Barbara wrote a series of monthly Q and A Automotive columns for Mens Fitness Magazine starting in October 2006.
"BODY SHOP" answers your car queries - Men's Magazine March 2007 issue by Barbara Terry
Q: Hey BT, other than slowing down, is there any way to drive with more fuel efficiency?
A: Going 55 mph as opposed to 65 mph can improve your gas mileage by up to 15%-but it's also for grannies. Luckily, there are less painful ways to save gas. For starters, make sure you switch out your filthy air filter every 15,000 miles- a simple five-minute procedure any dope can do himself could net you up to 15% better gas mileage.
Properly inflate all your tires and change any that are showing serious wear. Remove golf clubs, bowling balls, and road-kill corpses from your car, since transporting all that extra weight eats up gas. When you speed up and slow down, do so smoothly; punching the accelerator destroys fuel efficiency. (During long, flat drives, cruise control will improve mileage by mileage by about 10%.) And if you're stopping for more than a minute, turn off your car; idling wastes a surprising amount of gas.
All You magazine article for Nov. 2006 issue featuring Barbara giving at home car care tips on maintenance and repair.
"It worked for me!" Reality Checked - All You Magazine November 2006 issue by Barbara Terry
"I use dry ice to take dents out of my car. Once the car metal has been exposed to the sun, hold the dry ice on the dent [wear insulated gloves] and the dent will pop out."
"Behind the Headlines" In the Driver’s Seat - Greenwhich Magazine July 2006 issue by Donna Moffly
Auto expert Barbara Terry — mechanic, car racer, newspaper columnist, speaker, TV host — got into the driver’s seat at a tender age: seven. On a big ranch in Texas. Actually one of her six brothers helped her climb into the cab of a one-ton hay truck, sat her on a pile of phone books, stuck a couple of pillows behind her back and off she went, working the “four on the floor.” She was the youngest in her family and the only girl.
“Somebody had to drive it,” Barbara recalls. “I was probably forty pounds, so I couldn’t throw the hay on the truck like my brothers. Occasionally I’d run over a bale because I couldn’t see, and I’d hear this “BARBEEEE!
A year later she was driving a tractor, plowing a field. At eleven she was racing cars on the local dirt track, “a real big thing on Saturday nights in the South” — driving old modified street cars like Mustangs, Camaros and pickup trucks. “Sometimes it turned into a demolition derby,” she admits with a laugh. Nobody needed a license.
To be involved in everything her brothers were, she had to be “very passionate about anything with an engine and a transmission.” But she ended up being more into horsepower and engines than they were. “My brothers were really into hunting — deer and raccoon. They had a bunch of coon dogs,” she says. They would all become entrepreneurs, something she credits to the work ethic instilled in them by their parents. Luckily, her mother has supported all her life decisions.
Their ranch was out in the boondocks in Springtown, an hour’s drive from Fort Worth. There were ninety-two in her high school class. “Yah, I was a tomboy,” she admits. “I always liked getting my hands dirty during the day. But you could dress me up at night, too.”
After graduation, Barbara took some business classes but didn’t get much out of them. “I’d rather have street smarts than book smarts,” she says.
To prove it, she opened two corporate flower shops that served the hotels in Dallas and the Dallas Cowboys before selling them in 1998 to become a highly successful car dealer. She started an auto brokerage and wholesale house, buying and selling about 300 cars a month to dealerships across America. Her strictly male competition either loved her or hated her.
“I was the only girl brokering,” she says, but attributes her success to her accessibility rather than her gender. Whereas many gents would work three hours then take off the rest of the day, she was always there to pick up the phone or e-mail and give a manufacturer a fast answer when they asked: “We’re looking for a bunch of 2000 F-150 Power Strokes. Got any of those?”
Barbara came to New York with her then-boyfriend, a sportscaster, and met a television producer who took one look at the lady car expert and pushed her into show biz. He booked her on talk shows like the Tony Danza Show, where she discussed how to prepare for a road trip, and CBS’s Early Show, where she covered emergency items you should have in your car. She started writing car articles for the New York Daily News. Last April she got an agent who landed her the first of many TurtleWax commercials. And — big news — she’s touring the country as “Dr. FuelGood” for Shell Oil this summer, educating drivers suffering from low “Fuel I.Q.”
Barbara commutes to New York from her home in Greenwich in her Jeep Grand Cherokee that she thinks is the best SUV out there. “The 4.0-liter, your straight six, is the best motor on the market in an SUV,” she says.
Then there is her TV show In the Driver’s Seat that she hopes to syndicate. During this fun, fast-paced half hour she reviews the latest models, talks to the Miami Dolphins and other celebrities about what they drive and, in a how-to segment, teaches people about their cars. In the dizzying finale, viewers can watch her “getting beat up” behind the wheel of a race car careening around racetracks across the country, including Lyme Rock.
Barbara and cocreator/producer Anthony Geathers have turned down cable network offers for the show because they don’t want to lose creative control. “I don’t want to sell my soul for some network to tell me to cut my hair and dye it red,” she says. But with syndication, they would retain ownership.
Then there’s her new weekly reality show BT Garage to air next month. It’s about a repair shop she’s running and the conflict between her male and female employees, all real mechanics. The cameras also catch her behind the scenes on book signings, endorsements and dates.
“If I go out on a date, all the guy wants to do is talk cars, which gets old because I’m talking cars all day,” Barbara notes. “Some of them don’t believe it till they see it. Then it’s ‘Wow, if you’re a me-chanic, I’d be broken down every day.’”
She has been known to pull over for someone whose car is disabled at the side of the road. “I’m wiry but pretty stout when it comes to lifting,” she admits, pointing out that cars don’t have many heavy parts except the battery. “There are situations where a guy can’t fix his car, so I pop the hood and it’s a simple thing like the vacuum hose has come undone.”
She loves hearing symptoms and diagnosing the problem. Someone says: ‘My car’s going clickety-clack. What’s wrong with it?’ So I say, ‘Okay. Clickety-clack. Can you define that for me?’ ‘Well, it goes rur-rur-rur.’ ‘Okay, is the rur-rur-rur coming from the motor or from the rear or from a tire?’ ”
Or a friend calls: “You know, my car’s doing …” whatever. “I give them multiple choices. Like: ‘When you start it, is it turning over or just clicking?’ Then I narrow it down to whether it’s the battery or alternator or starter or distributor. It’s a challenge. A game.
“I love helping people,” concludes Barbara Terry, a woman of unique talent and admittedly goofy wit. “Not just being on TV. I don’t care about fame. At the end of the day, I love knowing that I was able to help people and maybe make them laugh. That’s what it’s about for me: the satisfaction of accomplishment, educating and entertaining.”
"Her Car Her Way" Westchester Wag Magazine June 2006 issue.
For the vast majority of Women, our automobile purchase is the second largest purchase we will ever make after our home. For years it has been my good fortune to share helpful information with family, friends and consumers through the television, radio and print media that reduce your fears and increase your confidence as you proceed with your next car purchase and in addition assists you as the owner of the vehicle with simple tips of the trade regarding car maintenance.
When shopping for a used car there are several key fundamentals that you as the buyer should focus upon in order to insure you are making the best purchase. First of all you should establish your budget. This will enable you to narrow down your possible alternatives to those models in your price range. Secondly, the buyer should research the makes and models you find appealing within your budget parameters. Then lastly go out and test-drive all of the cars that strike your interest. I have always said, "there is a butt for every seat"; this is so true, because we all have different budgets, likes and dislikes when it comes to our car preferences, so follow this process and you will find the right fit for you. It has been published over and over by numerous sources that women make up the final decision when purchasing the automobile whether it be for their own use or for the use of their husband and family. Here are a few tips to make sure that your purchasing decision is the best one possible:
All Wheel Drive. It is always smart decision to invest in an all wheel drive vehicle if you live in an area that has significant weather issues (e.g. snow, heavy rain etc.) not only for your personal safety but for the safety of the passengers in your vehicle and the other drivers on the road surrounding you. Of course this decision will usually result in lower premiums paid for the insurance coverage of your car.
4-Door Vehicle. If you have a family or about to start one, choose a 4 door vehicle for the obvious practical purposes of accessibility in getting the car seat in and out and space. It seems to me that when you load up the family for a road trip that it should be as painless as possible even though it is much like a "troop movement".
Some cars in our parking lot got a "tune-up" today and not from your typical mechanic. Barbara Terry is becoming a sought-after female mechanic across the country. She hit the brakes and stopped in Allentown today. WFMZ's Eve Tannery shows us some of her tips to keep your car running smoothly, especially in the high heat.
Running on empty? Maybe it’s your style
sBarbara Terry, a Shell Oil spokeswoman also known as Dr. Fuelgood, can tell a lot about your personality by the way you fill — or don’t fill — your gas tank.
What sort of pump personality do you have?
You probably haven’t thought about it much, but chances are you fit into one of four categories that Shell Oil Company has identified, according to spokeswoman Barbara Terry, a.k.a. Dr. FuelGood. You are either an empty tanker, a disciplined driver, a pro-active driver or a fumes fiend, she said in a telephone interview from her home in Marina del Ray, Calif. Say what?
“Empty tankers don’t really realize their car needs to be filled up until the last minute,” she said, noting that about a third of all drivers fit this profile.
“Disciplined drivers are like my mom, who fills up at the same time, at the same station, every week,” she said. “For them it’s a chore, like the shopping. They have a pumping habit.”
“Pro-active drivers fill up their car when they still have half a tank, quarter of a tank, left,” she said. “I’m one; I like to top it off whenever I pass a favorite gas station.” And fumes fiends? “They get a real thrill seeing how far they can take it past empty,” she said. “I guess they like to be stressed out in life.”
TERRY, 37, hails from Springtown, Texas, a small town northwest of Fort Worth. She was taken up by Shell after carving out a fledgling career in a variety of auto-related areas, including being the auto-repair site expert of about.com and iamplify.com, appearing on the cover of Kiplinger’s magazine and representing various auto makers and advertisers in a number of capacities.
This fall, Terry, who admits to being “driven,” expects to have her own cable TV show called BT’s Garage, which will include reviews, interviews with celebrities and mechanical tips. She is also discussing a syndicated series for TV, In the Driver’s Seat, which is planned to be more of a docudrama involving her and her life. “It’s a great show idea, my being in Texas, my background, where I come from, the storyline behind it,” she said. Not bad for a country girl from the Lone Star State.
“The mechanics of vehicles always fascinated me,” Terry said. “How a car really works, the engine, the transmission, the axles, the carburetor.” She said growing up on a 3,200-acre ranch with six brothers and a stepfather who was an aeronautical design engineer provided her with the background to learn about engines. “If the 2-ton hay truck broke down, you had to fix it on the spot,” she said, adding that she was the only one in the family to take her passion for cars and turn it into a career.
She said life on the ranch also provided her with a strong work ethic. “As a kid I hated having to do chores – milking the cows, riding out the horses before and after school – but I saw the value of it later on,” she said. In high school and at community college, where she took courses in auto mechanics, she learned “more book theory” but said she really valued her street smarts from learning “hands on.”
A self-starter, she set out into the world in 1991 by starting both a flower shop and an auto brokerage and service shop in Dallas. She sold the flower shop in 1998 when the auto brokerage took off. She later liquidated her inventory while keeping ownership of the building, and in 2002 took a break for six months and moved to Manhattan the following year.
She met TV producer Anthony Geathers through a friend and he entered her in a competition based on her background in autos. “Discovery Channel was looking for an attractive female who knew about cars,” she said. “We did a shoot with me talking about cars. They got hundreds of tapes and I made it to the final three.” After that she wrote columns and appeared on TV shows and in a Turtlewax commercial. “This past February, my tapes got passed around and Shell bought one for the Dr. FuelGood program,” she said. She moved to California in May. AS DR. FUELGOOD, Terry has been touring the nation offering advice on how to “pump up your Fuel IQ and boost your knowledge about how to care for your car to ensure it performs well for the long term, make informed decisions at the pump and get the most out of each fill-up.”
Terry offers four tips for women drivers: Determine which gasoline to use, learn how to change a flat tire, learn how to use jumper cables, and learn how to check on your car’s important fluids. When it comes to fixing your car, Terry advises taking it to a shop that you either have a rapport with or that is recommended by a friend or family member. If need be, call the Better Business Bureau and find out if the shop has a history of complaints against it.
“Take it in and focus on the problem you are taking it in for,” she said. “If they call two hours later and say the car needs this or that, ask them to fix the original problem and take the car to another shop to find out if it still needs additional repairs. Take it in for one thing and have them fix that one thing.” To stretch your gas budget, she recommends keeping the tires at the correct pressure, servicing the car every 5,000 miles, changing the air filter every 15,000 miles and removing excess weight – golf clubs, bowling balls – from the car. Also, always use the recommended grade of oil and choose a high-quality gasoline, one with cleaning agents to keep line- and engine-clogging carbon deposits out. Keep speeds below 60 mph and use cruise control on highways to maintain a constant speed. And avoid idling – when you get zero miles per gallon.
Terry offers four tips for women drivers:
Determine which gasoline to use, learn how to change a flat tire, learn how to use jumper cables, and learn how to check on your car’s important fluids.
"Keep Your Car From Wilting In The Heat"
SEATTLE - We all know that cold weather is hard on our cars. Well, hot weather is, too.
Breaking down along the side of the road when you're headed on vacation is no fun.
Some things are beyond your control, but taking about 10 minutes to look under the hood and check the tires – including the spare in the trunk – could save you hours of grief.
The other day, I met with Barbara Terry, an auto mechanic from Texas, who was in Seattle as part of a tour for Shell Oil. She gave me this checklist of what to do:
Check the oil. Make sure the oil comes to the top hatch-mark on the dip stick. If not, add more, but don't overfill. Too much oil can cause engine problems.
Check the transmission fluid. The dipstick will let you know if you have enough, but don't stop there. The fluid should be bright red. Terry told me you should also feel it and small it. “Transmission fluid should never feel gritty and grimy,” she says. “If it smells burnt, you might have a transmission issue.”
Check your cooling system. This is one of the most important things you can do. Start with the rubber hoses. If you see little bubbles or cracks, you need to have them replaced.
Check the radiator coolant. Don't take off the radiator cap, just look at the plastic overflow reservoir. If you need coolant, add a 50/50 mixture – half coolant/ half water. Andy Pomeroy, regional automotive manager at AAA-Washington, says it’s important to use the type of coolant made for your vehicle. “When in doubt,” Pomeroy says, “have the system flushed professionally and document the type and brand of fluid used.” Here’s what he told us:
Dex-Cool (orange) contains Organic Acid Technology (OAT) to protect the cooling system. It lasts longer but is not compatible with other coolants. Do not mix orange Dex Cool with any other anti-freeze.
Propylene Glycol, which comes in various colors is safer because it is non-toxic. But it is not compatible with any other anti-freeze.
Check the air filter. A dirty air filter will make your engine work harder and reduce your fuel efficiency. Your owners manual will tell you how often to change the filter. Terry says that’s usually every 15,000 miles, unless you’re driving in really dusty conditions.
Check the windshield wiper fluid. You may need to do a lot of window washing on that road trip.
So what should you do if the worst happens, and your engine starts to overheat? “Get off the side of the freeway,” Terry says. “Pop your hood so your motor can start cooling down, and give it about an hour before you start messing around underneath, so you don't burn yourself.
Remember; don’t open the cap on your radiator. The liquid inside is incredibly hot and under a lot of pressure. Take off the cap and it will come shooting out all over the place.
Whether you are headed far away or just driving around town, there are some things you should always have in the car with you. Here’s a list of the things auto mechanic Barbara Terry has in her car and the things I have in mine.
Oil, flashlight, engine coolant, transmission fluid, windshield wiper fluid, jumper cables, blanket, first aid kit, flares, wet wipes, water, and some snack food. There may be some other things you want to have with you in case of an emergency.
And you thought doctors didn’t make house calls anymore
I had a house call recently from Dr. FuelGood. Born Barbara Terry, the good doctor was born into a Texas ranch family with six older brothers who had her sitting on four telephone books so she could drive the hay wagon when she was just 4 years old. Like her older brothers, she raced on local dirt tracks and discovered she had a real knack for cars. She became a car broker and then ran the service department at a Dallas dealership.
Speaking of Dallas, while she may look like she should be a Dallas Cowboys cheerleader, she’s a skilled auto mechanic and car-care specialist who shares fuel-saving driving tips on behalf of the Shell Oil Company, which is how she ended up making a house call here in Phoenix.
She’s talked about car care on several national television shows, and is negotiation to have her own weekly show. She could become the Rachel Ray of cars, and contends that “checking the fluids in your car is as easy as making dinner.”
Her message is that a little car and driving care can increase not only your vehicle’s fuel mileage, but its longevity. By the way, while she has a Porsche 911 back in Dallas, her daily driver is a 2000 Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited with a four-liter six-cylinder engine that, she says, provides 18 miles per gallon and plenty of room for her big yellow Labrador retriever.
Her basic automotive medical advice is to check tire pressures and make sure they’re properly inflated, to rotate tires every 6000 miles -- and to include the spare in the rotation -- to use the right grade of oil, and to make sure you have a clean air filter. A clean air filter, she says, can provide up to 15 percent better fuel economy than a dirty filter. She also recommends watching your weight. Well, not necessarily your weight, but your vehicle's: Don’t carry stuff in the trunk or on a rooftop luggage rack that you really don’t need to carry, because extra weight means your engine has to work harder and burn more fuel.
She also breaks motorists down into four categories: Proactive pumpers, (running on) empty tankers, fume fiends and disciplined drivers. Obviously, the doctor recommends that you become a disciplined driver who follows her fuel-saving tips. In fact, those are the doctor’s orders.
Three Things Women Should Know Before Turning Car Over To Mechanic
Call the Better Business Bureau : This will ensure you are taking your car to a credible mechanic. This will add to your comfort level and, in turn, increase your confidence when speaking with the mechanic
Don't believe everything you hear : If you go in to get your brakes fixed and your mechanic comes back with a laundry list of a dozen items that need to be fixed - don't let them fix it. Take it to another shop and get a second opinion
Ask the mechanic to rotate your tires every 6,000 miles : Tires will wear unevenly and you are more likely to get stuck with a flat if you don't ask the mechanic to rotate your car's tires.
Dr. FuelGood Tips for Labor Day Weekend Travel
According to Barbara Terry, Dr. FuelGood there are three major tips to help you save money at the pump and get better gas mileage this weekend.
First, check the air pressure in your tires, even your spare tire. Also make sure to check the oil in your car. It can be done in about 30 seconds. Most importantly don’t use a low quality fuel, or it can damage your intake valves.
First, check the air pressure in your tires, even your spare tire. Also make sure to check the oil in your car. It can be done in about 30 seconds. Most importantly don’t use a low quality fuel, or it can damage your intake valves.
Thirty-three percent of Americans wait to get to Empty before they fill up.
Barbara Terry/Dr. FuelGood: “It can actually be a detriment to your vehicle because that sludge pushes up through the bottom of the gas tank; if you’re really waiting 20 miles past empty to fill up. That sludge will run through your whole fuel system which is not good for your car.”
What should you do if you happen to hit a traffic jam this busy roadway weekend?
Barbara Terry/Dr. FuelGood: “You’re getting 0 miles per gallon if you’re idling so if you’re in traffic kill the motor and start it back up when the traffic jam frees up.”
If your car needs repairs before you hit the road Dr. FuelGood has some advice for you.
Barbara Terry/Dr. FuelGood: “If you need to get one thing fixed and they give you a laundry list of things to get done, go get a second opinion at another shop.”
Now that you know some driving tips for Labor Day weekend, do you even know what you’re celebrating? What does Labor Day mean? Here’s what some locals had to say.
Alicia Wilcox/Driver: “No I don’t know what Labor Day means. Labor as in work day or work off day?”
Kim Hemenway/Driver: “I don’t know why we celebrate it, something about working. I don’t know.”
If you'd like to find out more tips to save at the pump or learn about the pump personalities or take the Fuel IQ Test, you can check out
eBay Motors takes pulse of car purchasers
Editor's note: Wheels and the Web periodically looks at automotive internet sites geared to a wide range of enthusiasts, from highly trained auto technicians to first-time vehicle buyers.
Yes, you can sell that pristine 1964 baseball card of Willie Mays on eBay ... dito the Mickey Mouse-emblazoned tea set you bought at Disneyland when Richard Nixon was president.
But how about a car?
Actually, millions of people have done just that via eBay Motors - www.motors.ebay.com - the car-selling arm of the San Jose-based online marketplace. The Web giant's automotive segment has been in business since 2000, and now claims a car transaction every minute and 10 million site visitors nationwide every month.
Officials of eBay Motors are understandably proud of the numbers, given the multiple layers of fierce competition from newspaper classifieds, gigantic online auto buying/selling sites and Web sites operated by automobile dealers from coast to coast.
From the beginning, eBay Motors has been tracking numbers for specific markets. The Sacramento metropolitan area is no exception.
Also, just to drive home the fact that it has been paying attention, eBay Motors noted that 322 airplanes have been sold on the site in the Sacramento area since 2000.
"Actually, selling an airplane is not that much different from selling a car. The listing rules are very parallel," said Barbara Terry, whose job title is literally eBay Motors auto expert. "We strive for simplicity ... making the transaction process as easy as possible."
That process is similar to the main eBay site. On eBay Motors, the basic fees are $40 to list the vehicle and an additional $50 one the first bid is received on it. The respective fees are $30 and $40 for motorcycles.
And from there, there are numerous cost variables, ranging from listing type styles to selling a vehicle on "reserve" - where you specify a minimum price.
Terry explained that seller basics include listing the nuts-and-bolts facts about a vehicle, including the all-important vehicle identification number and submitting at least a half-dozen photos of the auto from various angles, inside and out.
Terry also had tips for prospective car buyers, including contacting the seller directly with a specific bid that just might close the deal.
"It can take as little as under five minutes for a transaction; it's very minimal," Terry said. "It's less time consuming than other sites."
While buting and selling can be minimal, the site itself has scores of layers to aid consumers, everything from financing options to vehicle history/inspection reports.
And while motor vehicles are among the site's big-ticket items, auto parts and accessories make up an enormous segment of eBay Motors transactions. Site operators brag that a part or accessory item sells every two seconds, on average.
"The parts sold cover everything, and it's much quicker than some of the old ways of searching for parts," Terry explained. "You can ask, 'Where can I find disc brakes for my '68 Camaro?' and get the answer right away."
Motor vehicles going through the eBay Motors site go beyond the mainstream. Terry said she has seen Bentley Arnage models listed in the past. That super-high-end luxury sedan can go for more than $200,000 for a used model.
Auto dealers accelerating sales on eBay
Millions of Americans log onto eBay every day to find bargains on electronics, clothes, collectibles and various other odds and ends. Now a growing number of consumers are using the Internet auction house to shop for cars, and Minnesota auto dealers are getting in on the action.
A car is sold on eBay Motors every minute -- twice the rate of a year ago. Locally, more than 85,000 vehicles have been sold on the site since 2000.
Some of the Twin Cities' top dealers, including Minnetonka-based Morrie's Automotive Group, have already sold hundreds of cars on the site.
Morrie's Minnetonka Ford Lincoln Mercury has used eBay Motors for several years, selling 125 to 150 cars a year, General Manager John Aretz said. In fact, eBay now accounts for about a quarter of the dealership's Internet sales.
Morrie's often has more than 100 vehicles listed on eBay Motors, mostly used cars, trucks and motorcycles. Unique used cars draw the most interest online, and the majority of people who buy cars from Morrie's through eBay live outside of Minnesota.
"Most people know to shop eBay if they are looking for something that's a little bit different," Aretz said. "It's just a great source. It's an easy place to buy, it's an easy place to sell."
Earlier this week, more than 1,500 cars and trucks were listed within 25 miles of downtown Minneapolis, most of them on dealers' lots. Training for dealers.
eBay Motors has grown so popular that the Minnesota Auto Dealers Association (MADA) has started to hold twice-annual seminars to teach local dealers how to sell cars on the site. The seminars typically draw a couple dozen dealers.
The online market for cars has grown substantially over the past five to 10 years, but still hasn't reached its full potential, said Scott Lambert, MADA's executive director. "A lot of dealers right now are complaining that there isn't enough traffic, that there aren't enough customers coming in to kick the tires. I think the reality is that there's still a lot of traffic, it's just all online."
eBay Motors spokeswoman Barbara Terry agreed, noting that more than 2 million cars have been sold on the site to date.
"When you've got a worldwide inventory at your fingertips and you can shop from the comfort of your own home or office, it's hard to beat," said Terry, who has personally purchased hundreds of vehicles on eBay over the past decade.
For the more than 15,000 registered sellers, eBay Motors provides access to a nationwide audience at a relatively inexpensive price. The site charges a $40 insertion fee to list a car or truck and a $50 transaction fee if it sells. Various upgrades are available for an added cost.
Meanwhile, eBay gives buyers protection against fraud and misrepresentation of up to $20,000 on all vehicles. The site offers various shipping and inspection options, and as with other eBay auctions, the site posts seller ratings and reviews.
Those ratings are particularly important for someone spending thousands of dollars on a car they've never seen in person. Dealers work hard to keep those ratings high, said Morrie's Aretz, whose dealership has received 95.7 percent positive feedback.
"If you're going to put something on there, you've got to be upfront about whether it's got anything wrong with it," he said.
Other online car-buying Web sites, including Bloomington-based CarSoup.com, also are performing well right now.
CarSoup.com features cars from all of the Twin Cities' roughly 135 franchised auto dealers, plus about 12,000 additional vehicles for sale by private parties. "We have thousands more [local] cars than any of those other" online car sites, said Larry Cuneo, the site's president and CEO.
Unlike eBay, CarSoup.com charges dealers a flat fee for posting vehicle listings on its site and does not collect transaction fees.
CarSoup.com has been Golden Valley-based Luther Automotive Group's top generator of sales leads since 1998, said David Luther, president. The company has shifted much of its advertising from newspapers and other print publications to Web sites like CarSoup.com in recent years.
"We want to make it as easy as we can for our clients and consumers to find what they are looking for as quickly as possible," Luther said, adding that online advertising also is significantly less expensive.
Online car sales luring more drivers
Like many people who shop online, Martin Monks of Sandy has purchased an array of fairly inexpensive items such as books and gifts from Web merchants.
But a car? Monks said he has never really entertained the idea of buying something so expensive via the Internet without seeing it in person - not until his daughter totaled his 2000 Mitsubishi Mirage.
"I just can't stand going to car lots," Monks said. "And I do like buying stuff online. So I thought I would give it a try."
Monks joined the ranks of consumers worldwide shopping on Web sites such as eBay Motors or Auto Trader, lured by a larger selection and the resulting opportunity to get a car in the best possible condition at the best price.
A fan of online auctioneer eBay, Monks went to the company's eBay Motors Web site. After checking with Carfax for any hidden problems in the ownership history of a 2005 TrailBlazer listed for $16,900, he made a bid of $16,000 to a Utah dealership. The only glitch: the smell of cigarette smoke when he opened the door of his new car for the first time.
"We aired it out and we're OK with it," he said. "It turned out really, really well."
While some use the Internet only to locate a car they will then go see in person, a growing number of people like Monks are handling every aspect of the purchase online - seeing their car for the first time when they go pick it up or have it delivered.
There are a number of steps consumers can take to ensure the process goes smoothly and that their vehicle meets their expectations.
A Carfax report is a relatively inexpensive way to help prospective buyers determine, among other things, if the car they want to buy has been in a severe accident or was registered in a county declared a flood disaster area by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
A report also can verify that an odometer has not been tampered with, and how many owners and what type of owner - an individual, police department or car rental agency, for example - had the car and for how long.
Such reports are not all-inclusive or foolproof, but they are one of the best ways to ensure you don't end up with a lemon.
Like Monks, Graham Gallacher, general sales manager for National Auto Plaza in Sandy, bought his 2001 Porsche 911 Turbo without a personal inspection, from a dealership located through www.autotrader.com. He, like Monks, obtained a Carfax report on the vehicle, but also went a step further by searching for a car "certified" to be in good used condition by a manufacturer as an added measure of safety.
According to Edmunds Inc., which tracks the automotive-retailing industry, certified used vehicles are supposedly thoroughly inspected by a dealership specializing in that particular make of vehicle. Used cars also can simply come with an extended warranty from any dealership, but most of the time these warranties do not come with a thorough inspection.
Some online sites offer additional assurances. Ebay Motors, for example, offers a Vehicle Purchase Protection program with up to $20,000 of coverage against fraud and material misrepresentations. It's included in most transactions at no cost.
Barbara Terry, eBay Motors "auto expert," said buyers should take a look at seller feedback ratings before bidding. Ebay provides buyers an opportunity after each transaction to rate sellers. You can quickly get an idea if the seller makes people happy - or not.
Buyers also can hire a company to examine a car before they commit to buying it sight unseen. Ebay can help buyers find a company to do such an inspection in most major cities. The site also can help buyers find a shipping company if they need their car delivered.
Last year, Terry said, a car sold on eBay every 2 minutes. Now a car is sold on the Web site every 52 seconds. "Since 2000, over 2 million vehicles sold on eBay," she said. "That makes a huge statement in itself."
To check out a used car online, order a title report from www.carfax.com. Cost is $24.99 for one report or $29.99 for 30 days of unlimited reports. Similar reports also are available at www.AutoCheck.com. Such reports can tell you if a vehicle was in an accident or whether it was in a flood or registered in an area that flooded.
Alright ladies, when it comes to our cars there are a few things we need to know like how to change a tire and remembering to get the oil changed. Barbara Terry said women shouldn't be intimidated by their cars. For tips from Terry, visit www.inthedriversseattv.com or www.shell.com/us.Watch the video.
Expert gives tips on stretching your fuel, money
Keep pumping gas after the nozzle automatically shuts off and you are paying for gas that is sucked back into the hose, an automotive expert said. “When it clicks off, your tank is full,” said Barbara Terry, also known as Dr. Fuel-Good. So stop wasting money by trying to force more fuel in, she said.
Terry, the auto expert at About.com and Shell Oil Co.’s summer spokeswoman Dr. FuelGood, has lots of tips to save gas and money amid soaring pump prices.
They include everything from taking the golf clubs out of the trunk to parking the car at fast-food restaurants rather than using the drive-through.
“If you’re idling in a fastfood line, you’re getting zero miles per gallon. Kill the motor,” Terry said.
Good maintenance habits from regular oil changes to proper tire inflation will keep a car humming for years, she said.
“For most people, their car is their second largest investment. For some, it is their largest investment,” Terry said. “If only they understood how important it is to check things like the condition of their radiator or hoses.”
But only 21 percent of those surveyed nationwide — and a slightly better 25 percent of Valley motorists — do regular vehicle check-ups, according to a recent Shell survey. “If they did, it would decrease breakdowns and increase gas mileage,” Terry said.
Speaking of gas, Terry said, the survey identified several pump personality profiles. About half of all motorists fall into one of these categories, and one is dangerous to the longevity of the family sedan.
The “empty tanker” — about 33 percent of drivers nationally, 28 percent in the Valley — waits till the gauge is at or near the bottom line before filling up. The “proactive pumper” — 6 percent nationally, 8 percent Valleywide — is always topping off. The “disciplined driver” — 6 percent nationally, 8 percent Valleywide — has a regular routine.
“My mother goes to the same gas station every Saturday morning, whether she needs gas or not,” Terry said.
All those types are a matter of taste, she said, but a “fumes fiend” — 9 percent nationally, 5 percent Valleywide — can send a car to an early grave. “Fumes fiends thrive on the thrill of seeing how far they can take a car past the red line,” Terry said. “But the sludge and debris that sits in the bottom of the tank works its way into the fuel intake system and can create spitting, sputtering, backfiring and loss of power.”
Terry recommends that instead of daydreaming while pumping gas like 43 percent of motorists nationwide — 35 percent of Valley drivers — do, wise car owners could use the time to do mini-checks of tire pressure and fluid levels.
Local drivers should pay particular attention to coolant levels, she said. More Valley drivers — 71 percent — than the national norm — 52 percent — escape from pump-side reveries for at least few minutes to wash their windshields, she said.
Is There a Difference in Gasolines?
Here to tell us about modern gasolines is Barbara Terry, Dr. FuelGood from Shell oil. Barbara, welcome to Goss's Garage.
BARBARA TERRY, SHELL OIL: Thanks for having me today, how are you?
GOSS: I'm doing great. Hey what can you tell us about modern gasolines?
TERRY: Well 70 percent of Americans are all under the assumption that all gasolines are alike and they're really not. You should be running a top-tiered gas in your car. And when I say top-tiered, I mean that four manufacturers got together and came up with a standard of the gas that should be run in their vehicles. Those four manufacturers were BMW, Honda, Toyota and General Motors.
GOSS: What's the difference between top-tiered and non top-tiered gas?
TERRY: Well, good thing that you asked. I brought with me today a little test that was done on a 6-cylinder engine - it was a brand new car. Six of the intake valves were divided up into two sets of three. And as you can see with that with only 5,000 miles on the vehicle that carbon deposit build-up had already begun on the intake valves. The other three that you see were run on top-tiered gas.
GOSS: It's impressive. Now in only 5,000 miles, I mean that's a lot of carbon build-up.
TERRY: It is. And I wouldn't want that in my car.
GOSS: And it's going to affect fuel-economy, performance and lots of other things. Top-tiered does away with it?
TERRY: Yes it does.
GOSS: Top-tiered gasoline, when you go to the service station it's available in all three grades.
TERRY: Yes it is. The low, the mid and of course the V-power grade of Shell - that just replaced the premium gasoline.
GOSS: Okay, so we want to use top-tiered gasoline. What other fuel-saving tips do you have for consumers?
TERRY: Well if you log onto the Shell website (www.shell.com) there is actually 12 fuel-stretch tips. But we can go over let's say four of those today.
TERRY: All right. You should always run the proper air-pressure in your tires. And make sure the proper air-pressure is in all four. Number two, you should always switch out your air filter let's say approximately every 15,000 miles or it you live in a dusty climate, change it out every 10,000 miles. And it can take really about five minutes.
GOSS: All right and number three?
TERRY: When I pulled up today, I saw those bowling balls in your car. If you remove the excessive weight out our your car, whether it be bowling balls, or golf clubs, baby formula, extra water whatever, you'll actually achieve better gas mileage. And also keep your car tuned-up on a regular basis.
GOSS: Well that's simple enough.
TERRY: Yeah it is.
GOSS: All right, so we want to do all those things. We want to go to the Shell website and see the other tips and we want to use top-tiered gas.
TERRY: Yes you do.
GOSS: Barbara, thank you so much.
TERRY: Thanks for having me today.
Barbara Terry's got the Baja 500 on her mind
America’s favorite auto expert is adding a new challenge to her ‘to-do’ list – Barbara Terry is running the Baja 500.
This is the Baja 500’s 40th anniversary -- the Tecate SCORE Baja 500 is a 500-mile off-road race starting and ending in Ensenada, Mexico. Barbara will be in Ensenada a week before the race to do a pre-run of the course and take part in media interviews, she is also partnered with SPEEDtv.com to showcase and feature her Baja 500 race on their web site.
Barbara is presently in negotiations for her own reality show, BT Garage.
What made you want to do the Baja 500?
I chose to get totally enthralled in the Baja 500 and Baja 1000 mainly for the simple reason of my love for racing and everything to do with cars!
I am also excited that my racing is aligned and an obvious extension of my other car related projects.
Is this your first time?
I have raced the Baja 1000 before and quickly realized that I had an all new appreciation for a good ole shower, crisp/clean sheets and something called sleep!
What are you hoping to accomplish?
Number one…I want to make my sponsors happy and proud to be on board with Barbara Terry Racing. If I were to win my buggie class that would make it even sweeter.
What should I know about checking my vehicle’s oil?
The frequency in which you check your car’s oil depends on your car and how you drive it. If you drive in hot or dusty climates, for example, check more often. Most car manufacturers recommend changing a car’s o i l every three months or 3,000 miles, whichever comes first.
“I have always been an adamant believer in checking and changing your oil on a regular basis,” said Barbara Terry, auto expert and television personality.
“What has proven best for me is to do what is best for my specific car. F i r s t , I check my oil every 500 miles, or spend an extra five minutes while filling up and have the attendant check it for me,” she says.
Concentrate on safety.
Always turn the motor off and use your emergency brake. Pull out the dipstick, wipe it clean, re-insert and remove it to read the oil level.
The oil should be full and clean.
“Some automobiles require 30 weight while others require 40 weight,” said Terry. “If you are not sure which is best for your car, refer to your owners manual or check with your local mechanic,” she said.
“Also, pay attention when checking your oil level to the color and consistency of your oil,” added Terry. “The oil should always be pretty thin with a rich medium brown color.”
What's Your Fuel IQ?
Pull up, hop out, pump gas, pay, repeat. Filling up at the local gas station is standard routine for most of us; but could quick decisions at the pump be harming your car?
According to a recent poll, 70 percent of respondents think that gasoline purchased from one station is basically the same as gasoline purchased from another station, while nearly two-thirds of people believe that all brands of gasoline are the same. Not true, says Barbara Terry -- better known as Dr. FuelGood, a self-proclaimed car expert with twenty years of professional experience dealing with all bumper-to-bumper matters.
“A car is the largest investment many Americans make,” says Terry. It’s for this reason that you need to choose a high quality fuel for it to run on. And contrary to what many believe – not all fuels are created equal.
Gasoline standards set by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have been in place since 1995 and according to some, it’s been too long. That leaves many gasoline retailers with the ability to provide fuels with lower-quality additive packages (including important cleaners that minimize carbon deposits.) These cleaning additives are what minimize carbon build up on fuel injectors and intake valves – components that keep your car running smoothly.
In an effort to battle the low quality gasoline retailers, four automakers – BMW, General Motors, Honda and Toyota - teamed up to create what is called Top Tier Detergent Gasoline standards. These new standards up the minimum detergent requirements for gasoline retailers, ensuring that your car is getting the fuel it needs for optimal engine performance.
Terry recommends checking with your manual’s guide to find out which fuel type is best suited for your vehicle and its performance, and then heading to your local Shell Gasoline, whose entire fuel line meets and exceeds EPA standards. Especially touted is Shell’s new VPower gasoline, replacing the previous Shell Premium. VPower offers a whopping 50 percent more cleaning additives than the minimum set by EPA guidelines.
“You can see carbon deposits in cars as early as 5,000 miles,” says Terry, stressing the importance of high percentage cleaning additives. “And fuels like VPower can actually go in and clean deposits left by other gasolines.”
"Saving Money on Gas Takes Common Sense"
Barbara Terry grew up on a small ranch in Texas with six older brothers. They weren't exactly the playing-with-dolls types.
So Terry did what any resourceful farm girl did, she adopted the families love of working on cars.
"I may not know everything," she said, "but I know a lot."
She became passionate in learning about how cars work, beginning with her first engine-rebuilding session when 7 years old.
Terry is a columnist and speaker who stopped in the Houston area to talk about cars, especially in this era of skyrocketing gasoline prices, and a television series, "In the Driver's Seat."
She uses common sense in telling people what they can best do to stretch the most out of a tank of gasoline. Her suggestions include:
* Always have proper air pressure in your ties.
* Remove excessive weight from cars.
* Change the air filter every 15,000 miles. You can achied up to 15 percent better gas mileage, she said.
* Avoid excessive idling. "You're getting zero miles per gallon when you're idling," she said.
* Have your car properly tuned.
"Properly maintain your car," Terry said. "We need it to run right. You want to keep it in good shape, just like your body."
She also stressed using high-quality gasoline in your car.
And for those people who feel lucky, Terry directed them to the Shell Web site and stations where a current giveaway will award a lucky person gasoline for life. Patrons can ask for game cards at Shell stations. Additional gas-saving tips are available at Shell's Internet site.
BARBARA TERRY -- she's an automotive guru and the host of the up and coming garage based reality show “BT’S GARAGE” on cable television. She is also known as Shell’s “DR. FUELGOOD” and she will test our "Fuel I.Q." and give prescriptions to help drivers make smart decisions to get the most out of our vehicles this summer.
Independence Day ranks the highest for number of planned road trips according to a new MapQuest Survey. In fact, more than 40 million travelers will hit the road this Fourth of July weekend and nearly half of Americans plan to take a road trip some time this summer. These drivers are looking for a peaceful vacation, but are also in need of some savvy, simple advice on how to navigate the highways and take care of their cars before they reach their destination.
With nearly 20 years of experience in the automotive business, Barbara Terry has appeared on several national broadcast programs, including the “CBS Early Show” and “The Tony Danza Show” providing vehicle maintenance and travel safety tips. Barbara also serves as the exclusive automotive expert on About.com.