In the market for a new car? This auto season will open more doors than expected for those that are.

There’ll be plenty of choices debuting at the LA Auto Show. Over 50 new cars will have their premiere in November. The OC Auto Show will once again host the Camp Jeep off-road test track along with hundreds of hot rides.

But before that, Edmunds.com will pay six buyers to shop around.

That’s right: Pay.

The resource for car shopping and automotive information is seeking applicants to its Connect & Drive Experience. The company will fly those chosen to Santa Monica, California where they’ll drive and review five of the hottest new compact sedans on the market. For four days, they’ll learn how to make informed decisions for their next purchase. All while getting paid to do so.

Talk about incentives. This unique program will transform ordinary drivers into informed ones. At the end of the immersive experience, there may be a few more order slips filled out at the auto shows, find more.

Legal residents of the United States 21 years or older with a valid driver’s license and a clean driving record are eligible. The Connect & Drive Experience is September 24-27 and on the heels of Alt Car Expo, the alternative transportation event in Santa Monica.

Max Your Cash When You Sell the Old Car

Max Your Cash When You Sell the Old Car

My wife informed me we were going to have a little girl. I was elated and then immediately saddened. The Jeep Wrangler ragtop was going to go to someone else’s barn — and I knew it.

The Survey

I pulled the 2001 Wrangler Sport out of the stall and shortly realized that she would need some fresh lipstick. The vinyl windows were scratched and foggy, the window zippers were crusty, the fender flares were milky gray (normally shiny black), the left side fog lamp bulb was busted, as was the rear center break light bulb.

The Cost

We rumbled on down to the local “busted knuckle” garage to get an estimate for a spa day. I was thinking a $340-$450. Then came the, “Yes, sir, thanks for waiting, all in your looking at $850.” I said, “I’ll get back with you.”

Plan B

The light bulbs, easy peasy. They came in the mail (ordered at www.autoanything.com). I rustled up a couple screwdrivers, the always-elusive star bit and a wrench. It took about 30 minutes and some choice words. I saved $75 in labor and parts markup right there.

The vinyl windows priced at retail are expensive. Next stop, Craiglist.com (saw some on eBay too). Sure enough, there were plenty to choose from that fit my make and model. They weren’t perfect, but they were light years better than what I had. Paid $150 for the lightly used set and saved $200 off of the retail price and installation.

The plastic fender flare set for the Jeep was only $100 and change, but the installation cost of $150 was an awfully proud. I did some snooping online and low and behold there was an ingenious fender flare therapy right there on YouTube.com. It turns out a person can take a garden variety hardware store propane canister blow torch and wave it lightly over the plastic and the gray just melts away. It was not as good as new, but it qualified as fresh new lipstick indeed.

The Tally

A little elbow grease, Internet snooping and some blowtorch artistry saved me a whopping $525. This does not even account for the wow factor that allowed me to dig my heals in deep and get the $7,700 asking price.