We’re inundated with car insurance ads at every turn, each pledging better rates or more personal service. But aside from knowing what your premium is, do you know what your coverage is and whether you have enough?
Your policy will cover liability, bodily injury liability (BIL), property damage, personal injury protection, uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage, collision, and comprehensive.
Many states require a minimum amount of coverage, but you probably want to consider insuring for more. Medical bills can add up to many thousands in a hurry, and you don’t want to be on the hook.
Liability packages often have three numbers, like 100/300/100. This refers to the amount of coverage for bodily injury per person (100k), per accident (300k), and property damage (100k).
Individuals with higher net worths may want to boost the first two.
The Wall Street Journal says a good rule of thumb is to get coverage for an amount equal to the total value of your assets (house, car, savings, and investments). Those could be seized to cover repairs or medical expenses otherwise.
Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage is also vitally important. This pays for damage to your car and passenger injuries caused by an at-fault driver who doesn’t have liability insurance or a hit-and-run driver. Consumer Reports suggests buying the same limits as on your liability insurance.
Remember also to sign up for the highest deductible you can afford, which will reduce your premiums.
Accidents and collisions: Turn to dent repair specialists for seamless bodywork
Have you ever backed into a garage door after mistakenly putting your car in reverse rather than drive? Or perhaps you’ve clipped a garbage can while turning, or possibly scratched your bumper in a parking lot?
These types of accidents can happen to even the most careful drivers. What’s more, black ice and other hazardous conditions can easily result in a fender bender. Even if your car is parked, all it takes is a minor mishap to leave your door, hood, or bumper with a dent. In short, there are a variety of ways your vehicle can get dinged, scratched, or otherwise damaged.
Leave it to the pros
Depending on the extent of the damage, you might be tempted to deal with scratches and dents yourself. Certainly, you can pick up a body repair kit at any store that sells car parts, and there are plenty of tutorial videos you can consult online. Just keep in mind that removing dents is harder than it looks, and there are plenty of ways to get it wrong.
In addition to lowering the value of your car, a botched repair could cost more to fix than the initial damage, weaken the surrounding metal and leave your car vulnerable to rust. Rather than take this risk, it’s best to leave bodywork to a professional.
Auto body repair specialists have the expertise, equipment, and experience to get the job done right. If your car is looking worse for wear, make an appointment at an auto body shop or collision repair center in your area.
Should you repair or replace your car?
Are you wondering whether you should repair or replace your car? If so, here are some tips that can help you determine if it’s time to invest in a new set of wheels.
Do the math
Compare the cost of the repairs your car needs to the current market value of your vehicle. Book an inspection to get an estimate on the repair work, and look online to determine the market value of your car’s make, model, and year.
If the cost of fixing your car is greater than its current estimated value, then it’s probably best to trade in your old set of wheels. However, if your vehicle is well maintained and the repairs will extend its lifespan by at least several years, then getting a skilled mechanic to fix your car is a worthwhile investment.
Be wary of major repairs
Certain types of car problems are more serious than others and serve as an indication that it’s time to trade in your current ride. This is often the case if the engine or transmission breaks down or if the body or chassis falls into disrepair. With few exceptions, major restorations are best avoided.
Evaluate your situation
There are a number of personal and financial factors to take into account when deciding whether to repair or replace your car. Ask yourself the following:
• Does your car still align with your values and lifestyle?
• Is your car reliable?
• Is it fully paid for?
• Are the needed repairs likely to be the first in a string of many?
• How much would it cost to purchase the car that you want?
By reflecting on these and other pertinent questions, you’ll be able to weigh the pros and cons and come to an informed decision.
Finally, when evaluating whether to repair or replace your car, keep in mind any anticipated future changes such as the arrival of a family member, starting a new job, or moving to a different town.
Better headlights: Safety group makes awards
Drive on an unlit road during the night, and you are putting yourself in a unique danger zone.
About half of all fatal crashes in the U.S. occur in the dark and more than a quarter occur on unlit roads, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).
That’s why the institute adopted headlight ratings in 2016. Since then, automakers have responded to the goal of making good-functioning headlights standard equipment. In previous years, automakers offered superior headlights but usually as an option.
IIHS rates headlights on the distance their low beams and high beams illuminate on straight and curved roads, IIHS reports. On a straight road, safe low beams light up the right side of the road to at least 325 feet. Poor headlights shine 220 feet or less.
IIHS deducts safety points for headlights that produce glare so strong that it momentarily blinds oncoming drivers.
Automakers get extra credit for high-beam assist. This is an automatic device that automatically switches between high and low beams. Research shows that drivers don’t use high beams enough.
In 2016, when the initiative was introduced, only two of the 95 IIHS tested models earned a good rating for headlights. For the model year 2020, 85 out of the 185 models tested had good-rated headlights. In eight of the models, the safe headlights were standard. In 42 of the models, headlights were rated good to acceptable.
For 2021 at least 10 automakers improved their headlight offering by eliminating or modifying interior choices. Since 2020, vehicles have only been able to qualify for the highest Institute awards if they come equipped with good or acceptable rated headlights for all models.
5 handy accessories for your car
Do you spend a lot of time in your car? If so, here are five accessories that can make your drives more pleasant.
1. USB adapter
This inexpensive gadget plugs into your cigarette lighter and ensures you always have a place to charge your phone and other devices. Single and dual-port versions are available.
2. Air purifier
3. Portable Wi-Fi router
With a wireless router, your passengers will be able to enjoy using the internet while they’re on the road. This is especially handy on family car trips. Wi-Fi routers that plug into the cigarette lighter are also available.
If the loose objects in your car get tossed around whenever you make a turn, consider buying an organizer to put in your trunk or between your seats. Your car will be tidier, and you’ll no longer have to fish for lost items under the seats.
5. Trash bin
If you struggle to keep your car’s interior clean, a simple trash bin can make a big difference. There are many types available, from flexible models that fit into cup holders to ones that hang on the back of your seat.
With these handy items on board, car rides will be more enjoyable for you and your passengers.
Shock absorbers 101
Shock absorbers ensure that your car rolls along smoothly and the wheels adhere to the road. Here’s what you need to know about this essential component of your car’s suspension system.
How shock absorbers work
Shock absorbers are pump-like devices that work in conjunction with your car’s springs. When you hit a bump on the road, the springs bounce to absorb the impact. The job of the shock absorbers is to diminish the strings’ vibrations. They do this through a process called dampening, in which they dissipate the kinetic energy of the springs as heat.
Why they’re important
By diminishing the springs’ vibrations, shock absorbers keep your wheels firmly on the road and improve the handling of your vehicle.
When to change them
Most manufacturers recommend that you replace your shock absorbers every 50,000 miles. Signs that your shock absorbers need to be replaced include pronounced bouncing and vibrations when driving and a longer stopping distance.
If your shock absorbers are past their prime, be sure to get them replaced by a qualified mechanic.
5 tips to avoid driving-related pain
Do you suffer from aches and pains after a long drive? If so, do your neck and back a favor by following these five tips.
1. Adjust your seat
Is your seat properly positioned? Here’s how you can tell:
• You can press down on the pedals using your entire foot, heel to toe
• Your elbows are slightly bent when you grip the steering wheel
• There’s one to two inches of space between the back of your knees and the front of your seat
• Your thighs and back are fully supported by the seat and backrest
If you find you need more lumbar support, place a cushion behind the small of your back.
2. Relax your posture
Sit comfortably against the backrest and place your hands on the steering wheel at the nine and three o’clock positions. Avoid leaning your head forward. If you’re forced to lean forward, it means your seat is excessively reclined and needs to be adjusted.
3. Take regular breaks
If you’re going on a long drive, stop every couple of hours to walk around and stretch. This will ease sore muscles and promote blood circulation. You can also move your arms, wrists, and neck when waiting at a red light.
4. Check the airflow
To promote blood circulation when driving, direct heat to your upper body rather than to your legs. Conversely, in summer, direct the air conditioning toward your legs.
5. Empty your pockets
If you have bulky items in your pant pockets, they can hinder movement in your pelvis or impede circulation in your legs. Before you get behind the wheel, remove your wallet, smartphone, and other objects from your pockets.
Adopt these good habits, and you should feel more alert at the wheel and be free of pain when you reach your destination.