Consumer Reports: Some new car deals could be costly down the road

April 4, 2013 8:27:11 PM PDT
A recent study shows car manufacturers are expected to sell 15 million new cars and trucks this year. Buying a car is a big investment, and a number of new-car offerings can be disappointing once people get the vehicle home.

AAA manager Robert Sinclair says he's seeing more and more motorists who need a tow because they have a flat tire and their car didn't come with a spare.

"They feel ripped off by their vehicle not having a spare, a brand new vehicle," Sinclair said.

Consumer Reports' Rik Paul says eliminating the jack and the spare saves the car maker money but could leave you stranded.

"What you may find in your car is a sealant kit and a small air compressor. But neither is going to be any help if your tire's sidewall is damaged. You'll have to be towed," Paul said.

Other rude surprises for new-car owners: Economical cars like the Subaru Impreza come with expensive performance tires.

"These are designed to provide better handling and braking. But beware: Replacing a set of these tires can cost as much as a thousand dollars," Paul said.

And watch out for car makers touting three-person rear seats. Consumer Reports finds the center spot is often mighty tight. So try before you buy.

"Another heads-up is salespeople may push for an extended warranty, but we say skip it because what you pay in premiums is likely to be more than you'll save in repair costs," Paul said.

And don't think you have to buy all- or four-wheel drive to get more grip on slippery roads in all kinds of driving situations. You don't.

"That just gives you more grip for going forward and backward, but doesn't help when cornering or braking," Paul said.

But all new cars can help you in those situations because electronic stability control and anti-lock brakes are standard equipment.

Consumer Reports says if you have young children, another feature that can be disappointing is the latch anchor system for car seats. Tests have found latch anchors in many vehicles are tucked so far behind the seat cushion, they're hard to use.

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