Buying a used cars? These simple tricks could save you time and money

If it’s not the plethora of models and versions available – plus diesels, petrols and hybrids – the choices can seem almost endless before you have even got to the detailed decisions of a used car’s mileage or condition.

However, the reality is that while there are plenty of hurdles to trip you up in the used car market, there is also plenty you can do to help yourself too.

Do a little homework on where and how to fi nd the best deal and you can give yourself a helping hand before you have even taken a test drive.

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Buying a used car needn’t cause headaches, just follow a few simple rules


The first steps are the most obvious. What do you need your car for?

There is little point in buying a small city car if you are likely to spend hours pounding the motorway but likewise there is no point in buying an expensive sports car if it sits in the train station car park for 90 per cent of the week.

Think about why you are buying this car and why you need it in the first place.

Do you need to regularly transport your family or is this car largely for you alone? Will anyone else be driving it and what are their needs?

Do you need a small hatchback or a large estate, four-wheel drive for tricky lanes or perhaps a crossover for that high-up driving position?

Is your situation likely to change soon with a new baby, children leaving home or even a job switch and how will that affect matters?

Of course, much of the above will be dictated by your budget and what you can afford but give it some serious thought as the last thing you want to do is to have to go through the whole process again.

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Hybrid and electric cars are still not for everyone


Although hybrid and electric cars have gained massively in popularity and sales in recent years, they are still not for everyone.

Electric cars, while having improved, are still limited by their range compared to petrols or diesels and if you are doing a lot of motorway miles, then they might prove pricier to run than you think.

Look at online owner forums and read road tests to get a clearer picture of which might suit you.

The same goes for the age-old petrol versus diesel question too.

The latter might boast a better fuel economy at the pumps but you might need to be doing some serious annual mileage to realise that saving.

Some local authorities are penalising diesel drivers too when parking, so be sure to check.

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Buying a used car from a franchised dealer is undoubtedly the safest place to go shopping


Buying a used car from a franchised dealer is undoubtedly the safest place to go shopping for your next wheels but it is probably the most expensive too.

They will have a larger stock, especially of newer models usually in excellent condition but be sure to shop around to get the best deal for you.

By comparison, independent dealers will be more affordable and usually feature slightly older cars but they cannot usually offer quite the same back-up with their warranties.

Some will be able to sell you independent warranties for a little peace of mind but make sure you read the small print to find out what is covered before signing on the dotted line.


If you are after a mainstream model, then a car supermarket is a great choice


If you are after a mainstream model, then a car supermarket such as Cargiant is a great choice.

The cars might not have the same level of care and attention bestowed upon them as a dealership but what you will have is great value and plenty of choice.

Look beyond the odd scuffed alloy wheel or higher-than-average mileage and you can fi nd some bargains.

The downsides?

The cars might require some cosmetic TLC but they are a great way to save on time and shoe leather especially with mainstream models as you can see lots of cars in one place at the same time. Instead of looking at one or two Ford Focuses or VW Golfs, you might have ten to choose from, so if you need a car in a hurry, they are a great opportunity.

10. Ford F-150


Aside from car auctions – which are certainly not for the faint-hearted – buying a car privately is probably the riskiest option here – but it’s also probably the cheapest.

The good news is that private sales can sometimes realise some real well-loved, one-owner bargains.

The bad news is that it can unearth some of the worst cars too. Before going to look at any car make sure you ask about its provenance, details and mileage of the car beforehand so that you can do an HPI check (to verify the car’s mileage and finance status).

Independent inspections by fi rms such as the AA and small garages are often available for a fee but rely on your common sense and you will not go too far wrong – if a car looks and sounds too good to be true, then it probably is.

Check every detail with a keen eye and make sure you take it on a decent test drive, running through all the gears and asking the owner about it.

If you are not confi dent enough to do it on your own, take a friend (two pairs of eyes are always better than one) and if they are mechanically-minded, so much the better. Whichever route you choose, though, when buying your next used car, do not buy a car that you are not 100 per cent happy with.

If it does not feel right, just walk away – there will always be another ten just around the corner.

The power to buy or not is always in your hands, never forget that.


Two sites will collect used gear

Image result for Two sites will collect used gearStephanie Strasburg/Post-Gazette

Gear Fest co-founder Christine Iksic talks to volunteers David Steakhouse, center, and Scott Ferrari as they collect used outdoors gear earlier this month. It will be sold on consignment at Gear Fest Sunday at the Ace Hotel in East Liberty.

People with used outdoors gear and other items can drop them off at Saturday’s ReuseFest or Sunday’s Gear Fest.

ReuseFest runs from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday at UPMC Passavant Hospital’s green lot in McCandless. Nonprofits will accept and reuse art supplies, bedding, bikes, general household items, kitchen items, medical supplies, pet supplies, usable building materials, vintage items and more. The event is organized by the Pennsylvania Resources Council (

Outdoors gear can also be dropped off from 11 a.m.-2 p.m.Sunday at East Liberty’s Ace Hotel, 120 S. Whitfield St. Gear Fest, a sale with beer and live music, will run from noon-5 p.m. Sunday at the hotel. For more information, see


WhatsApp Used to Send a Record 14 Billion Messages on New Year’s Eve in India

WhatsApp Used to Send a Record 14 Billion Messages on New Year's Eve in India

WhatsApp Used to Send a Record 14 Billion Messages on New Year’s Eve in India
3.1 billion images, 700 million GIFs, and 610 million videos were sent
WhatsApp recently rolled out the ability to share GIF images
WhatsApp has more than 160 million monthly active users in India
On New Year’s Eve, 14 billion messages were exchanged through WhatsApp in India, 32 percent of which were in some form of media – photos, GIF images, videos, and voice messages, the Facebook-owned instant messaging app said on Friday.

The number of messages shared on the platform on New Year’s Eve is even higher than the last record set during Diwali when 8 billion messages were sent in one day, WhatsApp said.

A total of 3.1 billion images, 700 million GIF images, and 610 million videos were sent on WhatsApp on the occasion. WhatsApp has more than 160 million monthly active users in India.

Interestingly, WhatsApp only recently rolled out the ability to share animated GIF images on the platform. WhatsApp for iPhone got the feature back in November, while WhatsApp for Android got the feature in December. Android recently also got the ability to stream shared videos, letting users view videos before they were downloaded.
Last month, a major new feature was reportedly spotted in the WhatsApp for iPhone beta – the ability to revoke and edit sent messages. Several other messaging apps offer similar features, and their addition to WhatsApp will certainly be well-received. Also spotted was the ability to preview shared archive files.

Notably, WhatsApp stopped working on older versions of Android, iOS, and Windows Phone on December 31. Devices running on Android 2.2 or lower, iOS 6 or lower, and Windows Phone 7 are no longer supported by the app.

Written with inputs from IANS

For the latest coverage from the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, visit our CES 2017 hub.
Tags: WhatsApp, WhatsApp India, Apps, India


Julia Kurnia of Zidisha: How Non-Profit Used Tech Startup Tactics to Build a Microlending Marketplace

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Small Business Trends: Tell us a little bit of your personal background.

Julia Kurnia: I’ve always been interested in using technology to bring better opportunities, better access to capital to the world’s poorest places. When Kiva got started in 2005, I was very excited by the idea and I got a job working with one of Kiva’s first intermediary banks in West Africa. Kiva is a non-profit website that allows you to fund loans, which are then managed by local banks in developing countries. So I worked with one of the local banks that actually raised money, and then managed loans from Kiva.

There was kind of this immense desire on the part of people in wealthy countries to do something more direct that would help people in developing countries. The frustrating thing was that we had to spend a lot of money to manage the loans. We had to pay a loan officer to go and visit the borrowers and post their stories on the website, and to travel, and rent and office. And all of this ended up costing about a third of the value of the loans that we were making. So even though we received capital at zero cost from Kiva, we would have to charge the borrower’s 30 percent or 40 percent interest to cover our management costs. And that’s about the average rate charged for Kiva and also general micro-finance loans around the world.

Small Business Trends: Fast forward a little bit to the idea that you had for Zidisha and why you were able to do what you did at such a lower cost, compared to Kiva.

Julia Kurnia: In the following years, I started working with the U.S. Government managing grants in various countries in Africa. Over the years the internet just exploded, and cost of using the internet came way down in the world’s poorest places. Younger adults – people in their 20’s where they were growing up with Facebook and they were using the internet from cheap cyber cafes on every street corner.

I imagined something like Kiva, but without the bank intermediaries. It would be directly between the lender and the borrower. And by doing so, we could eliminate that 40% cost that was eating into the borrower’s profit margin.

Small Business Trends: Basically you were able to leverage the growth of the internet that was reaching into even the poorer parts of the world. Be able to leverage technology to create a marketplace that was more efficient, but also made it more possible for these loans to be done without having to pay exorbitant fees.

Julia Kurnia: Yes. At Zidisha, we don’t have any loan officers or bank intermediaries. The lender and the borrower interact directly. And by cutting out the intermediary, we’ve been able to get that 30 percent, 40 percent costs down to just five percent. The borrowers pay five percent for each loan.

Small Business Trends: Wow … Last year you were part of Y Combinator, and you mentioned that they helped you because your background isn’t necessarily in technology. But …

Julia Kurnia: No.

Small Business Trends: … they were able to help you to do things for yourself that you probably didn’t think you would have done four or five years ago.

Julia Kurnia: Yes. Y Combinator made us much more like a tech startup and less like a traditional charity or non-profit, which is a good thing because they introduced us to a lot of expertise and resources that hadn’t been on the radar previously. One example is using data science to automatically detect a suspicious loan application that we would have previously had to scrutinize manually.

Small Business Trends: So that’s another one of those areas where being able to use technology allowed you to not have to bring in these loans officers that add cost and make it maybe a little less efficient.

Julia Kurnia: Yes. Yes, that’s right.

Small Business Trends: Talk about the marketplace itself. How many people are getting loans, and how many people are loaning money.

Julia Kurnia: We were founded in 2009. We grew very slowly at first, and more rapidly in the past year since completing Y Combinator. So today we’ve crowd-funded a little over $3.5 million worth of loans. And that’s about 17,000 loans between about 25,000 people – lenders and borrowers all over the world.

Small Business Trends: That’s made up of loans averaging a couple hundred bucks. It’s not massive amounts of money per loan. It’s these $100, $200 loans that are going to folks in Africa and Asia, and that money goes a long way.

Julia Kurnia: Yes. One example is college tuition. That’s a popular use of small loans among the young adults who are joining our platform. In Ghana, $200 is enough to go to university for a semester.

Small Business Trends: Man, that almost left me speechless there. That might get you a book in one semester here in the States.

Julia Kurnia: Yes, but the amazing thing about connecting people directly and doing so at low cost is that you can take advantage of the huge differences in purchasing power. For the price of one night’s dinner in New York, you could start an entire restaurant in Indonesia.

Small Business Trends: Wow. Now let’s talk about the folks that are lending to the borrowers. How is this marketplace done differently from their perspective?

Julia Kurnia: For one thing, it’s very transparent. When you go on our website, you aren’t interacting with us or our employees. You’re interacting directly with the borrower. You can ask them questions. You’re reading the story that they wrote themselves with no editing from anyone. You can exchange photos. Lenders also like being able to see the exact cost the borrower is paying for their loan, and being able to choose to whom their funds go. They also like being able to renew it over and over, so on average, $100 put into a loan fund at Zidisha funds about $200 to $300 worth of loans in a year.

Small Business Trends: So basically, kind of to sum things up, you’re able to leverage technology to create a marketplace that allows you to reach the same folks, and for them to only pay 5% as opposed to 40 percent transaction fees.

Julia Kurnia: Yes, and this would not have been possible 10 years ago.

Small Business Trends: And I’m kind of looking at it also from the perspective of looking to the future. Kiva actually had — I think you mentioned — hundreds of employees if not more. And …

Julia Kurnia: I believe so.

Small Business Trends: And many more resources at their disposal, but you were able to basically make it a little different business model. But it’s actually better for the borrowers because now they’re not having to pay those higher transaction fees.

Julia Kurnia: That’s right. We never had major backing, or millions of dollars worth of grants the way Kiva did. And that forced us to stay very lean. So almost everything is automated and decentralized to our users.

Small Business Trends: So if I asked you to peer out into the future — maybe a year or two out — as we know technology is constantly morphing. But where do you think technology is going to take your marketplace?

Julia Kurnia: I think, in hindsight, we were very early to market. So when we started doing this in 2009, perhaps two percent of the people in Kenya or the other countries where we operated were online. These days it’s more like 10 percent to 20 percent. So it’s an exploding market that’s driven a lot of our recent growth. And I expect that to continue.

Small Business Trends: Very good. And you said you’re up to about 30,000 members, borrowers and lenders total?

Julia Kurnia: Yes. Yes, almost 30,000.

Small Business Trends: And it sounds like the growth rates, you could be seeing those kind of numbers double over a year or two period.

Julia Kurnia: Yes, at least. Our monthly loan funding volume has more than tripled in the past year.

Small Business Trends: You’re seeing that kind of growth and that kind of scale, but it seems like you’re able to do that without adding a whole bunch of additional employees. And, you’re right now the main employee.

Julia Kurnia: Yes. We’re mostly a volunteer-driven community similar to Wikipedia in that respect. We expect to add many more volunteers and have our users very involved in the process. And we try to stay out of the way as much as possible and make the platform useful for everyone.

Small Business Trends: Even from that perspective, it’s the collaboration that you need to do – technology makes that easier for you to do and have this army of volunteers ready to help out.

Julia Kurnia: Yes.

Small Business Trends: Where could people learn more about Zidisha, and maybe how they can play a role in this?

Julia Kurnia: I would recommend going to our website. It’s