Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but car care doesn’t take a vacation between Memorial Day and Labor Day. The warmer months present some challenges to personal transportation and maintenance, but this list will help us all have a summer we can enjoy.
Here are our top 10 tips to keeping your car — and its passengers — in good shape this summer.
1. Coolant System
Keeping cool is paramount, not just for ourselves but also for our cars. In addition to checking the level of coolant fluid in your car, go the extra mile and inspect the state of the hoses and the coolant reservoir. Keep an eye out for leaks, especially at joints and connection points, such as where a hose connects to the engine block. Also, squeeze the hoses (when the engine is cool) every once in a while to make sure they feel firm and not excessively squishy or soft.
2. Engine Belts
There is usually a serpentine belt that runs between the alternator, the fan and several other components. It can deteriorate, become loose, start to squeal, and sometimes just break for no apparent reason. It needs to be in good condition and at the right amount of tension. If you see cracks in the belt or small pieces missing, it’s time to replace the belt.
Yes, it’s summer, but it’s probably going to rain at some point. Worn wipers create nasty streaks across the windshield and can affect your vision while driving. Replacing them doesn’t cost much, but it can be a fiddly operation. If you’re in the habit of taking your car in for oil changes, ask them about the wipers, too. Sometimes a dealership will sell you the wipers and install them for free.
4. Other Essential Fluids
Check oil, brake, power-steering and windshield-washer fluids regularly. These liquids never stop being used and consumed. Speaking of brake fluid, how do the brakes on your car feel in general? Are they lacking in bite? Feeling a bit spongy? If so, new pads and a system bleed might be required. This is the kind of maintenance you should have your mechanic or dealership take care of.
5. Air-Conditioning System
Air-conditioning is a summer essential. If the system hasn’t been working properly but wasn’t really a pressing issue over the winter, now’s the time to get serious. If it’s an older system, then leaking Freon into the atmosphere is not good. There are plenty of leak-sealing products and refrigerant rechargers available from hobbyist stores and even places like Walmart. Remember, if there’s not enough refrigerant in the system, you have a leak. Have a qualified mechanic fix the leak before paying to have the air-conditioning system recharged.
6. Air Filter
The winter’s decomposing leaves may be clogging up drainage points, windshield-washer nozzles or your car’s air filter. Now might be a good time to buy a new one or take the current one out and give it a cleaning. Many modern cars also have pollen filters or cabin filtration systems, so take a look at those, too. Sometimes these cabin filters are easy to change yourself. Like everything else mentioned here: When in doubt, consult a qualified technician.
Tires really need to be checked regularly all year round. Pressures must be correct (consult the manual because sometimes that information is on the inside of the fuel door or the door jamb for the driver’s door), treads should be free of stones, stray nails and the like, and all four should be in good condition. Good condition means no cracks, no uneven wear (this might be caused by a suspension problem) and plenty of tread depth. Since summer is a time for road trips, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to have a can of Fix-A-Flat that could at least get you to a shady spot where you could change the wheel more comfortably. The spare obviously needs to be usable, too.
8. Dashboard Sunshade
For those times when you’re not driving, but the car is still out in the sun, a cover that goes in the windshield will protect the dashboard against ultraviolet rays and help the cabin stay a little cooler. Some even have solar panels to keep the battery charged. Consider shades for the rear side windows, too, as they’ll provide some protection for the kids. This also helps prevent areas such as the rear seats and dashboard from fading over time.
9. Clean the Car
Those long, balmy evenings when the sun is a huge, orange orb hanging low in a pinky-blue sky sound blissful. But they can also be a hazard, especially when your car’s windshield is dirty. Even from the inside, that haze will diffuse the light and make things hard to see. That grime has a tendency to build up over a long period, so we don’t really notice it. Things look much sharper after your car has had a good wash, though. Keeping the exterior clean also protects the paintwork from the sun’s rays, as well as any damage caused by birds and insects. Finish off the cleaning with a good-quality wax. Car care makes financial sense in the long run.
10. Driver and Passengers
It’s hot out there. Make sure everyone’s hydrated. It’s better to make a few more bathroom breaks and stretch your legs than to end up cranky and fatigued. Plan road trips as if you were a general marching against an opposing army. Make a list of everything you’re going to need. For example: sunglasses, hats, travel mugs, games for the kids, snacks, chargers for the phones and tablets, route planner, weather forecasts, emergency triangle, flashlight and a small tool kit. If a scheduled service is coming up, think about getting it done before a long drive. It’s also wise to make sure your insurance and driving license are up to date. Have a great summer, enjoy the roads, and take care of yourself and your car.
If you’re planning on kicking off summer with a getaway, you’re not alone. In a recent survey conducted by Travelocity, almost 40% of Americans traveled over Memorial Day and 4th of July weekends, with 77% of them planning to travel by car. Before you hit the open road, be sure to start the summer travel season off right by preparing for your adventure. Spending some time getting ready will help ensure a safe, fun and stress-free road trip.
SERVICE YOUR CAR
Check your filter and oil levels
Top off all fluid levels, including coolant and windshield wiper fluid
Change your air filter, if needed
Check your tires, including the spare tire, for proper inflation
Rotate tires, if you haven’t had it done for the last six months or 7,500 miles
Inspect belts and hoses
Test the battery and brakes
Change transmission fluid if needed
PLAN YOUR ROUTE
In today’s digital world, planning your route can be as simple as pulling up an app or opening Google Maps. Take a few minutes to map your route ahead of time, then let a trusted friend or family member know exactly where you’ll be driving to and when you plan on getting there. In addition, check weather conditions and road closures along your chosen route before you leave.
PACK YOUR BAGS MINDFULLY
Besides the proper clothes, shoes, undergarments, toiletries and such – you should also have a bag filled with emergency supplies. And REMEMBER, summertime is hot and if you get stranded, you’re going to need WATER. Some other items you might need are:
A properly inflated spare tire, lug wrench and jack
A tire pressure gauge and a can of compressed air
Flashlight and batteries
A plastic tarp
Bottled water and energy bars
Hand sanitizer and wet wipes
Plastic bags (for trash)
When you’re packing up the car, don’t put the emergency kit in first. Instead, wait until everything else is securely stowed before placing the kit in the trunk. That way, you can easily access it in case of an emergency.
IN CASE OF AN EMERGENCY
If, despite your best efforts and pre-planning, you end up broken down on the side of the road, what should you do? First, pull your car to the side of the road and turn on your hazard lights. Put your car in park, set the emergency brake, and point the wheels away from the road. Keep your emergency contact numbers programmed into your phone so you can access them easily when
If you can safely get out, place flares about 50 feet behind your car to alert other drivers. Don’t, however, leave the car by the road while you’re waiting for help; generally, it’s safer to stay with your car than to be a pedestrian. If a stranger pulls over while you’re waiting for help to arrive, remain in the car with your doors locked. Roll the window down a bit and let them know help is on the way.
STAYING SAFE ON THE ROAD
When you’re on the road, remember every occupant needs to be buckled up at all times. Not only is this the law, but seat belts save lives… more than 12,000 a year, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The safest place for kids under age 12 is in the back seat. Finally, if you feel fatigued, switch drivers or pull over to rest.
If you have gotten your license suspended or revolked, you may require an SR-22 filing in order to drive legally again. The state of Virginia uses the SR-22 form to help protect its citizens against problem drivers by monitoring their insurance. It requires the auto insurance company to file the SR-22 form as a proof of a problem driver’s financial responsibility, stating that his/her auto insurance liability is in effect. The state does not send notifications and it is the responsibility of the driver and the auto insurance company to submit the form as well as the renewals, to the state, if required.
What Is A SR-22 Form?
There are three different types of SR-22 forms:
The Operator’s Certificate covers the financial responsibility in the case the motorist does not own a vehicle.
The Owner’s Certificate covers the financial responsibility for vehicles owned by the motorist.
The Operators-Owners Certificate covers financial responsibility for all the vehicles that are owned or non-owned by the motorist.
When Is A SR-22 Required?
The SR-22 financial responsibility Insurance form is required in the following cases:
In case of a driver’s license suspension as a result of a conviction for a major offense such as manslaughter while operating a motor vehicle, making a false affidavit during driver license application or vehicle registration, failure to stop at the scene of an accident that resulted in death or injury, or a second conviction for operating a passenger vehicle without a valid license.
If you have any unsatisfied judgment suspensions. For example, if a driver involved in an accident in the past has an unsatisfactory judgment entered against him then he or she needs to fill the SR-22.
In case of an uninsured motor vehicle suspension.
Certain convictions such as driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or driving with a suspended license will require filing of an FR-44. This is a more stringent version of the SR-22 under which the amount of minimum coverage is doubled.
Filing For The SR-22
Contact a state-authorized insurance agency to request for a SR-22 filing.
Pay the correct processing fee to the agency. The fee amount may vary between agencies. You can request an insurance quote from our Virginia auto insurance page and companies such as Esurance will allow you to request an SR-22 filing automatically.
As per the State laws of Virginia, the minimum amount of coverage should be $25,000 for one person killed or injured, $50,000 for two or more persons killed or injured and $20,000 for property damage.
Upon receiving the request from the agent the central office then sends the SR-22 directly to the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles. SR-22 filing may be carried out electronically, in which case your records will be updated almost instantaneously.
The SR-22 has to be maintained for a minimum period of 36 months. If the motorist does not renew it at least 15 days before the expiration date the agency notifies the State. The State may then suspend the driving record of the motorist until the insurance is reinstated.
Owners of business vehicles may choose to go for self-insurance by furnishing a surety bond. For more information regarding self-insurance, contact your nearest DMV office.
Your auto insurance is a collection of different policies that cover you in different ways. Before you buy car insurance, it’s helpful to know how much car insurance you need.
Here’s how it’s broken down:
Liability coverage – These policies help cover liability and expenses when you’re at fault in and accident. The money will go to the people you hit, but it won’t cover the people in your car.
Bodily Injury Liability (BIL) – This policy pays for the medical expenses of people injured in a crash in which you’re at fault. You’ll often see BIL policies described as a “20/50” policy or a “100/300” policy. These numbers describe the maximum dollar amount the policy will pay for a single person’s injuries and the maximum for all the injuries sustained by all the occupants of the other car. For example, a policy will pay maximum of $20,000 for a single person’s injuries, and up to $50,000 total for the injuries of everyone in the car you hit.
Property Damage Liability – This policy pays for damage done to the other car if you’re at fault in an accident. Property liability is sometimes referred to alongside BIL as a third number, so a 25/50/20 liability package will cover up to $10,000 for damages to the other car.
The following policies cover you and your car in an accident:
Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage – This helps cover costs if you are hit by someone without insurance, or minimal coverage.
Collision – This policy covers repairs to your car after an accident.
Comprehensive – This policy covers costs if your car is stolen or damaged outside of an accident.
Minimum coverage isn’t necessarily all you should have. If you’re involved in a serious accident, it’s possible that an individual’s medical expenses could exceed $15,000, or a group’s expenses could total more than $30,000. In addition, $5,000 for car repairs isn’t a lot, considering that the average car now costs a little more than $20,000.
You’re on the hook when costs exceed your coverage limits. That’s why many people opt for policies that cover more than required minimums, particularly if they have assets that can be seized to pay for repairs and medical care. A good rule of thumb: Make sure you’re covered for an amount equal to the total value of your assets (Add up the dollar values of your house, your car, savings and investments).
How much insurance do you need for yourself?
Collision and comprehensive coverage is worth having if you would want to repair or replace your car after an accident. These policies have a deductible (the amount you have to pay out-of-pocket before coverage kicks in), and they pay out based on the current value of your car, not what you paid for it.
Choose the highest deductible you can afford, because a higher deductible will significantly lower your premium. You’re seeking coverage for major damages to your car, not for every little thing that can go wrong. It’s better to spend $500 of your own money on minor repairs every so often than pay an extra $50 a month whether you need repairs or not. Save collision insurance for when you have car repairs that cost thousands, not hundreds. Remember, if you submit a claim for every little thing, your premium will increase.
Check out your state’s minimum insurance requirements. It’s possible that the minimum coverage required might not be that different than what you really need.
When deciding how much coverage you need, make sure you’re covered for an amount equal to the total value of your assets.
To keep premiums low, choose collision coverage with a high deductible, and plan to pay routine repair costs with your own money.
There are many ways for Virginia drivers to stay safe and stay out of trouble with the police – some more obvious than others. Don’t speed, don’t drink and drive, wear your seatbelt, don’t text and drive, don’t run red lights, don’t run down some poor sap crossing the street… LOTS of rules that most of us really don’t have a problem following. There are a few, however, that you may not be aware of that we’d like to mention now. Below are some new driving laws that were inacted this year in the state of Virginia.
Senate Bill 117 creates a traffic infraction with a $50 fine for opening a motor vehicle door when it is not reasonably safe to do so. Dooring, commonly used in reference to bicyclists, occurs when a motorist opens his vehicle’s door in the path of an oncoming cyclist or other vehicle. The impact can seriously injure or kill a bicyclist, not to mention scare the heck out of someone driving past, causing them to swerve and possibly hit the car next to them. Before you get out of your car on the driver’s side, look carefully for approaching cars, bicyclest and pedestrians. On the passenger side, make sure no one is walking close or riding their bike on the sidewalk.
In Virginia, a person 15 years and 6 months of age is able to get their Learner’s Permit to drive with an adult. That hasn’t changed. But Senate Bill 555 of 2016 states that learner’s permit holders may not have more than one passenger under age 21 in the vehicle, with the exception of household or family members. The passenger restriction was previously placed on passengers under 18.In addition, provisional driver’s license holders under age 18 may no longer have more than one passenger under age 21 even if a parent is present. The passenger limitations on all provisional driver’s licenses also do not include household or family members. The initial license issued to any person younger than 18 years of age is considered a provisional driver’s license.
Both of these provisions are secondary offenses.
The law also changes the minimum learner’s permit holding periods for 18 year olds. Previously, 18 year olds with a learner’s permit had to wait a minimum of nine months before they could apply for a driver’s license. Now, they must only hold a learner’s permit for 60 days.
Learner’s permit holders may not use a cellphone or other wireless telecommunications device while driving, even if the device is in hands-free mode, except in a driver emergency or when the vehicle is lawfully parked or stopped.The following are a few other DMV-related law changes that were effective July 1, 2016:
Organ donors registered through DMV will remain on the registry unless they ask to be removed. Upon application, DMV will issue refunds of fuels taxes for fuels used in vehicles owned by a hunger-relief nonprofit organization when the vehicle is being used for this purpose.
If you own a car in Virginia, you must have car insurance to drive it. That’s a fact, and happens to be the very first reason you need car insurance on this top 10 list. HOWEVER, auto insurance is mostly about protecting you financially if something goes wrong involving your vehicle.
Take a look at the top 10 reasons you need car insurance:
It’s the law. In almost every state, including Virginia, you must at least have liability car insurance or you’ll face criminal fines. Repeated offenses could lead to the loss of your driver’s license and even a jail sentence. As far as reasons go, jail is a pretty you need car insurance, don’t you think?
Your car is an important asset. For many people, a car is the second-most-expensive purchase they will make in their lives, next to the purchase of a home. Vehicles are essential not just because they’re expensive, but also because of the service they provide to families. Car insurance is a way to protect that important asset.
No New Car For You! If you try to purchase a new car that includes a loan, you won’t qualify if you don’t have a full auto insurance policy. Beyond that, you won’t be able to lease a vehicle either. Your lender will always want to be paid. If you have an accident and can’t afford to get your vehicle repaired because you don’t have car insurance, the company that provided you a car loan won’t stop asking for monthly payments. Car insurance is one way to help ensure that you can continue to make your car loan payments.
Cars get you where you need to go when you need to get there. If you decide to skip auto insurance and then get into an accident and sustain damage you can’t afford to repair, you’ll still need to get to work and make other necessary daily trips. Car insurance helps pay for car repairs so you can get where you need to go when you need to get there. Or, you could take a bus.
The cost of a major accident. One of the many important roles of car insurance is the money for medical costs of people who are injured in accidents that are your fault. Of course, that includes any injuries you may suffer as well.
Provide legal protection. There’s absolutely nothing stopping someone from suing you after an accident, even if the accident was THEIR fault. Auto insurance gives you a buffer between legal claims and your wallet. That includes providing an attorney to handle any lawsuit stemming from a lawsuit over an automobile accident.
Protection from Mother Nature. You may think this would never happen to you, but what will you do if there’s a lightening strike, hurricane, tornado, or earthquake that damages or even totals your vehicle? It only takes a tree limb falling on your car from a simple storm and you may be looking at thousands of dollars in damage.
Non-accident protection. Car insurance can also be crucial if your vehicle is stolen or vandalized.
Avoid possible bankruptcy. For many people, the uninsured loss of a vehicle completely turns their lives upside-down. There’s no money for another vehicle, so getting to work on time can be difficult. That can lead to loans or credit card use that could spiral out of control.
PEACE OF MIND. Because car insurance helps in so many areas, not having insurance can lead to some nerve-racking times just hoping against hope that no other bad news arrives. Able Insurance provides peace of mind with auto insurance, life insurance, home insurance and business policies.
For Auto, Home, or Life Insurance In The State Of Virginia, with offices in
Richmond – 9103 Quioccasin Rd, Richmond, VA 23229 (804) 741-6305 and
Charlottesville – 716 Rio Rd West Charlottesville, VA 22901 (434) 979-0814
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