is featured this week, the test drive.

When it comes to car shopping, until you get a test drive, you can’t be sure if that particular car or truck is one you could live with happily for several years.

Here’s what to look for before and during your test-drive:
Size and seating
* How easy or hard is it to get in and out of the backseats?
* Will the trunk or cargo space carry luggage, groceries, or other supplies    you need?
* Is the rear opening low enough for easy lifting into the vehicle?
* How easily do rear seats fold down for more hauling space?
* Does the view out the windshield and overall visibility seem good?

Road performance
* Does the automatic shift change gears smoothly?
* Does the car handle cornering without leaning or swaying too much?
* When you brake, do you get a fast, smooth, controlled stop without pulling to the left or right?

Comfort
* Will you be comfortable for long drives?
* Is the car quiet?
* Do you hear rattles or other noise with the radio off?
* Is the wind noise at freeway speeds bothersome?
* Does the heater or air conditioner fan noise seem reasonable?

For all your car loan needs, call us at 740-522-8311 and ask for a member services associate. Hopewell Federal can put you in the driver’s seat that’s right for you.

Looking to buy a used car?

Buying a used car can make smart money sense–if you follow these five easy steps:

1. Always have a mechanic check out a used car before you buy it – even if you’re buying from your mother. Use an independent service shop or diagnostic center. Most charge about $125 for a complete check.

2. Budget any needed repairs as part of your purchase price. So, if a seller wants $7,000 but the vehicle needs $1,000 in repairs, budget $8,000 for your vehicle. Or, better yet, negotiate the selling price down to include the cost of repairs.

3. Forget about a used vehicle’s “asking price.” Smart used-vehicle buyers never negotiate down from asking price, they negotiate up from “loan value.” Loan value is what most lending institutions will actually lend on a particular vehicle. Your Hopewell Federal Member Services Associate can tell you this figure. For instance, if the seller is asking $7,000, but the loan value is $6,000, you want to negotiate up slowly from $6,000.

4. Talk warranty after you’ve settled on the price. And never accept a 50/50 warranty–the dealer pays half of warranty-covered expenses. On any vehicle, fight for at least a 30-day, 100% drive train warranty. If you’re also thinking about buying an extended service agreement, remember that the price of a service agreement usually is negotiable, too.

5. Always shop used-car financing rates. Most states allow dealers to charge much higher rates for financing used cars than for financing new cars. For instance, a new car might be financed at 8% while a two-year-old used car might be financed for 15% or higher. How do you find the cheapest rate? Ask the seller to give you a completely filled out copy of the finance contract, and compare it with Hopewell Federal’s rate.