20. Add Trees to Your Commute
Even if it takes
you out of your way, trees may make your ride less stressful. An Ohio
State University study found that scenic drives were more calming than
those involving strip malls and endless asphalt.
21. Add Some Horsepower
If you drive a turbo, all you need is a bit of computer programming to
add some power. Whether you're driving a twin-turbo Bentley or a simple
1.8-liter VW diesel, a few minutes of "chip tuning" by your mechanic can
add 20 percent more power.
22. Get Out of a Lease
If your lease is in its
final six months, you can sometimes buy the car outright at a huge
discount—below wholesale in some cases. Otherwise, a company such as
Swapalease can help you pawn your lease off on someone who is willing to
take on the payments.
23. Give It a Rest
Shift into neutral at traffic
lights. The transmission doesn't care, and it makes life a bit easier
for the engine. This technique reduces the amount of heat carried by the
cooling system and can increase gas mileage a tick or two.
24. Find the Center
The folks at DriveCam analyze driver behavior using video recorders installed on vehicles. (See highlights at drivecam.com.)
Safety specialist Julie Stevens recommends sticking to the center lane
on freeways. Rear-end crashes happen less there than in adjacent lanes.
"Every time you change lanes you add risk," she says, "and the slow lane
always has the most action." Other research has shown that the "chronic
lane changer" saves a mere four minutes out of an 80-minute drive.
25. Use Your Headrest
Before you hit the road, sit up straight, raise your head as high as
you can, and press it into the headrest. Hold it there for five seconds,
then relax and repeat five times. This will improve your posture and
put muscles like your multifidus to work to keep your spine erect. This,
in turn, will reduce the strain on your neck.
26. Jump-Start a Dead Battery
If your battery terminals are corroded, crack open a can of cola and
pour it directly onto the battery terminals. The acid in the cola will
bubble away the corrosion, improving both your connection and the odds
of a successful jump-start. Once you're home, run water over the battery
to remove the cola residue and dry it with an old rag.
27. Avoid the Hot Seat
If you want to become a dad, don't turn up your heated car seats this winter. A study in Fertility and Sterility
found that when healthy men sat in a temperature-controlled seat for 90
minutes, their scrotal temperature jumped as high as 99 degrees
Farenheit, four degrees above the optimum temperature for sperm
28. Ace the Details
If you want to customize a new car without making it look like something out of Pimp My Ride,
start with the wheels. A rim upgrade can be inexpensive ($1,500 or so)
and quick (your car won't be laid up for a week). If you have a
higher-end car, you don't even need custom rims—just get the wheels
powder coated in a new color.
29. Roll 'Em Up
Nixing the AC lowers fuel consumption, but only if you're not driving
on the highway. Otherwise, opening the windows uses more gas because of
the drag you're putting on the car. Instead, run your AC in
recirculation mode, which recycles some already-cooled air from inside
the car, requiring less energy than completely cooling the air that
comes in from outside.
HOW TO...BEAT THE DEALER
30. Hit the Net
Research your dream vehicle
online and you'll spend 1 hour and 20 minutes less time at the
dealership, according to a 2007 study published in the Journal of Consumer Research.
Build the exact car you want at a site like Edmunds.com, and then use
the site to request quotes from at least three dealers.
31. Start Negotiating
Your weapon: e-mail. Once you have quotes from multiple dealers, play
them against each other. Don't set foot into a showroom until you know
who's giving you the best deal. Remember: The dealer's first offer—even
if it is that $12,000 discount—is always a bad deal. Tell him, "I need
you to do better than that." See how low you can get the salesman to go
before you give your opening offer.
32. Time Your Attack
Sellers are desperate to hit sales quotas at the end of the month, so
pounce then. And shop early: Sales managers sometimes offer a bonus to
the staff member who closes the first deal on a Saturday, according to a
former salesman Michael Royce, founder of BeatTheCarSalesman.com.
33. Arrive Armed
Before going to the dealership, learn your credit score and check with your bank (as well as sites like bankrate.com)
about loan options—or you'll be at the mercy of the dealer's finance
office. Just don't take on a loan that will last longer than you'll own
the car. As a general rule, if you have to stretch the payments beyond
four years, you can't afford the car.
34. Skip the Discounts
"Buy now and save $12,000!" It sounds tempting, but you'd better really
like the car (read: want to keep it for at least 5 years). Steep
discounts now create horrible resale values later. The same applies to
35. Buy, Don't Lease
Leasing is more expensive
because you're using up the best years of the car's life. A monthly
lease payment is precisely calculated to ensure that you pay for every
penny of that dizzying depreciation, along with interest and other fees.
If you'll keep the car at least 5 years, buying is usually a better
36. Choose From the Lot
credit to pay for their inventory, especially cars that are on their
lots for 3 months or more. This motivates dealers to sell their own
37. Hide Your Emotions
car takes on human attributes, you're more likely to evaluate it
positively, according to Canadian researchers. That's why your
salesperson calls it "she." Keep the talk technical and ignore the rep's
attempts to humanize the vehicle. Similarly, the longer you sit inside a
new vehicle the more you'll feel as if it's yours.
38. Skip the Trade-In
Learn your car's value at kbb.com. Sell it online if the dealer's offer isn't within $500 of the private-party price.
39. Go for a Spin
This is the last step. A test drive should only break a deal you've
settled on, not serve as the basis of your purchase. "Dealers want you
to drive the car as soon as possible," says Eddie Sotto, a showroom
designer. If you have an emotional connection, you're more likely to