The Insider - January 2009

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In January 2009's Insider, you'll find


Welcome to the January 2009 edition of's Insider newsletter.

It's a brand-new year with brand-new opportunities - and, yes, lots of challenges, too. So we're facing one of the most harrowing economic downturns in almost half a century, and the threat of worldwide recession is on many people's minds, but that's no reason for why you can't find a savings silver lining in it all!

For starters, did you know that saving just $600 annually on your auto insurance translates to these car freebies? Just one of these cash-saving items will make it worth your while to compare rates. Or how about what's coming up at the Canadian International Auto Show? This one major car type is really getting people talking. Plus, we'll tell you how to keep your old car running for one more year with these surprisingly easy-to-do, cost-effective tips.

Just read on for all the details

And don't forget to compare quotes from over 30 of Canada's top insurance companies at today.

Make it your first step to saving money in the new year!

Lower your rate and save

It's amazing how taking one little step - like comparing your current car insurance rate against the rates from over 30 top Canadian insurance companies by doing just one quote at can lead to saving hundreds, even thousands, of dollars annually. This free, quick and easy step can turn into great car-cost savings.

For example, by keeping your car for one more year (read our story Make your car last through 2009 below) and getting a lower rate, saving just $50 a month (or $600 annually), equates to getting the following items in exchange for free:

1) One oil and filter change for every month in '09 for your car ($50 per service). Remember, standard car maintenance saves you in the long run.

2) New high-end window wipers for the next 10 years ($60 each). You'll be seeing clearly through Canadian weather for a decade!

3) Four brand-new all-season, high-end car tires, plus installation ($120 per tire; $100 per instalment). No more slipping when coming to a stop in rain or snow.

4) Brand-new brake pads, including brake-fluid flush, adjustment and repair, and complete inspection (average $600 cost). Brakes are always the most annoying to pay for - but not this year.

5) Six full-service deluxe interior/exterior car cleaning and wax jobs from a professional auto shop ($100 per job). Nothing's more satisfying than driving a just-like-new clean car.

6) A high-end GPS automotive navigation unit plus a mid-range CD/stereo unit ($300 for each item). These two great gadgets can help make your commute much more easy and enjoyable - plus you'll save gas by taking the fastest route and not getting lost!

7) Complete annual car inspection, maintenance and tuning, including brake inspection, tire rebalancing, all-fluid change, transmission check, alignment check, air-conditioning check and oil and filter change. Your car will get its full physical, and you'll still have money left over (approximately $550)!

What are you waiting for? Start by simply getting that quote and see how many of these free items you can enjoy in '09.

What's coming up at the Canadian International Auto Show?

With the recent 2009 Detroit Auto Show being a much more pared-down affair than last year's over-the-top showing, many of us north of the border are curious to see what's going to be offered up at this year's Canadian International Auto Show.

Being held from Friday, Feb. 13 to Sunday, Feb. 22, 2009 at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre and Rogers Centre, the Auto Show is already taking the green approach, using the "New Era" tagline. According to organizers, due to the current economic climate, carmakers around the world are facing a new mandate, which is to "Create solutions that meet an entirely new set of criteria: New engine technologies. The next generation of hybrids. Advanced fuel cells. Electric plug-ins."

Some of the new models getting a lot of attention, which you can expect to see at the Auto Show, include:

Cadillac Converj: The oddly named hybrid has a 16-kilowatt-hour battery - half will be available for propulsion. (Electric cars and hybrids use about half of capacity to avoid wearing out the battery).

Chevrolet Volt: GM's newest hybrid is set to do 64 kilometres on electricity and then up to 500 kilometres on a tank of gas. The aim is to launch the model in 2010.

Ford urban car: Ford's aiming to introduce its own small-scale electric car in 2011, working in partnership with battery supplier Magna International. Yet to be named, the urban car is similar to the Ford Focus, with a target range of 160 kilometres on one charge. Ford's hoping to sell 5,000 to 10,000 units in the car's introductory year.

Mercedes-Benz BlueZero E-Cell: From the luxury-car front, Mercedes-Benz has a battery-only small electric prototype in the works. The aim is to launch sales in 2010. They're also working on the BlueZero F-Cell, which is powered by a hydrogen fuel cell.

Of course, the other big question is who's going to show up? With Chrysler LLC and General Motors Corp. begging for money from the government, and Canadian production plants struggling to keep their doors open, many people are speculating what this year's show will look like.

You can get all the details at Whether you have a traditional or hybrid car, it's a good idea to compare various insurer quotes to find out the lowest rate possible.

(Don't forget to check out Quote Unquote below.)

Make your car last through 2009

With the auto industry rapidly changing, and many automakers finally going the hybrid route, lots of drivers are opting to keep their current vehicle for one more year to see what 2010 will have in store. If you're part of the growing trend of people holding out for a 2010 car purchase, know that you can make it a good year for your current ride - and your insurance rate - via the following maintenance and efficiency tips:

Go independent: Have your car serviced by an independent mechanic shop, as opposed to your dealer's in-house services. Dealers are always more expensive, sometimes by upwards of 40 per cent on basic services. So shop around and see what mechanics offer the best deal. And don't be afraid to barter. Tip: If your dealer tells you outside servicing violates your car's warranty, know this may be untrue, so be sure to check your warranty.

Time to replace a part? According to your manufacturer (and owner's manual), you can track the proper replacement dates for auto parts. From fan belts to brakes and tires, be sure to replace parts on time. This will leave you less susceptible to emergencies and help endorse the car's potential resale value down the road. Tip: Ask your mechanic if refurbished parts are available. They cost less and have to meet certain standards before being put in your car.

Do it yourself: Need to replace a filter or windshield wipers? Do it yourself and save the service charge. Tip: Want to save money in the long run? Consider taking a basic car maintenance class at your local college. The do-it-yourself skills you'll learn will save you thousands of dollars over the years.

Rejected warranty claim? Try again! Did your car's manufacturer reject your warranty claim? Ask if a technical service bulletin has been issued for the part. Tip: Persistence pays. Some manufacturers will repair a known defect outside a warranty period (called a "secret warranty" by industry insiders) if you are proactive and ask politely.

Are you over-insured? Do you review your rate every year? You should start. Each year, your car depreciates in value, so you may be over-insuring. Always keep liability, but reconsider collision and comprehensive insurance if your vehicle is in its last year. Tip: Add your deductible to your annual amount for collision and comprehensive coverage. Next, compare the total with the wholesale value of your car. If the amount is more than half, then it's time for a quote comparison.

Quote Unquote

Q) Does it cost more to insure a hybrid vehicle? A) The cost may be the same - but most likely slightly more - to insure a hybrid vehicle, depending upon the type of model you go with. The reason it'll probably cost you a little more is because hybrid cars are still relatively new to the auto industry.

Unlike traditional car models, where parts replacement and repair options are easier to access, hybrids are not yet readily available. As a result, just as with foreign car models that require special parts ordering or specially trained mechanical care, a hybrid vehicle also requires similar attention. Hence why it's more expensive to maintain a hybrid - and to insure, too.

Have a question you'd like answered? Please send us an email at [email protected].