image credit: Kristen Lee

As Jalopnik’s resident car buying expert and professional car shopper, I get emails. Lots of emails. I’ve decided to pick a few questions and try to help out. This week we are discussing proper paint care for a new car, high mileage leases and more.

First up….

Soon to be getting an expensive new car. Want to protect it from the start. Did a bunch of initial reading on films/ceramic. I’m going to wrap the entire car in XPEL for the long-term protection and self-healing properties. Now I am reading that some people are putting ceramic coating over the wraps as well. Is this a thing and does it truly help in any way (easier washing, shininess, not needing to wax, etc...)? Taking the cost factor out of it, what do you think/have you heard?

Thank you for tolerating this first world query.

This one is outside of my wheelhouse, so I went to friend of Jalopnik and car detailer extraordinaire Larry Kosilla owner of AMMO NYC. Here is what he had to say -

Some people do add ceramic to on top of paint protection film (PPF), I do not feel it is necessary as most ceramics have a tendency to water spot and etch the PPF.

Nothing is better/stronger than PPF at this time. I do encourage you to apply traditional sealants and waxes over the PPF for hydrophobic properties. Otherwise, wash and dry as normal and you are good to go!

Next….

Here is the issue; my wife is going to be working as a fire loss estimator and the company is giving her a budget of $600 monthly towards a car. Gas is also paid for by the company via their credit card however the vehicle must get at least 22 MPG. The issue is that we don’t plan to live in this state for more than 2 more years and financially we also do not want to assume a large car payment (we own a 94 Miata (project car) and a Scion tC (my college car that I daily) both of these cars we own outright and have a little under 4 years left on a 2014 F150 (as we do all our home restoration, we also have a 15-month-old girl. My wife feels safe driving her around in the F150). To further complicate this the company advises she could drive as much as 30,000 miles annually. She wants a vehicle that she feels safe in for transporting our daughter as she primarily does drop off and pick up from daycare. She wants a crossover or SUV for that reason. Additionally heated seats are on her must-have list due to having to go to homes in the middle of winter (we live in upstate NY) that have no heat or electricity due to their fire damage (she would hop into the car to warm up while doing inventory). Would it be possible to lease a crossover for only 24 months and but with 30k miles per year?

Basically, a high mileage lease probably isn’t going to work. First of all 24-month leases for mainstream cars are rare, and when they exist are usually very expensive. Furthermore, with a projected mileage of up to 30,00 per year, you will be way over miles. Let’s say you did a 15,000-mile lease for three years and went over by 45,00 miles. At .25 cents a mile that would be a balance of $11,250 at the end of the lease. Your best bet is to buy something for $600 per month as that would give you more flexibility because you could sell or trade it in a year or two if you wish. With a $600 budget that is a total spending limit of about $33,000 including all tax and fees on a 60-month loan assuming 3.5 percent APR. You can get a pretty nice, and safe car that will meet the mpg requirements for 28,000-30,000.

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Next up!

I buy cars and trucks for my small business, and I’ve noticed that manufacturers will offer rebates by zone—that is, you can get a deal in Florida different than a deal in California. We have work locations all over the country. Is there a way to learn what the manufacturers are offering as factory cash in different part of the country?

Unfortunately, there really is no central database that your average car buyer can access to that would tell you the rebates and programs in various areas. Dealers have access to this. Now what you need to remember is that manufacturers handle regional rebates and incentives differently. Some will apply to where the car is purchased while others will apply to where the car is being registered. Your best bet is to cast a wide net and see where the better deals seem to be located. Solicit the quotes from afar and locally, compare the price differences with the transport costs and see if it’s worth a remote deal.

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Got a car buying conundrum that you need some assistance with? Email me at tom.mcparland@jalopnik.com!