Top 5 Tips for Purchasing a Used Motorcycle

Riding motorcycles is an excellent pastime/hobby and, for many, a way of life. On the other hand, for most it is definitely not a necessity but instead a luxury and, for those of us on a budget (i.e. most of us), purchasing a new bike should be done as carefully and cautiously as possible.

With that in mind, here are the Top 5 Tips that you should keep in mind when purchasing a used motorcycle so that you get the best cycle for your money, and have the least troubles down the road (pun intended).

Tip #1: When you test drive any motorcycle, make sure the engine’s cold.

The reason for Tip #1 is simple; a motorcycle that’s been running and it is “warmed up” will crank up much more easily then a cold engine will and, consequently, might hide a lot of tuning and engine issues. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t purchase a motorcycle that doesn’t crank up right away, only that you should certainly ask about lowering the price a bit because, if it needs to be tuned, that’s going to cost you extra money.

Tip #2: The more money being asked for the motorcycle, the more questions you should ask as well.

If you’re looking at an older motorcycle at an excellent price, asking a million questions might seem quite rude because, let’s face it, you pretty much know exactly what you’re getting and you’re getting it at a great price. On the other hand, if the price is quite high, you have all the rights in the world to ask as many questions as possible before you spend your money, and should ask those questions before making a decision.

Tip #3: Ask a mechanic to take a look at before purchasing

Just like with an automobile, you should take your motorcycle to an excellent mechanic, (someone you actually know would be a great idea if possible) and get their opinion before making a purchase. Unless you’re an expert mechanic yourself, they’ll be able to point out possible (or actual) problems that you should know about.

Tip #4: Do your research

It takes practically no effort at all today to research something online. Unless you know a brand/model/year of motorcycle very well, researching it online to find out if that model/ brand/year was a good one or not is definitely a good idea, and may save you a lot of misery.

Tip #5: Check with the DMV in your State

Calling the DMV to verify the current titleholder’s name, and making sure that they’re the actual owner/titleholder, is a must. You can also find out how much it will cost to register your motorcycle and, more importantly, make sure it’s not stolen.

Coming Soon to a Pump Near You: Natural Gas

For the last hundred or so years Americans, as well as the rest of the civilized world, have relied on gas powered vehicles to get around. Although there are a number of biofuel programs attempting to lower our gasoline consumption, the fact is that the United States is still overwhelmingly dependent on gasoline.

Several companies however are developing new vehicles that run on natural gas. Called NGVs, they will help Americans to use a type of fuel that is less costly, leaves a smaller environmental footprint and has more energy content than gasoline.

The driving force behind using natural gas is, most obviously, price. A 1 gallon equivalent, meaning enough natural gas to have the same energy as 1 gallon of gasoline, is just about two dollars per gallon, making it the second cheapest fuel source besides electricity. That puts it well below biodiesel, ethanol and diesel and gives it a price that you have to go back over 10 years to match.

Price is a key reason that many commercial trucking fleets are turning to compressed natural gas (CNG) in droves, and, while there is certainly plenty of work that needs to be done before NGVs represent a larger share of the United States commercial transportation fleet, it represents an opportunity to greatly lower the cost of shipping goods across the country.

Nearly one in every five transit buses in service today around the country already runs on natural gas and 2000 are already being used in Los Angeles County, saving over 300 pounds of greenhouse gas emissions every single day and over 600,000 per year. This has also reduced particulate matter by nearly 80% in comparison to buses that run on diesel fuel

Another reason that compressed natural gas is such an excellent alternative is that it has a much higher energy content than gasoline. For example, while “premium” gasoline usually has an octane rating of 91, CNG is usually around 130, which is rather impressive if you think about it. It also gets better fuel economy than gasoline even though the technology hasn’t even been perfected yet.

Lastly and, for lovers of the “green movement”, possibly most importantly, is the fact that compressed natural gas leaves a much smaller environmental footprint than gasoline. When compared to other petroleum-based fuels, natural gas;

  • Lowers particulate matter by nearly 77%
  • Reduces nitrogen oxide emissions by almost 94%
  • Has 55% less volatile organic compound emissions
  • Reduces carbon monoxide emissions by almost 90%
  • Has 29% less greenhouse gas emissions

All of these factors make natural gas vehicles a natural, if incomplete, remedy for the problems caused by gasoline powered vehicles. It will take a number of years until they really take over the market but, when you consider the efforts being made to change the infrastructure of the chain from natural gas drillers to suppliers and automakers, that day is fast approaching.

The perfect Mexican road trip

If you’re planning a road trip but you don’t want to blow the bank, Mexico is already on the list. Most people opt for the beach- but it’s hard to choose just one. There are also beautiful mountains, archaeological sites, and culturally rich pueblos. Renting a car in Mexico is the easiest way to experience an incredibly diverse and rich country.

While gas may be cheap in the US, PEMEX controls the prices in Mexico, and it’s certainly pricier than stateside. There are a few tricks to keeping costs down, though. Whether you have 5 days or 5 weeks, renting a car with Fox Rent A Car is easy and cheap, especially with a Groupon Coupon. Groupon Coupons are free, with no upfront purchase necessary. They even cover you at 8,600 other stores.

In addition to hooking up with Fox Rent A Car and Groupon, here are some tips for the road you may want to think about:


  1. Gas stations: Mexican gas stations are not self-serve and 90% of Mexicans have lost money at the gas pump to gas attendants ripping them off. Always watch the pump, and be aware of how much cash you hand to the attendant and how much change they hand back. Be sure to check your fuel level after turning your car back on, before pulling away from the pump.
  2. Fuel economy: “topes” and “tumulos,” or speedbumps, are frequent. Look for the yellow signs on the side of the road with an image of a speed bump- it will either say the distance until the speed bump (250 meters, 100m, 50m, etc.), or have an arrow pointing down to the ground, indicating the speed bump is at that location. Speed bumps are often placed together, so no need to jam down the gas pedal immediately after clearing the speed bump- there will probably be another one within 20-50 yards.
  3. Returning your car: Always be sure to fill your tank back to the level you had at the start of your rental. Companies charge a premium for the service of re-filling the gas you used during your trip.


Renting a car in Mexico is easier than most foreigners think. Major roads are smooth, well-lit, and very safe. There is even free, I repeat, free, roadside assistance in Mexico. The Green Angels will get you back on the road, all for free.

Keeping your trip affordable is obviously important. Groupon Coupons will help you achieve that. If you are planning a road trip to Mexico and you want the freedom to customize your trip and save money at the same time, book with Fox Rent A Car using your Groupon Coupon. When you’re ready for the next adventure, Groupon will have tons of new coupons and partner stores ready to make your trip possible.

4 Gas Saving Tips Without Merit

Gas prices are (incredibly) dropping steadily, and there seems to be no end in sight. In fact, at some pumps around the country you can now purchase a gallon of gas for less than two dollars!

Still, if you drive a lot your gasoline costs can definitely still eat a good chunk of your income, and it’s still a good idea to do whatever you can to make sure you get as many miles out of every gallon of gas as possible.

There are however a number of gas saving ‘tips’ that, while they sound good, just don’t give you the kind of savings that they’re purported to give. While everyone’s in a good mood about gasoline, seeing as it’s been relatively cheap lately, we thought we’d take a good look at a few of these myths and have a good laugh. Enjoy.

Myth #1: Filling your tank in the morning when it’s cooler.

While it’s true that liquids expand when they get warm, the fact is that gasoline at service stations is kept in huge underground tanks that, even in the dead of summer, don’t experience the 20 or 30 degree swing in temperatures that we feel above ground. In fact, scientists have said that the actual temperature variance in the gasoline stored in those underground tanks is less than 5 degrees during the day. As far as saving you money because you pump your gasoline in the morning when it’s cool, your savings will be negligible at best.

Myth #2: Avoid pumping gas if a tanker truck is at the station filling the underground tanks.

The theory behind this “tip” is that when a tanker truck is filling the underground gasoline holding tanks, it’s also disturbing sediment that might have settled at the tank’s bottom. While this may be true, the fact is that today’s modern gasoline holding tanks, modern engines and modern engine filters can easily filter out any debris that might be floating around down there. The chance of anything making it into your actual engine is extremely slim.

Myth #3: Don’t wait until your tank is empty but instead fill it up when it’s no less than half empty.

The reason behind this so-called tip is that the more space you have empty in your tank the more your gasoline will evaporate. That is, in fact, true to a point. If your gasoline cap isn’t closed correctly, your gasoline can certainly evaporate. If it is closed correctly however, it doesn’t matter how much gas is actually in there, it will not evaporate out. Point being, make sure your gas cap is always closed correctly.

Myth #4: Using your air-conditioning uses more gasoline.

Many of us aren’t exactly using the air-conditioning in our automobiles right now, but we wanted to touch on this one anyway. Simply put, the amount of difference in how much gasoline your car uses between having your windows open on a sunny day and closing them while you use the air conditioner is negligible at best. If it’s brutally hot outside, let that AC do its job baby!

Hopefully gasoline prices will continue to drop to the point where we don’t need to worry about any tips at all for saving gasoline. Wouldn’t that be nice?!

The Case For and Against Ethanol

As gasoline prices continue to hold at a steady and, thankfully, low price across most of the United States, alternative fuels are still being developed at a rapid pace. One of those is ethanol or grain alcohol.

Just like “moonshine”, ethanol is mostly made from grains, usually corn. E85 ethanol is sold at many gasoline stations across the country already, and it’s a blend of 15% gasoline and 85% ethanol. 1 gallon of E85 contains approximately 80,000 BTUs of energy, as opposed to the 125,000 BTUs in a gallon of pure gasoline. What that means is that it takes just over 1 1/2 gallons of E85 to propel your automobile as far as 1 gallon of gas.

There is a debate raging about the pros and cons of ethanol right now and, since it’s definitely going to be used more and more in the future, today we’re going to look briefly at the case For ethanol and the case Against it. Enjoy.


The case FOR Ethanol

A number of excellent features that ethanol brings to the energy table are that it’s extremely clean-burning, is made from plants and, at least as far as the numbers say, should provide higher horsepower than gasoline. Ethanol has a higher octane rating than gasoline as well and it burns cooler.

It’s believed that vehicles running on E85 will potentially have better performance than strictly gasoline vehicles because of the higher octane, higher compression ratio and the resulting increase in thermodynamic efficiency.

Ethanol is also greenhouse gas “neutral” because, as an engine produces atmospheric CO2, it basically makes up for the CO2 that the corn captured when it was growing.


The case AGAINST Ethanol

One of the biggest arguments against ethanol is that it takes more energy to actually grow the corn needed to make it, and then distill it into alcohol, then you can actually get from the ethanol itself.

Another major detriment is that ethanol, like all alcohols, is corrosive. That means any parts that are going to be exposed to it in a car need to be corrosion resistant. That usually means stainless steel or special types of plastic, which are more expensive to manufacture.

Growing corn is actually a very intensive process. It requires a lot of water and, even worse, the use of pesticides and fertilizers that are water pollutants. Also, the use of heavy equipment is needed to harvest corn and then transport it to distillation factories, using energy and expelling greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

Lastly, the fact is that there simply isn’t enough land in the United States to grow enough corn to replace gasoline completely, even if it was possible.

An acre of corn can only produce 300 gallons of ethanol, which is an absurdly small amount when you consider that 200 million gallons of petroleum products are used every year in the United States. In fact, over 70% of the farmland in the United States would be needed to grow enough corn to replace those petroleum products, nearly 950 million acres of farmland.

Getting a Loan

If you have ever had any trouble getting a loan from a traditional banking system, then you owe it to yourself to find out about the other options that you have for money. Getting a loan does not have to be a humiliating process – you can actually have the money that you need in a timely fashion and keep your dignity as well.

The secret to getting the money that you need is to partner with a loan company like that focuses on individual heads of household. When you take a loan from a large bank, you are actually agreeing to terms that are created for international businesses. These terms are definitely not in your favor, nor do you have the cash backing to create leverage if you miss a payment or the terms change.

When you do a business with a company that is geared towards people like you, then you can give yourself a great deal of leverage that is impossible to do with a large bank. This will lead to better customer service. You will not have to put up with being treated like a number. You will not have to wait by the phone for a month just to find out if the terms on your agreement are changing. You will be able to negotiate your own terms with a lender who understands that not everything goes perfectly during a loan.

Because they are more used to giving out small amounts of money to individuals, you will not have to deal with the large interest rates that are put on large companies when they borrow millions of dollars at a time. With all of the advantages that you gain from doing business with a company that is invested in smaller loans, there is really no reason for you to go back to a large banking organization. Do not be fooled by the millions of dollars in advertisements that large banks place into television and radio to make sure that you think that they are the only option. You have other options.

Impacts of Rising Fuel Prices

Americans have driven cars for more than 100 years. Throughout this time, cars have become a major part of the American lifestyle.  Most U.S. families own at least one car.  This may be due to the limited mass- transit options in many parts of the country.  And in some places, weather conditions make walking or bicycling year-round difficult. There are 136 million passenger cars in the United States.  About 97 percent of them rely on the internal combustion engine (ICE).  ICE cars and trucks use 50 to 70 percent of oil produced in the country.  They use so much because their engines are inefficient. But, the engine isn’t the only problem.  Some people prefer fast sports cars, heavy, powerful trucks, or sport-utility vehicles (SUVs).  Moving fast or pulling heavy weight uses additional fuel. So, these powerful vehicles are even more inefficient. Automakers say they would build more efficient vehicles if they knew that more people would buy them.

When fuel is inexpensive, fuel efficiency is not a major concern for most drivers.  However, fuel prices have increased in recent years.  This is partly because the United States largely depends on imported oil.  Yet, much of the world’s oil is located in politically unstable countries.  So, the United States may not always be able to obtain the amount of oil it currently consumes.

In addition, ICE vehicles cause environmental problems.  Their exhaust contains unburned or partially burned fuels. These emissions are poisonous and contribute to smog.  ICE vehicles also emit other harmful gases. For these reasons, consumers and car companies have shown interest in alternative cars.  Some alternatives, such as electric cars, have been around for many years.  Others, such as hydrogen fuel-cell cars, are still being developed.  Despite their differences, alternative cars share a common goal.  They provide more efficient transportation with less harmful effects.

When gasoline prices rise, many people pay closer attention to the fuel economy of their vehicles.  Fuel economy is measured by how many miles a vehicle can travel using one gallon (4 L) of fuel. The U.S. government publishes a list of fuel economy ratings for cars.  However, many drivers report that they get fewer miles per gallon than the listed amount.  This is because the rating system does not reflect how most people drive.

Fuel economy ratings assume people drive no more than 60 miles per hour (97 km/h). And, they assume people accelerate slowly, going from 0 to 60 miles per hour in 18 seconds.  However, the average driver accelerates about five times as quickly. Weather also affects fuel economy.  Federal standards measure fuel economy at 68 to 86 degrees Fahrenheit (20 to 30°C), without air conditioning.  In most places, temperatures are well outside that range.

Finally, more energy is needed to move heavy weight.  Today, the average U.S. adult weighs about 25 pounds (11 kg) more than the average adult in 1960.  Compared to the yearly amount of gasoline that U.S. passenger vehicles burned in 1960, they burn an additional 938 million gallons (4 billion L) today.  That extra gasoline would be enough to fuel nearly 2 million cars for a year!

The Benefits of These Lower Gas Prices!

A major drop in gasoline prices in the last 3 to 4 months has allowed many consumers around the country to start putting more money in savings and also pay down their debt, according to a new survey from Wells Fargo/Gallup.

The survey, which talked to just over 1000 consumers and investors, showed that on average they’re saving $108  every month. That’s between consumer’s still in the workforce who are saving approximately $117 a month and retirees saving about $68 a month. For the survey, an investor was defined as an adult with more than $10,000 in both savings and investments.

What the survey showed was that, due to gas prices that are lower than they’ve been in nearly 6 years, approximately 7 out of every 10 consumers in the US are using the money that they’re saving at the pumps to improve their financial situation by either investing the money, putting it in savings or paying down their debt.

That breaks down to approximately 37% who are using the savings to pay off debt, 33% who are putting it into some side of savings plan and approximately 25% that are simply using the extra money to make additional purchases. Nearly 30% responded that the extra money they are saving on gas is helping them “a lot” with their household budget.

Analysts see this as great news because it means that, rather than wasting the extra money that they’re saving on frivolous or nonessential items, the majority of American consumers are doing something positive with that money instead. Gas prices have risen slightly over the last few weeks but, on average, are still about 35% less than they were at the same time last year and lower than they have been in the last five years.

Environmental Trends and USA Auto Sales

Gas has always been cheap in the USA; it is something that allowed many citizens to drive large cars and SUV’s without breaking the bank. There are factors that have changed the environment. The recession and the problems of the economy were just two of them. Environmental pressures have resulted in more people questioning their personal carbon footprints and that means their gas consumption.  Big engines are ‘gas guzzlers.’ The USA auto sales figures during the recession were depressed. Few models were able to show any growth; one exception was the Honda Civic which clearly bucked the trend because of its fuel economy.

While auto sales have recovered and the wholesale cost of oil has fallen dramatically environmental factors are still a consideration and in the coming months those people thinking about buying a new car may ask themselves a number of questions. Certainly the fact that interest rates remain low makes financing any purchase from real estate to cars or home improvements affordable for those in regular employment.

Running Costs

There is unlikely to be any return to the early days of the Century when there were few restrictions in obtaining credit. A car is not an investment; it is a necessity in most cases but there is no reason with the quality of today’s models to change cars as frequently as in the past. It makes the buying decision more important than it used to be. There is no need to hurry; it is better to make the correct choice rather than rush. There are quality used cars that may make a persuasive argument as well. Running costs should be factored into any decision; that is much more than the gas consumption. It includes insurance and service.


When it comes to finance those who have a good credit score are likely to get the best realistic loan offers. There is no likelihood of huge interest rises in the coming months because some of the world’s economies are still fairly fragile. There is a level of interdependency between national economies that means that no country is immune from international market conditions and interest rates reflect that in many cases.

Just as the buying decision is worth consideration it certainly makes sense to shop round for the best loans. There are auto manufacturers and dealers who are likely to have special offers of finance but they are not the only ones to talk to before making a decision. If a car loan in taken over a few years it is possible to save plenty of money over the period of the loan.

Cash Buyers

It is sometimes best to have finance in place, at least in principle before going to a dealer because you will be effectively talking as a cash buyer. A cash buyer is likely to be able to get a better price than someone who apparently needs help. If the dealer then wants to discuss arranging finance and has a better deal to offer than you have provisionally agreed you can still take up the offer and get the keen price you have negotiated.

Those who have a growing family may be looking for a saloon car. Such cars are not always gas efficient but they are certainly better than large SUVs. If your auto is simply to get yourself around or occasionally a passenger or two your choice a few years ago may have been the 4 x 4 or SUV. Even though finance is readily available at low rates gas consumption has become an issue. You may want to reduce your carbon footprint in which case why not go for something smaller?

Think Credit Card companies tell you the whole Truth? Think Again

Many people think that they know everything about their credit card. They memorize the number, note the interest rate, know their credit limit intimately and even memorize every reward that they are eligible to get.

Unfortunately, there are several secrets that your credit card company doesn’t want you to know because the more you benefit, the more your credit card company loses. (Note to self: they don’t really like that.)

With that in mind, below you’ll find a number of things you card carrier doesn’t want you to know but, because we love you, we do. Enjoy.

Secret #1:  Those “fixed rates”? They aren’t really fixed. The fact is, your credit card issuer can raise your APR whenever they feel like it and, while this isn’t necessarily a huge secret, it’s usually so deeply hidden in the fine print of the agreement you sign as a cardholder that you’ll probably miss it. Most card companies entice their customers with an “introductory” interest rate and, by law, they need to notify you about 15 days before it increases. But make no mistake, increase it they can and, usually, will.

Secret #2: If you make 1 late payment you’ll get 2 penalties. Everyone knows that if they make a late payment they’re going to get a penalty fee tacked on to their next bill, but most don’t realize that they actually get two penalties, a late fee up to $35 and a penalty rate, meaning an increase in your APR as high as 29.99%. So not only will you be paying a penalty for late payment, but afterwards another penalty on each monthly bill in the form of an increased interest rate.

Secret #3: That “no card limit” card actually comes with limits. Many credit cards that are advertised as having “no spending limit” actually have a “revolving spending cap”. Your credit card company advertise it to you as having no limits but it actually has no preset limits, which are determined by your spending habits and behavior. If you spend more than this preset limit the penalties and interest will set you back an ugly penny.

Secret #4: The “grace period” on most cards is being reduced or removed. If you have sometimes been thankful for having a grace period to pay off your credit card before interest starts being charged, it’s time to check with your credit card issuer to make sure that you still have one and how many days it actually gives you. Many credit card companies are reducing their grace period from 25 to just 20 days and some are getting rid of them completely. That means, in some cases, that you’ll be charged interest on every purchase even if you pay your bill on time.

Secret #5: Some credit card companies will charge you interest twice in one month. Credit card companies use a little legal maneuver that allows them to charge you two months interest for just one month of late payments on your balance. It’s called “double cycle billing” and it allows them to charge you a higher interest based on any month when you carry a higher balance if you paid a partial balance payment in the previous month. At times like this one might decide against credit cards and go for a payday loans instead

Secret #6: The lower minimum payment requirements work against you. Here’s a fact; the longer amount of time you stay in debt, the more money credit card companies will make from you in interest charges. It used to be that there was a 5% minimum monthly payment on most credit cards but today, because credit card companies realized that people were paying off their balances too quickly, they lowered it to just 2%. This move looks like it gives you some “breathing room” on paying off your credit card balance but it actually adds hundreds of thousands of dollars to the coffers of credit card companies every year.

Secret #7: Your APR can increase even if you make a late payment to another creditor. Let’s say that you make a credit card payment on time but you’re late on your car payment. Did you know that your APR can be increased across each line of credit in your name because of that? Probably not, so imagine your auto or home loan going from 3% up to 29%. It’s called the “universal default clause” and it helps credit card companies against people who “pose a credit risk”, meaning that any creditor can increase your APR even if you didn’t pay them late but paid another creditor late.

Now that you know these dirty little credit card secrets, you can see why paying your credit down as quickly as possible, reading the fine print in your cardholder agreement and always paying your bills on time is vitally important.

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