7 Car Designer Modern Times

Every car is first dreamt in the head of a car designer and penned down on paper before engineers understand the concept and head to manufacturing units. Though car design is not as technical as engineering, it is not just about lines, forms and colors either. Aerodynamics, speed, functionality, appearance, understanding customer needs… there are indeed a lot of factors that go into a car design process. Hence every car designer has a great responsibility of imagining the future of transportation and shaping it responsibly.

Though car designers are not household names like the car brands they created, they are one of the most respected people in the automotive industry. The automotive industry has seen a lot of car designers over the years, one time wonders, designers who were the stars of their time and visionaries who will always be looked upon by other designers, creators and innovators. Here is a tribute from Launchpad Academy to those Top 10 Car Designers whom we think were/are the rulers of the car design world.

1. Giorgetto Giugiaro

Giorgetto Giugiaro

It is a shame if we don’t give the first place to Giorgetto Giugiaro, who is in fact the Car Designer of the Century! An inspiration to generations of designers, this legend didn’t just design 160 cars but also designed motorbikes, cameras and watches!
Country: Italy
Major Companies: Alfa Romeo, BMW, Bugatti, Fiat, Lamborghini, Maserati, SEAT and more
Notable Works: BMW M1, Fiat 850 Spider, DeLorean DMC12, Lotus Esprit and more
Known For: Introduced the Folded Paper concept

BMW M1 by Giugiaro

2. Batista Pininfarina

Battista Pininfarina

One of the greatest design firms (which Mahindra is planning to acquire) Pininfarina was founded by this famous car designer. Carrying the legacy of his design firm along with his son Sergio Pininfarina, he is most known for his post-war Ferraris.
Country: Italy
Major Companies: Alfa Romeo, Ferrari, Fiat, Maserati, Peugeot and more
Notable Works: Alfa Romeo Giulietta Spider, Ferrari Dino 246, Cisitalia 202 and more
Known For: His distinctly Italian designs and hailed as the father of modern auto design

Ferrari Dino 246 GT

3. Marcello Gandini

Marcello Gandini

Marcello Gandini stands unique amongst car designers as he lived by a design philosophy which focused more on practicality, design architecture, construction, assembly and mechanics of a car rather than its looks.
Country: Italy
Major Companies: Alfa Romeo, Fiat, Ferrari, Lamborghini, Maserati and more
Notable Works: Lamborghini Miura, Lamborghini Countach, Lancia Stratos Zero and more
Known For: His angular, sharp designs and introduction of Scissor Door concept

Lamborghini Countach

4. Ian Callum

Ian Callum

A graduate from the prestigious Royal College of Art in London, Ian Callum is one of the most celebrated car designers till date. He is currently the Director of Design for Jaguar Cars and is highly accredited for Jaguar’s renaissance through his design leadership.
Country: Born in Scotland, British by nationality
Major Companies: Aston Martin, Ford and Jaguar
Notable Works: Jaguar XK, XF, XJ, F-Type and more
Known For: His design leadership at Jaguar Cars

Jaguar F Type

5. Walter De Silva

Walter De Silva

He is the Head of Design at Volkswagen and responsible for design overview of all the Volkswagen car brands including Volkswagen, Audi, SEAT, Skoda, Bentley, Lamborghini and Bugatti! Probably the car designer with the highest responsibility in this list!
Country: Italy
Major Companies: Alfa Romeo, Audi, Lamborghini, SEAT, Volkswagen and more
Notable Works: Audi R8, Audi A5 Coupe, Lamborghini Egoista and more
Known For: His experience and versatility to design cheap cars like SEAT to luxury cars like Audi

Audi R8

6. Peter Stevens

Peter Stevens

Two words, McLaren F1! A student of Royal College of Art in London, Peter Stevens’ legacy goes beyond McLaren F1. From 2005, he is also the Consultant Director of Design for Mahindra and Mahindra by the way!
Country: United Kingdom
Major Companies: BMW, Lamborghini, Lotus, McLaren, Subaru and more
Notable Works: McLaren F1, Lotus Elan, Lotus Esprit (Re-design) and more
Known For: His clean, beautiful lines and modern classics

McLaren F1

7. Chris Bangle

Chris Bangle

Probably the most controversial car designer in this list! Chris Bangle was BMW’s Chief of Design and was criticized the most when he dumped BMW’s 50 years of design philosophy down the drain! So much that employees of BMW took part in an online poll to get him fired!
Country: United States of America
Major Companies: Fiat, Opel and BMW
Notable Works: BMW M3, BMW Z4 Coupe and BMW Gina
Known For: His outrageous design philosophy and the infamous Bangle Butt


5 Tips on How to Get The Best Deal on a Car Loan

To get the best loan deal, you need to do your homework. Here are five things you should do:

1. Check your credit reports.

Get a report from each of the three major credit reporting agencies: Experian, Equifax and TransUnion. Use the website annualcreditreport.com, which was set up by the federal government for this purpose.

“You want to check all three because you don’t know which one the lender will use and you want to give yourself time to fix any mistakes,” explained Gerri Detweiler, director of consumer education for Credit.com. “I found a mistake when I went to buy a car a few years ago, and if I hadn’t straightened it out, it would have cost me a lot of money.”

Detweiler suggests that you also check your credit score. The interest rates you’ll be offered – if you can get a loan at all – will be based on your score.

You can get your credit score for free from a number of sites, such as Credit.com, CreditKarma and CreditSesame. Some credit card issuers also provide it. This will not be the exact same score the lender uses, but it will give you a good idea of where you stand.

2. Shop around for the best rate.

You shop around to get a good deal on your new vehicle, so why wouldn’t you shop around for the loan to pay for it? Most people don’t. They go to the dealer without doing any homework.

“That just means you have a target painted on your back,” said Liz Weston, personal finance columnist and author of the book, “Deal with Your Debt.” “Bad things are going to happen to you when you haven’t done your research and you don’t have your loan lined up before you start shopping for a car.”

Eight out of 10 car buyers finance at the dealership, according to the nonprofit Center for Responsible Lending. Maybe it’s the convenience or the lure of ads that offer incredibly low-interest rates. Just remember, those super-low rates are only for customers with excellent credit scores.

Credit unions and community banks are the best place to start. They typically offer the best rates on car loans.

“A lot of people just assume they’re getting the best rate and terms from the dealer, and that’s the last assumption you should make,” Weston said. “You can apply for that loan, have it all set up, and then pull the plug at the last minute, if the dealer’s offer is better.”

3. Choose the shortest loan you can afford. 

As cars have become more expensive, car loans have gotten longer. You can now finance that new set of wheels for seven, eight or possibly nine years. The longer term reduces the monthly payment, but it will also drive up your total cost.

“You definitely pay more in the long run because these long loans typically have high-interest rates,” cautioned Mike Quincy with Consumer Reports Autos. “Try to limit your car loan to about 48 months. That’s the optimal amount of time you should pay for your car.”

Yes, that means a higher monthly payment, but you’ll get out of debt faster.

The Federal Trade Commission has a worksheet that helps you compare different financing offers with different terms.

4. Beware of the yo-yo finance scam. 

You sign all the paperwork, get the keys to your shiny new car and drive it home, assuming the deal is done. A few days or weeks later, someone from the dealership calls and says they were unable to get the financing approved at the agreed-upon price.

You must return the car to the dealership, they say, or negotiate a new loan at a higher interest rate. If you don’t, you could lose your deposit and trade-in, and you may even be charged a rental fee for the time you had the vehicle. Faced with this situation, most people cave.

How can they do this?

“Most dealers, don’t consider the sale final until the money is in their account and that could be anywhere from a few hours to a couple of days,” said Chris Kulka, senior vice president at the Center For Responsible Lending.

Chances are this was disclosed somewhere in all the paperwork you signed in the dealer’s financing office.

“The only way to protect yourself is to either get your financing elsewhere or tell the dealer that you’re not going to take the car until the financing is deemed final,” Kulka said.

The trade association for automobile dealers said: “The National Automobile Dealers Association is not aware of any credible evidence which indicates that fraudulent ‘yo-yo’ transactions are prevalent in today’s marketplace and none was presented to the Federal Trade Commission when it thoroughly examined this issue during a series of motor vehicle roundtables in 2011.”

5. Don’t get hung-up on the monthly payment.

A lot of people assume that if they can afford the monthly payment, they got a good deal on the car.

“That’s a huge mistake,” said Jack Gillis, author of “The Car Book 2014.”

Buying a new car typically involves three different negotiations. There’s the price of the vehicle, the value of your trade-in and the financing. And they need to be kept separate.

“If you just look at the monthly payment, you’ll have no idea what you’re being charged for the car, you won’t really know what you’re getting for your old vehicle and you won’t know what the interest rate really is,” Gillis warned. “The artificially low monthly payment will disguise the fact that you’re paying more than you should for the car and financing and getting less than you could for your trade-in.”

The salesperson will probably ask how much you can afford to pay each month – they’re trained to do that. Gillis says there’s no need to answer.

Keep in mind: If you are pre-approved for the loan before you head to the dealership, you can concentrate on haggling for the lowest price for the car and highest amount for your trade-in without the added pressure of negotiating the interest rate and other details of your loan.

The Ultimate Dream Cars

Everyone has dream cars, whether they’re wildly impractical souped-up supercars or classic testaments to automotive engineering. Imagine you wake up in the morning with a new car in your driveway. What would it be? Don’t worry about gas, insurance, practicality, even availability. The Car Fairy will take care of every bit of it. What do you want more than anything else?
  1. McLaren P1

The McLaren P1 is often credited as being the car that incited today’s hybrid hypercar boom. Technically, it started production the same year as Porsche 918, but McLaren beat Porsche to market and around the race track. With 903 horses, the McLAren hits 60 mph in 2.9 seconds on the way to a 233 mph top speed.

2. Aston Martin One-77

  • Probably the worst name of any Aston Martin ever, but maybe that’s what you get for letting your engineers go no-holds-barred designing the fastest, most expensive Aston Martin in history. The name is a reference to it’s one-to-one (kg to horsepower) power-to-weight ratio and the 77 units produced. The One-77 would run right with a Carrera GT, McLaren SLR, or Reventon in any acceleration contest.

    3. Lamborghini Reventon

  • Only 20 cars were produced during the Reventon’s production run in 2008, making this one of the rarest dream cars out there. At $1.3 million, it was the most expensive Lamborghini ever produced when it was new, a title it held until the all-carbon Sesto Elemento came along three years later.

    4. Ferrari LaFerrari

  • The top offering in Ferrari’s stable right now. The LaFerrari’s hybrid drivetrain puts out 949 horsepower, and will slingshot the car to 60 mph in 2.6 seconds. It’ll probably hit 100 mph in less time than it takes you to read this sentence. If you have to ask the price, you can’t afford it – assuming Ferrari will even sell you one.

    5. Koenigsegg Regera

With a unique 1,500-horsepower hybrid drivetrain, the Regera is currently the world’s most powerful production car, by far its most powerful hybrid, probably the hardest accelerating vehicle of all time from 60 to 200 mph, and should actually get better gas mileage than your average family car. It’s going to take a lot of savings on gas to offset the Koni’s $1.8 million price tag, but nobody said hypercars had to make sense.

Plus and Minus Sizing Your Tires

So, you want to put beautiful new 19” rims on your car. Or maybe you want to go down to 16” rims for snow tires. You go to the tire shop and the guy there tells you all about something called “Plus Sizing,” which determines what tire size you can put on your new wheels. Here’s what you need to know to keep up with the tire guys.

Going to larger wheels and tires is called “upsizing”, while moving to a smaller size is “downsizing.” Both have pros and cons associated with them, and the reasons one would upsize are generally different from the reasons to downsize.

Why Upsize?

Upsizing is most often done for looks and performance benefits. Larger wheels are undeniably striking, and there is no more effective way to change the look of a car than by putting larger wheels on it.

As for performance; according to Car And Driver, putting on larger wheels up to 18” will positively affect cornering grip, braking performance, ride comfort and steering feel, while negatively impacting acceleration and fuel economy due to the greater weight of larger wheels.

At 19” and beyond, the testers found that the positive effects started to go away, while acceleration and fuel economy got worse.

Why Downsize?

For the most part, downsizing is great for that second set of winter tires. Snow tires tend to become much more expensive at sizes larger than 17”. In addition, the narrower the tire, the more effective it tends to be on snow and ice. So if you have 18” or 19” wheels and want an extra set of wheels for snow tires, it’s often a good idea to go down to 17” or 16” wheels for the winter set, which will give you better winter performance at a lower price.

Overall Diameter Is the Key

Here’s the basic issue: Your speedometer, odometer, traction control, torque and gearing settings are all based on the distance that your tire travels over one complete revolution, which is determined by the outside diameter of the tire-and-wheel assembly.

A tire with a different outside diameter will travel a different distance over that one revolution with a different amount of torque.

So, when changing the diameter of your rims, you must make sure that the new wheel and tire assembly keeps the same overall diameter as the old, or your speedometer will be showing you the wrong speed and your traction control settings will be off.

This becomes confusing, because tire sizes are measured by the inside diameter, that is, an R17 tire is sized to fit onto a rim with a 17” outside diameter. The outside diameter of the tire, also known as the standing height is determined by how much sidewall it has, called the aspect height.

Gain an Inch, Lose an Inch:

In order to keep the same outside diameter, when you gain an inch of rim size, say, from 17” to 18”, you must lose an inch in the standing height of the tire, and vice versa. This is why 22”or 24” rims have those low-profile tires that look like thick rubber bands. To determine the proper size requires a bit of math, because the aspect height is expressed in tire sizes as a percentage of the width, a percentage called the aspect ratio.

On a tire that is sized at 225/55/16, for example, the 225 represents the width of the tire in millimeters, which is easy enough to visualize. The 55, on the other hand, represents the ratio of the width to the height; that is, the aspect ratio is 55% of the 225 mm width, or 123.75 mm.

To get the standing height of the tire, one must multiply the aspect height by two, (for the top and bottom sidewalls) and add the 16” inside diameter of the tire. After converting from millimeters to inches, (25.4 mm to the inch) this yields a standing height of approximately 25.74 inches. Once you have the standing height of the old tire, you must then match it on the new tire.

A Bit of Math

So the math goes like this:

  • Multiply the width by the aspect ratio expressed as a decimal. (225 x 0.55 = 123.75)
  • Convert the aspect height to inches. (123.75 / 25.4 = 4.87)
  • Multiply the aspect height by 2. (4.87 x 2 = 9.74)
  • Add the inside diameter of the tire. (16 + 9.74 = 25.74)
  • Rinse and repeat for the size of the new tire.

So if I were to upsize to a 17” wheel and keep the width of the tires the same at 225mm, and the aspect ratio the same, the new 225/55/17 tire would have a standing height of 26.74 inches, and my speedometer would be off by more than 2 miles per hour. What I need in order to keep the correct size is a 225/50/17. If I were to also change width, say, from 225 to 245mm, then what I would need is a 245/45/17.

Did I say it was a bit of math? Perhaps it’s just a bit more than a bit. Don’t worry, that’s what computers are for, which is why I use a Tire Size Calculator Plug in the old and new tire sizes and an app will give you the difference between them and tell you what the new size will do to your speedometer readings.

In general, you want the tires to have less than 1% difference. Ideally, you want less than 0.5% difference. Or you can just trust your tire professional, but with the added confidence of knowing what the heck they’re talking about. Knowing is, after all, half the battle. Happy driving!

How to Drive in Fog

Driving through thick patches of fog can be treacherous. Even with a pair of quality fog lights leading the way, it can still seem like you’re maneuvering with a blindfold on. When you happen across a bit of fog, it’s recommended to use the following precautions. Slow down to a speed that matches the conditions. Be sure to turn on your lights, but do not use your high beams. Leave a lot of space between yourself and the people in front of you. Keep an eye on your speedometer because people often become disoriented and speed up unintentionally. Drive in the slow lane so that you can pull off onto the shoulder in case of an emergency stop. Minimize your distractions by turning down the radio and turning off your cell phone. Set your windshield wipers to intermittent and run your defroster periodically. Lastly, if the fog becomes too dense to continue, pull completely off onto the shoulder, turn on your emergency blinkers and wait for the mist to lift.

The only effective way to drive through dense fog is to angle the light downward onto the road, so that it avoids running right into the reflective water droplets. Typically, fog hovers about 12″–18″ above the road’s surface. Fog lights mount low on your front bumper, and cast a wide beam of light down onto the road. That way, the light gets lower than the fog, and you’re able to see clearer and drive safer. What’s more, in order to keep the light from extending above the level of your bumper, the beams of light are cut off at the top (imagine an Oreo cookie that’s been divided in half).

How your fog lights are aimed is extremely important. If they’re angled too high, their light will just shoot right up into the mist—not to mention right into the eyes of oncoming motorists. If they’re angled too low, then their range is greatly reduced, and you won’t be able to see far enough ahead. Thankfully, the Society of Automotive Engineers (S.A.E.) has taken the guess work out of aiming fog lights by developing a standard system. Here’s how it works:

  • Mount the fog lights on the front of your vehicle between 10″–14″ up from the ground.
  • Park your vehicle 25′ away from a flat wall, like a garage door or the side of a building. You’ll want to make sure that the ground is level so that the results are accurate.
  • Measure the height from the center of the lamp to the ground. Use that same measurement to draw a line on the wall with some chalk.
  • Turn on the fog lights, and take a look at where the light hits on the wall. The tops of the beams should be 4″ below the line you drew.

A properly aimed set of fog lights not only gives you better visibility, it’s also good roadway etiquette. Misaligned fog lights can shoot right into the eyes of oncoming drivers, and no one wants blinded motorist on the road, especially on stormy nights.

After the initial alignment, periodically check to make sure that the lights are still aimed correctly. Since fog lights mount so low to the ground, they are at greater risk of being knocked out of position.

A number of well-respected companies craft quality fog lights, including Hella, PIAA and KC HiLites.

Driving Lights

Safe driving is dependent on our ability to react to any situation, but we can only respond to what we can see. Low beams and high beams are our first line of defense against poor visibility, but often their range falls short. Driving lights pick up the slack. They’re designed to boost the intensity and range of your high beams, showering the roadway with brilliant light. When we can see clearly, we’re able to rapidly respond to whatever may come our way.

If you think about it, driving lights give you the power to peer into the future. All their extra light reveals the road that lies ahead of you, and you can use that knowledge of upcoming conditions to plan your next course of action. Without the foresight that driving lights deliver, your ability to respond to hazards is greatly diminished. Because of this special characteristic, driving lights are most effective for nighttime highway driving because of the higher cruising speeds.

Driving lights generate beams that are more focused than fog lights because they’re engineered to travel farther in advance of your vehicle. As such, correctly aiming them is crucial to improve your own visibility while avoiding blinding other motorists. Follow these S.A.E. tips to properly align your driving lights.

  • Mount your driving lights on the front of your vehicle 14″–30″ up from the ground.
  • Park 25′ away from a flat wall, like a garage door or the side of a building. Level ground gives you the most accurate results.
  • Measure the distance from the center of your driving light down to the pavement, and mark that distance on the wall with chalk.
  • Flip on the lights and find the center of the hot spot, which is the intense inner circle of the beam. Tilt the driving light so that the center of the hot spot is 1 ½” below the mark you made in the wall.

Night ridingWhile there is little variation in the beam pattern of fog lights, driving lights come in a number of different styles that are optimized for specific driving conditions.

Normal Driving Light Pattern

This standard pattern increases the range and brightness of your vehicle’s high beams. It’s designed for higher nighttime cruising speeds, and it helps you clearly see signs and hazards long before your normal high beams.

Euro Light Beam Pattern

This pattern is designed to produce an exceptionally strong beam of light with wider coverage than the normal pattern. In fact, it projects its beam up to 1,500′ away at a width of 250′. The beams are angled upward and to the right, illuminating the side of the road and making it much easier to see street signs and pedestrians.

Cornering Light Beam Pattern

This beam pattern is designed to improve your front and side vision, especially for winding roads, tight curves and cornering. Plus, you can get an intelligent lighting system that automatically senses when you’re driving around a bend and turns on a fill light to illuminate the curve.

Pencil Light Beam Pattern

This pattern puts out a powerful, narrow and extremely long stream of light that’s designed for reaching maximum distances. The range for a single beam can extend up to 2,500′ long by 120′ feet wide. Because of their power, pencil beam lights are recommended for off-road and racing use.

The Guide to Off-Road Lights

Off-road use only!Hitting the road at night, in storms or in fog can be quite hazardous. Doing the same thing when there isn’t even any pavement below your wheels is an entirely different matter. You must be able to see where you’re going at all times. But, no ordinary lights can handle the harsh environment of life on the trail. Everything must be built stronger, tougher and more resilient in order to survive. In other words, what works for city slickers just won’t cut it out in the country, but you can get special off-road lights.

Off-road lights are a lot like auxiliary lights. They come in your choice of fog lights or driving lights and in a wide range of beam patterns, too. Unlike normal auxiliary lights, off-road lights are built to different standards:

  • Tougher Materials
  • Robust Weatherproofing
  • Size and Mounting

Tougher Materials

Off-road lighting durabilityBecause off-road lights must be able to endure anything that Mother Nature can throw at them, they are crafted from heavyweight materials. Some are tougher than others, so you’ll want to get a set of off-road lights that matches how hard you work or play in the dirt.

  • ABS Plastic (Tough): ABS plastic has long been a staple ingredient in the automotive parts industry because it’s quite strong, impervious to rust and easy to shape. If you’re into the occasional adventure, off-roading lights that are made from ABS plastic are an excellent choice.
  • Aluminum (Tougher): For strength, durability and resilience that’s a step above ABS plastic, aluminum is the way to go. An all-metal light is better equipped to survive off-roading hazards, such as run-ins with low-hanging branches and scrapes with boulders. Aluminum off-road lights is recommended for off-roaders who regularly hit the dusty trails.
  • Steel (Toughest): The same material with the strength to support skyscrapers is available to safeguard and protect your off-road lights. In fact, there is no tougher material than steel when it comes to shielding your off-road lights. It’s the only choice for back country adventurers who push their trips to the extreme.

Robust Weatherproofing

When you head out into the backcountry, you expose your vehicle to harsh conditions that just do not arise when you’re on city roads. You’re not very likely to run into a mud bog in the middle of Main St, or drive through a sand storm while commuting to work on the freeway. As such, off-road lights have to be built to a higher standard of ruggedness than normal auxiliary lights.

Sealed for all weatherproofingA quality off-road light will be sealed against its most common elemental enemies: water, mud and sand. Also, the wiring harnesses for many off-road lights are insulated to prevent short circuiting. Plus, the light covers are thicker and sturdier to deflect kicked up rocks, gravel and other airborne debris. For the finishing touch, most off-road lights have a tough wire mesh shield to ward off larger hazards.

Size and Mounting

When there are no streets, there are no street lights to help illuminate your path. Even if there’s a full moon out, it’s hardly bright enough to make driving over dirt roads safe. To compensate for the natural darkness of the frontier, off-road lights come in larger sizes than auxiliary lights. You can get lights that are just about 10″ in diameter, which is big enough to make even the darkest stretch of road seem like daytime.

Besides being built larger, off-road lights are also designed for greater mounting flexibility. They can bolt to your bumper, your grille guard, your light bar, your headache rack or even the top of your roll cage. Normal auxiliary lights are strictly limited when it comes to installation because state laws regulate the maximum mounting height. Off-road lights are not bound by these same laws, so you can attach them wherever you please. However, it is not legal in most states to use your off-road lights unless you actually are off-road. Besides, you should keep protective covers over your off-road lights for an extra line of defense when you’re not using them.

7 Car Maintance Myths

Here are seven widespread myths on auto upkeep you shouldn’t blindly follow:

Myth: Engine oil should be changed every 3,000 miles. Wrong. Follow the advice in the owner’s manual and ignore the self-serving pleas from oil companies and quick-lube shops. Under normal driving conditions, most vehicles can travel 7,500 miles or more between oil changes. Changing oil more often certainly won’t harm an engine, just waste money. But if you do a lot of stop-and-go driving, trailer-towing, or traveling through mountainous or dusty areas, 3,000 miles between oil changes is a good idea.

Myth: Flush the coolant with every oil change. Most owner manuals recommend changing the coolant every five years or 60,000 miles. But check for a leak if the coolant reservoir is low despite repeatedly topping it off.

Myth: Inflate tires to the pressure shown on the tire’s sidewall. The psi figure on the side of the tire is the maximum pressure the tire will hold safely. If you’re looking for the automaker’s recommended pressure that balances braking, handling, gas mileage, and ride comfort, it’s usually on a sticker on the driver-side doorjamb, in the glove box, or on the fuel-filler door.

Myth: If regular-grade fuel is good, premium must be better. Another expensive mistake. Most vehicles run fine on regular-grade fuel (87 octane). Filling these cars with premium won’t cause damage, but it won’t improve performance, either. Higher-octane fuels are less likely to create pre-ignition problems, so they’re usually used in hotter-running, high-compression engines.

Myth: Warm up your car for several minutes before driving. Outdated advice. Driving the car is the fastest way to warm up a modern engine, and the sooner it warms up, the sooner it delivers the best mileage and performance. And don’t rev the engine during the first few miles.

Myth: Wash your car with dishwashing or laundry detergent. No, not really. Detergents strip off a car’s wax finish. Pay a little extra and stick with the car-wash liquid, which cleans without removing wax.

Myth: A battery will recharge after a jump start in only a few minutes of driving. Not even close. It can take hours of driving to give the battery a full charge, especially in the winter. Heated seats, music systems, and other accessories draw so much power that the alternator has little left to recharge the battery. You can check to see if the battery will still hold a charge by having a load test at a gas station. If it can, several hours may be needed on a battery charger to give the battery a full charge.

Ford’s Retiring J Mays is an Auto Design Rock Star

In the auto industry, designers are rock stars. GM’s Harley Earl, Ford’s E.T. Gregorie and Chrysler’s Virgil Exner left a legacy we still see in today’s cars.


Among the current generation, GM’s Ed Welburn, Ford’s J Mays and BMW’s Adrian van Hooydonk are closely watched and often copied.

On Nov. 5, Ford announced Mays’ retirement.

Finishing his career as a Ford group vice president and chief creative officer, Mays graduated from the prestigious Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, Calif., in 1980. His first job was with Audi, where he influenced the 80 and 100 models.

His 1991 Avus concept led to the TT sports car and set the shape for a generation of Audis.

Yet it was Mays’ collaboration with Freeman Thomas while running Volkswagen’s design center in Simi Valley, Calif., that made him famous. The future-retro Concept 1, shown at the 1994 Detroit auto show, became the New Beetle. Ford came calling in 1997 when Mays became the automaker’s global vice president of design.

Ford years

Mays quickly put his skills for modernizing classics to work.

The reborn Ford Thunderbird almost could have been designed at VW’s studios. It was followed by the retro Forty-Nine and Fairlane concepts, the latter evolving into the boxy Flex crossover.

Other memorable concepts include the Shelby GR-1 (a new-age Shelby Daytona), 427 (influenced first-gen Fusion) Ford GT (clone of the LeMans-winning GT40) and Mustang coupe (previewed 2005 edition).

Production cars under his tenure were hit or miss. The Shelby GT500, Ford Fiesta, F-150 and Fusion were grand slams. The Ford 500, Lincoln Blackwood and Lincoln MKT, not so much.

But it’s the overall themes that set Mays apart.

Last decade, domestic Fords had bold chrome grilles, while international models were more understated. Ford CEO Alan Mulally desired uniform global design under his “One Ford” plan. The result is the fluid, muscular designs with Aston Martin grilles that span the globe. Although unfinished, Lincoln’s evolving design language — as seen on the MKZ — appears headed for success.

Mays also oversaw Ford’s luxury brands that brought us the Aston Martin DB9, Volvo C30, Jaguar XK8 and Land Rover LR3.

In transition

“The bold and sophisticated design language that J Mays pioneered will be visible for years to come in Ford vehicles and the auto industry overall,” said Mark Fields, Ford’s chief operating officer. “In addition to his talent as a world-class designer, J has brought together one of the most talented design teams in the business.”

Ford’s design operations are in good hands. The release that announced Mays’ retirement named his replacement: Moray Callum.

Currently executive director of design for The Americas, and brother of Jaguar design chief Ian Callum, Moray spent 2001-06 with Mazda and has been deeply involved in the current range of Ford Motor Co. vehicles. He’s a safe bet with considerable talent.

As with most design chiefs, Mays has had profound influence on the vehicles we drive. His greatest legacy will always be found on the roads.

Casey Williams, Star corresponden

The road between automobiles and fashion is short.

Designer John Varvatos with namesake Chrysler 300, which brought his vision for a luxury sedan. This inspired Chrysler’s designers along the way, according to automotive journalist Casey Williams. “We’re all designers,” said Brandon Faurute, head of Chrysler Design. “We look at fashion industry, product design, architecture; we’re inspired by many different things. Fashion designers look outside of their industry as well.”

In the 1970s, Lincoln worked with Bill Blass and Cartier on the Mark V. In 1999, designer Marc Newson conspired with Ford to create the 021C, a compact dressed like an iMac.

A recent trend conference and special Chrysler collaboration illustrate the latest inspiration.

Ford seeks influence

In June, Ford invited trendsetters to Dearborn, Mich., for a conversation about design’s influence on consumer products and how innovation is a prerequisite for survival.

Guests included American designer Kenneth Cole, author Clayton Christensen and Gadi Amit, founder of NewDeal Design.

Speaking with Ford CEO Mark Fields, Cole said, “Where I have credentials here is that I am a purveyor of the original form of transportation — it’s what you wear on your feet.”

He continued to expand on the virtues of innovation.

“If you don’t have a platform that has the ability to respond to the unpredictable, then you won’t survive because nobody today has the ability to anticipate all the innovation and creativity that is happening.”

That sentiment resonates with a car company that has survived through so much.

Fields sought another perspective from Christensen, who said, “An innovative person has developed to ask the right questions, and if you’ve got that, getting the answer is pretty straightforward.”

Automobile designers now are asking what drivers in the future will want.

What technology will turn them on? How should cars be styled? What killer app could kill Ford?

According to Gadi Amit, good design catches your attention, sets expectations, stirs your soul and ultimately delivers what it promises.

That’s true of an iPhone, Eames lounge vhair, Mont Blanc pen or MOMO steering wheel.

A Mustang looks like it will go fast — just as a Kenneth Cole shoe looks comfortable.

Working with Varvatos

One of Chrysler’s most successful fashion collaborations was with the John Varvatos edition Chrysler 300. Its namesake brought his vision for a luxury sedan, inspiring Chrysler’s designers along the way.

“We’re all designers,” said Brandon Faurute, head of Chrysler Design. “We look at fashion industry, product design, architecture; we’re inspired by many different things. Fashion designers look outside of their industry as well.”

These interactions led to inspired design.

“On the exterior, we developed a titanium finish that was inspired by Varvatos’ cologne bottle,” continued Faurute. “It took the car from having brightwork and spun into something much more sophisticated. You know you’re driving something special.”

Working with fashion leaders expands thoughts, but the pace in Detroit would frustrate most New York designers.

“We went to Varvatos’ studio to see the fashion world influence,” said La Shirl Turner, Advanced Color & Trim Design, Chrysler. “Autos and fashion have the same fit with materials, but (fashion designers) work at a faster pace. It takes longer to introduce new materials in cars because of durability testing. With his help, we created a new metallic look for the leather and unique stitching.”

Automobiles are art that just happen to go 100 mph and consume billions of dollars getting to market.

There’s much to learn by looking outside of Detroit for inspiration.

Top 10 Car Design Software for Absolute Beginners

Are you looking for car design software that won’t intimidate you as a non-experienced designer?

If you are having a dilemma on where to start, it is now the perfect moment to set your worries aside. We bring you the latest software available for automotive designing. Here are the best, both free and premium, tools for newbies.

10. AutoCAD Revit LT Suite

AutoCAD Revit LT SuiteThis is a premium software which you can buy for $1,300 or rent for $75 per month. It will give you helpful tools for 3D product designing. You can easily assemble automotive parts because the software is now more simplified compared to the previous versions. Premium subscription will also entitle you to an outstanding support for beginners.

9. 3Ds Max

3Ds MaxAnother software brought to you by AutoDesk is the 3Ds Max. This software costs $3,675 but you can rent it for $195 per month. It features sophisticated and realistic 3D simulations, allowing you to simulate man-made and natural forces against your design. Subscription also online training materials for starters.

8. SketchBook Designer

SketchBook DesignerIf you plan to draw your concept designs first, then you need to have this software. Adobe Photoshop users will feel more comfortable with this because it features paint tools and vectors. You can add layers, styles, and masks as well. This premium software costs less than $500.

7. DrawBerry (Mac)

DrawBerry (Mac)Macintosh users can use this free software as a starting step in car designs. It is a powerful tool which gives you unlimited possibilities with vector drawings. It features simple and user-friendly interface with more promising development. You can create both complicated and simple designs with the use of this software.

6. Rhinoceros

RhinocerosYou can try this software for free or you can buy it for $1,300 – $1,700. The latest Rhino software features enhanced 3D designing tools that guarantee high quality designs. It is also compatible with 3D printing and digital fabrication in case you need to create a physical model of your design. You can also access its wide array of tutorials online.

5. Lightwave

LightwaveAnother popular car designing software is the LightWave which you can try for a month or buy for $1,500. It features standard modeling tools together with numerous 3D packages. You can also create highly detailed car surfaces with the software’s nodal system. Absolute beginners will also benefit from its real-time online support.


CATIA V6When it comes to solid modeling and car design surfacing, you can always rely on CATIA. V6 is their latest release and you can get both price quote and software trials by contacting Dassault Systemes. You can reverse engineer any designs to remodel its surfaces and create new prototypes. Dassault Systemes also provide online resources for new users of CATIA.

3. Google SketchUp

Google SketchUpThis free software can be used to create different 3D automotive designs. It features simple tools that can make outstanding 3D images like structures and car models. You can even save your project in several formats such as PNG, JPG, TIFF, and BMB. There are also unlimited user-based resources available online, allowing beginners to easily learn the tricks of car designing.

2. Adobe Photoshop

Adobe PhotoshopIt may sound absurd once you hear Adobe Photoshop for car designing but nevertheless, newbie 3D designers can take big steps by using this software. It cost less than $700 yet features a lot of tool sets for image editing and 3D modeling. The advantage of using Photoshop is the unlimited resources available online. Newbies can quickly access step-by-step tutorials on how to create car models using Photoshop.

1. Blender

BlenderBlender is an open source 3D designing tool which gathers excellent rating from both users and software developers. It features tons of tool sets, options, and designing functions to cater all your needs. You can even download extra features made by advanced users or you can develop your own in the future. Because it is open source software, you can easily access unlimited support from experts and other users.

Top Design Trend for Cars

Whether its clothing, home decor, or your favourite cuisine, trends fall in and out fashion fast. Cars are no exception. In the past, trendy design cues such as flared wings and portholes graced our rides. What can we expect to see in the future when it comes to car design? We asked the pros – leading car designers at the Canadian International Auto Show – for their input on the latest design trends driving the automotive world.

1. Upgraded paint

Say goodbye to high gloss paint. Designers agree the hottest colour for a car is white, but stay ahead of the curve by adding more depth and vibrancy with metallic or candy finishes. It’s all the rage, but keep in mind those finishes cost extra cash.

2. Big Wheels

Remember when 15-inch wheels were standard? Now, bigger is better when it comes to wheels. “Designers always like the big wheels,” admits Kevin George, exterior designer of the Ford Edge concept. Check out the massive 22-inch back wheels on this special edition Chevy Corvette Stingray.

3. Bedazzling headlights

Headlamps on a car are like jewellery on a woman. These bedazzled lights on the Jaguar C-X17 concept add serious bling. “Headlamps always signify a high-end level of technology. You think that everything under the skin of the car is also advanced,” says Sandy Boyes, Chief Designer – Interiors, Jaguar.

4. Simplified interiors

Driving interior design is simplicity. In the past, cabins resembled the cockpit of an airplane. “Today, it’s the streamlined, uncluttered message that seems to resonate with people. Its inviting. It makes you think like you can’t do anything wrong – you’re not going to break it,” says Ford’s in-house “futurist” Sheryl Connelly.

5. Fewer manuals

Say goodbye to the manual transmission, its going the way of the dinosaurs. Replacing the sporty stick are dual-clutch transmissions, nine-speed automatics, and paddle shifters. “The joy of driving is lost on a lot of people that are stuck in congestion, traffic and global gridlock,” says Connelly.

5 Most Influental Car Designer

 1. WALTER DE’SILVA (59, Italian)
Head of design, Volkswagen Group
Key cars: Audi R8 and A5, 2009 VW Scirocco and 2012 Jetta
Walter De Silva Illustration

While other big design chiefs have been shedding brands (Ed Welburn at General Motors and J Mays at Ford), de’Silva — as the top designer at the acquisitive VW Group — has been busy adding them, the latest being Porsche. This brings his tally to eight consumer marques — Audi, Bentley, Bugatti, Lamborghini, Porsche, Seat, Skoda, and VW — representing some 6.3 million sales in 2009.
De’Silva made his name with Alfa Romeo and the beautifully proportioned 156 sedan and Sportwagon of the late 1990s, with their simple curves and hidden rear door handles. Switching to the VW Group in 1999, he added excitement to Spanish brand Seat with the Salsa and Tango concepts and the production Leon and Altea before bringing Audi more curves, fuller volumes, and gapey-grilled “emotional design” starting in 2002. The current TT, A5, A6, and R8 are his work, and all have been critical and commercial successes.
As head of VW Group design since 2007, de’Silva has turned his attention to overhauling the VW brand and replacing its rather clumsy, chrome-faced, large grilles with slimmer, subtler ones, epitomized by the new Jetta and the Scirocco (which is not sold in the States). The only blip in his track record was the weakly retro 2006 Lamborghini Miura tribute concept. That aside, the breadth of designs, brands, segments, consistent sales, and internal and external influence has been astonishing. As auto analyst Max Warburton puts it, “Investors are increasingly trying to determine which company is going to be the most consistent at delivering hit products.” In de’Silva, the VW Group has found its hit machine.
2. SHIRO NAKAMURA (60, Japanese)
Senior VP and chief creative officer of design, Nissan
Key cars: Nissan Cube and 350Z, Infiniti FX45 and Essence
Shiro Nakamura Illustration

Nakamura is the man who put Japanese car design on the map after decades of copycat designs. Headhunted from under-the-radar Isuzu in 1999, he oversaw an onslaught of radical concepts and high-selling production cars as part of Carlos Ghosn’s Nissan Revival Plan. Included in the list are, from Nissan, the Cube, the 350Z, the Murano, the Juke, and, in Europe, various Micras and the Qashqai, as well as the FX45 and the Essence concept for Infiniti. Key to his success is not only his ability and work ethic — he allegedly often works twelve hours per day from a chauffeur-driven GT-R — but also his skill and willingness to communicate his designs’ relevance internally and externally and his global experience (he studied at Art Center in the United States and has worked in Europe and Japan). Bonus fun fact: Nakamura was a jazz bass player before embarking on his career in the car industry.
Design director, BMW Group
Key cars: 2004 BMW 6-series, X6, Vision EfficientDynamics
Adrian Van Hooydonk Illustration

A BMW man through and through, van Hooydonk joined the company in 1992 and was thoroughly involved with Chris Bangle and his highly controversial, but also very influential, flame-surfacing design language. Busier and more complex exterior surfacing has cropped up across the car industry since their work first appeared and remains prevalent today. He followed in Bangle’s footsteps to become BMW’s design director in 2004 and became head of Group design, including Mini and Rolls-Royce, when his mentor stepped down in 2009. Beyond cars, van Hooydonk “gets” the bigger design picture — he was director of BMW’s product consultancy, DesignworksUSA in California, for three years. BMW’s current mainstream car designs have been toned down under his watch, but this brand and designer have a very bright future and are still capable of producing stunning cars like the Z4 and the Vision EfficientDynamics concept.
4. J MAYS (56, American)
Global design VP and chief creative officer, Ford
Key cars: Audi Avus, VW Concept 1, 2005 Ford Mustang
J Mays Illustration

Ten years ago, Mays was responsible for eight brands: Aston Martin, Ford, Jaguar, Land Rover, Lincoln, Mazda, Mercury, and Volvo. With Volvo’s sale to Geely earlier this year and Mercury’s announced demise, the only brands left are Ford and Lincoln. Still, those two marques represent some 4.5 million vehicles annually, and globally Ford is in better overall design shape than it’s been for decades, due in no small part to Mays’s direction and execution of the One Ford global policy — the acclaimed European Fiesta’s entry into the U.S. market is just one example. Add in his legacy of successful concepts — the 1991 Audi Avus led to the TT and the 1994 VW Concept 1 to the new VW Beetle — his ability to nurture (and poach) design talent to work with him (Martin Smith, Freeman Thomas, Peter Horbury, Laurens van den Acker), plus thoroughbred production-car designs like the Land Rover LR3 and the Aston Martin DB9, and you have a man who still wields heavyweight clout.
4. ED WELBURN (59, American)
VP of global design, General Motors
Key cars: GM Autonomy, 2010 Chevrolet Camaro
Ed Welburn Illustration

Welburn is only the sixth person to serve as head of design in the history of General Motors and, in 2005, he became the first to hold the newly created position of global design VP. Five years later, he oversees ten design centers in eight countries and a team of some 1500 people. GM’s brand portfolio may have shrunk in 2009, but Welburn has marshaled significant changes in aesthetics and quality for the brands that are left in America, with Buick (Enclave, LaCrosse), Cadillac (CTS), Chevrolet (Malibu, Camaro), and even GMC (Granite concept), plus others around the world. Before all this, he also led the excellent GM Autonomy and Hy-wire fuel-cell projects as director of advanced design. Big job, (relatively) low profile.

5 Grestest Car Designer

The Ten Greatest Car Designers Working Today

5.) Walter de Silva

Why he’s so good: Volkswagen is vying to be the largest car companies in the world with excellent brand management, innovation, cheapness, and production efficiencies. But Volkswagen Automotive Group also has head designer Walter de Silva to thank for their progress. He’s kept their cars looking beautiful and distinct from one another, even though many of their pedestrian offerings share the same underlying platforms.

This is the man who can make people think about buying a SEAT when it’s nothing but a cheap VW, and then turn around and pen the Audi R8. He’s a legend.

Photo Credit: Otis Blank

The Ten Greatest Car Designers Working Today

4.) Henrik Fisker

Why he’s so good: Let’s just take a look at a selection from the Danish car designer’s resume to see why people love this man.

Aston Martin DB9
Aston Martin V8 Vanquish
Fisker Karma

Few car designers can so successfully make classic designs that still comply with today’s constrictive safety standards and few have done so well as Fisker.

Photo Credit: Otis Blank

The Ten Greatest Car Designers Working Today

3.) Ian Callum

Why he’s so good: The head man for Jaguar, Callum can draw cars that are as gorgeous as Fisker’s, but he’s also extremely successful in managing a staff and a brand. He got his start with Ford in ’79, contributing to the RS200 and the Escort Cosworth, then he went on to racecars at TWR and Nissan. Then he went to Jag, stating by making the X-Type palatable with the X-Type station wagon, and you know the rest from there.

Photo Credit: Otis Blank

The Ten Greatest Car Designers Working Today

2.) Jason Castriota

Why he’s so good: Born in White Plains, New York, and raised in Greenwich Connecticut, Jason Castriota is one of the best designers America has produced in a long time. He dropped out of the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena to get an internship at Pininfarina. There he got obsessed with aerodynamics, making the Ferrari 599, the P4/5, the Maserati GranTurismo, and the Maserati Birdcage concept, surely one of the most gorgeous cars of the last few decades. He went on to Bertone from there and is now making the cars at SCC not look like junky kit cars, but sexy spacecruisers from the future.

The Ten Greatest Car Designers Working Today

1.) Peter Schreyer

Why he’s so good: The German car designer made his name at Audi and Volkswagen, working on their late ‘90s revival. He can put his name next to the TT, the remarkably clean A6 and A3, and he was part of the team that did the new Beetle.

Most importantly, however, is his move to Kia in 2006. It’s Schreyer who made the little Korean cars look not like crapy knockoffs a half-step ahead of Chinese copyright-infringers, but rather classy, desirable machines. You might actually buy a Kia now. That was unthinkable before Schreyer moved in.

There has been no more momentous turnaround in design than Schreyer’s mass-market design work, making him the best car designer working today.

Photo Credit: Raphael Orlove

5 Tips to Get You Started in Vehicle Wrap Design

Many vehicle wraps are made of large, printed vinyl stickers that are applied to the surface of the vehicle. However, designing these effective ads can be a little complex. Any designer who decides to undertake a vehicle wrap project should at least be at an intermediate skill level with standard graphic design programs and do their research before they jump into it.

Below, we’ll discuss the basic process for designing print-ready vehicle wrap files and how to deliver them to your client. Let’s get started.

1. Gather information


Before you even start designing anything, you need to obtain an accurate template. It’s crucial to create the designs on an accurate template file of your client’s vehicle in order to be able to create a design that is to scale and as print-ready as possible. Vehicle wrap files can be large and complex and some vehicle wrap printers will charge your client up to $75/hour or $250 total for any fixes.

Ideally, your client will provide you with template files of the the car’s blueprint up front. If not, they can purchase them for you at car blueprint templates websites like this one or ask their vehicle wrap printer to provide them with one. Please note that templates files purchased online will not always be 100% accurate, since each vehicle may have slight irregularities on the surface.

Next, find out which vehicle printing company the client is using and what their specifications are. Each vehicle wrap printing company may have different file requirements or printing processes, so it’s important to gather as much information as possible before you even start designing.

Lastly, ask your client to provide you with high quality photos of their vehicle and to let you know which car model it is. Ask if there any irregularities on the cars surface that may be different than existing templates.

2. Gather inspiration


Now that you have all the technical information ready to go, it’s time to start thinking about how to turn your client’s vehicle wrap dream into a reality! Let’s assume that they already have a logo and advertising copy ready to go. You should be asking them about what type of vehicle wrap designs they like.

While it’s not recommended, many clients love photos in the vehicle wrap design. If that’s what they want, very high resolution images need to be obtained and purchased. You’ll need to agree on a budget for stock photos.

It’s always a good idea to keep a vehicle wrap design simple, especially if it’s an ad for your client’s business. Your client’s vehicle may be going 65mph on the freeway, so you’ll need to make sure that the brand’s message can be read in seconds.

Here’s a cool vehicle wrap Pinterest board and design gallery to get you started.

3. Create the design


Vehicle wrap mockup tutorial by Thomas Baekdal.

Now that you’ve obtained photos of your client’s vehicle, you can use them to quickly sketch out your design. You can also create the design in the template files, but many designers find it easier to Photoshop the design on a photo of the vehicle first. It won’t be a 100% match for how it will look on the real car, but it will make it easier to visualize how graphics look when they meet at corners and rounded surfaces of the car. Follow this great tutorial on how to do it (this tutorial is great too).

Make sure that any mockup you create can be easily recreated or applied to the template files before you show it to your client. Mockups are great for showing your client how the design could look in real life and for getting their approval for the final design. However, it’s important to manage their expectations appropriately by showing them designs that can be  implemented in real life, not ones that just look good in Photoshop.

4. Apply the design to the template


Vehicle wrap tutorial from mr-clipart.com/

Vehicle wrap print files can be created in either Adobe Illustrator or Adobe Photoshop. At 99designs, we prefer that our designers deliver Adobe Illustrator files in vehicle wrap handovers, since some vehicle wrap printers only accept vector files for printing.

Many vehicle printers accept both PSD and AI files, though. Click here to view some short tutorials on how to apply a vehicle wrap design to a template file using either vector or raster programs.

Basic things to consider:

  • Set your document color mode to CMYK
  • One way to create the design to scale is to use 1:10 ratio
  • Set the document ppi to 720
  • Use high resolution photos/raster images if they’re part of the design
  • Convert all fonts to outlines
  • Label and organize each part into separate layers and make sure that each graphic has it’s own sublayer.
  • Add 5-10 in bleeds to each piece of the template. The design will have to wrap around objects like the edges of doors, and adding extra bleed will help the design grip to the car.

5. Deliver the files


Vehicle wrap design by Richard Andersen.

Provide your client with either .ai or .psd files, in addition to an uncompressed .tiff file of the vehicle wrap. Makes sure that they know the name or own a license to all fonts used in your design.

If any photos or other raster images were used in the design, include the raw photo file as well so that the vehicle wrap people can use it if they need to adjust your files. For a more detailed example of file specifications, check this vehicle wrap printer’s file specifications.

Vehicle wrap projects can be a challenge, but it can be one of the most rewarding examples of watching your designs come to life on a big, fast-moving object.

Race Car Design Tips

General Aerodynamic Principals


A simple definition of aerodynamics is the study of the flow of air around and through a vehicle, primarily if it is in motion. To understand this flow, you can visualize a car moving through the air. As we all know, it takes some energy to move the car through the air, and this energy is used to overcome a force called Drag.

Drag, in vehicle aerodynamics, is comprised primarily of two forces. Frontal pressure is caused by the air attempting to flow around the front of the car. As millions of air molecules approach the front grill of the car, they begin to compress, and in doing so raise the air pressure in front of the car. At the same time, the air molecules travelling along the sides of the car are at atmospheric pressure, a lower pressure compared to the molecules at the front of the car.

Just like an air tank, if the valve to the lower pressure atmosphere outside the tank is opened, the air molecules will naturally flow to the lower pressure area, eventually equalizing the pressure inside and outside the tank. The same rules apply to cars. The compressed molecules of air naturally seek a way out of the high pressure zone in front of the car, and they find it around the sides, top and bottom of the car. See the diagram below.

Diagram of 'Front Pressure'

Rear vacuum (a non-technical term, but very descriptive) is caused by the “hole” left in the air as the car passes through it. To visualize this, imagine a bus driving down a road. The blocky shape of the bus punches a big hole in the air, with the air rushing around the body, as mentioned above. At speeds above a crawl, the space directly behind the bus is “empty” or like a vacuum. This empty area is a result of the air molecules not being able to fill the hole as quickly as the bus can make it. The air molecules attempt to fill in to this area, but the bus is always one step ahead, and as a result, a continuous vacuum sucks in the opposite direction of the bus. This inability to fill the hole left by the bus is technically called Flow detachment. See the diagram below.

Diagram of 'Rear Vacuum'

Flow detachment applies only to the “rear vacuum” portion of the drag equation, and it is really about giving the air molecules time to follow the contours of a car’s bodywork, and to fill the hole left by the vehicle, it’s tires, it’s suspension and protrusions (ie. mirrors, roll bars). If you have witnessed the Le Mans race cars, you will have seen how the tails of these cars tend to extend well back of the rear wheels, and narrow when viewed from the side or top. This extra bodywork allows the air molecules to converge back into the vaccum smoothly along the body into the hole left by the car’s cockpit, and front area, instead of having to suddenly fill a large empty space.

The reason keeping flow attachment is so important is that the force created by the vacuum far exceeds that created by frontal pressure, and this can be attributed to the Turbulence created by the detachment.

Turbulence generally affects the “rear vacuum” portion of the drag equation, but if we look at a protrusion from the race car such as a mirror, we see a compounding effect. For instance, the air flow detaches from the flat side of the mirror, which of course faces toward the back of the car. The turbulence created by this detachment can then affect the air flow to parts of the car which lie behind the mirror. Intake ducts, for instance, function best when the air entering them flows smoothly. Therefore, the entire length of the car really needs to be optimized (within reason) to provide the least amount of turbulence at high speed. See diagram below (Light green indicates a vacuum-type area behind mirror):

Diagram of turbulence behind mirror

Lift (or Downforce)

One term very often heard in race car circles is Downforce. Downforce is the same as the lift experienced by airplane wings, only it acts to press down, instead of lifting up. Every object travelling through air creates either a lifting or downforce situation. Race cars, of course use things like inverted wings to force the car down onto the track, increasing traction. The average street car however tends to create lift. This is because the car body shape itself generates a low pressure area above itself.

How does a car generate this low pressure area? According to Bernoulli, the man who defined the basic rules of fluid dynamics, for a given volume of air, the higher the speed the air molecules are travelling, the lower the pressure becomes. Likewise, for a given volume of air, the lower the speed of the air molecules, the higher the pressure becomes. This of course only applies to air in motion across a still body, or to a vehicle in motion, moving through still air.

When we discussed Frontal Pressure, above, we said that the air pressure was high as the air rammed into the front grill of the car. What is really happening is that the air slows down as it approaches the front of the car, and as a result more molecules are packed into a smaller space. Once the air Stagnates at the point in front of the car, it seeks a lower pressure area, such as the sides, top and bottom of the car.

Now, as the air flows over the hood of the car, it’s loses pressure, but when it reaches the windscreen, it again comes up against a barrier, and briefly reaches a higher pressure. The lower pressure area above the hood of the car creates a small lifting force that acts upon the area of the hood (Sort of like trying to suck the hood off the car). The higher pressure area in front of the windscreen creates a small (or not so small) downforce. This is akin to pressing down on the windshield.

Where most road cars get into trouble is the fact that there is a large surface area on top of the car’s roof. As the higher pressure air in front of the wind screen travels over the windscreen, it accellerates, causing the pressure to drop. This lower pressure literally lifts on the car’s roof as the air passes over it. Worse still, once the air makes it’s way to the rear window, the notch created by the window dropping down to the trunk leaves a vacuum, or low pressure space that the air is not able to fill properly. The flow is said to detach and the resulting lower pressure creates lift that then acts upon the surface area of the trunk. This can be seen in old 1950’s racing sedans, where the driver would feel the car becoming “light” in the rear when travelling at high speeds. See the diagram below.

Diagram of lift and downforce from overbody flow

Not to be forgotten, the underside of the car is also responsible for creating lift or downforce. If a car’s front end is lower than the rear end, then the widening gap between the underside and the road creates a vacuum, or low pressure area, and therefore “suction” that equates to downforce. The lower front of the car effectively restricts the air flow under the car. See the diagram below.

Diagram of downforce generated by raked underbody

So, as you can see, the airflow over a car is filled with high and low pressure areas, the sum of which indicate that the car body either naturally creates lift or downforce.

Drag Coefficient

The shape of a car, as the aerodynamic theory above suggests, is largely responsible for how much drag the car has. Ideally, the car body should:

    • Have a small grill, to minimize frontal pressure.
    • Have minimal ground clearance below the grill, to minimize air flow under the car.
    • Have a steeply raked windshield to avoid pressure build up in front.
    • Have a “Fastback” style rear window and deck, to permit the air flow to stay attached.
    • Have a converging “Tail” to keep the air flow attached.
    • Have a slightly raked underside, to create low pressure under the car, in concert with the fact that the minimal ground clearance mentioned above allows even less air flow under the car.

If it sounds like we’ve just described a sports car, you’re right. In truth though, to be ideal, a car body would be shaped like a tear drop, as even the best sports cars experience some flow detachment. However, tear drop shapes are not condusive to the area where a car operates, and that is close to the ground. Airplanes don’t have this limitation, and therefore teardrop shapes work.

What all these “ideal” attributes stack up to is called the Drag coefficient (Cd). The best road cars today manage a Cd of about 0.28. Formula 1 cars, with their wings and open wheels (a massive drag component) manage a minimum of about 0.75.

If we consider that a flat plate has a Cd of about 1.0, an F1 car really seems inefficient, but what an F1 car lacks in aerodynamic drag efficiency, it makes up for in downforce and horsepower.

Frontal Area

Drag coefficient, by itself is only useful in determining how “Slippery” a vehicle is. To understand the full picture, we need to take into account the frontal area of the vehicle. One of those new aerodynamic semi-trailer trucks may have a relatively low Cd, but when looked at directly from the front of the truck, you realize just how big the Frontal Area really is.

It is by combining the Cd with the Frontal area that we arrive at the actual drag induced by the vehicle.

Aerodynamic Devices


Scoops, or positive pressure intakes, are useful when high volume air flow is desireable and almost every type of race car makes use of these devices. They work on the principle that the air flow compresses inside an “air box”, when subjected to a constant flow of air. The air box has an opening that permits an adequate volume of air to enter, and the expanding air box itself slows the air flow to increase the pressure inside the box. See the diagram below:

NACA Ducts

NACA ducts are useful when air needs to be drawn into an area which isn’t exposed to the direct air flow the scoop has access to. Quite often you will see NACA ducts along the sides of a car. The NACA duct takes advantage of the Boundary layer, a layer of slow moving air that “clings” to the bodywork of the car, especially where the bodywork flattens, or does not accellerate or decellerate the air flow. Areas like the roof and side body panels are good examples. The longer the roof or body panels, the thicker the layer becomes (a source of drag that grows as the layer thickens too).

Anyway, the NACA duct scavenges this slower moving area by means of a specially shaped intake. The intake shape, shown below, drops in toward the inside of the bodywork, and this draws the slow moving air into the opening at the end of the NACA duct. Vorticies are also generated by the “walls” of the duct shape, aiding in the scavenging. The shape and depth change of the duct are critical for proper operation.

Typical uses for NACA ducts include engine air intakes and cooling.


Spoilers are used primarily on sedan-type race cars. They act like barriers to air flow, in order to build up higher air pressure in front of the spoiler. This is useful, because as mentioned previously, a sedan car tends to become “Light” in the rear end as the low pressure area above the trunk lifts the rear end of the car. See the diagram below:

Front air dams are also a form of spoiler, only their purpose is to restrict the air flow from going under the car.


Probably the most popular form of aerodynamic aid is the wing. Wings perform very efficiently, generating lots of downforce for a small penalty in drag. Spoiler are not nearly as efficient, but because of their practicality and simplicity, spoilers are used a lot on sedans.

The wing works by differentiating pressure on the top and bottom surface of the wing. As mentioned previously, the higher the speed of a given volume of air, the lower the pressure of that air, and vice-versa. What a wing does is make the air passing under it travel a larger distance than the air passing over it (in race car applications). Because air molecules approaching the leading edge of the wing are forced to separate, some going over the top of the wing, and some going under the bottom, they are forced to travel differing distances in order to “Meet up” again at the trailing edge of the wing. This is part of Bernoulli’s theory.

What happens is that the lower pressure area under the wing allows the higher pressure area above the wing to “push” down on the wing, and hence the car it’s mounted to. See the diagram below:

Wings, by their design require that there be no obstruction between the bottom of the wing and the road surface, for them to be most effective. So mounting a wing above a trunk lid limits the effectiveness.

Aerodynamic Design Tips

  • Cover Open wheels. Open wheels create a great deal of drag and air flow turbulence, similar to the diagram of the mirror above. Full covering bodywork is probably the best solution, if legal by regulations, but if partial bodywork is permitted, placing a converging fairing behind the wheel provides maximum benefit.
  • Minimize Frontal Area. It’s no coincidence that Formula 1 cars are very narrow. It is usually much easier to reduce FA (frontal area) than the Cd (Drag coefficient), and top speed and accelleration will be that much better.
  • Converge Bodywork Slowly. Bodywork which quickly converges or is simply truncated, forces the air flow into turbulence, and generates a great deal of drag. As mentioned above, it also can affect aerodynamic devices and bodywork further behind on the car body.
  • Use Spoilers. Spoilers are widely used on sedan type cars such as NASCAR stock cars. These aerodynamic aids produce downforce by creating a “dam” at the rear lip of the trunk. This dam works in a similar fashion to the windshield, only it creates higher pressure in the area above the trunk.
  • Use Wings. Wings are the inverted version of what you find on aircraft. They work very efficiently, and in less aggressive forms generate more downforce than drag, so they are loved in many racing circles. Wings are not generally seen in concert with spoilers, as they both occupy similar locations, and defeat each other’s purpose.
  • Use Front Air Dams. Air dams at the front of the car restrict the flow of air reaching the underside of the car. This creates a lower pressure area under the car, effectively providing downforce.
  • Use Aerodynamics to Assist Car Operation. Using car bodywork to direct airflow into sidepods, for instance, permits more efficient (ie. smaller FA) sidepods. Quite often, with some for-thought, you can gain an advantage over a competitor by these small dual purpose techniques. Another useful technique is to use the natural high and low pressure areas created by the bodywork to perform functions. For instance, Mercedes, back in the 1950s placed radiator outlets in the low pressure zone behind the driver. The air inlet pressure which fed the radiator became less critical, as the low pressure outlet area literally sucked air through the radiator.

    A useful high pressure area is in front of the car, and to make full use of this area, the nose of the car is often slanted downward. This allows the higher air pressure to push down on the nose of the car, increasing grip. It also has the advantage of permitting greater driver visibility.

  • Keep Protrusions Away From The Bodywork. The smooth airflow achieved by proper bodywork design can be messed up quite easily if a protrusion such as a mirror is too close to it. Many people will design very aerodynamic mounts for the mirror, but will fail to place the mirror itself far enough from the bodywork.
  • Rake the chassis. The chassis, as mentioned in the aerodynamics theory section above, is capable of being slightly lower to the ground in the front than in the rear. The lower “Nose” of the car reduces the volume of air able to pass under the car, and the higher “Tail” of the car creates a vacuum effect which lowers the air pressure.
  • Cover Exposed Wishbones. Exposed wishbones (on open wheel cars) are usually made from circular steel tube, to save cost. However, these circular tubes generate turbulence. It would be much better to use oval tubing, or a tube fairing that creates an oval shape over top of the round tubing. See diagram below:

Oval vs. Round Tubing diagram

10 tips for aspiring car designers by Patrick Lecharpy and Luciano Bove

1 – The design industry of today

Renault Twizy - Clay model PL: Today’s design world is much more complex: students need to be internationally open. Even if the history of design is traditionally centered on Europe and United States, the future will have no boundaries.

This is an extremely important aspect, as you will be involved in international design environments. Competition will be open worldwide and not just among three or four design schools in Europe or in the States.

Things are evolving very quickly: in emerging countries like India, today it is possible to find competences that could not be found just five years ago.

Luciano Bove on the Twizy at-SPD MilanLB: I had the chance to attend the Art Center College of Design in 1984, and I came back and started working in Italy in 1989. Three years later I began teaching car design.

Back then, the first European design schools were just opening, conscious of the importance of providing a transportation design specific education, in competition with the long established schools in the United States and in Japan.

Today we have a lot of new design schools and in emerging countries like China there are also a few State universities offering transportation design courses: they are doing extremely well in a very short period of time.

When I started teaching in Italy, we launched the first transportation design department in Turin, and it took us almost eight years to reach a very high quality. Today design schools in China have managed to achieve a remarkable results in just three years.

Today competition is much, much higher.

2 – Open mindness

Renault Twizy Concept - Design Sketch PL: Sometimes it’s difficult for young creatives to realize they don’t work alone: the basis of creativity lies in the designer’s personality, however while in the past this could have been enough, it is not enough today.

In the professional world it usually takes 4 to 5 years to young designers in order to be operational within a team. During this period they are requested to interact with different competencies and mindsets.

It is important to find the right balance between having a strong personality and a charismatic attitude – which are necessary to build a creative mind – while being open minded towards diversity and not being too egocentric.

LB: In order to get a job in the car design industry you’ll need to be able to integrate in a team a lot faster than it used to be back in my times.

Renault Twizy Concept - Design SketchToday students cannot focus solely on sketching and rendering ability – which are still essential skills; they have to become manager of themselves in order to be able to manage projects and be autonomous.

If you want to survive in this competitive field, you need to be open to everything during all your career, not just during the time spent at school and internships.

3 – Teamwork

PL: Don’t forget: automotive design is teamwork. It’s difficult for us designer – especially when we are young – to accept we are not at the center of the universe.

Being proud of yourself and having your own ideas are necessary aspects, but a vehicle is so complex that it will never be only your own success.

4 – Time management

LB: Having good drawing and modeling skills is essential, but the most important thing – as a student and as a future designer or design manager – is being able to respect deadlines.

Renault Twizy presentation at SPD - Luciano BoveWhen you are in design school, you are not much concerned about time. You want to be the best, so it is important to show the teacher or the client a very good sketch or a perfect model.

But when you are in the real world and you are facing a deadline, it’s quite different.

And often the most talented and artistic designers are the ones who have the most difficulties.

However, this difficulty can be reversed and time can become your best friend when seen in a constructive way: it can motivate you and can help you to find the best solutions given the constraints and the tools you have at your disposal.

PL: [In order to succeed] you need to make a proper analysis first, and then ideas will come quickly. After that, you have to carefully choose one clear idea and go for it. Don’t spend too much time tuning the idea or trying to deliver perfect quality.

5 – Selling ideas and presenting projects

PL: The cleverness of a new concept is obviously the most important aspect of a design project, but often young designers underestimate the importance of selling their work – whether to a teacher or to a final customer.

Renault Twizy - Design Review

A new product will not produce emotions spontaneously: you’ll have to make people react emotionally and this is a very important aspect of a designer’s job.

For example, during business meetings you will face very busy top managers and it is crucial to catch their attention by creating an “advertising” on screen, better if with a short story behind, with some music and a scenario: if you manage to do it, then you “have won half the battle”.

When presenting a project to a teacher or to an interviewer, focus on one or two messages, and no more. Don’t get “everywhere”: be focused, choose and be efficient.

6 – Making design decisions

Renault Twizy - Color and TrimPL: When you create a new product or concept you need to think about what it is for and what it is not for, what you want to achieve and what you don’t want to achieve.

Making these choices will allow you to create something that gives answers to specific questions.

Don’t try to solve all problems, make choices, even if this can be difficult for designers. If you are able to make the right choices you will create a successful product, otherwise you are very likely to end with an average result.

7 – Hand modeling

Renault Twizy - Clay modelLB: Today with digital CAD models we can arrive up to 90% of the product. When you have milled a model and you put your hands on it, you will always find out areas that need changes; and when you apply a layer of paint on it, sometimes you’ll realize that reflections are not as you had imagined.

In those cases you’ll have to sculpt and work with clay: it is still a very special, artistic aspect of a designer’s talent that computers simply can’t do.

8 – Honest design

PL: Don’t over-promise by design, be honest with your customers. Don’t design a car that looks fast if it isn’t.

9. Being Curious

PL: We don’t have to overestimate our role of designers: we have the ability of visualizing ideas by sketching and prototyping, while engineers, market researchers, managers have different yet very important skills.

When you start you usually have little knowledge of these fields, and that’s something you can develop with time.

As a designer you’ll need to be curious and look at everything: engineering basics, international trends, fashion, graphic design, customer satisfaction. This will allow you to understand enough to put the elements together and to concretize the ideas.

10 – Training creativity

PL: Creativity is not spontaneous. Like every other skill, creativity needs to be trained during the whole life.

We thank Patrick and Luciano for their time and for the these precious tips!

Hybrid Myths and Theory Of Operations

Common Myths

I have assembled some common myths that you might have heard.

Hybrid cars need to be plugged in to charge them

You’ll hear this one a lot. It is an old wives tale repeated by people who have no idea what they are talking about.

Maybe they are thinking about all electric cars. A new breed of “plug-in” hybrids can improve gas mileage but they also have a gasoline engine to power the car when the battery runs out.

Hybrid cars get over 70 MPG!

Again, this is false, most hybrids have EPA mile per gallon city estimates in the 30’s to 50’s best case.

The Hybrid’s rechargeable battery only lasts for 2 years!

Unlike standard car batteries, the eco-friendly rechargeable hybrid batteries usually come with an 8 year/200,000 mile warranty and are designed to last that long too.

If I run out of gas, I can keep driving on the electric motor!

Hybrid cars rely on the gas engine most of the time and their electric motors might function for a short time if you run out of gas, but unless the gas engine is on and charging your hybrid electric battery, it will totally discharge. But on the flip side, if your electric motor quits working, your gas motor will run on its own and still allow you to drive the car as a normal car.

Hybrid Theory Of Operation – 4 Driving Modes

Hybrid cars operate differently depending on the driving mode. We can divide your typical driving into 4 different modes. Knowing how your hybrid vehicle operates under each mode is crucial to getting the most gas mileage and minimizing emissions output. Of course the car makers don’t tell you this, they just make it sound like you always get super high gas mileage no matter how you drive, but that may not be the case. Here are the 4 hybrid vehicle driving modes and their theory of operation:

Full Stop:

At a full stop, like at a red traffic light or stop sign, the gas engine usually shuts off to eliminate idling and reduce emissions. The electric motor is now ready to propel the car when push on the gas pedal. In crowded cities with lots of stop and go traffic this can save you a lot of fuel.

Initial acceleration from a stop:

Starting from a stop, the electric motor assists in accelerating your car using power from the battery pack. In downtown stop and go traffic you save the most fuel with hybrids, unlike regular cars where you burn the most fuel. The gas engine turns on and off as needed while you drive. Rapid acceleration will still hurt your gas mileage, just like a regular car.

Highway Driving:

This is where the fuel efficiency of a hybrid vehicle is different than a regular car. You get lower mileage on the highway than in the city. The reason is that in this driving mode the car is typically powered only by the gas engine, which may be charging your electric motor battery pack at the same time. So the electric motor is not typically contributing during highway driving, meaning your hybrid is just another gas powered car at highway speeds. Some hybrids get slightly better highway mileage than their non-hybrid counterpart because they are able to use a smaller, more efficient gasoline engine since the electric motor can assist for passing/acceleration. Also, many hybrids have continuously variable transmissions that allows the engine to operate at optimal RPM. If you are a highway commuter that drives an hour to work each way on the open highway with no stop and go traffic, a hybrid vehicle will probably offer you little fuel savings.

Braking, Coasting and Deceleration:

When you brake or coast, kinetic energy gets converted to electric energy instead of being wasted as heat like in standard car. This is accomplished by using the electric motor as a generator to charge the battery pack. This process of charging the battery is known as regenerative braking. Keep in mind that hard braking requires the normal friction brakes as well so to get the best fuel efficiency you should brake smoothly.

How Do You Save Money When Buying New Hybrid Cars?

You save money when buying a hybrid the same way that you save money buying a regular car. We recommend that you read our Buying a New Car in 5 Quick Steps article or read our full car buying guide in addition to the information on this page.

hybrid plugged inReal World Sighting of Plugged In Hybrid

If you decide on a new hybrid car, your goal is to make sure you aren’t getting screwed with ridiculous “market adjustments.” A “market adjustment” is simply an additional dealer profit sticker added next to the MSRP stickers. We recommend that you get quotes from high quality quote sites. Make sure to get multiple, competitive quotes to keep the dealers in line and save the most money. These sites offer you free new car price quotes and new car dealer invoice prices. We recommend that if the hybrid car that you are interested in has a non-hybrid sister model (e.g. Civic vs. Civic Hybrid) or a non-hybrid close competitor (e.g. Prius vs. Ford Focus), you should request a quote for both. Having a quote for the non-hybrid model will show you how much extra you are paying for the hybrid technology. Then you can decide if the gas money savings are worth the extra cost.

Tips for Car Loan

How to Avoid a Higher Interest Rate in Your Next Car Loan

Buying a car can be a daunting and intimidating task with tricks and traps at every turn.  Car buyers often spend countless hours researching the best vehicles, comparing key features, and ultimately finding the best deals.  But when it comes to financing their new vehicle, car buyers are often left in the dark as to what constitutes a good car loan and what abusive practices to avoid.

To help car buyers navigate the murky waters of a new car loan, we have come up with the following quick tips that should help you secure a more affordable car loan next time you step on a car dealer’s lot.

Car Loan Tip

Run Your Credit Report

Before embarking in your car buying journey, request your credit report from the three credit bureaus.  You can request your credit report for free once a year by visiting annualcreditreport.com or by calling 1-877-322-8228.  Your credit report will give you a glimpse of your creditworthiness and inform you of any possible shortcomings.  Knowing of all this before stepping into a dealership will guard you from the most aggressive selling tactics and help you walk away when the financing offered is not in your best interest.

Car Loan Warning Be careful to avoid paid credit reporting services.  Only annualcreditreport.com is authorized to request a free credit report for you under the law. Paid credit reporting services often carry hidden fees and undisclosed costs.
Car Loan Tip

Visit Your Nearest Bank or Credit Union To Get A Quote

Once you have your credit report handy and a have a good idea of what type of car and price range you are looking for, head over to your nearest bank or credit union to see what kind of interest rates they are offering on their car loans. In some cases, particularly if you already know exactly what vehicle you want to purchase, the bank or credit union may pre-approve you, thus letting you know exactly what interest rate and monthly payments you should expect in your car loan.

Car Loan Warning Be sure to shop around and to compare rates. Visit more than one financial institution to get a quote and to find out what interest rates they are offering on their loans. This will give you a better idea if you are getting a good deal or not.
Car Loan Tip

Negotiate for a Better Rate

Despite the loans offered directly by banks and credit unions, eight out of every 10 car buyers finance their vehicle through a car dealer. Whether it is the convenience offered or simply the marketing tactics deployed, if you find yourself behind closed-doors in the finance and insurance department of a car dealer be ready to negotiate for the lowest interest rate possible without feeling intimidated. Knowing your credit history and the loan rates offered directly from banks and credit unions in your area will definitely give you the upper-hand in getting the best car loan possible, but remain weary of any interest rate markups added on by the dealer. While a car dealer may initially originate your loan, it often attempts to sell the loan to a third-party lender for a profit. This profit is made by arbitrarily raising the interest rate of your car loan. If the interest rate offered by the dealer is higher than what you anticipated, just ask for the desired interest rate and renegotiate.

Car Loan Warning Try to avoid any add-on products offered by the dealer. Products such as vehicle service contracts, guaranteed auto protection insurance, credit life and disability insurance, and many others are often overpriced and unnecessary. Car dealers often sell these products to raise the cost of their loans and increase their profit margins. If you really need any of those add-on products, try to purchase them outside the dealership for much cheaper.

Other Things to Consider:


Comparison Shop Online: The internet has made it a lot easier for consumers to compare car prices and loan rates online. Start your research there before you head out to the dealership.

“Yo-Yo” scams: “Yo-yo” scams or “spot deliveries” occur when a car buyer drives away with the vehicle without finalizing sale. Once home, the dealer will call back the buyer claiming that it was unable to fund the loan at the agreed-upon terms. The buyer must then return the car to the dealer and often renegotiate the loan at a higher interest rate than one agreed-upon before.

“Buy Here and Pay Here” Dealers: “Buy Here Pay Here” dealerships typically finance used auto loans in-house to borrowers with no or poor credit. The average APR is usually much higher than a bank or credit union loan. The car loans made by these dealers are often unsustainable and lead to a high rate of repossessions.

Take Your Time: The average consumer spends 45 minutes with the finance and insurance department at the dealer (only 27 minutes if they take a test drive), so take your time to consider your lending options and don’t feel pressured to sign the dotted line. You have the right to take the entire paperwork home before agreeing to the loan.

Don’t Get Caught In The Monthly Payment Trap: Dealers will often attempt to mask the true cost of their loans by focusing on the monthly payments. Be sure to compare the total cost of all the loans offered and to choose the one that is less costly to you in the long run.

Auto Loan Tips and Scams

Don’t Let Financing be an Afterthought, it Should be a Forethought

It is extremely important to educate yourself about financing when you are shopping for a car. You must understand that the loan is just another product that the dealership is trying to sell. Don’t be fooled into thinking that they are doing you some kind of favor so that you can drive off in a new car.

happy finance customer

It is in their best interest to charge you as high an interest rate as possible so that they will make a good profit. Beware of the tricks that they will use to make you think you are getting a good deal when you really aren’t. You can get better rates from different lending sources before you walk into the dealership.

Remember, a great deal can go bad real fast if you get into the wrong financing. The devil is in the details, especially in the F & I office. Do not let your guard down!

Key Auto Financing Tips

  • Never Shop Based Upon the Monthly Payment
  • Dealers can extend the length of your loan in order to get the monthly payments down
  • Don’t be fooled by the dealer sneaking in a 60 month loan
  • Dealers put overpriced extras into the loan so you don’t notice you’re being ripped off
  • Look out for the “Financing Fell Through Scam” detailed on our scams page
  • Avoid getting scammed by comparing the APR of several loan options
  • Figure out your budget before shopping so you know what you can afford
  • Don’t give a cash deposit, you can dispute a credit card charge if there is an issue
  • Know your credit score so the dealer can’t lie to you to charge you more

Warning About Low APR Car Financing

Few people qualify. Estimates show that as few as 7% of you will qualify for those low or no APR rates we see advertised by car manufacturers. Your best bet is to assume you won’t qualify and get quotes from the online lenders I will discuss so you are prepared.

Financing Mistake to Avoid

It is huge mistake trying to buy a new car without checking rates online or knowing if your credit history can support getting approved. A big source of emails I get are from people whose loans fell through at the dealer. This is why it is important to know your credit score before you apply. Remember, the free reports do not include your score.

If you have bad credit and are trying to get a loan, read our chapter for people with bad credit. We give you strategies to increase your credit score and your chances for approval.

Online Auto Loans: Getting the Best Deal

According to the Consumer Federation of America, car buyers are often overcharged by 3% on their loans at the dealership, which can add more than $1,000 over the life of the loan. The best way to avoid this rip-off is to finance online because these companies tend to have the lowest rates, usually beat dealers and there are no application fees. Get approved in minutes. Remember, multiple quotes gets you the best rate.

If you have a substantial, excellent credit history and FICO credit score above 700 you can really save money by financing with LightStream. They are the online lending division of SunTrust Bank. They offer extremely low rates on unsecured loans. They cater to customers with premium credit.

Advantages Of Online Auto Financing

  • Online loan rates are usually lower than car dealers
  • Low rate and no application fees
  • Lock your financing rate for 60 days
  • Apply for a maximum amount in advance so the final price and vehicle won’t matter
  • Online new car financing avoids headaches, bad credit loan scams and frustration of car dealer financing
  • Loan approvals are usually within an hour during business hours
  • No hidden fees, points or prepayment penalties

The Best Way to Finance Buying a Car

Buying a car is no simple decision. From buying outright, to buying a car on finance, there are many options. You also have to consider running costs. In fact, it’s probably the second most expensive thing you’ll buy after a home.

Cash or savings?

When interest rates are so low, it’s likely that your savings will not be earning much in a bank or building society account. So rather than keeping your savings and borrowing at a higher rate of interest, you could use them to fund all or some of the cost of the car.


  • You should make sure you have enough savings left over for an emergency after you have paid for your car.
  • If you don’t have enough savings to buy the car outright, you could use them to give you the biggest deposit possible.
  • Even if you use money from your savings you may be better off buying the car on your credit card so you benefit from credit card purchase protection. You should pay the bill off in full the next month.

Personal loan

Did you know?

Personal loans are usually the cheapest way to finance a car deal, but only if you have a good credit rating.

You can get a personal loan from a bank, building society or finance provider so long as your credit rating is good.

Make sure the loan is not secured against your home. Otherwise you will be putting your home at risk if you failed to keep up with repayments.

Shop around for the best interest rate by comparing the APR (or annual percentage rate, which includes charges you have to pay as well as the interest).


  • It can be arranged over the phone, internet or face-to-face
  • Covers the whole cost of the car but it doesn’t have to
  • Can charge a competitive fixed interest rate if you shop around


  • There may be a wait for the funds to appear, although some lenders make funds available almost immediately
  • Other borrowing may be affected

Hire purchase (HP)

Hire purchase is a form of buying a car on finance and is paid in instalments where payments are spread over 12-60 months and you usually (but not always) have to put down a 10% deposit. They are arranged by the car dealer and are often very competitive for new cars (less so for used cars). The loan is secured against the car, so you don’t own it until the last payment is made.


  • Quick and easy to arrange
  • Low deposit (usually 10%)
  • Flexible repayment terms (from 12 to 60 months)
  • Competitive fixed interest rates


  • You don’t own the car until the final payment
  • Tends to be more expensive for short-term agreements

Personal contract plan

This type of car finance deal is a variation on hire purchase and tends to result in lower monthly payments. Instead of paying for the car outright, you agree to pay the difference between its sale price and its price for resale back to the dealer. This is based on a forecast of annual mileage over the term of the agreement. Payments are spread over a shorter term of 12 to 36 months.

At the end of the term you can:

  • hand back the car to the dealer and pay nothing
  • trade the car in and start all over again
  • pay the resale price of the car and keep it


  • Lower monthly payments
  • Low deposit (usually 10%)
  • Flexible repayment terms (from 12 to 36 months)
  • A choice of what to do at end of repayment term


  • Mileage and condition of car affects the costs
  • Total amount paid may be more than with hire purchase
  • Have to pay the outstanding balance to keep the car

Personal leasing

You can pay the dealer a fixed monthly amount for the use of a car, with servicing and maintenance included, as long as the mileage doesn’t exceed a specified limit. At the end of the agreement, you hand the car back. It never belongs to you.


  • Motoring at a fixed monthly cost
  • No worries about the car depreciating in value
  • Flexible payment terms (from 12 to 36 months)


  • Monthly costs are higher because servicing and maintenance are included
  • Need to find a deposit (usually 3 months rental)
  • Possible extra costs if you exceed the mileage limit
  • The car is never yours

Car finance options – Things to look out for

As you compare car financing, there are a few key things to do before making a final choice.

  • Make sure you can afford the monthly payment.
  • Make sure you compare interest rates by looking at the APR (annual percentage rate), which includes all the charges you have to pay. Remember that a higher deposit will normally mean a lower interest rate.
  • Compare the total cost of borrowing, including all charges over the loan.
  • Think carefully before buying payment protection insurance (PPI) or other insurance, such as GAP cover, which can be expensive and may give limited cover. GAP cover is designed to pay out if your car is a total write-off and the outstanding finance is more than the value of your car.
  • Beware of early repayment or other charges, which kick in if you exceed the forecast mileage in personal contract plans (and also personal leasing).

Using your savings is the cheapest option for buying a car, while personal loans are usually the cheapest way to borrow to buy a car, but only if you have a good credit history. If you have a bad credit rating, you may need to choose one of the alternative financing methods to buy a car.