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Need wheels? Your guide to buying a used car


Need new wheels but have a tight budget? Consumer Reports has long advocated buying used as a way to get the biggest bang for your buck. It’s simple math: After one year, a new car has depreciated 27 percent of its sticker price; after three years, it’s worth barely half of its sticker. When someone else takes the depreciation hit on the car, you benefit.

But picking out a good used car from a sea of bad ones has never been easy. You want to buy one that’s reliable, affordable and equipped with modern safety features. Add in the desire to avoid a car that has been damaged in an accident or a natural disaster, and the process can feel overwhelming.

It doesn’t have to be. Consumer Reports created this handy guide to help you find the small cars, sedans and SUVs that are most likely to fulfill your needs without breaking down and soaking you in repair bills.

Deceptive hotel booking sites raise alarms


WASHINGTON — The vacation package was too good to be true: A room for six at the majestic Pelican Grand Beach Resort in balmy Fort Lauderdale in mid-February for just $99 a night.

A woman from Atlanta booked a room online, paid in advance for a week’s stay and showed up with five children in tow.

Stay safe this summer: Repel bugs, beware of scams


Would you rather be eaten alive by mosquitoes and ticks that can carry debilitating — and even deadly — diseases, or douse yourself in harmful repellents full of potentially dangerous chemicals?

Almost three-quarters of Americans say they worry more about insect-carried diseases, such as Lyme and West Nile, as well as newer threats like chikungunya and Powassan, according to a recent survey of 2,011 U.S. adults conducted by Consumer Reports.

Five Spot: How to get the most out of farmers markets


Summer means it’s time to hit the farmers market. Here are some simple tips to make the most out of your trip:

— Bring your own bags.

Flying together: Tips for finding adjacent airline seats without paying extra


NEW YORK — On top of the bag fees and other charges, families traveling this summer may have to pay extra just to sit next to one another.

Airlines are reserving a growing number of seats for elite customers or those willing to shell out more money. These seats often — but not always — come with a little extra legroom. The catch: setting these seats aside leaves fewer places for other passengers to sit without paying extra.

Shrinking luggage: Airline group suggests smaller carry-on bags to free up bins


NEW YORK — Millions of fliers might soon want to buy new carry-on suitcases.

Global airlines have announced a new guideline that recommends shrinking carry-on bags, in an effort to free up space in packed overhead bins.

No-tip restaurant offers food for thought on pay, benefits


PHILADELPHIA — Customers to Girard Brasserie and Bruncherie might be in for a surprise when they read the note attached to their bills: “Tipping is not necessary.”

That’s food for thought in an industry where servers depend on gratuities for the bulk of their pay. Yet staff at the French-inspired restaurant earn about $13 an hour, and they get sick time, vacation days and health insurance.

Turn your junk to cash in a weekend


The Wall Street Journal has estimated the annual yield from garage sales to be around $2 billion. Isn’t it about time for you to claim your share of that jackpot?

It’s summer and I can’t think of a better time to clean out the drawers, closets and disaster areas that your family members are always complaining about. You need to turn that clutter into cash.

Cash or plastic? Payment methods see generational shift


Cash is no longer king.

More than half of all Americans say they have gone an entire week without paying for anything with cash or coin, according to a new survey of 800 adults conducted by Rasmussen Reports.

How to have a mower that’s still working in 15 years


Whatever kind of lawn mower you have, proper maintenance should help keep it going a decade or more. Consumer Reports, working to improve the lives of consumers by driving marketplace change, offers the most common ways to have your machine humming.

Gasoline degrades and gums up over time. Ethanol in the gas can compound the problem by degrading rubber and plastic parts and coating linkages.

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