The Top Worst Tickets to get for your Car Insurance Rates

Receiving a traffic ticket is, for most people, a humiliating experience but also can be quite disastrous financially. Besides a big fine the fact is that most tickets (besides simple misdemeanors) will increase a person’s car insurance rates significantly.

For example, in many states a single moving violation can raise someone’s premiums by nearly 93% and, with more serious offenses come bigger increases.

Someone who has an accident or two and gets a ticket for some of the worst types of violations might even find that car insurance companies will refuse to offer them insurance.

What violations are the worst? Keep reading to find out.

At the top of the list is a citation for driving under the influence or DUI. According to InsuranceQuotes.com, a DUI ticket will nearly double most people’s insurance premiums.

Next is Reckless driving, an offense that guarantees a hefty hike of anyone’s insurance rates. It varies from state to state but can bring stiff fines and even jail time. Keep in mind that at least one state has categorized texting while driving as reckless, Virginia.

Next on the list is Careless driving which, although it’s often confused with reckless driving, is actually a lesser violation. It means that you’ve unintentionally been risky behind the wheel and, while it won’t be as bad as Reckless driving, it can still can cause your rates to increase almost 30%.

Speeding tickets, especially more than one, can cause your insurance rates to go skyward and, if you get enough of them, can cause it to get canceled as well. In most cases insurers will overlook one speeding ticket if it’s less than 10 mph over the limit, but some won’t and almost all will increase your rates if you have multiple violations.

One of the reasons if that, by NHTSA estimates, 10,000 lives are claimed each year by crashes caused by speeding.

Other ticket-able offenses like running a red light or stop sign, turning right on red without stopping and other “failure to stop” offenses can mean an increase in insurance rates as well. These types of violations actually  caused nearly 700 deaths in 2012.

Without a doubt the best way to make sure that your insurance premiums aren’t increased by traffic violations and tickets is to drive safely, drive the speed limit and obey all traffic laws at all times. It’s actually not all that hard to do if you think about it and, in the long run, will save you a lot of grief and an awful lot of money.

Gas Saving Myths Exposed

Summer is coming up fast and with it gas prices will be increasing, as they seem to do every year.   In order to help you, our dear readers, keep as much of your hard earned money in your wallets and purses this summer, we’ve put together a list of some of the biggest myths about gas saving to take a look at which ones work and which ones don’t. Enjoy.

The first is about the best way to actually save on gas. Many people will offer their own opinion but, in test after test, the best way that’s always been found to decrease gas consumption is simply to slow down. Studies show that, among most cars including hybrids, the change from 55 mph to 65 will reduce fuel economy by 4 to 8 MPG. If you go from 55 mph to 75 it’s like switching from driving a compact car to driving a large SUV the increase is so bad.

How about carrying stuff on the roof of your car? Does that wind drag really bring down your fuel economy that much? In fact, yes. Tests show that even something like an empty bike rack can decrease the cars mileage by 5 miles per gallon and adding to bikes to the top decreases mileage by nearly30%!

Many people will say that if you want to save gas you need to use your car’s AC sparingly. While it’s true that using the AC  will decrease your mileage somewhat, the fact is that it’s only between 1 and 4 mpg,  not really enough to warrant turning it off if it’s blazing hot outside.

One question that many drivers have is how long they can keep driving once the “low fuel” warning light starts blinking. The fact is that there’s really no set rule and it differs from car to car. The average car has between 1 and 2 gallons of gas left in the tank when the light starts blinking, about enough to travel 40 miles. If you’re far from a gas station when your fuel light starts blinking, the best that is to slow down and maintain a steady speed.

As for whether a new air filter can increase fuel economy, it’s been found in numerous tests that it won’t. In most tests it increases acceleration and performance, but not MPG.

Finally, many people wonder if running their car when the tank is nearly empty is bad for the engine.  In fact, it’s really not. In most cars the fuel pump is pulling gas from the bottom of the tank already, even if it’s full. Fuel filters at the tank and closer to the engine also take out any junk or gunk that might affect it.

We hope these myths that we’ve just busted have opened your eyes to what you can do and not do to save extra money this summer on gas. As always, remember that one of the best ways to save gas is simply to not use your car at all. With warm winter approaching, walking or using your bicycle is definitely an option.

Routine Vehicle Maintenance Will Help with Gas Consumption

Many drivers don’t realize how much extra fuel an automobile that’s out of tune actually uses, something that wastes millions of dollars of gas every single day. The fact is, keeping your car properly tuned and running smoothly can increase gas mileage by nearly 5%.

Even better, fixing a serious maintenance problem like a clogged gas filter can actually improve your mileage by nearly 40%, something that will save you an awful lot of money at the pumps when you consider that gas is slowly creeping back towards four dollars a gallon across the United States.

You’ve probably heard how keeping your tires properly inflated is a great way to reduce gas consumption and, if you haven’t, you probably haven’t been driving for very long. Keeping your tires properly inflated to their correct pressure (found on the driver’s side door jamb or in the owner’s manual) can improve your mileage by nearly 4% and, conversely, decrease your mileage by nearly 1% for every one psi drop in air pressure. Not only that but tires that are properly inflated will last longer and give you a safer ride.

Another surefire way to increase gas mileage by 1% to 3% is to use the grade of motor oil that your car manufacturer recommends. For example, if your car was designed to use 5W-30 motor oil and instead you use 10W-30 oil, you can actually lower your gas mileage by over 2%. Your automobile mechanic can help you with this but, if you change your oil yourself, look for the words “energy conserving” on the label as well as the API performance symbol.

One thing of note for most car owners is that, while replacing a clogged air filter will improve the performance of most cars made in the last 15 to 20 years, it won’t improve your car’s mpg.

On today’s newer fuel injected vehicles with computer-controlled engines, which includes most cars manufactured from the 1980s up until the present day, replacing a clogged air filter will most likely improve your cars performance and acceleration but won’t do much to improve its fuel economy. This goes for diesel engines as well.

A number of other simple ways to increase your mileage is to take anything not necessary out of your car, especially if it’s heavy, take off any roof racks that you’re not using on a daily basis, and make sure that you combine a few short trips into one longer trip. Once your car is warmed up it will perform better and use less gas and thus getting a few things done at once instead of doing several tasks separately during the day will save you gasoline and money.

 

Is Gas Really More Expensive on the Weekend?

We’ve certainly had our fill of blogs about gasoline prices, gas saving devices and methods of increasing your MPG. Today’s quick little blog article is about gas prices and, more specifically, the question of whether gas is more expensive on the weekend or not.

Many people around the country complain that gas stations seem to increase their prices on the weekends but the fact is that, more often than not, gas prices are actually higher during the week.

The statistics gleaned by GasBuddy.com, a crowd-sourced gas price aggregator, actually showed that, during a four-year period, Friday, Saturday and Sunday were the days when gas prices were the lowest. GasBuddy performed an exhaustive amount of research in all 50 states find out what days of the week gas was cheapest and, although prices fluctuated during that time period, their results still were a bit of a surprise for many people.

“I think that was the biggest surprise,” said Patrick DeHaan, a senior petroleum analyst.  He added that “What I can surmise is that the markets aren’t open, so because oil and gas futures and spot prices aren’t trading on the weekend, stations are more likely to become competitive.”

The fact is, gas station owners realize that people have more time to comparison shop on the weekends, something that encourages them to be more competitive when it comes to their prices. Most consumers also do a bit more driving on the weekends than they do during their typical Monday to Friday routine and station owners are keen on taking advantage of the additional revenue that comes their way.

A few of the more interesting results from the analysis performed by GasBuddy showed that, in some Western states including Utah, Wyoming, North Dakota and South Dakota, gas tended to be cheaper towards the middle of the week. Kansas is similar but, in Indiana, Iowa and Kentucky, Monday is usually the best day to fill up because gas prices are cheapest there on that day.

If you live in Delaware and Maryland, your best bet is on Thursday as GasBuddy showed that to be the least expensive day at most gas stations there.

Truth be told, finding the cheapest gas no matter where you live can be a little bit difficult because they change quite frequently. That’s why it’s a good idea to use the GasBuddy app in order to see where the cheapest price is every day in your city or town.

Just for the record, this blog was not sponsored in any way by GasBuddy.  It’s just that, when it comes to finding the cheapest gas prices available, we think it’s the best app the market.

Save Money on Gas as You Fill Up Your Tank

Saving money on gas is not all about changing your driving style or choosing the right vehicle. People sometimes overlook one area where they can find ways to save on gas, and that is while they have their tank filled. Read on and learn some useful tips to save money while you are at the gas station.

Compare Prices

Just like any purchases you make, you should also compare the prices between different gas stations. Their prices may not be too much apart from each other, but every cent really counts, especially if you usually travel long distances and thus have to gas up quite considerably. To get the latest on their prices, you can listen to the news or better yet download some apps on your phone or tablet that will show you nearby stations and their current gas prices.

Find Stations That Offer Great Deals

There are establishments, such as grocery stores and malls, which have gas stations in their vicinity operated by them. They usually offer memberships to patrons that include lower gas prices in their list of benefits. You may consider paying for this membership if you think that the savings that you will generate can cover for the membership fee and more. Aside from this, also check out coupons that offer great discounts on some gas stations.

Get the Right Credit Card

If you often use your credit card when you gas up, then try getting a card that offers rebates at certain gas stations. Just figure out which bank offers that reward for the gas station that you prefer. Rebates can be as much as 3%, which is good enough savings on gas.

Gas Up Early in the Morning

Gas is denser on cold temperatures then it starts to expand once the temperature increases. Therefore, when you gas up in the middle of a hot summer day, a gallon of gas may not be as much as a gallon of gas bought early in the morning when the temperature is low. Many people argue with this, saying that storage tanks under the ground are kept cold anyway so you can gas up anytime you want and get the same dense volume of gas. However, as the gas travels from the storage tank to the pump, its temperature can actually rise and cause the gas to expand.

Gas Up on Low Mode

The gas nozzle has three modes. Most people use the high mode because they want to fill their tanks quickly. However, this full pressure can cause the gas to vaporize and since most gas hoses have a vapor return, that vaporized gas in your tank may be sucked back in. In other words, the pump may have registered 2 gallons, but that may not exactly be the volume that your tank received.

With the rising costs of fuel, it is best that you have all areas covered in your goal to save on gas money. Therefore, aside from keeping your vehicles properly maintained and knowing when to break, try the tips that are listed here too to further increase your savings.

It’s All About the Money!

This is a very interesting Infographic that explains exactly why we need money! Money is the lifeblood of our economy, and the circular flow of it is important to keep it thriving. Make sure to read through the infographic thoroughly, it’s a good resource for anyone who needs to understand how money works and how we value it. I must say the guys at BuddyLoans have developed an infographic that will be remembered for a long time. For even more interesting content please check out the BuddyLoans website.

Lets Talk About Money and Why We Value It

courtesy of BuddyLoans.com

Tips to Save on Fuel

The price of fuel just continues to soar, and this may go on and on in the coming years. Since getting rid of your car is not a viable option, the best you could do is to follow some smart tips that can help you save on fuel. Here are some that you can start doing now.

Meet Proper Tire Pressure Requirement

On the inside portion of the driver’s door, you will find a list of ideal tire pressure based on the load of the car. Do not take this list for granted. Keeping your tire pumped will reduce the rolling resistance, which will in turn improve your gas mileage. Therefore, make it a habit to have the air pressure checked regularly as you gas up and try to meet the maximum required air pressure.

Travel Light

A heavier load would make your engine work harder. If you have some items on your trunk that do not necessarily have to be there in your trips, remove them now. Remember that your car is not a storage area. You should also consider installing lighter accessories. Some people who love some blaring music, for instance, usually have a large speaker installed on their trunks. Try to find an alternative speaker that can provide the same quality sound yet much lighter in weight.

Combine Your Trips

If you are going out to bring your clothes to the laundry shop, why not pass by the market on the way to buy your grocery and maybe even drop by the DVD store to rent out some movies for the weekend. Just imagine how much gas you will save if you combine your trips as opposed to going out and back home again for these errands.

Find an Alternative Route

Some streets are crowded at certain times of the day. Therefore, before going out, try to plan your route ahead depending on the level of traffic you anticipate on certain areas. It is better to go for a route that is a bit longer than stick to a shorter route that has heavy traffic and more stoplights. You will not only save on gas with this habit, you will also get to avoid being stressed out.

Keep Your Vehicle on Tip-Top Shape

A problem on the engine can cause it to work inefficiently. This means that it will be wasting more fuel to provide the same amount of output. Therefore, even if you do not sense any trouble while driving, make it a habit to have your car checked regularly. A well-maintained engine can also help you locate areas that need repairs before they become major problems.

Be Gentle on the Gas Pedal

Some people keep their feet on the gas pedal even if they see a red light straight ahead and just abruptly breaks to a stop. Such driving style is a gas-guzzler. Instead, start to shift down when you anticipate a traffic and coast to a stop.

These are very simple and very easy to do habits that you can start right away. Reducing your gas consumption by about 5% to 30% can accumulate to a few hundred dollars saved each year, which you can use for other useful projects.

How to Avoid Getting Ripped Off by Your Mechanic

You know how to fill up your gas tank, how to turn on your car, and how to push your brake and gas pedal to stop and go. Unfortunately, though, that’s about as far as your car expertise goes — and the mechanic knows it. Face it: your car will eventually break down, and you’re going to have to put your trust in a stranger to fix it.

And when it comes to strangers, many mechanics seem to be the greediest when it concerns taking your hard-earned cash. With that said, here are six steps to help you avoid getting ripped off by your mechanic.

Try to Diagnose (and Possibly Fix) the Problem Yourself

Image via Flickr by ::w i n t e r t w i n e d::

Image via Flickr by ::w i n t e r t w i n e d::

Sure, your knowledge of cars might stop at being the driver of one, but that shouldn’t preclude stepping out of your comfort zone and getting your hands dirty. There are a lot of issues with cars that are easily fixable if you have a car manual and the necessary tools. Do-it-yourself auto repair is relatively easy with a Chilton’s manual, which provides in-depth directions on how to fix most problems on many makes of models of cars and trucks.

Follow Recommendations From Family Members and Friends

If you’re not adventurous enough to try to fix the problem yourself — or if you tried, and the repair is just too big a job — the next step is to start looking for a mechanic who’s credible for the right price. Considering that everyone has to get their vehicle serviced or fixed from time to time, the best way to find a local shop worthy of your business is to ask family members and friends for their opinion and references. They’re likely to point you in the right direction.

Do Your Homework Before Committing to a Shop

If your family members and friends don’t know a reliable mechanic — let’s hope that’s not the case — then it’s time to start doing your own investigative research. In the world before the Internet, this was a lot harder to do. With the Internet, though, you have an unlimited amount of resources at your fingertips for finding out which shop is shady and which one is trustworthy.

If you really want the best of the best, consider getting a consumer report. Resources like the Better Business Bureau and Angie’s List are also good for doing your homework on a potential mechanic.

Ask Questions and Don’t Let the Mechanic Control the Convo

Once you find a shop and walk through the door, the mechanic will love to hear nothing more than “Do whatever is necessary to get this car driving!” Translation: “my money is your money, no matter how much.” Although you might not have the know-how to fix the car, you shouldn’t let that intimidate you from talking with the mechanic and asking detailed questions. After all, you’re paying them to do the work, not vice versa.

Put Everything in Writing and Get Signatures

Before you and the mechanic agree on the work they’ll do on your car, make sure what’s getting done, what’s included in the cost, and how much it’ll be after parts and labor. They legally can’t start work until you sign off (if fact, you’re entitled to ask for a written estimate in most states), so if anything seems fishy, this is the stage where you need to ask the right questions.

Don’t be surprised if the shop asks for wiggle room on the estimate just in case something unexpected happens, either. No matter the case, put it all in writing and make sure you and your mechanic sign off on it. That way, if anything happens, you have proof or price.

Make Sure You Get a Guarantee and Warranty for the Work

You want to make sure the mechanic shop you go to works on all type of vehicles, whether it’s luxury suvs or older model compact cars, and you should make sure they offer a warranty on the work they do. This guarantees that the shop’s work will happen in the best interest of keeping the customer satisfied as opposed to filling up the cash register in the fastest amount of time. Additionally, make sure you keep all receipts and warranty paperwork in a safe place for future reference.

Do you have a trustworthy mechanic shop you can count on? What are their best qualities? Share your experience with other readers of the blog in the comments section.

 

Fuel Economy Tips for Hybrids Cars

We’ve written plenty of blogs about fuel economy tips for ”regular” cars but this is our first for Hybrid cars. The fact is, many of the gas saving and maintenance tips that we’ve given for conventional automobiles will also apply to hybrids, plug-in hybrids and all electric vehicles (EVs) but below are a number of additional tips specifically for hybrids and EVs that will help you to keep these advanced vehicles running smoothly and using less fuel, whatever that fuel happens to be.

The first is simply to read the owner’s manual. Hybrid automobiles all vary a bit but they are significantly different in design then traditional automobiles, especially the way that they use and manage their energy. One type of hybrid might be significantly different from another as well, and some tips will work with one type that won’t work with another. The company that manufactured your hybrid vehicle will know how to operate it and maintain it in maximum fashion, so reading their owner’s manual is vitally important. It will help you to maximize not only fuel economy but also battery life and driving range as well.

Next is to always use the Economy Mode. Many hybrid vehicles come with an economy mode (or something similar) that will maximize your car’s fuel economy. In most vehicles this can be activated at the press of a button. Keep in mind that when using economy mode other features of your vehicle might decrease in performance, including its rate of acceleration, in order to save fuel.

Do your best to avoid hard braking. Just like with a traditional automobile, you should do your best to anticipate stops and then brake gently and moderately. Doing this will give your car’s regenerative braking system the time it needs to recover energy from  its forward motion and then store it in the batteries as electricity. If you brake too hard your conventional friction brakes will jump in to help and your car won’t recover any energy, or much less.

For EVs and plug-in hybrids, always keep the battery fully charged. Doing this ensures that you will use as much electricity as possible, and thus as little gasoline. This will not only save you gas but also save you money (natch) and, with EVs, it will help to maximize your cars driving range.

By the way, EVs and plug-in hybrids normally use lithium-ion batteries that don’t degrade if you “top them off” with electricity. This also won’t make it drain more quickly, so if it’s not fully charged you can always recharge your battery without any concern.

Finally, you’ll want to use your accessories wisely. Heating, the entertainment system and definitely air-conditioning will all affect the fuel economy of any vehicle but, on hybrids and electric cars, it has an even more noticeable effect. If you’re trying to maximize your fuel economy or the range of your electric car, you may want to preheat or pre-cool the cabin while your vehicle is still plugged in, something that will definitely extend its range.

We hope you enjoyed our first Fuel Economy Tip blog for hybrid and electric cars. We’re sure it won’t be the last, so check back in the future for more tips and advice.

The 6 Best Cars you can Purchase Used for Under $10,000

These days, the “average” American can’t exactly afford to go out and purchase a new car every three or four years. Heck, even every seven or eight years is a little bit of a stretch .

Recently, Cars.com determined that the “price gap” between the cost of an average new car and the cost of a used one is around $20,000. That’s a huge difference and prices of many Americans completely out of buying a used car.

On the other hand, there are literally millions of used cars on the market for sale and, as most people know, buying used can sometimes be a much better deal than buying new. The reason is simply that, when you buy a new car, approximately 20 to 25% of its value is literally erased as soon as you drive it off of the dealer’s lot.

That’s a lot of money to waste just for the sake of having a car that’s new, especially when there are so many excellent used cars waiting to be purchased.

“There are a lot of great used cars on the market, and with a significant price difference between new and used cars, we know that many shoppers choose to go the used route,” Cars.com Executive Editor Joe Wiesenfelder said.

For those consumers who might be priced out of purchasing a new vehicle, they recently released a list of the Top Buys for cars around $10,000. (That’s give or take a few hundred dollars, depending on the model, where you purchased it and the year it was made.)

If you’re needing a new vehicle, but can’t afford to purchase an actual ”new” car, the automobiles listed below were rated by Cars.com as some of the best on the market for that price.

The 2007 Honda Civic isn’t really a surprise on the list, as Honda has always manufactured excellent vehicles. Cars.com said that the Civic has “Nimble handling, impressive cabin materials and good fuel efficiency make this Honda an excellent choice for compact-car shoppers.” That sounds like a pretty good deal to us.

Another car on their list is the 2009 Hyundai Sonata. Hyundai hasn’t been around for a long time but their cars are considered to be some of the best on the road. Cars.com said that the Sonata has a roomy cabin and a list of excellent safety features that make it a good choice not only for first-time drivers but also for families.

Mazda made it on the list with their 2008 Mazda6. This is more of a “sporty” car and Cars.com said that, for the price, the Mazda 6 is a “compelling” choice for families searching for a family sedan but don’t need a ton of space and so can give up a little for some extra sportiness.

As for this next car, Cars.com said that it combines both excellent power and fuel efficiency. It’s the 2007 Nissan Altima and, if you can find one, $10,000 is definitely an excellent price for this dependable automobile.

Of course no list of Top Cars would be complete without at least one Toyota, and the 2007 Toyota Prius made the list due to its excellent gas mileage and the standout reliability, according to Cars.com.

With a mix of excellent safety features, including six airbags, the 2008 Scion XB is, according to Cars.com, an excellent choice for first-time drivers due to its plethora of safety features.

And you have them. Six excellent automobiles that, if you can find them, will sell for approximately $10,000 and give you a combination of safety features, excellent mileage and dependability that make them some of the best values on the road today.

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