ROCHESTER (AP) -- All cars depreciate in value to some degree, but some models take a steeper hit than others, according to a study by Runzheimer International, the management consulting firm that analyzes living and travel costs.
A Cadillac DeVille costing $41,215 slips to almost half that value in three years, according to Runzheimer. At the other end of the scale is a Saturn Sedan, originally costing $12,810; it loses about 35 percent of its value after three years.
"While there is no foolproof method for predicting retained vehicle value, your best bet is to purchase a popular vehicle model," said David Friedlen, director of product development and research at Runzheimer. "Chances are it will also be a popular used vehicle model, meaning that the retained value will probably be higher at the end of your ownership cycle."
Today also is a smart time to buy a used car, Friedlen says. "Automobile manufacturers have not significantly raised prices on new makes and models and are also offering excellent financing terms, tempting consumers to buy new. End result? More used vehicles sitting in dealers' lots, which drives down prices."
Books on wheels
Some good reads for car buffs:
- "The Ultimate Classic Car" (DK Publishing, $29.95 hardcover), by Quentin Willson, is an appreciation of more than 90 classic cars, from the VW Beetle to the Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud. Illustrations include photos of interiors, engines, and details.
- If you're interested in car history, there's "Visual Timelines of Transportation" (DK Publishing, $16.95 hardcover), by Anthony Wilson. While this book covers other modes of getting around -- boats, planes, and trains included -- there's a special look at the automobile, from its first horseless carriage days to modern models.
CHICAGO (AP) -- Two out of three American women use the rear-view mirror to fix their hair while driving, a survey for Salon Selectives hair products shows.
"It's alarming that women are not entirely focused on driving; however, they are 'driving' themselves to exhaustion as they respond to societal pressures to look great and lead on-the-go lives," said psychologist Dr. Joyce Brothers.
Other behind-the-steering-wheel activities that women said they engage in while driving include eating, fixing their makeup and talking on cell phones.
AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP) -- Forget about key fobs and car keys. If one auto supplier has its way, drivers will only need to carry a smart card in their pockets or purses and watch as their cars automatically unlock for them.
Valeo said the new hands-free system automatically recognizes an authorized driver who walks near the car. When the driver touches a door handle, optical sensors detect the hand's presence and the system unlocks the doors about 90 milliseconds later.
The same technique can work for the trunk, too.
And, once a driver walks out of range, the car automatically relocks.
All this is accomplished via a radio frequency that works with the smart card, which is slightly smaller but thicker than a credit card.
Once a driver enters a vehicle, he or she puts the smart card into a card reader, which deactivates the engine immobilizer anti-theft system.
The card system, which Valeo said is well-suited for low-cost, mass production, already is used by Renault on its 2001 Laguna II model, making it the world's first keyless mass market vehicle.
Brighten your lights
HILLSBORO, N.H. (AP) -- You no longer have to own the latest new car to get the latest, brightest, automotive headlight technology.
Osram Sylvania, an automotive lighting supplier, offers Xenarc high intensity discharge (HID) headlamp kits for installation on many late-model vehicles.
The company's Xenarc HID Auxiliary Low-Beam Kit, with a suggested retail price of $500, is the first auxiliary HID product on the aftermarket, the company said. Vehicles that can be retrofitted include Ford and Chevrolet trucks, the company added.
"Many drivers find the night-driving experience challenging, especially on poorly lit back roads," said Ted Hardenbergh, Sylvania aftermarket product manager. "Xenarc HID is the perfect solution to improving night driving safety and performance because it enhances the light provided by standard halogens."
Previously, HIDs were available on new high-priced cars and sport utility vehicles.
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) -- With more new vehicles being sold with leather upholstery, it was just a matter of time before someone came up with an easy way to keep leather clean.
Armor All, the maker of many car care products, launched new, Armor All Leather Wipes.
Like the well-known baby wipes that readily pull out of a handy, plastic container, Leather Wipes are pre-moistened wipes that provide handy, one-step cleaning and also apply a leather protectant.
Armor All noted that statistics show 26 percent of new vehicles in 2001 have leather interiors, up from 15 percent in 1996.
Retail price for the Leather Wipes is approximately $3.99.
Audi driver schools
AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP) -- Audi is joining Land Rover and BMW in the driver education arena.
For the first time, the maker of German luxury autos is offering a driving school for North American drivers.
Called the Audi Driving Experience, the program consists of two courses: An advanced handling course for adults and a handling and safety course for new and less-experienced drivers such as teen-agers.
The Driving Experience is conducted in conjunction with the Panoz Racing School at four North American tracks. For information, call 1 (866) 232-AUDI.
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