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By Jim Gerland and Mark Winer

Check out our bi-weekly Net perspective. Our goal is to make these columns useful for our readers whether they be novice or pro, while still offering a fun to read column. Feel free to let us know what Internet resources you find useful in your personal, educational, or business life - it might just end up in one of our columns!


Spring New Car Fever
April 15, 1996

Spring is in the air and many a person's fancy turns to love. No, not that kind of love - rather the love of the automobile. Whether it's looking to buy a new or used vehicle or improving the current car you drive, the Internet is a great place to begin your search.

Before taking that new car out for a test drive at the local dealership most of us like to arm ourselves with some product information about the cars we're interested in buying. Besides the traditional resources - television, newspaper and magazine advertisements - we can now use the Internet to get information. Most car manufacturer's now have World Wide Web sites which provide product information about their cars. Many of these are very sophisticated with features like finance calculators and credit eligibility in addition to information about their product lines.

One place to find the Internet addresses of the car manufacturer you are interested in is to look for it on the company's advertisements. Many companies have included their Web site address on their television or print ads. Here are the addresses of some of the more popular ones: Ford (www.ford.com); General Motors (www.gm.com); Chrysler (www.chryslercars.com); Toyota (www.toyota.com); Honda (www.honda.com). Of course you can always use your favorite search engine to find a particular car maker. After surfing to some of these sites you'll see where some of their advertising dollars are going! For more automotive information check out some of the automotive magazines on-line. Car and Driver's site (www.caranddriver.com) includes features from recent issues as well as links to their buyers guide. Autoweek On Line (www.autoweek.com) is a weekly automotive enthusiasts magazine which offers access to live classified ads, free downloadable screen savers, and opinion forums. Popular Mechanics Automotive (popularmechanics.com/popmech/auto/) also has a nice site.

Once you've narrowed your choice to a few makes and models you're ready to hit the showroom and take that car out for a test drive. If you're looking for a dealer a great place to start your search is the Yahoo directory of dealers and dealer services ( www.yahoo.com/Business_and_Economy/Companies/Automotive/Dealers/). Here you will find indices of dealers sub-divided by manufacturer. For example, clicking on Volkswagen will list all the Volkswagen dealers that have Internet sites. We've found looking at sites from around the country a valuable way to compare prices and features of the cars we were interested in. Again, the more information you can access, the more educated a consumer you're likely to be.

You might not find your favorite local dealer on the Internet though. Currently, we found only one with an Internet site: Transitowne Dodge (www.transitownedodge.com). This a nice site with information about current Dodge cars and trucks as well as sections devoted to customer coupons and specials. There is also an extensive current used car database. Keep your eyes open for more local dealerships jumping aboard the Internet. Remember, you'll probably see their Internet addresses in their advertisements.

The Internet also has listings for many automotive services. DealerNet (www.dealernet.com) provides quality information to help you shop for a car and related services over the Internet. This site lists hundreds of dealers as well as new and used cars, information about financing and leasing, and reviews of new cars. Edmund's Automobile Buyer's Guides (www.edmunds.com) are also on-line. These popular guides have tons of good, free information, including wholesale and retail prices for new and used cars. There are listings for buying services such as Auto-By-Tel (www.autobytel.com) so you can avoid the showroom altogether. The Internet also has listing for used cars, classified ads and auctions. There are hundreds of resources available for buying that new or used car you're looking for.

If you already have the car of your dreams, or you're like us and can't afford it, you can use the Internet to find parts or accessories for the vehicle your cruising in now. Like your search for a new car, you can find product information about many items that you would put on or in your auto before buying them.

Perhaps you are looking for tires for your vehicle. Before going to your local tire shop you may want to find out what type of tire is best for your vehicle. You can check out a number of tire manufacturers on the Internet, including Kelly-Springfield (www.kelly-springfield.com), Bridgestone/Firestone (www.bridgestone-firestone.com) or Goodyear (www.goodyear.com) - yes, the Blimp's here too! The Dunlop Tire Web Site (www.dunloptire.com) is excellent and has loads of product information. There's even a tire locator which will configure the correct tire for your type of car. Additionally, this site explains some of the common terms associated with tires. When your done with this site, you'll be able to walk in to your tire store and be confident that you'll be able to make the right tire decision for your car.

One of the great things about the Internet is that there are sites devoted to relatively small communities of users or just to niche products. Once again, a good place to start to find that hard to find accessory is Yahoo's index (www.yahoo.com/Business_and_Economy/Companies/Automotive/ Accessories/). For example, if you're looking for a cup holder for your car you could search and find a web page for TracTop (www2.spav.com/wilton/husco/), the front-center armrest with the sliding cushion and pullout dual cup holders. Or for a specialty or novelty item, try The Sharper Image (www.sharperimage.com/tsi/).

As you can see, there are countless resources available on the Internet to satisfy your love affair with the automobile. And just in case you need it, don't forget that you can also find information about repair and collision services on the Internet too!

Finally, we want to continue to help you utilize the Internet in your life. Let us know what you're interested in and we'll check it out. You can email us, edge@edgeglobal.com , or fax us, (716) 853-1350 and let us know what's happening on the Internet in WNY or any computing related activities you're involved with.