How to Get Your Car Ready for Summer

Summer is finally here! Longer days, warmer weather and spending more time outside. We take precautions from the sun and heat when we’re outside, but what about our cars? Did you know that the sun and heat can cause serious damage to your vehicle, too? Here are some tips to help you care for your ride this summer:

Prep work

  • Make sure your car’s cooling system is completely flushed and refilled every 24 months, and the levels, condition and concentration of the coolant are checked periodically.
  • Oil and oil filters should also be changed based on your car’s owner’s manual. (Changing the oil and filters every 3,000 miles is a good rule of thumb).
  • Keep your windshield clean and replace worn wiper blades. Be sure to check for plenty of wiper fluid in the reservoir, too.
  • Look at your tires and make sure to check the pressure at least once a month. When you do check, make sure the tires are cooled down and always rotate your tires every 5,000 miles to ensure even wear.
  • Check for changes in the way your brake pedals feel and take your car for repairs immediately if you hear scraping or grinding noises.
  • Remove dirt and insects from your lights and make sure all bulbs are working. Tip:  to prevent scratching, never use a dry rag.
  • Have a professional technician look at your car’s air conditioning system.  A marginally operating system can fail in hot weather. Newer car models have cabin air filters that clean the air entering the heating and air conditioning system.

 

On the road and in the sun

  • Keep an eye on your car’s temperature. If you see that it’s getting overheated, you can turn on your car’s heater to pull the air away from the engine to the passenger compartment of the vehicle.
  • During long trips, try to target your driving times for the cooler parts of the day, such as early morning or late evening.
  • When you park your car, try to find a shady spot and crack your window slightly. Leaving your windows cracked an inch will create enough space to vent the hot summer air.
  • Be sure to never leave children or pets in the car, even for a quick errand. A car’s interior temperature can heat up from 78 to 100 degrees in less than three minutes.
  • Update your car’s emergency kit.  While you might need that parka and snow brush for the winter, they won’t do any good for the summer heat. Here’s a sample list of items to include in your summer car emergency kit, in addition to your normal car emergency kit:
  • Water:  one gallon, plus one bottle per person
  • Sunscreen, bug spray and hat — you might have to be outside of your car
  • Blanket: keep this in your car to use for shade
  • First-aid kit
  • Flashlight

 

Original article from ErieSense Blog

A How To Guide for Renters

Fire escapes on an apartment building in Manhattan, New York City, NY, USA

Fire escapes on an apartment building in Manhattan, New York City, NY, USA

Whether your goal is to avoid mowing a lawn or have unlimited access to a pool and fitness facility you never have to clean, or if you just plain don’t want to buy a house, you may be one of the 43 million households in the U.S. who rent a home, apartment or condo. In fact, according to Rent.com’s 2015 rental market report, rental inventory is near a 20 year low, meaning more people than ever are renting.

If you’re moving into a place of your own for the first time, the do’s and don’ts of renting can sometimes feel overwhelming. What happens if your fridge breaks? Should you tackle that sink clog or leave it for the landlord? Is renting even the right choice for you?

While you’ve probably always had someone in your life to remind you to clean out the lint trap in the dryer or to please not pour bacon grease down the kitchen sink, you’re on your own now. Yes, it might be nice if mom and dad could periodically stop over to check the smoke alarm batteries or tighten that door knob, but it’s not always possible.

That’s where we can help. We’ve compiled our best advice for first-time renters. Be sure to check back periodically for updates and if there’s a topic you’d like to see us tackle, send us your thoughts at Eriesense@erieinsurance.com.

  • 9 Reasons to Quit Hating on Renting: Here’s the truth…It’s OK that you haven’t bought a house yet or may not ever. Renting can be awesome, especially when you’re just starting out. Need proof? Our blogger gives you her completely (un)scientific list.
  • How to Steer Clear of Apartment Rental Scams: With more people renting, rental scams continue to pop up. Knowing how rental scams work and how to avoid falling for them goes a long way when it comes to protecting yourself. Here’s how.
  • 5 Things to Tell a New Renter: All good landlords should share these tips with tenants, but in case they forget, we’ve got you covered.
  • Who is Responsible for Repairs: Are there ever times when you would be responsible for making repairs to your apartment rather than your landlord? If you’re not sure, read this article. Think you know? Read this article anyway.
  • 8 Maintenance Hacks Every Renter Should Know: While most rental agreements include a landlord who takes care of your major maintenance worries, there are a few things you can do to keep service calls to a minimum and protect your security deposit in the long run.
  • Buying Renters Insurance? 6 Things to Consider: Everything you own has value, and most people actually underestimate the value of their things. That could leave you woefully under protected. We can help you figure it out.

– See more at: https://www.erieinsurance.com/Blog/2016/Topic-Hub-Renters#sthash.DljYjXan.dpuf

Quiz: Ready or Not? 6 Questions to Test Your Storm Prep Knowledge

Severe weather affects us all. Every region of the United States is prone to one or more natural hazards. It’s important for business owners to plan for potential interruptions, such as weather events, to help reduce losses, jump start recovery and re-open the business as quickly as possible. To help you get started, here are some facts you should know. This information is provided by the safety experts at the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS). – See more at: https://www.erieinsurance.com/Blog/2015/mother-nature-quiz#sthash.p1IfZgzP.dpuf

12 Tips for Driving in a Whiteout

whiteout-drivingIn many parts of the country, driving through wind and snow is just a part of your average winter. However, it’s not every day that you get caught driving in a whiteout.

Drivers are often caught off guard when snow is being blown across roadways and visibility becomes virtually nonexistent. If weather conditions are bad enough, make an executive decision to stay home.

However, if you absolutely have to go out— or conditions aren’t quite bad enough to warrant staying home—follow these tips when driving in a white out.

1. Slow down: Speed limits are set for summer conditions, when snow and ice aren’t an issue. If you’re driving in a whiteout, drive slowly. Also periodically check your speedometer—without visual cues passing by, it’s easy to speed up without realizing it after a while.

2. Avoid abrupt acceleration, braking and steering: Drive cautiously and gently to avoid slipping and sliding on the road. Also avoid jerking the wheel—overcorrections could put you in a tailspin. Instead, smoothly guide your car where you want it to go.

3. Don’t tailgate: This is important at any time, but especially when you’re driving in a whiteout. Leave more room than you normally would between your car and the car in front of you.

4. Avoid changing lanes or passing other drivers: Reduced visibility makes it hard to see when someone else has the same idea.

5. Avoid using cruise control: Tapping the brakes to turn off cruise control can cause your tires to lose traction. If you need to slow down, take your foot off the accelerator and let your car slow down gradually.

6. Look beyond the car in front of you: It’s easy to lock your gaze to the taillights in front of you. It’s a better bet to keep your gaze further ahead.

7. Put your fog lights or low beams on: Low beams are a better choice than high beams since there’s less bounce back from ice particles in the air.

8. Defrost your windows: Activate the defroster for the front and rear windows. It’s best not to press the recirculate button—doing so tends to make your windows fog up more due to the increased moisture in the air.

9. Reduce distractions: Beyond obvious ones like refraining from texting while driving, you might consider turning off the radio, refrain from eating or smoking, and putting any conversations on hiatus so you can really focus on the road. (The one exception: Tuning into weather reports.)

10. Be prepared to reroute: If a weather report says a certain area is closed off or backed up, reroute your course. The announcer often will give an alternative route.

11. Watch out for black ice: It’s extremely slippery and dangerous—so make sure you know how to spot it and how to handle driving on it.

12. Pull over: If conditions are bad enough that you can’t see the roads, put on your four-way flashers and park in a safe place off the road. Avoid going to the side of the road unless it’s an absolute emergency, as this can create a dangerous situation for you and other drivers.

Sometimes accidents and damage happen despite your best efforts. That’s why good auto insurance is essential for any driver. To learn more about auto insurance coverage you can count on, contact a local Erie Insurance Agent in your community to learn more.

Original article link here.

Winter Driving Tips

Auto-RepairmanGet your car serviced now.

No one wants to break down in any season, but especially not in cold or snowy winter weather. Start the season off right by ensuring your vehicle is in optimal condition. Visit your mechanic for a tune-up and other routine maintenance.

  • Have your entire vehicle checked thoroughly for leaks, bad worn hoses, or other needed parts, repairs, and replacements.

Check your battery.

When the temperature drops, so does battery power. For gasoline-powered engines, be aware that it takes more battery power to start your vehicle in cold weather than in warm. For electric and hybrid vehicles, the driving range is reduced and the battery systems work better after they warm up. Make sure your battery is up to the challenges of winter by:

  • Having your mechanic check your battery for sufficient voltage;
  • Having the charging system and belts inspected;
  • Replacing the battery or making system repairs, including simple things like tightening the battery cable connections;
  • Making sure to keep fresh gasoline in an electric vehicle, to support the gasoline system.

Check your cooling system.

  • When coolant freezes it expands. This expansion can potentially damage your vehicle’s engine block. Don’t let this happen to your vehicle this winter. You should:
  • Make sure you have enough coolant in your vehicle and that it’s designed to withstand the winter temperatures you might experience in your area.
  • See your vehicle owner’s manual for specific recommendations on coolant. A 50/50 mix of coolant to water is sufficient for most regions of the country.
  • Thoroughly check the cooling system for leaks or have your mechanic do it for you.
  • Check to see if your system has been flushed (draining the system and replacing the coolant). If it hasn’t been flushed for several years, have it done now. Over time, the rust inhibitors in antifreeze break down and become ineffective. Coolant also needs to be refreshed periodically to remove dirt and rust particles that can clog the cooling system and cause it to fail.

Fill your windshield washer reservoir.

You can go through a lot of windshield wiper fluid fairly quickly in a single snowstorm, so be prepared for whatever Mother Nature might send your way.

  • Completely fill your vehicle’s reservoir before the first snow hits.
  • Use high-quality, “no-freeze” fluid.
  • Buy extra to keep on hand in your vehicle.

winter-windshieldCheck your windshield wipers and defrosters.

  • Safe winter driving depends on achieving and maintaining the best visibility possible.
  • Make sure your windshield wipers work and replace worn blades.
  • Consider installing heavy-duty winter wipers if you live in an area that gets a lot of snow and ice.
  • Check to see that your window defrosters (front and rear) work properly.

Verify floor mat installation to prevent pedal interference.

Incorrect or improperly installed floor mats in your vehicle may interfere with the operation of the accelerator or brake pedal, increasing the risk of a crash. Remember these tips when installing new floor mats to ensure safe operation of your vehicle:

  • Remove old mats before the installation of new mats.
  • Never stack mats, as that may increase the potential for pedal interference.
  • Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for mat installation and use the available retention clips to secure the mat in the proper position. This will prevent the mat from sliding forward.
  • Check that the mats are the correct size and fit for the vehicle and do not interfere with the full operation of the foot controls (accelerator, brake and clutch pedals). Whenever the interior of the vehicle is cleaned or the mats have been removed for any reason, verify that the driver mat has been reinstalled correctly.

Inspect your tires.

snow-tires-1211-mdnIf you plan to use snow tires, have them installed before the snow storms hit. Check out www.safercar.gov for tire ratings before buying new ones. For existing tires, check to ensure they are properly inflated (as recommended by your vehicle manufacturer), the tread is sufficient with no uneven wear, and that the rubber is in good overall condition. Note that tire rubber starts to degrade after several years, and older tires need to be replaced even if they have not seen much wear. Regardless of season, you should inspect your tires at least once a month and always before setting out on a long road trip. It only takes about five minutes. If you find yourself driving under less-than-optimal road conditions this winter, you’ll be glad you took the time.

  • Check tire pressure and make sure each tire is filled to the vehicle manufacturer’s recommended inflation pressure, which is listed in your owner’s manual and on a placard located on the driver’s side doorjamb (called the “B-pillar”). If a vehicle does not have a B-pillar, then the placard is placed safercar.gov 3 on the rear edge of the driver’s door. Tire pressure drops as the temperature drops. Properly inflated tires ensure optimum tire performance and optimum vehicle driving range.
  • Keep a tire pressure gauge in your vehicle at all times and check pressure when tires are “cold” — meaning they haven’t been driven on for at least three hours.
  • Look closely at your tread and replace tires that have uneven wear or insufficient tread. Tread should be at least 1/16 of an inch or greater on all tires.

Check the age of your tires.

The structural integrity of tires can degrade over time and when that occurs tires are more prone to failure. The effects of aging may not be visibly detectable.

  • Check the age of your tires including your spare tire. Look for the tire identification number on the sidewall of the tire, which begins with the letters “DOT.” The last four digits represent the week and year the tire was manufactured.
  • Check the owner’s manual for specific recommendations for when to replace a tire. Some vehicle manufacturers recommend that tires be replaced every six years regardless of use.

Know your car.

Every vehicle handles differently; this is particularly true when driving on wet, icy, or snowy roads. Take time now to learn how to best handle your vehicle under winter weather driving conditions.

  • For electric vehicles, several things can be done to minimize the drain on the batteries. If the vehicle has a thermal heating pack for the batteries, make sure your vehicle is plugged in whenever it is not in use. If the vehicle has a pre-heat function to warm the car interior, set it to warm the passenger compartment before you unplug it in the morning.
  • Practice cold weather driving when your area gets snow — but not on a main road. Until you’ve sharpened your winter weather driving skills and know how your vehicle handles in snowy conditions, it’s best to practice in an empty parking lot in full daylight.
  • Drive slowly. It’s harder to control or stop your vehicle on a slick or snow-covered surface. On the road, increase your following distance enough so that you’ll have plenty of time to stop for vehicles ahead of you.
  • A word of caution about braking: Know what kind of brakes your vehicle has and how to use them properly. In general, if you have antilock brakes, apply firm, continuous pressure. If you don’t have antilock brakes, pump the brakes gently.
  • Stay calm and ease your foot off the gas while carefully steering in the direction you want the front of your vehicle to go if you find yourself in a skid. Stay off the pedals (gas and brake) until you are able to maintain control of your vehicle. This procedure, known as “steering into the skid,” will bring the back end of your car in line with the front.
  • When renting a car you should become familiar with the vehicle before driving it off the lot. For instance, you should know the location of the hazard lights in case of emergency. Take a minute to review the owner’s manual in the rental car so that you are prepared.

Plan your travel and route.

car-in-snowKeep yourself and others safe by planning ahead before you venture out into bad weather.

  • Check the weather, road conditions, and traffic; plan to leave early if necessary.
  • Don’t rush! Allow plenty of time to get to your destination safely.
  • Familiarize yourself with directions and maps before you go, even if you use a GPS system, and let others know your route and anticipated arrival time.
  • Keep your gas tank close to full, even with an electric vehicle. If you get stuck in a traffic jam or in snow, you might need more fuel to get home or keep warm. Note: To avoid carbon monoxide poisoning when stuck in snow, be sure to keep your vehicle’s exhaust pipe clear of snow and ice, run your vehicle only in the open with the windows partially down, and run it only long enough to keep warm.
  • Wait until road and weather conditions improve before venturing out in your vehicle. If road conditions are hazardous, avoid driving if possible.

Stock your vehicle.

Carry items in your vehicle to handle common winter driving tasks, such as cleaning off your windshield, as well as any supplies you might need in an emergency. Keep the following on hand:

  • Snow shovel, broom, and ice scraper;
  • Abrasive material such as sand or kitty litter, in case your vehicle gets stuck in the snow;
  • Jumper cables, flashlight, and warning devices such as flares and markers;
  • Blankets for protection from the cold;
  • And a cell phone with charger, water, food, and any necessary medicine (for longer trips or when driving in lightly populated areas).

Learn what to do in a winter emergency.

If you are stopped or stalled in wintry weather, follow these safety rules:

  • Stay with your car and don’t overexert yourself
  • Put bright markers on the antenna or windows and keep the interior dome light turned on;
  • To avoid asphyxiation from carbon monoxide poisoning, don’t run your car for long periods of time with the windows up or in an enclosed space. If you must run your vehicle, clear the exhaust pipe of any snow and run it only sporadically — just long enough to stay warm.

Protect yourself and your loved ones.

  • Remember to always wear your seat belt. Ensure that everyone in your vehicle is buckled up as well.
  • Do not text or engage in any other activities that may distract you while driving.
  • While thick outerwear will keep your children warm, it can also interfere with the proper harness fit of your child in their car seat. Place blankets around your child after the harness is snug and secure.
  • Never leave your child unattended in or around your vehicle.

Drive safe, from your friends at Lucsok Insurance.