What do car insurance policies cover?

Is the thought of selecting an auto insurance policy enough to make your eyes glaze over?

Don’t feel bad — understanding the different policy types, coverage amounts and potential additions can be a challenge, even for a pro.

But if you’re in an accident, having the right policy can mean the difference between a minor inconvenience and real financial troubles. So it’s important to understand the basics.

What Different Policy Types Cover

If you’re determined at fault for an accident:

  • “Property damage liability” covers the repair or replacement costs of any property damaged in the accident (e.g., vehicles and fences).
  • “Bodily injury liability” covers the associated medical costs of other parties involved in the accident.

If you’re not at fault for the accident: 

  • “Under/uninsured motorist” makes up any costs that the at-fault driver can’t cover, including medical and vehicle repair costs.
  • “Comprehensive” coverage insures you against any damage that may occur when you’re not driving the vehicle (e.g., theft, vandalism or weather damage).
  • “Collision” covers repair or replacement costs associated with striking a static object, like a curb, fence or tree.

These policies aren’t required and may not be worthwhile for older vehicles close in value to policy deductibles. (Some leaseholders and lenders may require collision insurance.)

“Personal injury” helps cover the costs of medical expenses if you (or your passengers) are injured in the accident. Some policies also cover associated expenses, such as lost wages and funeral costs. This coverage is required in no-fault states.

What Isn’t Covered

Auto insurance doesn’t typically cover:

  • Repair costs associated with routine wear and tear. 
  • Damages caused or incurred while driving for fares (ride-sharing).
  • Exotic, performance or vintage vehicles, which often require specialty policies.
  • Coverage for roadside assistance, rental reimbursement and new car replacement (which may be obtained at an additional cost).

Remember, coverage requirements and minimums can vary, so do your research and always consult with a trusted provider.

Do you need work done on your vehicle? Reach out today.

What’s caused the car supply shortage?

Material shortages have caused supply chain issues for a number of industries, and the automotive industry has been no exception.

Your vehicle, like many other devices, relies on computer chips to operate. Thanks to the tech boom, these chips were already in short supply when the pandemic further exacerbated the situation.

But how exactly did we get to this shortage of computer chips (and cars)?

  • Industry Shutdown: In March 2020, the pandemic forced auto manufacturers and dealerships to shut down. Automakers canceled orders for computer chips, also known as semiconductors, because they expected sales to fall. But demand remained high, and dealers adapted to safety protocols via online sales and no-contact pickup and delivery.
  • Computer Chips Harder to Acquire: Lockdowns forced a shift in our culture. Remote work and education became the norm, increasing the demand for personal electronics. Meanwhile, stockpiling within the tech industry and issues like natural disasters further complicated things.
  • Automotive Production Halts: The chip deficit has forced automakers to limit certain features or stop producing vehicles entirely. They’ve given priority to more profitable vehicles, and thousands of cars await chips before they can be shipped to dealers, forcing buyers to wait.
  • Prices Increase: Strong demand coupled with severely limited inventory has driven prices up. In June 2021, the average listing price had increased 5.5% from the previous year (and 10.3% from 2019). Fewer new cars also means fewer trade-ins, driving used car prices up as well.
  • Shortages Continue: Experts are predicting the chip shortage will last well into 2022, if not longer. Meanwhile, chipmakers attempting to boost production are facing supply chain shortages of their own. Chip production, shipping costs and labor shortages are all still taking their toll, so automakers are pausing production again.

Taking care of your car is as important as ever, so reach out if you have questions about vehicle maintenance.

5 Tips for Selling Your Used Vehicle

Selling a car on your own doesn’t have to be a daunting process. Plus, it can be quite profitable, especially when there’s high demand and low supply.

But you can’t forget that you’re competing with other sellers. As such, it usually pays to go the extra mile.

So what can you do to make your used car stand out from others? Here are five suggestions of what to take into account.

  1. Determine your asking price. Your car’s value will depend on various factors, including its make, model and age — and your location. Research your vehicle to find the current value; Kelley Blue Book is a great place to start. Consider asking for a little above your target price to allow room for negotiation.
  2. Have a replacement plan. It’s a good idea to search out potential replacements before putting your car on the market. Remember, used car prices are up because both new and used vehicles are in short supply. You don’t want to end up without a vehicle if you need one.
  3. Give the car a deep cleaning. Buyers want a vehicle that appears well-cared for, and a filthy one simply doesn’t fit the bill. Removing clutter and debris from the interior and washing the car inside and out can go a long way. But a professional detailing job could go even further to convince buyers.
  4. Make necessary repairs. Repairs may help increase the car’s perceived value and visual appeal, plus it indicates that you’ve taken good care of the vehicle. For example, defogging old headlights improves both looks and functionality.
  5. Get great photos of the exterior and interior. With so many buyers shopping almost exclusively online, high-quality images are essential. Show the vehicle from every possible angle. Be sure to point out any flaws, such as dents or scratches, since leaving them out can make it appear that you have something to hide.

Planning to sell a vehicle soon? Just need repairs or maintenance? Get in touch for help.

Are you putting off car maintenance?

Have you been putting off car maintenance? We get it. Regular upkeep takes planning, money and time. But putting off care isn’t the best choice for your car.

 

Routine professional maintenance keeps your vehicle functioning at its best, extends the life of your vehicle and saves you money long-term. Although life can get hectic, there are a few tasks that are especially important to keep up with.

 

  1. Brake check: Faulty brakes can be dangerous. If your brakes have become noisy or less responsive, schedule an appointment as soon as possible. Worn brake pads may be the culprit. But it could be something more serious, such as a fluid leak or air in the brake lines.
  2. Oil change: Oil lubricates engine components to reduce heat and friction during operation but becomes sludgy over time due to oxidation and contamination. Putting off a necessary oil change can drag down engine performance and possibly cause damage. Foregoing regular oil changes could also void your warranty. (Check your manual for recommendations.)
  3. Timing belt replacement: Generally, a timing belt can last you 60,000 miles or more. But if your engine is ticking or misfiring, you may need a replacement.
  4. Tire rotation and alignment: Tires should be rotated and aligned approximately every six months (or every 6,000 to 8,000 miles). This ensures even wear, extends the life of the tires and reduces the likelihood of a blowout.
  5. Windshield repair: A chipped windshield can hinder your view of the road. Left unchecked, even the smallest crack can quickly spread (and make a costly windshield replacement more likely).

 

Tend to forget to schedule car maintenance? Try adding a recurring reminder to your calendar. A reminder for other tasks, such as monthly fluid and tire pressure checks, can be helpful as well.

 

Need help or want to schedule an appointment? Reach out anytime.

5 Helpful Tools to Have in Your Garage

Even if you don’t consider yourself mechanically inclined, it can be helpful to have a few tools on hand for auto maintenance. These tools can help with upkeep between professional services and can help you fix minor car issues. But with so many tools to choose from, how do you determine which ones are worth the investment?

Here are five tools we suggest you include in your automotive tool kit.

1. Socket Set

Socket sets typically include a wrench and an assortment of attachments (available in standard and metric sizes). Socket sets can address a diverse range of nuts and bolts, making them essential for auto maintenance. Plus, they’re less likely to slip than other tools, reducing the likelihood of injury or property damage.

2. Torque Wrench

A torque wrench is super helpful if you’re dealing with wheels. They provide a variety of settings, ensuring that you only tighten bolts to the proper specifications.

3. Toolbox

A sturdy toolbox makes it easy to keep your garage organized. Just starting your tool collection? Look for a complete tool kit that includes common tools such as pliers, screwdrivers and wrenches.

4. Lighting Options

It’s dark under the hood of a car, even in a well-lit garage. But with a shop light, you can get a much better view of the job at hand, ensuring it gets done properly and safely.

5. Floor Jack and Stands

Some areas of your engine can’t be accessed without elevating the vehicle. A floor jack makes it easy to access these hard-to-reach areas. But don’t leave the car on the jack while you’re working. Secure it with jack stands rated specifically for the weight of your vehicle.

While these tools are certainly helpful to have, regular professional maintenance is highly recommended.

For more help, contact us today.

How to Care for the Glass on Your Car

Keeping your vehicle’s glass clean and in good shape is about more than looks. Dirty or damaged glass can obstruct your vision and potentially put you (and your passengers) in unnecessary danger.

But with proper cleaning and care, you can travel safer and extend the life of your vehicle’s windshield and windows.

Here are few ways you can take care of the glass parts of your vehicle.

Clean the glass on your car regularly.

Use a dedicated glass cleaner, cleaning glass as often as needed to maintain optimal visibility. Avoid products that contain ammonia and other harsh chemicals, which can damage window tint and vinyl, rubber and leather trim.

Instead of spraying the glass directly, lightly mist a microfiber cloth and apply just enough cleaner to the glass to remove residue. Use a separate cloth to dry the glass.

Don’t forget to clean the tops and edges of the door windows. Polish away hard water spots to avoid permanent staining, and consider applying an exterior sealant to make future cleaning easier.

Replace your wiper blades as needed.

Wiper blades dry out, become worn and break down over time. As this occurs, you may notice noise, streaking and visible deterioration. If you notice these tell-tale signs, replace the blades ASAP. If the metal beneath the blades becomes exposed, it could scratch the windshield.

Practice safe driving.

When traveling, it’s always possible that gravel and other debris kicked up by nearby cars could hit your windshield. It helps to keep your distance from other vehicles.

Repair damage ASAP.

When rocks or other debris hit your windshield it can leave a small chip in the glass. Even without insurance coverage, such damage is relatively inexpensive to repair if caught early. But left unchecked, a small chip can quickly turn into a large crack that requires a windshield replacement.

Park in the shade whenever possible.

Heat can weaken and warp glass over time, shortening its lifespan. It can also cause small chips to spread more quickly. Park in a garage or other covered areas whenever possible.

For all things automotive, reach out today.

What should you keep in your car?

It doesn’t matter whether you’re planning a road trip or just using your car for errands, it’s a good idea to keep a few essentials handy in case of an emergency.

Here’s a weekend project idea: Clear out anything you don’t need and stock your car with a few useful items instead.

Whether you buy a pre-made emergency kit or gather a few things separately, here’s what to consider keeping in your vehicle to stay prepared and safe on the road:

1. Flashlight or Headlamp
A light source is great to have in case you have car troubles at night. With a headlamp, you can keep your hands free while changing a tire or checking under the hood.

2. First-Aid and Comfort Supplies
Band-Aids and other first-aid tools can be useful anytime, not just in an emergency. A blanket can protect you while on the ground working on your car (or provide warmth if your vehicle breaks down in cold weather). If you have kids, water and snacks will come in handy if you have to wait for a tow truck.

3. Emergency Tools
Stay safe on the side of the road with items such as reflective triangles, flares, a fire extinguisher and a multipurpose tool like a pocket knife.

4. Jumper Cables
Keep working jumper cables in your trunk to help revive your own vehicle’s dead battery or someone else’s.

5. Portable Phone Charger
If your car battery dies, you won’t be able to charge your cell phone in your vehicle’s USB port or cigarette lighter. Keep a functioning portable charger handy just in case.

Have questions about your vehicle? Get in touch with us anytime.

5 Smart Tips for Summer Car Care

The summer heat can pose some unique challenges for drivers. Increased temperatures can impact everything from road conditions to vehicle performance, and too much sun can even cause some damage to your vehicle.

So how do you make sure that you properly care for your vehicle during the summer? Use the five following maintenance tips to create a smarter summer car care routine.

1. Check the battery.
Rising temperatures cause battery fluids to evaporate and can also speed up the corrosion process, possibly causing irreversible damage to your battery. Luckily, corrosion is easily removed using baking soda and water.

Keep in mind, most batteries only last three to five years. If your battery is in that age range, have it checked by a professional. It may be time for a replacement.

2. Top off fluids.
Extreme temperatures can take a toll on engine fluids, so it’s important to develop a consistent maintenance routine. For example, oil should be checked monthly, topped off as needed and changed regularly. Engine coolant should be checked every time you fill up your gas tank, topped off as needed and flushed every five years.

3. Gauge tire pressure.
As temperatures rise and fall, so does tire pressure. When tires are off balance, they wear unevenly, which impacts fuel economy and increases the chances of blowouts. Tire pressure should be checked (at least) monthly and adjusted to manufacturer specifications.

4. Protect your paint.
Avoid washing your car in direct sunlight. If it dries too quickly, soap residue may get cooked into the paint, damaging the finish. It’s also a good idea to wax the exterior every six months to protect the paint from sun damage.

5. Protect your interior.
Wipe down and condition the dash and upholstery as needed to prevent surfaces from drying out, cracking or fading. And consider using a sunshade while parked to protect interior surfaces from the heat.

For more automotive advice, reach out today.