About Having a Car
From Rutgers GSA Wiki
Beware of Bad Mechanical Services
Several people have recently been complaining about the hardships of getting a car fixed in this area. All mechanics are well-known to be unreliable to some degree. Here is a list (incl. brief comments) of places with known problems:
- Mark's Trackside Auto Center (Princeton Juntion): this guy's jobs are alright. The problem is they will charge you a lot for an estimate, and they will charge it again if they missed the failure (their fault) and you have to go again.
- Mexican shops on Jersey Ave (New Brunswick): these guys specialize on body work, not mechanics. But sometimes there are mechanics working there too, and they charge very reasonably while fixing specifically what you want.
Some suggested mechanics in the area
Places recommended (in no particular order):
- GT Japanese automotive (Woodbridge Ave., Highland Park)
- P&K Auto Clinic (Woodbridge Ave, Highland Park)
- F&F Auto (Rt 27, Highland Park)
- University Shell (Easton Ave, New Brunswick)
- Duane Beers (Raritan Ave, Highland Park)
- Freedman's Tire Service (Rt. 27 Edison)
- Llantas & Auto Shop (Jersey Ave, New Brunswick)
- Iron Horse Auto Repair (Route 1 at Washington Rd, Princeton)
P&K in Highland Park (On Volkert street, keep right on Rt-27 to Woodbridge avenue, it will be on your right handside after S 8th) is a nice guy. He is not cheap, but gives reasonable prices and does not try to screw you by "inventing" additional item repairs like Meineke (stay away from them with any cost, me and my friends have bad experiences with those guys). He even fixed my small problems without charge etc. For one reason he gained my confidence, so I do not feel like I am fooled with whatever price he mentions.
- My and few others friend's experience with P&K was good except one friend who complaint about a AC repair. I did not do timing belt change at P&K but if I remember correctly he charged a friend around 300$ 1.5 years ago.
Duane Beers at Highland Park Automotive, on 1150 Raritan Ave. in Highland Park did a good job on our 1995 Honda Civic. Not the cheapest (five hundred something dollar), but good service. Gives you a ride home when you bring the car and vice versa. And gives you the prices including taxes, so no unpleasant surprises. Little room for bargaining, though.
Freedman's: I have tried about 5 mechanics in 5 years and I will always go back to Freedman's. Not the cheapest, but they will do the best work.
- Get informed and tell them what you need and what they think is the most urgent thing to do for your car and tell them that you cannot afford a lot because you are a student and they will understand.
GT Japanese Automotive Inc (or GT Automotive) on Woodbridge in Edison specialize in Japanese cars and have a very good reputation.
University Shell (on Easton) and F&F Auto in Highland Park have very good reps as well.
F&F (Frank and Howard), in Highland Park are recommended as well
""Llantas & Auto Shop"" is located on Jersey Ave, after the big warehouses and right before a pink bar on the left. Oscar, the owner, is a very direct guy who will interact with you like a human being, not a machine, and will ensure that you get the repair that you want, not the one he wants you to have. His cousin, known as "Primo", takes care of the body repairs and he is very reliable in terms of quality, pricing and timing.
""Iron Horse Auto Repair"" are located in the Getty gas station. They are truly amazing, will always get you a slot within that day or the next for a repair, charge you a reasonable amount and explain to you exactly what needs to be done with your car. They are also extremely friendly and they take care of their customers because they know they need them in order to continue working. The owner is Ismail.
Check engine light
Most major car parts chains (autozone, checkers, etc) will connect a diagnostic reader to read your 'check engine' code for free, and they'll also usually give you good advice (ie: your car's all broken up vs. check your gas tank cap).
Choosing Your Car Insurance
Insurance rates usually depend on the insurance company policies, as well as your profession, age, driving record, position at Rutgers (student only, faculty, staff) etc.
You might find that insurance companies may change their coverage rates, so it is advisable to do some research before you sign a contract or renew your insurance. Note also that some insurance companies may increase their policy premiums when you renew your insurance. That may occur independently of your ticket or accidents record, but it might be that the same company is still worth renewing with. Again it is worth doing some research.
Before you consider any insurance company, make sure you understand what is involved and what policies are available to the public. There are a very big range of insurance policies from car insurance to van insurance to truck insurance. Each package customised for each individual and for every solution. I'd suggest reading up on the various types of insurance policies available.
Auto Insurance Companies
1) Travelers and Liberty Mutual (for TAs, GAs or Rutgers employees): Check out the Rutgers University Auto and Home Choice Program. Rutgers employees can obtain discounted rates on auto, homeowners, and renters insurance through the Rutgers University Auto and Home Choice Program.
By calling the Toll-Free Choice Quote Line at 800-640-7630, Rutgers employees can receive personalized insurance quotes from Travelers and Liberty Mutual, two of the nation’s top insurance companies. A licensed representative will compare your current policies with those available to you through the Choice Program and help you to decide if the Choice Program will result in cost savings and/or better coverage based on your current needs. The program offers a special Rutgers group discount of up to 15 percent as well as additional discounts based on your particular situation, such as insuring multiple policies through the same carrier or driving a car with an auto-theft device.
If you are not a TA, GA or Rutgers employee, but has a Wachovia bank account, you can still get lower rates at the Travelers webpage or call (888) 305-3040.
2) Geico: gives competitive rates, but does not seem to treat the customers well when he or she is involved in an accident. A student who was driving on the main street got hit by another car at a spot without appropriate traffic signs. None of the drivers was considered guilty by court, and the student had to pay for all the damages to his car plus an insurance surcharge for “at fault accident”.
3) E-surance, AIG: offers discounts for students without a long driving history, which is good specially for those with ages below 24. AIG has good student discount, and you can input an older driver’s license from your home country to apply for discounts.
4) 21st Century: offers better quotes for some specific type of professions, such as scientist and engineer. Being a PhD student and depending on your major, you can sign up as a scientist.
5) New Jersey Manufacturers: is cheap, but you have to live in NJ for at least 3 years to get good rates.
6) Amica is very cheap.
7) Ameriprise: is cheaper than Geico, offers discounts if you have a Costco account, but being a Rutgers student makes no difference.
8) Progressive: A student reported he was in an accident and claims by Progressive were very quick, and he had an excellent experience with the customer service (online and on the phone). He found Progressive’s rates competitive.
9) Car Insurance Quotes: If you would like to get a car insurance rate comparison by zip code, try this site. It is free, and allows you to compare car insurance quotes quickly from all the major companies.
10) Compare Car Insurance: Compare quotes from car insurance companies before choosing.
In the State of New Jersey, as the owner of a car, you are required to have a state inspection done in regular intervals. How often the interval is depends on how old your car is. If you want to know when the next inspection is due, check the month and date of the sticker in the lower of your windshield on the driver's side. The month is in the center of the square and the year on either side.
There are free state inspection facilities all over New Jersey. These are different from private facilities which will charge you. The private facilities will offer additional services (such as estimates for repairs when necessary, guaranteed work, etc.).
For more info on state inspections: http://www.state.nj.us/mvc/Inspections/index.htm