How do you evaluate the safety ratings of a vehicle, other than what the manufacturer tells you?

Volvo-XC90A woman recently came in to the showroom and mentioned she had been car-shopping and checked out one of the lowest priced manufacturer’s cars and believed it was the safest car on the road. Though she was leaning toward buying that vehicle because of the low price and belief in its safety, she still wanted to check out the Toyota Corolla.

I was surprised she thought this manufacturer had the safest vehicle. So I thought it was important to look at objective sources. In general, I’m happy to say that the Volvo has the highest safety ratings by far. However, I also recognize that not everyone is in the market to purchase a Volvo.

So where do you look for objective data on safety ratings? Two of the best sources are the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and Consumer Reports, which never accepts advertising. The IIHS “is an independent, nonprofit scientific and educational organization dedicated to reducing the losses — deaths, injuries and property damage — from crashes on the nation’s roads.” They conduct crash tests on a regular basis.

According to the IIHS, their “tests evaluate two aspects of safety: crashworthiness — how well a vehicle protects its occupants in a crash — and crash avoidance and mitigation — technology that can prevent a crash or lessen its severity.” There are two categories of vehicles that make the top safety picks: 2014 Top Safety Pick, for vehicles must earn good ratings in the moderate overlap front, side, roof strength and head restraint tests, as well as a good or acceptable rating in the small overlap front test. To qualify for 2014 Top Safety Pick+, a vehicle must meet the Top Safety Pick criteria, plus earn a basic, advanced or superior rating for front crash prevention.

On the Honor roll for Top Safety Picks for 2014:

• Mid-size luxury or near-luxury cars: Volvo S60Scion

• Large luxury cars: Volvo S80

• Luxury SUVs: Volvo XC 60 and XC 90

• Mid-size SUVs: Toyota Highlander (Plus rating)

• Small cars: Toyota Scion FR-S and tC and Toyota Prius

• Mid-size cars: Toyota Camry.

To learn about used cars for your teen or yourself, go to For example, they rated the 2010 Toyota Corolla, Prius and Matrix with 4-5 stars (out of 5) for safety in all categories. They rank vehicles beginning with 1990 to present specifically based on front-end crash ratings. Motor Trend has an online service to look up safety ratings by vehicle as well.

My best advice, use the internet to research highway safety and crash test ratings and focus on the above two objective sources:  IIHS and Consumer Reports.  Unfortunately, other sources can be misleading and when it comes to safety, be sure you are using a good source.

Drive safely and enjoy this last “unofficial” week of summer. Happy Labor Day Weekend!

Ask Gary Jaffarian

Categories: Ask Gary

What is the best way to make an informed decision when buying a pre-owned vehicle?

pre-owned ToyotaWhen buying pre-owned or buying or leasing a new vehicle, who you are buying from is as important as what you are buying. Commonly this is less important to the buyer and can I really recommend people to do their homework in this area.

What is important to assess when it comes to a dealership and pre-owned vehicles:

1. Do your research: One of the best ways to evaluate a pre-owned vehicle is to do your online research and when you find a vehicle you want to purchase, check out the CARFAX which many dealers will provide. Look at the number of previous owners and past maintenance and accident records. In addition to evaluating the vehicle itself, do your homework on the individual or business you are buying the pre-owned vehicle from.

2. Know your legal rights. There are two distinct lemon laws that affect our customer base: the New Hampshire lemon law and the Massachusetts lemon law. Before buying a pre-owned vehicle in N.H., be sure you understand the limitations to your legal rights.
lemon law 2
3. Dealership reputation – do your homework on the business you are considering completing a business transaction with. Are they reputable? Check them out online and what others are saying about them. is one of the best sources.

4. Quality of pre-owned vehicles available: If you are buying from a dealer, do they offer certified pre-owned vehicles? Do they have a vehicle manual available detailing the history of the vehicle and its maintenance and service? Is a warranty available to protect you? In many cases, the pre-owned warranty is for more years, than the original warranty on the new vehicle.

5. “Buyer Beware!” – There are countless stories of customers who have been taken as a result of pre-owned vehicle transactions that resulted in problems and buyer’s remorse. Protect yourself and your wallet by spending as much time selecting who you conduct business with, as you do selecting the right pre-owned vehicle for your needs and budget. Trust, integrity and commitment to earning your business and then supporting your needs in the future are factors that I recommend you consider.

We pride ourselves in offering only pre-owned vehicles on our lot that we are confident are high value and offer our customers vehicles that are going to serve them well. There are many vehicles offered as pre-owned by others, that would not meet our high standards for the pre-owned selection in our lots.

The Jaffarian pre-owned inventory is limited to quality vehicles that are worthy of space in our lot and they do sell quickly. Check out what we have in stock but know the inventory for trade-in vehicles changes constantly and if there is a particular vehicle you want us to be on the lookout for, let us know.

Enjoy the rest of your summer!

Ask Gary Jaffarian

Categories: Ask Gary

How does the Toyota Corolla compare to the Nissan Sentra, Honda Civic, Ford Focus and Hyundai Elantra?

2014-toyota-corolla-s-and-2014-honda-civic-ex-l-sedan-photo-603518-s-520x318Great question –and you know that I’m not objective—so to do this question justice, I’ll have to quote objective sources. Many people do come in comparing the Corolla to one or more of the above list, especially those who do not currently own a Toyota. First of all, for those who want to buy an American- made vehicle, our shoppers are delighted to learn that Toyota actually manufactures more vehicles in America than any other manufacturer, as discussed in my Ask Gary column last August.

The Corolla has been recognized as the best-selling car of all time. The challenge is to balance the comfortable, reliable and familiar with a fresh new look, new features and keeping up with technology—which it does. Its safety and reliability for the price are paramount to its success.

According to AutoWeek, “Now entering its 11th generation, the Corolla has seen some significant styling changes and added a new, more fuel-efficient variant for 2014.Though the 2013 Corolla is getting long in the tooth, it’s still been crushing the competition: So far this year in the United States, 2013 Corolla sales are at 132,514, while the Honda Civic is 128,980 and the Ford Focus trails at 111,641.”

Autobytel said, “For 2014, Toyota has completely redesigned the Corolla. The 2014 Corolla is bigger inside, more fuel-efficient, and more sophisticated in terms of design and technology.” compared the Nissan Sentra with the Corolla and found a great deal of similarities, but pointed out that “Nissan Sentra has less horsepower than the Toyota Corolla, so it will probably be somewhat slower.”

On the Find the Best website, they compared the 2013 Sentra S to the 2014 Corolla S and they rated the cars on a number of features and came up with a “Smart Rating”—with the Sentra earning an 86 and the Corolla earning 95! The rating is based on expert reviews, depreciation and safety. The Corolla earned extra points for gas mileage and overall safety.Corolla Award

Corolla’s redesigned model won accolades for having the largest back seat—something people don’t usually think about—but if you drive with more than two passengers, it’s an important consideration. When buying a new vehicle, many people forget to check out the rear seat, and in this case it is much roomier—large enough to hold three passengers if needed.

Not surprising, Auto Trader compared the Corolla to the Hyundai Elantra for reliability and here is what they wrote: “When you’re on a budget, reliability is really important, and the Toyota Corolla demonstrates a long history of providing it. Check out the ratings from Consumer Reports or J.D. Power, and you’ll see that for the past decade the Corolla has suffered few dependability problems. That’s why, even though the car is redesigned for 2014, it is expected to continue to offer trouble-free motoring.

“The Hyundai Elantra’s track record isn’t as spotless, though the current version of the car — introduced for the 2011 model year — fares quite well. Nevertheless, the Elantra’s predicted reliability and quality ratings are merely average. Hyundai does, however, offer superior warranty coverage in order to provide buyers with added peace of mind.

When it comes to reliability, the victor is the Toyota Corolla.”

intellichoice-2014And for fuel economy, the same website said, “Real-world fuel economy is dependent upon how a person drives, but based on the official EPA ratings, the Corolla gets better mileage.”

Even I must admit that the other vehicles are formidable competitors with many attributes, but there has to be a reason why the Corolla outsells all economy cars in the U.S.—but then again—we love Toyotas! Dare to compare—come by Jaffarian Toyota Scion and see why more Corollas are sold in North America, then any other car. We have a nice selection of Corollas waiting for you, with more on the way. Let the team at Jaffarian help you make the best decision for your needs. We look forward to the opportunity to help you find the right vehicle while treating you the way you deserve to be treated when buying or leasing a vehicle.

Get informed. Stay informed. What vehicle are you considering?

Ask Gary Jaffarian

Categories: Ask Gary

What are your favorite scenic summer drives in New England?

Volvo-XC70-Ocean-Race-2009-1920x1080-002Finally some positive economic news – the price of gas has come down this past week to an average of $3.50 a gallon in the U.S. (and may be slightly higher in Mass. and slightly lower in N.H.) and it’s continuing to slide in a downward trend — great for the month of August to enjoy this beautiful area we call home. Now is the time for great summer road trips to enjoy all that New England has to offer!

I am a boater and a fisherman, and like most New Englanders, I love being near the ocean this time of year. Fortunately for most of us, even in a half-day, we can go for an ocean drive, stopping at a beach or picnic area. A day or weekend trip is even better, with many more options. Without leaving New England, you can visit the lakes, mountains and oceans with some of the best campgrounds, scenic views and fun activities you’ll ever find—and not to mention the best seafood and lobster rolls in the U.S.!

For some great summer drives from the North Shore or Merrimack Valley, I recommend:

Coastal New Hampshire—Take scenic Route 1 A North from Salisbury through Seabrook, Hampton Beach, Rye to Portsmouth; and if you have the time continue into Maine through Kittery Point and York Harbor and you’ll catch many beaches and even a few lighthouses—with loads of ice cream and seafood along the way.

Nubble LightCape Neddick, Maine – It’s a section of York with the famous Nubble Light – a lighthouse with distinction! It’s an easy ride between Kittery and Ogunquit and you can stop at Warren’s Lobsterhouse on the way home if you don’t mind the wait, for the largest salad bar in New England and loads of seafood, located at 111 Water Street on Route 1 in Kittery. Warren’s offers 40 feet of free boat docking for guests arriving by water.

Ogunquit, Maine – Although most of you have probably been there, the ocean walk from Perkins’ Cove is probably one of the prettiest walks without requiring skill and benches for resting. The water may be cold in Maine, but you can sit on the opposite side of the ocean, under the bridge where there is a warm inlet on one side and fishing off the bridge on the other side. The shopping and restaurants are wonderful. Parking for the day is reasonable.

Kennebunkport, Maine—Not just the place to see the Bush family compound on the ocean, but a great place for another ocean drive, shopping, climbing the rocks, dining and painting the breathtaking scenery.

Cape Ann—the “other Cape”— Let’s not forget about Gloucester, Rockport, Essex and Manchester-by-the Sea! Cape Ann offers the best seafood, especially the clams. If you’re in for casual dining, take a ride through Essex and stop at the famous Woodman’s, featured on Chronicle and many TV dining programs. They’re celebrating 100 years this summer! Rockport is known for the fishing shack called Motif #1—and known for shopping and sitting on the rocks at Bearskin Neck. This is a region of artisans and seafood.

For weekends away, I recommend Block Island, Newport, Jamestown (with their beautiful bridges) or Narragansett, R.I. – places most people from Northern Mass. and Southern N.H. seldom visit in favor of Cape Cod or the N.H. Lakes Region. Certainly the Kancamagus Highway has a breathtaking view as is driving Mount Washington! Why not try something different this summer? Block Island is a beach-goers, lighthouse lovers and boaters paradise!

Whatever your road trip preference, be safe and enjoy this beautiful time in New England! We’d love to see photos from your road trips on our Jaffarian Facebook page.

Ask Gary Jaffarian

P.S. As you plan your road trip, be sure to review my June “Ask Gary” on “What do I pack for a long summer drive?

Categories: Ask Gary

Should I buy an all-wheel drive vehicle?

Jaff Toyota RAV 4A woman came into our showroom last week convinced she needed to buy an all-wheel drive vehicle. For the vehicle she was interested in, the cost would have been about $2000 more. To ensure it made sense for her to make that additional investment, I inquired about her driving habits. As covered in last week’s Ask Gary column, we ask the questions to understand the customer’s needs and if they don’t need to spend more, we help them get the vehicle that best meets their needs at a lower cost.

Driving habits and where you drive are key factors to consider when evaluating whether you should buy an all-wheel drive vehicle or a 4-wheel drive vehicle. In this case, the woman mostly drove around town and did some highway driving. Based on our in-depth discussion about her driving routine and habits, we concluded she really did not need to have an all-wheel drive vehicle. To help answer your question, it is important to understand the difference between all-wheel drive and four-wheel drive, since people commonly use the terms interchangeably:

All-Wheel Drive—described commonly as AWD; has a drivetrain that employs a front, rear and center differential to provide power to all four wheels of a vehicle at the same time. AWD is generally found on cars and crossovers such as the Toyota Rav-4, Highlander, Matrix S, Sienna and Venza and Volvo XC70, XC 90 and XC60.

Four-Wheel Drive– described as 4WD or 4 x4; has a drivetrain that employs two differentials and a transfer case to provide power to all four wheels of a vehicle. 4WD is predominantly in truck-based platforms (Toyota 4-Runner, Tundra and Tacoma) and is ideal for use in off-road situations. The Volvo XV60 is available in four-wheel drive.Jaff Tundra

All-wheel and 4-wheel drive help a vehicle accelerate in slippery conditions, but they don’t help with braking and only sometimes improve handling. In some cases, the tires on the vehicle you choose may compensate for certain road conditions, and may be a lower cost alternative to buying all-wheel or four-wheel drive vehicles. If you are a skier, and frequently drive to the mountains in snowy conditions, you may want to consider all your needs and invest in AWD or perhaps even 4WD. If your driving is primarily local on paved roads and some highway driving, you likely do not need to invest in either option. Keep in mind, other preferences come into account as some of our customers prefer the truck frame and being up higher and want the 4-Runner for its many features while 4WD is not an absolute requirement.

Four wheel drive vehicles are great if you travel on dirt on unpaved roads and for climates where it rains or snows for many months of the year. The advantages are that these vehicles help with traction and acceleration in inclement weather. If you tow a boat or a camper, a truck with four-wheel drive will prove useful if you tow on sandy ground or dirt roads. But even towing on dry roads, four-wheel drive is not necessary.

While they cost more, both AWD and 4WD vehicles generally have a higher resale value. However, because they are heavier vehicles, they tend to be less economical for fuel—a big consideration with the current price of gas. If you live or travel frequently to an area where you are driving on dirt roads, an all-wheel or four-wheel drive vehicle may be the best option to avoid getting stuck on muddy or snowy roads.

If you’re researching vehicles and evaluating whether you should invest in four-wheel drive or all-wheel drive, please come to Jaffarian Volvo Toyota Scion where we can help answer any questions you have and help you make an informed decision. Like our recent customer who was sure she needed AWD, we may be able to save you money while helping you select the best vehicle for your driving needs.

Safe driving and enjoy the summer driving season!

Ask Gary Jaffarian

Categories: Ask Gary

How do you think your dealership differs from the typical vehicle-buying experience? I dread buying a new car!

check us outWe are different from other dealers in so many ways. Most important to our customers and to folks looking to buy or lease a new or pre-owned vehicle is that we are upfront and open. We want our customers to make an informed decision and one that is best for them. We offer value – value in offering high-quality vehicles at a fair price combined with exceptional customer service and a commitment to earning your business. We realize our customers have many choices of where to buy, lease and maintain their vehicle. Ultimately, it comes down to our people and delivering on our message of: Demand the best. Get the best.

How we treat our customers is ultimately what sets us apart. It is our customer ratings that earned us Volvo Massachusetts Dealer of the Year for two years in a row. It is also our customer ratings that earn us a 4.9 overall rating on (24-Month Rating based on 465 reviews and 846 lifetime reviews)

Current Overall Rating: 4.9 (out of 5)

We consistently train our sales people on two primary things: vehicle knowledge and on being a trusted advisor and consultant to the customer. To earn a customer’s trust we emphasize the importance of listening and then serving their needs without any pressure.

There are no gimmicks here, no false advertising, and we recognize more women are buying vehicles on their own, and even in the case of couples, nearly 75% of the time it is the woman who makes the decision. We treat both men and women seriously and with equal respect. In fact, we are Women-Drivers Certified.women drivers

We recognize that consumers can conduct their research online and are more informed and sophisticated when they come to the dealership. Therefore, we hire more sophisticated, well-trained salespeople to best meet their needs. While it is great there is so much information available on the web, the abundance of information can be overwhelming and confusing. It is important that our team can help clarify what a consumer has read or understood as they researched vehicles online.

When you enter the dealership, we take the time to get to know you and understand your needs, have you fill out a guest survey to get to know your preferences, needs and budget, and then help you make a decision based on your own criteria. In fact, there are times when rather than trying to upsell like other dealers, our sales team may help someone decide that based on their budget and needs, the Corolla may be a better fit than the Camry. In that manner, we strive to avoid any buyer’s remorse, and keep our customers happy and our ratings high!

Unlike most dealerships, we also provide your final numbers in writing in our sales quote folder so if you need more time to think about your decision, you have everything you need in writing and explained by a member of our team. Unfortunately, many dealers may verbally tell you a number but they will not put that number in writing and commit to that being the final deal. We don’t play that game. We want customers for life, customers who refer friends and family members. So we’re not just trying to sell you a vehicle once. It’s all about building the relationship by listening, understanding and serving your needs now and over many years.

Our sales team members are advisors and consultants that help you determine the best fit for you based on your family size, miles driven, and other facts, and balance that with needs, wants and your budget. If we don’t get to know you first, then we wouldn’t be doing our job. Good salespeople need to be good listeners—not just talking about features and benefits of the vehicles. We pay attention to our customers, so that we don’t steer you in the wrong direction.

Fast-talking salespeople are the biggest problem in our industry and I’m happy to say, that I receive so many letters and emails from recent customers who say they dreaded the car-buying experience until they came into Jaffarian Volvo Toyota Scion. (I’m happy to say that our service advisors also practice the same steps in getting to know the customers and their vehicles and really listening to their needs.)

If you come to our showroom and you need to access to me for any reason, just pick up the red phone and it rings directly to my phone. We recently held a celebration to thank our sales team for their great effort and results— for listening and getting our customers into the best vehicle for their needs and budget – and for raising the bar and being the reason we earned a near-perfect score on based on customer reviews! Check us out! We expect you to and want you to do your homework on vehicles and on dealerships. We are confident that we should be one of the dealerships you visit when looking for your next vehicle.

Enjoy the beautiful summer weather and drive safely!

Ask Gary Jaffarian

Categories: Ask Gary

Do I need to spend money to check my A/C if it seems to be working? I haven’t serviced it since I purchased my vehicle.

PriusACIf your air conditioning is coming on immediately and cooling you off, then no, you don’t need to have it checked. However, if you’re air conditioner is not coming on immediately or not cooling the temperature in a reasonable amount of time, then I would bring it in to be checked. It is possible for A/C to never need servicing for the life of the vehicle, but that is not the norm.

Most often when the A/C is not functioning the way it used to, it needs to be recharged with Freon. While you may feel you can live with you’re A/C at less than maximum, you want to have it checked immediately to be certain you don’t have a leak. So you know, the Freon currently used in A/C systems has been legislated by the EPA to not produce chemicals harmful to the ozone-layer.

Vehicle air conditioners are made up of five major parts: compressor, condenser, receiver dryer or accumulator, the orifice tube or expansion valve, and the evaporator. That is why it is important to have a certified technician check to see which part is causing the problem and to be sure there is not a leak.

At Jaffarian Volvo Toyota Scion, we offer seasonal specials when you need them most. We make air conditioning checks and summer travel servicing very affordable.

This is also a good time to think about an automatic or remote starter, so you can cool your vehicle down before you get in; and certainly heat up your vehicle in the winter while it’s sitting in the driveway or parking lot. Automatic starters allow you to start your vehicle safely while the vehicle is still locked. It’s a great gift for a loved one who has everything—except the remote starter—something they will really appreciate in both summer and winter. It is also on special at Jaffarian through the end of August.

So stay cool in your vehicle—and if you’re not cool enough—or your vehicle doesn’t cool down the way it used to, call us or log-in to schedule an appointment. We’re here Monday-Saturday for your convenience.

Stay cool and drive safely for the rest of the summer!

Ask Gary Jaffarian

Categories: Ask Gary

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