April Showers Bring…Bad Driving Conditions (and May Flowers!)

We may finally be out of the danger of nasty winter weather, but that doesn’t necessarily mean safer roads. Even as you start to roll the windows down, make sure you’re aware of the challenges of driving in unpredictable spring weather so you can prepare and react accordingly.

Prepare: Show Your Car Some Love
If you and your car made it through this rough winter together, there’s no doubt that the cold, ice and snow has taken its toll. While your car doesn’t show it with dry pale skin and a few extra pounds from hibernation, it probably needs a little TLC. Here are few things you can do to prep your ride before hitting the road this spring:

1. Replace your wiper blades.
After scraping all that ice off of your windshield, your wipers may be worn out and in need of replacing so they can more efficiently remove water as you’re driving. (But be sure not to drive faster than your windshield wipers can sweep rain away!)

rain-driving_0666[image source]

2. Check your tire pressure. The winter cold may have reduced the air pressure in your tires. On the road, there will likely be more potholes from all the salt and large trucks used to clear the snow. Fully inflated tires will handle them much better.

3. Replace air filters. Many of us suffer from them as the flowers begin to bloom and the weather warms. If you are an allergy-sufferer, you will especially want to make sure that you replace your car’s air filter. A fresh, clean filter will do a much better job of keeping pollen and allergens out of your car.

React: Watch Out for Weather and Road Conditions
The biggest problem with spring driving is the rain–rainy driving conditions account for at least 1.2 million accidents every year. Combine that with the havoc wreaked on the pavement by winter weather and road-clearing efforts, and you’ll understand why some added caution is key. Here are a few ways to keep yourself safe while on the road:

1. Avoid cruise control. On wet, slippery roads it is usually better to decrease speed by lifting off the accelerator than to press the brake. Hitting the brake to turn off cruise control can cause hydroplaning in wet weather, leading to loss of control or even an accident. Skyline Drive, Blue Ridge Mountains, Shenandoah National Forest, Virginia[image source]

2. Avoid potholes. If you can, totally avoid the potholes. These are bad in all kinds of weather. In rain, they will fill, and deep puddles can cause impaired vision from the dirt splashing up or even damage to brakes, tires or the undercarriage. In any weather, potholes can damage the tire, the alignment or the metal wheel. These can be hidden fractures that will cause issues weeks or months down the road.

If you cannot avoid one, be sure to slow down. Speed dramatically increases your chance for damage. Instead, brake well before getting to the pothole and release the brake just at impact. If you brake during impact, your tires will get the full brunt of the hit, which you want to avoid.

3. Leave room. As always, never tailgate and leave plenty of room between you and the car in front of you. Rain mixes with oil and dirt in the road making roads more slippery, so brake earlier and more gently.

4. Share the road. Watch out for motorcycles and bicyclists who will be back out to enjoy the weather.

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Enjoy the beautiful sunshine and all the flowers this rain will bring! And be careful out on the roads.

‘Full Coverage’ Auto Insurance: Does It Exist?

Ever heard of “full coverage” auto insurance? Many of us have, but it’s important to know: “Full coverage” really doesn’t exist as an insurance product. When people use that phrase, they are often thinking about a combination of all the various coverages you can buy as part of a car insurance policy, including those required by your state, your auto lender or your lease holder, as well as coverages that are optional. Some of the coverages you can buy include:

• Bodily injury liability coverage
• Property damage liability coverage
• Collision coverage
• Comprehensive coverage
• Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage
• Medical payments coverage
• Personal injury protection
• New car replacement coverage
• Rental reimbursement coverage
• Towing and labor costs coverage
• Other optional coverages

Watch the video below for more information:

This guest post comes from the editors of The Allstate Blog, which helps people prepare for the unpredictability of life.

Spring Cleaning to Sell: How to Maximize Your Car’s Curb Appeal

Even though it might not quite feel like it, Spring is finally, officially here! With the winter we’ve had, you–and your car–are probably ready for more than a change in season. If you’re thinking about switching up your ride this Spring, you’ll need to do a little Spring cleaning to get rid of all the salt, snow and grime. Here are our top tips for maximizing your car’s curb appeal and getting your car spruced up and ready to sell.

Clean carSpruce up the Exterior

The last thing a prospective buyer wants to see is a dirty car, so make a strong first impression and keep the outside of your car sparkly clean. You can take a nice afternoon to scrub and wax it yourself or take it to a local detail shop to get it ready to sell. In addition to cleaning, make sure you have taken care of any scratches or dents to the body of your car. For smaller dings, this can be done cost-efficiently at home with a touch up kit and dent removal kit. If you have larger body damage, you want to have it taken care of by a professional.

Clean inside carClean the Interior

Think about how a potential buyer will feel when they slide into the driver’s seat. To ensure this is a good experience for them, make sure your car is free of any junk, dirt, or odors. Start off by removing any clutter from your car’s glove box, trunk, and other storage spaces. After removing any personal items, vacuum the carpet and seats, making sure they are all free of crumbs and other dirt. You’ll also want to wipe down the dash, center console and other hard surfaces. Once the car is cleaned, make sure there aren’t any odors that might be off-putting to the potential buyer. Removal of odors can be a real challenge, but spraying an odor eliminator throughout the car as well as into the vents can help. After you spray, run the air conditioning system to help air out the car.

Check the Tires

With your best outfit, you need the perfect shoes. The same logic is true for your car. Once you’ve shined up the interior and exterior of your car, you’ll want to make sure your tires match. Worn-out or half-deflated tires will not do. New tires don’t come cheap, so prospective buyers will be looking to make sure your car’s tires are in good shape so that they won’t need an extra purchase after buying your car.

Ensure All Lights are Working

Before showing your car, make sure that all of the headlights, brake lights, and turn signals are in proper working condition. If not, the potential car buyer could be easily turned off by thinking that a malfunctioning light is a small sign of more significant problems with the car. Lights are quick and cheap fix to avoid this pitfall, so make sure you check each and every one.

receiptsOrganize Service Paper Work

Any car buyer is going to want reassurance that the car has been properly maintained. Having your stack of receipts and paper work showing the essential car maintenance has been performed for the potential buyer to look at is exactly the assurance they need. These receipts should include services and equipment purchases such as tire rotation, oil changes, brake pads, and air filters, as well as any repairs made to fix any damages your car sustained during your ownership of the vehicle.

Perform Necessary Repairs

Used-car buyers want to spend as little as possible after purchasing your car, so make sure any necessary repairs are fixed  before you put your car up for sale. Minor repairs such as replacing missing items or fixing broken ones are simple and indicate that your car has been well-maintained. Be careful when making major repairs, though. You’ll want to make sure that you’ll be able to recoup the amount of money you spend when you sell.

Even if you are very good with keeping up your regular car maintenance, it is important to remember these tips to polish your offering when getting ready to sell your car. Good luck, and remember that even these little changes will make a big difference!

Used Cars

Driving Green to Save Some Green

We all want to save money. What if you could not only save money, but also help the environment at the same time? With gas prices always fluctuating—and usually increasing—your driving expenses are a great place to save some green! We’ve provided some easy tips to help with gas efficiency, saving you both time and money at the pump and helping the environment by reducing gas emissions.

1. Junk in the Trunk Do you have a ski or bike rack attached to the car? Do you have a trunk full of stuff? Take it off or get it out! Removing excess weight will lighten your car, therefore improving the gas efficiency of any vehicle.

product_driving_green_lg (3)[Image Source]

2. Pump it Up

Make sure all four of your tires are properly inflated. This improves your car’s performance and gas efficiency. Also, when you’re replacing your tires, look for low-rolling-resistance (LRR) tires, which are specially designed to improve a vehicle’s fuel economy.

3. Slow and Steady

As you’re driving along, be more like the tortoise than the hare. Speeding up and then slamming on your brakes is not only terrible for your brake pads but it also hurts the environment, and your gas economy. Flooring it for just a few seconds can give off more emissions than driving regularly for a half an hour.

4. Top it Off

When filling your tank – less frequently because of all the green driving tips you’re following – there are a few things to keep in mind.

Use regular gas unless your car’s manual states you need premium, because otherwise it does not do anything for your performance or fuel economy.

Don’t over fill past the automatic mechanism. This is bad for the environment because the gas vapors will escape your car and go into the air. This is also bad for your wallet because many gas pumps are now equipped to control the gas vapors from escaping into the air and will instead go back into the station’s tanks. When you fill past the line, the extra gas will go back this same way into the station’s tank but you are still charged for it.

Don’t spill the gas on the ground. One, that’s gas you’ve paid for that’s going to waste. Two, that gas gets washed into the local water or evaporates into the air, creating pollution.

5. Take Care

Make sure you’re taking care of your car and getting regular tune ups. This will certainly help your wallet in the long run, not only in regards to the gas tank but over the entire life of your car.

Change your oil regularly or get it done if you don’t do it yourself.  If you’re a DIY-er, watch this helpful tutorial on checking oil or head to our CARCHEX Youtube channel for others!

Get a tune up because the harder your car has to work, the less gas efficient it will be.

Try to keep your car out of extreme temperatures. In the summer, try to park in the shade and use a windshield cover. This will help by not needing to blast the air conditioning, which uses gas. Also, the liquid in the AC itself is bad for the environment. In the winter, allow your car some time to warm up before you hit the road and use a windshield protector to keep the ice off. Simple upkeep will keep your wallet fatter and car driving longer.

green driving[Image Source]

6. The More the Merrier

Carpooling and car sharing are among the greenest ways to save the environment and money. Surely some of your coworkers live nearby, or perhaps a few neighbors work near your office. Why not join forces and split the gas fees, as well as the lower your individual carbon footprint?

Many companies are supporting these efforts and will reward employees; some even have a bus for their employees in certain areas. Look into what your company does or perhaps talk to your boss about starting a program. It never hurts to help the environment!

greeen[Image Source]

If you really want to make an impact, there are, of course, even greener living ideas such as telecommuting and four-day workweeks or trading in for a hybrid. But remember that even small steps, like the simple tips we mentioned here, all add up to a big difference in protecting the environment–and your wallet.

How to Avoid the 7 Worst Winter Driving Mistakes

Winter driving means more hazardous roadways and requires more attentive drivers. Here are our top tips and reminders to get you and your loved ones safely to your destination, whether it’s just to work or a few states away.

Mistake 1: Relying on 4 wheel drive on an icy road

Sometimes, when a car is equipped with features especially designed for bad weather, drivers get a false sense of security and forget to take proper precautionary measures. While 4-wheel drive offers better traction than front- or rear-wheel drive on wet and snowy roads, don’t get too confident. Remember to be careful no matter what kind of tires you’re sporting.

Snow Car 2

Mistake 2: Slamming on your brakes and over-correcting when you start to slide

Often to avoid a bad situation – such as a collision –we automatically slam on our brakes. In some situations, that can be the best course of action. However, when slipping on ice, this will only hurt the situation. If you find that your car is slipping, it’s best to turn your wheel gently in the direction you want to go and lightly step on the brake. Think about it this way: when you’re walking on an icy patch of sidewalk, you slow down your pace and make deliberate movements. When you hit an icy patch of road, do the same thing with your car.

The alternative–slamming on the gas–is another way that many drivers use to correct a winter driving mistake. If your car becomes stuck in a snow bank, don’t slam on the gas. This will only dig a deeper hole. Turn your wheels left and right to try to push the snow away and gently hit the gas to test if you have traction.

Mistake 3: Getting out of the car when stranded

If you do end up stranded on the side of the road during the winter, the driest, warmest, safest place you can be is most likely going to be in your car, so it is usually best to stay there. Obviously, if your car is stuck in the middle of the road, you should carefully find a way to get out to avoid getting hurt in a possible collision.

If you are stuck, find those trusty road flares you keep in your emergency kit. Place them about fifty feet in front of and behind the car.  Make sure that your exhaust pipe is clear, and turn on your car for ten minutes every hour to keep warm. Turn on your hazard lights and lift the hood (as long as it is not snowing or raining) so people can tell you need help.

Mistake 4: Following others too closely

Even in perfect weather, it’s important to keep a safe distance from the car in front of you. But this rule becomes critical in nasty winter weather. When roads seem pretty clear and we’ve been driving without an issue for a little while, we can get too comfortable and start driving like the roads are normal. But one patch of ice or mushy snow piled up, and there suddenly isn’t enough room to slow down or maneuver out of a collision. Be particularly careful on high speed roads and going down hills.

Snow Car 3

Mistake 5: Doing more than one thing at a time

Remember those slow, deliberate movements we mentioned earlier? Well, this is similar. When it’s a sunny summer day, we might turn and brake at the same time and have no issue. But on bad roads, that can be asking too much of your car. Slow down, then make the turn. Do the same for acceleration.

Now if you don’t want to ask your car to multitask, don’t ask the same thing of yourself. Distracted driving can be very dangerous. Don’t fiddle with the radio, change your navigation device or use handheld phones. This is troublesome any time, but especially dangerous on slippery winter roads.

Mistake 6: Driving on back roads

Roads get cleared based on their size and use; so small back roads won’t get cleared very quickly if at all. Because these roads are not as frequently traveled, if you do get stuck, you may have longer to wait for help. If you have to go out in bad weather, try to stick to main roads if you can and avoid the back roads as much as possible.

Mistake 7: Not getting the car ready for winter

Even if you are someone who checks their tire pressure and changes their oil on time every time, you should still take the car to your mechanic to make sure it’s really ready for winter weather. And don’t forget the safety kit with blankets, water, food, road salt, flares, first aid kit and a travel phone charger.

Stay safe and warm out there.

Snow Car 1

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