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MEGA REVIEW: Subaru Levorg 1.6 GT-S

Subaru Levorg!  This is the Sports wagon I'm looking forward to...  I loved the car so much that I downloaded and scanned the Singaporea...

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

LONGTERMER 1: Update 10: Ford Telstar 2.0 Ghia

LONGTERMER 1: Update 10: 1998/99 Ford Telstar 2.0i4 Ghia

In this blog entry, I am updating my Ford Telstar i4 Ghia. This is the 10th update. What's up in the month of April?

Not much to highlight in the first week of April. Let's proceed to the 2nd week, after a fill up at the Petrol Station, my Telstar Can't get out of "P" gear. Earlier already "Difficult to shift to "P" gear, but that time, it's so bad that I need to call a Tow Truck to tow the car to workshop.
At the Workshop, I was quoted RM80 to fix the gear wiring.

4 days ago (Friday), my Telstar's temperature went up again, beside this problem, the Auto transmission "Overdrive" button not working. Total repair bill today: RM180.

As I typed this, I'm glad to say that the car just reached another fuel consumption record, 9km/L early this month. Without further ado, let's proceed to Logbook:

LOGBOOK:

Year of manufactured: December 1998 (registered January 1999)
Purchase price: RM42,000 (Aug 2005)
Current value: RM16,000 (As at January 2009)
Depreciation per year (averaged): RM6,500
Mileage last month: 142,465km

Mileage now: 143,110km

Fuel consumption (so far):
BEST: 9km/l (8 April 2009) = 90% Highway
WORST: 5.9km/l (27 April 2008) = 90% city

TODAY, As at 28 April,

Expenses (this month)
1) Petrol and toll charges.
2) RM80 to fix the Auto transmission (stuck in "P" gear)

3) RM180 to fix the Radiator (flush and wash) AND Auto transmission (cannot engage "Overdrive" switch this time.

Before I go: here’s a parting shot:


End of Update, thanks for having the patience to read it...

AN ORIGINAL JEFF LIM PRODUCTION (My original work)

Friday, April 24, 2009

FOLLOW UP ARTICLE (2): Dealers: Hike in car loan rates should not have happened

NOTE: THIS IS A FOLLOW-UP from PREVIOUS ARTICLE...

THE STAR ONLINE BUSINESS:
Thursday April 23, 2009
Dealers: Hike in car loan rates should not have happened

By RACHAEL KAM

PETALING JAYA: The one percentage point increase in car financing rates may only have minimal impact on vehicle sales in the longer term, but will likely boost sales of national cars at the expense of non-national vehicles, car dealers said.

But the hike in car loan rates should not have happened in these challenging times, they said.

Banks informed car dealers last Friday that hire-purchase interest rates would be increased by one percentage point effective Monday.

Car dealers contacted by StarBiz said that they just could not understand the rationale for the increase in interest rates for car loans.
Used car dealers queried whether the car financing interest rate increase is a government plan to discourage people from buying non-national cars.

They said the current lower interest rates were supposed to stimulate consumer spending, but the increase in car loan rates would be a burden to consumers during these tough times.

“The one percentage point increase in the interest rate will discourage consumers from buying used cars, especially the non-national cars, because they have to pay more to get a second-hand car.

“Thus, it would definitely affect our sales,” said second-hand car dealer Sonny Soh of Sonny Soh Sdn Bhd.

He told StarBiz that the previous interest rates of 3.5% to 5% were already one to two percentage points higher than the rates for new cars.

Currently, the company is selling only used non-national cars.

“Is this a government plan to discourage people from buying non-national cars and boost sales of national cars?” Soh asked.

New and reconditioned, or recond, car dealer Zulkifli Ahmad agrees that the hike should not have happened, but sees little impact on car sales in the longer term.

He said his company was informed by its bankers last Friday that the new interest rates for its recond cars now had increased to between 3.3% and 3.5%, compared with 2.3% to 2.5% previously.

The company is selling reconditioned or refurbished cars imported directly from Japan and Britain as well as new non-national cars.

“Higher interest rates may cause less demand in the immediate term but sales might pick up again once consumers are used to the new interest rate as people are still buying cars,” Zulkifli said.

Yap Chow Bin, the owner of used car dealer Motor Exchange, also sees little impact from the move.

Motor Exchange sells both used national and non-national cars at prices ranging from RM10,000 to RM80,000.

“Instead there may be a rise in demand for second-hand cars as there is a possible fall in demand for new cars due to the higher interest rates for new non-national cars,” he told StarBiz.

Yap said the most popular used cars he sold ranged between RM20,000 and RM30,000.

“The one percentage point increase may be just a little difference for consumers because they normally do not get big sum of loans for used cars,” he said.

The interest rates for Motor Exchange’s used national and non-national cars have increased to between 4.25% and 7%, compared with 3.1% to 6% previously.

Interest rates for used cars normally depends on the age of the vehicle, hiring period, margin of financing and even the loan borrowers’ net income, Yap explained.

Used car dealer Destiny Auto Sdn Bhd owner Mohd Khadhir Hassan said he had actually received offers of lower interest rates for its used national cars.

“Our new interest rates now are between 3.5% and 4.5%, which is lower than 4.25% to 6% previously.

“We expect an increase in sales for used national cars with the lower interest rates,” he said, adding that he reckoned the hike in car loan rates was the Government’s plan to promote national cars.

Meanwhile, hire purchase rates have been increased across the board for both new non-national cars and used cars effective Monday, banking sources said.

Banks would not make an official public announcement on that but would inform their respective car dealers, one source said.

Interest rates for popular used cars for both national and non-national cars aged up to 10 years old, have increased to between 3.75% and 4%, according to the source.

REFERENCES:
1) http://biz.thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=/2009/4/23/business
/3750083&sec=business

ARTICLE: Interest rates for (Non-national) car loans raised...

THE STAR: BUSINESS
Tuesday April 21, 2009
Interest rates for car loans raised
By YVONNE TAN and ELAINE ANG

Dealers confirm higher charges for purchases of non-national cars

PETALING JAYA: Interest rates on car loans have been raised effective yesterday, car dealers confirmed.

A senior sales adviser with UMW Toyota Motor Sdn Bhd said rates had been raised although he said nothing official had come out from banks as yet.

Most major banks declined to comment when contacted.

However, a random check by StarBiz found that Malayan Banking Bhd (Maybank), one of the largest hire purchase financiers in the country, raised its rates yesterday.


ABOVE: Workers assembling Perodua cars at its factory in Rawang, Selangor. Maybank is now offering slightly lower hire purchase rates for national cars. - Reuters


Hire purchase interest rates for new non-national cars (such as Toyota and Nissan) have increased to 3.25% for loan tenures of five years and below, 3.4% for six to seven years and 3.5% for eight- to nine-year loans.

Previous hire purchase interest rates were in the range of 2.4% to 2.5%.

But in the case of new national cars, the opposite prevails. Maybank which used to offer a flat rate of 3.6% for loans up to nine years for Perodua cars and 3.75% for Proton cars, is now offering slightly lower rates. For loans of five years and below the rate is 3.5%, six to seven years (3.65%) and for eight to nine years (3.75%).

Meanwhile, a senior officer at Toyota said: “Interest rates for Toyota cars used to be between 2.6% and 2.8%, depending on the tenure of the loan. The average rate is about 3.2% now.”

However, Toyota has “a special promotion” for its best selling model, the Toyota Vios.

Under the promotion which is valid until the end of this month, interest rates are as low as 1.68% for a five-year loan, 1.78% for a seven-year tenure and 1.88% for nine years.

An Edaran Tan Chong Motor Sdn Bhd dealer who distributes Nissan cars concurred that rates had been adjusted upwards effective yesterday.

“Interest rates were 2.4% to 2.5% before but today (yesterday), we heard that this has been increased to 3.2% for a five-year loan and 3.4% for seven years,” he said.

An analyst with a local stockbroking firm expects hire purchase interest rates to stabilise, going forward.

“Raising hire purchase rates will help banks to protect their margins. Credit risk is also higher in the current economic slowdown and this must be priced in as well.

“Competing via interest rates is not a good way. The rates are low already. How much lower can they go?” the analyst said, adding that interest rates for new national cars were higher than for new non-national cars.

This was because the credit risk was traditionally higher as the target customer segment of national cars was the lower to middle income group, she noted.

END OF ARTICLE.


Reference:

1) http://biz.thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=/2009/4/21/business/
3734446&sec=business

Thursday, April 23, 2009

What's with Streamyx? Super SLOW... Took....

TELEKOM Malaysia, what's the problem with your Streamyx. It's SUPER SLOW, I dared to say EVEN 56k modem (average download 5kb/sec is ALMOST AS FAST AS your so called 512k/sec (average download 9kb/secs only). Guess what?

It took me 1 hour and still counting to upload a 27MB Video (MP4 format) to my blog. Yes, It's that bad, SO LONG that I HAVE TO "Cancel the Download". Adding salt to the wound, EVEN a 5MB Video file also took 30 minutes and counting. Again, I have to Cancel the Download due to impatience.

I mean hey, I paid RM66 per month only to receive such Service. The only solution I suggest for Telekom Malaysia is "TEMPORARY STOP" accepting New Application/accounts AND increase your server whether it is by Quantity or Quality (stable connection and speed).

OR do it the HARD WAY, Remove your FREAKING MONOPOLY. Example: Like Hong Kong, the country have 50 different ISP to choose from and their connection is like EXTREMELY FAST (Especially CABLE TV package). Don't know how fast as their website is in CHINESE.

One more thing, the connection is UNSTABLE, Sometimes can connect, sometimes the DSL light "Blinking". Does it means server busy?

Called CUSTOMER SERVICE months ago, they said MY AREA (Section 17, Petaling Jaya), is oversubscribed (by those UM and UTAR Students renting rooms near my area). Since you guys knew about the Problem WHY NO ACTION taken?

VERY DISAPPOINTED...

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Laptop just got struck by lightning... Will be posting less often.

My DELL Inspiron 510m laptop got struck by lightning 15 minutes ago. Heard double "click" from my Voltage Regulator then, laptop emitted a soft "Boom". After that, cannot power on anymore. Is it a blessing in disguise? Is it time for a new laptop? I asked myself since the Laptop is already 5 years old.

But the WEIRD thing is that my Linksys AM300 ADSL modem is still working fine. Ie. NOT HARMED. Wonder HOW? and WHY?

Well, no use crying over spilled milk... Will try to repair the Laptop. In a meantime, I will be posting less often this month.

Now using dad's old 2005 laptop "CHINESE WINDOWS XP" IBM Thinkpad R51E Celeron Laptop. Very BULKY (3.5kg) and SLOW (256MB RAM only). Hey, it's a challenge for me as I dunno how to read and write "CHINESE BIG5". Yes, there's English keyboards but very annoying... Typed 1/2 way (English) automatically switched to "Chinese Big 5".

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Gadgets: My New toy: Garmin nuvi 255W

My New toy: Garmin nuvi 255W with "JUNCTION VIEW".

Today, 11.30am, I purchased a NEW TOY. It's no other than "GARMIN NUVI 255W".

I bought it from "AUTOMOTIVE SYNERGY", SS23, TAMAN SEA, PETALING JAYA.

I paid RM1238 after rebate. It comes with extra freebies:


i) Garmin Leather casing (see photo below)

ii) Garmin Travel adapters + cable (see photo below)

iii) Pre-loaded main maps: Malsing maps (Malaysia and Singapore maps). In addition, I was given New Zealand, Philippines, Vietnam, Indonesia, Japan, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia, Brunei, Hong Kong. TOTAL MAPS from 12 COUNTRIES.

Picture and video are worth 1000 words. Here's some photos (will upload Video in by this Weekend).

Above, view of the "Navigation map (MalSing) #1. Below, view of the "Navigation map
#2



Above: Right view
Below: Left view with SD Card slot


Below, Back view



Above, Welcome menu screen. Below, The "setup" menu



Above, "POINT OF INTEREST" under "Where to?" menu.

Space for video. Will upload by this Saturday.

For your reading pleasure, Here's a user review I get from a forum:
http://www.gpsreview.net/garmin-nuvi-255w/

"Begin:

First the good:

1. The new interface is by and large great. The map refresh is much much faster than any of the other Nuvis. It now shows a smooth rotation when making turns too, looks really cool. It seems to show the names of surrounding streets more frequently than what I've seen on my roommate's 250W as well.

The turn arrow display is really nice and gives you a much better idea of what to expect as you approach an interchange.

2. Incredibly fast satellite lock. I was astonished actually at how quickly it's been able to pick them up after turning it on. First time took less than 20 seconds or so and after that it's been nearly instantaneous. Was able to get a strong signal sitting in my house no problem. That definitely doesn't work with the 250W.

3. I think the unit may capable of determining time zone on its own. There is no option for setting your time zone, it just has a Time Format and Current Time (which has an auto checkbox next to it) in the time options.

5. It's a nice looking unit, very sleek and dark.

And now the bad...

1. Sound. This absolutely is not the same speech engine found on the other Nuvis. The voices on the 255W are very robotic sounding, hard to understand and made a huge number of road name mispronunciations during the trip today.

What it sounds like to me is that the audio files themselves on the 255W have a very high degree of lossy compression applied to them. The 250W or 750 vs. the 255W is like listening to the uncompressed wav audio from a CD vs. very low bitrate MP3s or something to that effect. Even at 100% volume it was almost impossible to hear on the freeway.

I have to think this is due to Garmin putting less storage space in this unit or something. Wonder if it's possible to use the voices from the other units with an SD card or something... Extremely disappointed overall on the sound front.

2. The green bar at the top of the screen when not navigating an active route now simply says "Driving (direction) on (Road Name)" - it does not show you the names of the upcoming next street the way I've seen other Nuvis do. I have no clue why they would have taken this out, that was a great feature.
. The power switch feels quite flimsy and prone to breakage, just sitting here comparing it to the 250W's, it's definitely looser and feels solid.

So, it really does seem like its one step forward and two steps back with Garmin and new products. They add great things like the new fast UI and fast satellite acquisition, but then go and put in crap sound, take away features like the upcoming cross street names etc.

by a forummer called Ryan "THE END"


Without further ado, here's the Specifications.
SPECIFICATIONS:

Physical & Performance:
Unit dimensions, WxHxD: 4.8"W x 2.9"H x .8"D (12.2 x 7.4 x 2.0 cm)
Display size, WxH: 3.81"W x 2.25"H (9.7 x 5.7 cm); 4.3" diag (10.9 cm)
Display resolution, WxH: 480 x 272 pixels
Display type: WQVGA color TFT with white backlight
Weight: 6.1 ounces (172.93 g)
Battery: rechargeable lithium-ion
Battery life: up to 4 hours
Waterproof: no

High-sensitivity receiver: yes
RoHS version available: yes
Maps & Memory:
Basemap: yes
Preloaded maps: yes
Ability to add maps: yes
Built-in memory: internal solid state
Accepts data cards: SD™ card (not included)
Waypoints/favorites/locations: 1000
Routes: 0

Features:
Voice prompts (e.g. "Turn right in 500 ft."): yes (internal speaker)

Speaks street names (e.g. "Turn right ON ELM STREET in 500 ft."): yes

Voice-activated navigation (operate device with spoken commands): no

Lane assist (guides you to the proper lane for navigation): no

3-D building view (displays buildings in 3-D): no

Auto sort multiple destinations (provides most direct route): no

Auto re-route (fast off-route and detour recalculation): yes

Choice of route setup (faster time, shorter distance, off road): yes

Route avoidance (avoid highways, tolls etc.): yes

Bluetooth® wireless technology (connect to your phone for hands-free calling): no

MSN® Direct compatible: yes
FM traffic compatible: yes
XM® Navtraffic & Radio for U.S. compatible: no

Speed limit indicator (displays speed limit for most major roads): yes

Where Am I? (find closest hospitals, police & gas stations, nearest address & intersection): yes

Garmin Locate™ (marks position when removed from windshield mount): no

ecoRoute™ (calculates a more fuel-efficient route) : yes

Qwerty or ABC keyboard (choose keyboard layout): yes

Custom POIs (ability to add additional points of interest): yes

Garmin Garage™ vehicles compatible (download car-shaped icons to your device): yes
Garmin Garage™ voices compatible (download custom voices to your device): yes

Photo navigation (navigate to geotagged photos): yes
World travel clock, currency & unit converter, calculator: yes
Picture viewer: yes
MP3 player: no
Audio book player: no
FM transmitter: no
Headphone jack/audio line-out: no
Remote control: no

Garmin Lock™ (anti-theft feature): yes
Touchscreen: yes
Dead reckoning: no
Motorcycle-friendly: no
Trucking-friendly: no
Geocaching-friendly: no
Marine-friendly: no

Additional: This USB mass storage device is compatible with Windows® 2000 or later and Mac® OS X 10.4 or later.

That's all folks, thanks for having the patience to read this...

REFERENCES:

1) Official Garmin website. - for specifications.
https://buy.garmin.com/shop/shop.do?pID=13431#featureTab

Sunday, April 05, 2009

10 Things to Never Say to a Car Dealer

FORBES.COM/MSNBC.COM presents...

Things to Never Say to a Car Dealer

by Bengt Halvorson
updated 5:21 p.m. ET Sept. 18, 2005

The dealership experience can be extremely stressful, but it doesn't have to be. You could know everything there is to know about the cars you're considering, but that's only a fraction of the buying process. If you want that seductive new sedan at a good price, you're probably going to need to know what to say — and more importantly, what not to say.

Some people loathe the whole car-buying experience simply because they anticipate getting conned. A few hundred dollars isn't a big deal on the price of a luxury car, but it's the idea of smart shopping and that sense of getting a good deal that's especially important. For luxury car buyers — notoriously labeled the shrewd shoppers — a good deal is icing on the cake.

"The educated consumer is the one who will drive away with the best deal and the best experience," says Rob Gentile, director of car-buying products at Consumer Reports.

To help you take the driver's seat in the buying experience, first learn to play the game, and you might even end up doing some smooth talking of your own.


Ready, Set, Go!

1. "I'm ready to buy now."


This is an admission of weakness and an invitation for the dealer to throw out a price that's slightly below the manufacturer's suggested retail price (MSRP) to see if you'll take the bait. It shows that you're too eager and willing to consider an offer, and it also gives salespeople the advantage by allowing them to talk you up as opposed to you talking them down. But by adding some very precise parameters, you'll sound confident and strong from the start.

"Don't let them know that you're ready to buy without being very particular. If you're ready, say that you'll buy, but only under these particular conditions," says Gentile.

There are two schools on negotiating. Going into the process, Gentile reminds consumers to be wary of the dealer cost. Consumer Reports has something called wholesale price, which is the normal dealer invoice price minus all relevant rebates and incentives. Similarly, most longstanding price-information services advise buyers to research the dealer invoice, along with any relevant incentives, then make a lowball offer that's maybe just a few hundred dollars above invoice. The dealer will follow your figure with a counteroffer that then allows you to go back and forth until there is a compromise.

Conversely, a second school believes that making the first offer puts the buyer in a weak position. "When you make an offer on a car, you're digging yourself into a hole," says James "Spike" Bragg, a consumer advocate and founder of Fighting Chance, an information service for new-car buyers. "That offer will be as good as it gets. There's so much today in 'under the radar' sales incentives to dealers, you don't want to limit yourself."

According to Bragg, many of the dealer incentives today are awarded on a dealer-by-dealer basis, often handed out for meeting sales targets. Because of this, you can't pin down these incentives on a particular vehicle, and you never know which dealership might be able to provide the better price at a given time.

Bragg's method involves faxing quote requests from several different dealerships and asking them for their best bottom-line price on a particular model. His clients sometimes manage to negotiate prices well below invoice, even considering all published incentives. In this day of increased under-the-radar incentives, this method doesn't limit you to a bottom line and certainly has its merits if you're willing to put in the effort.


Monthly Payment

2. "I can afford this much per month."


"Don't tell the dealer what you're willing to pay per month. This is the biggest mistake a shopper can make. Often the dealer will focus on a monthly payment scheme, insisting you are receiving a great deal, but at the end of the day you won't really know what you paid, advises Gentile.

If the dealer can get a number out of you, a common trick is to ask if you can squeeze out a slightly higher monthly payment, then raise the bottom-line price accordingly by hundreds or even thousands. Avoid this by insisting that you focus only on the purchase price. Walk away if the salesperson only wants to talk in monthly payments. Trade-in


Trade-in

3. "Yes, I have a trade-in."


Don't tell salespeople you have a trade-in until a final transaction price is set. If you do and the deal hasn't been made yet, they may try to distract you with the "great" deal they're giving you on your trade-in as they skimp on the real deal. And if you catch that, they may try writing your trade-up for less.

"You'll see games being played — they'll play one off on the other," Gentile says. Once you've decided on a sale price, then you can see what they'll give you for your old car.


Cash-Only Please

4. "I'm only buying the car with cash."


Car dealers make a significant chunk of added profit when they sell you financing. If you don't at least leave the dealer with the possibility that he or she might sell you financing, you simply won't be getting the best deal. Bragg recommends saying something like "I haven't really thought that through yet. Maybe we'll see what you have after we agree on a price."

But be truly noncommittal with financing, even though it's a good idea to line up tentative financing with your lender before you go car shopping.


Still Debating

5. "I'm not sure…which model do you think I need?"


If you're this undecided, you may end up driving away in a vehicle you neither wanted nor needed. Do the research in advance, and make your first shopping trip a short one. Use this opportunity to gather information and take your spec vehicle for a short test drive. If your uncertainty is apparent, you may end up buying the model with the most add-on equipment, the highest sticker price and, of course, the most profit for the dealer. Before you go shopping, narrow your choices down to three or four vehicles that fit your needs.


My Dream Car

6. "Oh, I've wanted one of these all my life."


As soon as you've lost yourself in the dreamy vision of that gleaming convertible, the salesperson has you hooked, and your chances of getting a great deal are over. "Don't get caught heavy breathing," says Bragg. "Certainly don't admit to your spouse — with the salesman listening in the backseat — that you're in love with the car." Here's where you need to have a communication plan. Try to sound objective and rational. Point out some pros and cons and be observant and calm. Just don't say that you have to have this car.


What Everyone Wants

7. "I'll take whatever the popular options are."


Don't ever ask for the "popular options" especially on a luxury model that already comes loaded. It's an open invitation for overpriced dealer add-ons such as interior protectant, window etching or undercoating. They're all things you can come back for later. Instead, go through the equipment list at home after your first visit to the dealership and then decide exactly what you need.


Lowest You Can Go

8. "What's the lowest price you can give me?"


Most likely, this question won't be taken seriously, and you will be met with a predictable performance. The salesperson will wince, maybe talk to the manager, fiddle with numbers and eventually come back with a price that probably isn't a very good deal for you. But there may be so much apparent effort in this performance that you'll be pressured into settling for that final number. Don't. To avoid this, make an informed and reasonable low offer, then wait for a counteroffer. Don't be afraid of silence. Conversely, don't be surprised if there's even a little drama.


Doing The Math

9. "Sure, I'll look at the numbers with you."


Perhaps quite early in your visit, the salesperson will most likely make an offer to "just go look at the numbers." Dealers do this when they sense you're undecided, but they want to be in the position of control. Getting you in the office makes it harder for you to back out. Wait until you can call the shots of what you want at what price.


The Haggle Factor

10. "I think you can do a lot better than that."


Never scold or accuse the salespeople. Be polite. Compliment them, and show respect. You'll never get the best price if you talk down to them. At least for the moment, you want them to be your friends. Let the scene play out, but leave when the deal's not good enough by quietly suggesting that the competition across town might be more willing to work with you.

ARTICLE SOURCE: www.msnbc.msn.com/id/9358955