Monthly Archives: March 2017

Personal Factors That Affect Insurance Rates

A reporter recently asked Edmunds about the kinds of personal information that can affect the cost of car insurance. She also wanted to know whether people could do anything to address personal factors that were keeping their car insurance rates high.

They’re good questions, and Edmunds was happy to help answer them. During the research it became clear that when it comes to car insurance, there’s hardly anything that isn’t personal. Here are five all-about-you factors that can affect your car insurance premium:

1) Your driving profile. Such factors as the number of miles you drive annually and your accident and ticket history are major elements in setting your insurance rate. The less you drive, the less risk of an accident and a claim. Safer driving — meaning a history free of accidents and moving violations — also points to someone who’s less likely to file a claim.

2) The car you drive. Car insurance premiums are based in part on the car’s sticker price, the cost to repair it, its overall safety record and the likelihood of theft, according to the Insurance Information Institute. The cost of fixing a brand-new $225,000 2010 Ferrari 458 Italia is going to be a lot more than the repair costs for a used $17,000 Nissan Altima. The premium will reflect this.

3) Your essential personal information, including your age, occupation and where you live. Each of these things factors into the process of setting your insurance rate because insurance companies base their premiums on actuarial information about drivers. They look for patterns of claims activity among people like you. A teenage boy is likely to have a higher insurance rate than a middle-aged driver, because statistically, teenage boys have more accidents than do 40-year-olds.

Your occupation can play a role if it affects how much driving you do. Work that involves lots of miles on the road, such as an outside sales job, can affect rates. From the insurance company’s point of view, the more miles you drive means more risk of an accident.

Insurance companies also look at where you live. They track local trends of accidents, car thefts, lawsuits and the cost of medical care and car repair, according to the Insurance Information Institute.

4) The coverage you choose. The more coverage you elect and the lower the deductible you set, the more you’ll pay.

5) Your credit score. Some insurance companies use credit scores as a factor in setting rates. This practice is coming under attack, however, with seven states in 2010 passing regulations regarding the use of credit information in insurance. In 2011, several other state legislatures introduced bills to regulate the practice.

Actuarial studies show that how a person manages his or her financial affairs is an accurate predictor of the number and size of insurance claims he or she might file, according to the Insurance Information Institute.

If you want to lower your insurance costs, you can’t change your age, or easily change your job or hometown. But there are some personal changes you can make:

1) Consider pay-as-you-drive insurance. It’s a paradox, but the more personal you get, the better your rates might be. Pay-as-you-drive programs offer better rates because they’re tailored to how you personally drive — as opposed to the people who are similar to you in terms of age or other unchangeable factors.

This means that a teenager who is an excellent driver — who doesn’t speed, doesn’t drive at night and doesn’t drive many miles — can get a better rate than the average teenager, whose actuarial profile pegs him as a greater risk, based on the accident history for people his age.

Pay-as-you-drive plans have different configurations, depending on the insurance company and state. Some require that you install a telematics device that transmits information about your actual driving (such as speed, mileage and braking patterns) to the insurance company. Others, such as plans permitted in California, only are based on the number of miles you drive, not how you drive.

2) Be a calmer, more careful driver. If you’ve had speeding tickets in the past, resolve to change from being a speedy, aggressive driver to a calm one. A side benefit is that you’ll save money on gasoline. Edmunds testing has also shown that a calm driving style gets you 35 percent better fuel economy.

3) Choose a car with a lower cost of ownership. Edmunds has a True Cost to Own ® (TCO) tool that lets you size up cars when you’re shopping. It takes into account eight components — depreciation, interest on financing, taxes and fees, insurance premiums, fuel, maintenance, repairs and any federal tax credit that may be available — and tells you what your cost would be over five years. It’s a way to get a preview of what your insurance premiums might be. Also, talk to your insurance company when you’re car shopping to get a quote on how your choice will affect your insurance. If you wait until the deal is done, you’ve lost a chance to manage your costs.

4) Change your coverage. Don’t go for every bell and whistle in an auto insurance policy. If you’re willing to pay a slightly higher deductible, you can wind up saving big on your rates. Going from a $250 to a $1,000 deductible could save you 25-40 percent on your policy. Set aside a portion of these funds to cover your costs in the event of a claim.

If you have an older car with comprehensive and collision coverage, you might find yourself paying more in insurance than the car is worth. One tip: Take your comprehensive and collision premiums and add those up. Multiply by 10. If your car is worth less than that amount, don’t buy the coverage. If you’re worried about being left overexposed, consider this: The typical policyholder makes a claim only once every 11 years, and reports a total loss only once every 50 years.

5) Explore discounts for which you might be qualified. The options available include discounts for low-mileage drivers, for seniors and for cars with anti-theft devices and certain safety devices. It’s a lengthy list — just ask your insurer about any discounts, and go from there.

6) Clean up your credit. Keep it in good shape by paying bills on time and by regularly checking that there are no items on your history that do not belong to you. You can get free annual credit report checks here.

Is there personal information that doesn’t matter? Gender, one expert told us. Insurance companies don’t care if you’re female or male as long as you’re a safe driver. And it’s a myth that red cars have higher insurance rates than those sporting more sedate shades, according to the Insurance Information Institute. Ultimately, insurance companies care about how likely it is that a particular driver would end up making or causing a pricey claim against them. Green is the only color that matters.

Where To Buy Your Automotive Shop Equipment In Florida?  

fastequipment-2If you are in search of the best dealer for automotive shop equipment in Florida and if you are confused and not sure where to find buy your equipment then use the below guidelines in selecting the right dealer for automotive shop equipment in Florida.

When you start looking for the best automotive shop equipment dealer in Florida, you should be having the complete list of equipment that need to purchase. It is always recommended to use dealers that have the most comprehensive inventory possible so that you will be able to get everything you need in one place. To get started, you should shortlist all the top dealers in Florida who fit the above criterion. This will be your basic list of vendors or dealers who specialize in automotive shop equipment.

One of the mistakes that most people make is to immediately get quotes for the equipment that they need and find the cheapest quote to settle. This may not be the best approach to find the right dealer for purchasing your automotive equipment. Once you have the basic list, you will need to review the reputation of the dealers. Now that we are living in an internet era, you will be able to easily learn about the reputation of the dealer. Go with someone that has been in the industry for several years instead of trying to go with someone that is new to the industry. Why are we emphasizing so much about the experience and the reputation of the dealer here? The automotive shop equipment industry is a highly competitive industry. If a dealer has managed to survive the competition and if they are enjoying good reputation then it is a clear indication that the dealer you have identified is offering consistently good services to the customers otherwise they will not be able to enjoy good reputation and they will not be able to withstand the competition.

Check whether your dealer has readily available stock and what is the turnaround times that they request for delivering the product. Popular dealers will have regular sales and they will keep their inventory well stocked on the other hand dealers with poor sales graph will be afraid of stocking the equipment and will place the order only after you confirm your order. You need to go with someone that has experience selling more equipment rather than from poorly sold outlets.

Only when you pay attention to the above factors, you will be able to narrow down the right dealer and if you fail to do that, you will end up with some dubious vendors and when you realize your mistake, it will be too late to save the situation. Selecting the right dealers for buying your automotive shop equipment such as 4 post lift in Florida is a very crucial step in the successful setting up of your automotive shop in Florida. It is highly recommended that you do not skip the above steps while sourcing your equipment.

Contact :
Florida Automotive Service Tools & Equipment
1945 Dana Drive
Fax – 239-267-1107
Toll Free Number – 800-225-7234

A Driver Safety Class Can Mean a Discount on Your Auto Insurance

Mary Jean Hebenstreit, 69, got a harsh reminder to sharpen her driving skills when the police pulled her over last year for speeding. “It was the first time I’ve ever been stopped.”

See also: Why take a driver safety class?

The ticket rattled Hebenstreit, of Gillespie, and persuaded her to enroll in the AARP Driver Safety Program, a two-day refresher course for older drivers.

And there was a bonus.

Illinois residents 55 and older who complete a driver safety class are eligible for insurance discounts of about $20 to $150 a year, depending on the policy and their driving record, said Harold Sterling, one of two volunteer Midwest regional coordinators of the AARP Driver Safety Program. The class must be retaken every three years to keep the discount. He advised motorists to ask their insurance companies for details.

“One of the best ways for seniors to maintain mobility and independence is through driver safety programs,” said Sterling, 69, of Schaumburg.

AARP’s class covers the latest approaches to safe driving, traffic strategies and the touchy question of when to stop driving.

For many older people, “to stay independent means continuing to drive,” said Merri Dee, state president of AARP Illinois. “It is increasingly important that older drivers have the skills they need to remain safe on the roads.”

About 3.5 million Illinois drivers are over age 50, and older drivers face a number of challenges.

Some rules of the road have changed since they first learned to drive. For example, a new state law requires a driver transporting a disabled person to secure the passenger in a seat belt. Also, today’s cars have new features, such as lane departure warning systems, that didn’t exist when older drivers got their first vehicles.

Also, age-related changes in a driver’s vision, hearing and reaction time require strategies to compensate.

Cathi Watson, 77, and her husband, Bill, 83, enrolled in the class even though they were both experienced drivers. The Schaumburg residents were surprised at how much they had forgotten since first learning to drive.

After the class, Cathi Watson shared her favorite tip: Avoid left turns against traffic. Sometimes it’s better to drive a few more blocks and make several right turns instead, she said. “That could prevent an accident.”

The classroom course costs $12 for AARP members, $14 for non-members. The online class is $15.95 for members, $19.95 for non-members. However, not all Illinois insurance providers offer discounts for people who take the online class.

Peoria resident Joe Bender got much more from the class than a discount; it may have saved his life.

Next: Locate a class or program near you. >>

Bender once avoided a serious accident because he remembered the three-second rule: Stay at least three seconds behind the car ahead. “It gave me enough time to swerve into the median,” he said.

A volunteer instructor for 26 years, Bender, 90, has taught about 4,000 drivers.

In 2010 he was given the AARP Illinois Andrus Award for Community Service (PDF).

Last year, about 13,000 Illinois drivers took the course. Online courses are available in both English and Spanish.

Sterling said more volunteer instructors are needed, particularly in Illinois’ rural areas. Volunteer candidates must take the class, complete an eight-hour training session and teach three practice sessions under the direction of experienced instructors.

9 Steps to Buy a Used Car Without Problems

With the era of the Internet purchasing everything has become extremely easy, but at the same time more and more problems arise with the purchasing process, and one of them is fraud. In the article we would like to give you 10 simple tips to purchase a used car and not get screwed.

9) Budget
Set a budget, then set a limit to which you can raise the price when bargaining and never cross this limit. It means that first of all, when bargaining keep in mind your price to lead the seller to your number, and secondly, do not look at Lamborghinis if your goal was Honda Accord, for example, not to go over your limit.

8) Make your research
Go online and check what cars get into your price range. Try to make a list of your wishes to find models that will work best.

7) Check the forums
When you have a list of possible options the time to get down to business. Check local forums for any sellers or advice from owners of used cars regarding where to look for one.

6) Local auctions
In case of auctions you are most likely to have no possibility to check the vehicle with your mechanic, however in this case you can get the best price.

5) Certification
Certification of a car is a good thing, but keep in mind that it is pretty easy to get it from any dealership spot. So do not get hooked on certification and make your research on this issue if you have never heard about it before.

4) No impulses!
This is a very frequent mistake that people make when buying used cars: when they find the best offer and a vehicle seems to meet all the requirements. Do not hurry up, make a check, think about the purchase and keep in mind that you can always get a better price!

3) Use your mechanic
When you are coming to have a look at the vehicle you plan to purchase always ask your mechanic to come with you unless you are yourself one. It is very important that your unbiased expert will have a look at the used car you plan to buy in order to evaluate its cost and make sure that everything is fine with the car.

2) Inspect the owner
When the car is inspected by the mechanic it is your turn to inspect the owner. It does not mean that it should be in a creepy way, but try to find out everything about a car and ask questions about the accidents and maintenance issues. This very important according to experts from especially when buying BMW X5 or similar vehicles of high class, because you need to make sure that the car is in good condition.

1) Be ready to walk away
If there is something you do not like be ready to walk away, never let your emotions prevail.

A Spicy Chicken Curry Recipe for Weekends

At the weekend, people have more spare time to do what they want as a hobby including cooking. If you are a fan of cooking and feel like trying some new dish, you can try this simple to cook, spicy chicken curry recipe. Only by investing 10 minutes for preparation and 35 minutes for cooking time, you can have 4 servings of spicy chicken curry for your family. Here is the chicken curry recipe simple.

Ingredients for red pepper paste:

– 3 roughly chopped red peppers
– 1 roughly chopped red onion
– 2 cm chopped ginger
– 4 crushed garlic cloves
– 1 tsp of turmeric
– 2 tsp. of ground cumin
– 1 tsp. of ground coriander
– 75 gram of flaked almond
– some cayenne
– dried chili flakes, red chilies or smoked paprika (optional for spicier taste)

Ingredients for sauce:

– 2 tbsp. of sunflower oil
– 350 ml chicken stock
– ½ lemon juice
– 10 boneless chicken thights
– chopped coriander
– pepper and salt

Cooking Instructions:

  1. Put all the ingredients for the paste in a food processor with some salt until it makes a fine paste.
  2. Heat the paste on the pan at low heat. Fry it over for 10 minutes.
  3. Add the chicken thighs and cook for 10 minutes until the chicken is well blend in the paste.
  4. Add the chicken stock. Simmer for 15 minutes.
  5. Add some lemon juice, coriander, pepper and salt.
  6. Serve it with rice.

This is all information you need to know about a spicy version of chicken curry that is worth trying this weekend. This dish is perfect served with warm rice or a salad up to your liking. The cooking method is not too difficult so you can make it anytime you want a special, chicken-based dish at your weekend.

Assess the Market Properly to Acquire an Economic Young Driver Car Insurance

Your youthful gaiety may cause you to pay hugely at the time of insuring the favourite automobile of yours. A recent survey has shown that the amount of young driver car insurance is significantly higher in comparison to the middle-aged drivers. The carefree driving styles maintained by most young drivers have made the insurance agencies follow that rule. If you are a young driver, then some simple rules can help you lessen the amount of your car insurance.

Own a Car that Fits Your Insuring Budget

An insurance company will charge you higher for an expensive car and lower for an inexpensive car. Simply put, an inexpensive car will help you shoulder modest expenditures for the automobile insurance of yours. The features that can help an insurer judge the value of your car are as mentioned below.

  • The highest speed limit your car can achieve
  • The price tag attached to the car and to every single part of the automobile
  • The reparation cost in case of a complete break-down
  • The safety features

Make a Justifiable Payment

It is always prudent to perform a comparative checking before making any kind of commitment. The presence of a multitude of car insurance companies has made this task easier for you. You can come to a conclusive decision only after talking to the agents of different insurance companies. This will give you the opportunity of choosing the best insurance policy for your car that will neither burden you with over expenditure nor with worries.

The most economic insurance option for the young car drivers will be the third-party coverage.

  • You may injure someone during an accident. This insurance policy will help you cover the general and economical damages suffered by the third party during that accident.
  • If your car requires any reparation after an accident, the cost will not get covered by this type of insurance policy.
  • This insurance policy will not cover for the stolen parts or for a stolen automobile.
  • A third-party insurance that also covers the damages caused by fire and thievery will definitely provide you with higher compensations at affordable amounts.

The comparison websites can help you acquire a clear picture through side-by-side collation of all the available car insurance policies.

The Value of Experience

A simple trick can help you reduce the premium amount for young driver car insurance. You can add the name of an experienced and older driver in your insurance policy. This will provide additional assurance to the insuring agent. As a result, you will be served with a lower premium amount.


Crucial Road-tripping Equipment

So, you are finally getting around to planning that road trip of your dreams. And why not? When you invested in your vehicle you probably envisioned it could do more than just get you from home to work and back again. A great vehicle should serve more than one function. Start using your vehicle to realize some of your travel dreams and you will feel a lot better about those monthly payments.

Before you embark on your first big road trip, you should probably pick up some gear to help you out on your journey. What you invest in will depend on the type of trip you are going to take.

Are you planning to take a camping tour of the country’s national parks? Well, you probably want to get yourself set up with a great tent, cook stove, some hiking boots, a flashlight, a compass, and definitely a great knife. If you don’t want to sleep outside, perhaps you can convert your wagon into the ultimate car-camping experience with either an inflatable single mattress or a rolled up mat- this way you can use your vehicle as a bedroom at night and still put everything away when you head into town and want to look respectable. Aside from the essentials, there are some beautiful activities worth enjoying in the National Parks, so it might be wise to invest in a fishing pole (hey, your fun can double as acquiring dinner- so long as you acquire the proper permits), bird watching guides and binoculars, and a book detailing constellations.

What if you aren’t taking a camping tour, though? If you are planning a more metropolitan trip, there are still some essential items you will want. Invest in a great thermos to keep your tea/coffee warm, or a soup you can buy at the deli of a grocery store. Think about investing in layers of clothing- if you are going to be spending significant amounts of time in your car, you aren’t going to want to have a huge jacket that you need to take on and off- dress in layers.

A car trip can be an incredibly fun experience, just make sure you prepare yourself and you will have the trip of a lifetime.

Power struggle produces eSupercharger

With the bold claim of inventing the “world’s most power-dense variable speed electric motor,” U.K. specialist company Aeristech believes it can help solve a significant challenge facing the use of downsized engines in pursuit of low CO2 emissions.

Said CEO Bryn Richards: “For extreme engine downsizing neither multi-stage nor mechanical superchargers are the answer, as an engine using them would lack power at low speeds. To support the next generation of downsized engines requires an electric supercharger with enough power to supply all the low speed boosting needs of the engine combined with sufficiently effective cooling to enable continuous operation.”

Thus the development of the Aeristech eSupercharger, designed to provide the low-speed torque and instant throttle response that customers expect but can be challenging to achieve in turbocharged downsized and “right-sized” engines.

Richards explains that multi-stage turbocharging, combining large and small turbos, makes downsized engines easier to drive across a wider speed range, but introduces other issues such as cost, complexity, thermal management, and catalyst performance. The latter, he noted, is likely to be of growing significance as tailpipe emissions are further restricted: “The thermal mass of a two-stage turbocharger system located between the engine and the catalyst makes light-off more difficult to maintain during periods of light load or low engine speed,” he explained.

The obvious alternative is to use a supercharger, but conventional mechanical superchargers don’t deliver at very low engine speeds. And Richards believes that electrically-driven units “have so far only been able to provide the briefest transient boost.”

He regards the achievement of a satisfactory electric supercharger with sufficient power to meet, convincingly, all low speed boosting needs could be achieved by the industry’s present likely move towards 48-V systems.

“As for meeting cooling capability requirements, that would be a must for continuous operation,” he told Automotive Engineering, pointing out that Aeristech’s proprietary electric motor technology delivers the full load air requirements of the engine in under 1 s without the cooling issues associated with conventional motors.

New motor-control strategy

The much-anticipated move towards mild hybrids with 48-V architecture would provide the power necessary for an electric supercharger to deliver the boost levels required by a downsized engine in the lower half of its speed range. With this arrangement, the mechanical turbo could be optimized purely for higher speeds, allowing greater specific power and less exhaust restriction.

Richards explained that to unlock the potential of 48-V systems to provide electric supercharging, Aeristech uses permanent magnet technology, providing a faster response without the cooling challenges arising from the alternative switched reluctance (SR) motors. He believes that SR motors are the only alternative to Aeristech’s patented technology and he expects that when mass produced, the cost of the two systems would be similar.

“Our motor control strategy separates commutation and power control, which means the electrical switching frequency need be no higher than running speed,” he said. This is a fundamentally new approach that dramatically reduces the cost of many key switching components while ensuring exceptionally accurate high-transient speed control.”

The strategy would make permanent magnet technology cost-effective, he claimed, “meaning that for the first time an eSupercharger can run continuously at boost levels of 2.5 bar or more.”

The technology is applicable to both diesel and gasoline engines. “In the face of increasingly restrictive legislation, diesels are relying on filter systems to remove particulates from the exhaust, increasing the back pressure,” Richards noted. “It makes more sense to convert the particulates to useful energy in the combustion chamber, rather than filtering them out of the exhaust. The ability to match the air supply to the fuel input at low engine speeds by using an eSupercharger with lag-free response to transient changes would both cure the emission problem and improve fuel economy.”

Significant BMEP gains

Aeristech claims industry-leading power density and low inertia for the motor in its eSupercharger, which accelerates to 150,000 rpm with a transient response of idle-to-target speed in under 0.4 s. The company has successfully subjected its technology to independent evaluation by Ricardo and Mahle Powertrain U.K.

Richards said that Ricardo had carried out detailed modeling of a 221-kW 2.0-L gasoline engine with a single-stage turbocharger using Ricardo’s WAVE simulation software. Adding a 48-V Aeristech eSupercharger enabled the turbine to be increased in size by 80%, “improving BSFC [Brake Specific Fuel Consumption], torque and transient response throughout the engine speed range,” he said.

Ricardo concluded that without the eSupercharger only a larger engine could have met the requirements, if relying on a conventional single-stage turbocharger, according to Richards. Mahle demonstrated the 48-V eSupercharger in a D-segment appraisal vehicle using its downsized 1.2-L 3-cylinder gasoline engine. Originally configured with 2-stage turbocharging, the engine achieved 144 kW (193 hp) and just over 30 bar BMEP.

“When the smaller turbo was replaced by the eSupercharger, allowing the larger turbo to be re-optimized, the engine achieved a maximum power output of 193 kW and a remarkable 33-bar peak BMEP at 2000 rpm,” Richards reported. He said torque was increased over the entire speed range with a maximum value of 313 N·m (231 lb·ft); BMEP at 1200 rpm was increased from 20 bar to almost 29 bar.

“Mahle Powertrain U.K. has said that this is a higher torque per unit of cylinder capacity than any series production engine,” he noted. The eSupercharger directly influences the high torque figure, Richards claimed, and is also indirectly responsible for the increased power output. By replacing the smaller turbo in a two-stage turbocharging arrangement with the eSupercharger, the Mahle engineers were able to increase the size of the main turbo with satisfactory drivability and transient response.

For a future C-segment vehicle aiming at CO2 emissions of 95 g/km, Richards predicts greater levels of downsizing than even the most ambitious of today’s engines. He said a highly boosted 800cm3 engine with an eSupercharger can develop the power and torque of a conventional 2.2-L naturally aspirated unit, “providing equally satisfying throttle response but with much lower fuel consumption.”

5 Tips for Choosing the Right Auto Body Shop

It’s not uncommon for estimates from different body shops to vary wildly. One shop might give you an estimate for $500 while another wants $2,000 for the work. What’s the difference? And when is it OK to choose the cheaper shop?

John Mallette, owner of Burke Auto Body & Paint, in Long Beach, California, knows better than most people how to choose a reliable shop. Mallette started working on cars when he was 12 years old and has been in the body shop business for 24 years. Here are some of his tips for choosing the right shop to work on your car — particularly when you’re the one paying the bills.

1) Pay Attention to Word-of-Mouth
Any business can advertise, but you’ll do better with a shop that friends, family or acquaintances recommend. It’s a business that has proven it can satisfy customers. And it might not be the biggest or best-known shop in your area.

Mallette went to a shop years ago on such recommendations and found that the owner was a “real stand-up guy…. He doesn’t advertise on the Internet; it’s a family-owned shop,” Mallette says. “But, golly, if you take your car there, you’ll get a fair price.”

In some cases, you might get a recommendation for a small shop where the owner works on the cars himself. “That’s how I like doing business,” Mallette says. “To me it seems so much more personal and then you can understand what’s really going on with your car.”

2) Consider the Operation’s Location and Overhead
“Where you get screwed in our business is labor hours,” Mallette explains. His shop charges $40 per hour for labor. But in ritzy parts of West Los Angeles, the per-hour labor charge is $60-$65. In wealthy Newport Beach, California, Mallette has heard of $90-per-hour labor charges.

Large body shops with a lot of front-office workers probably have to charge higher rates to pay their staff. While service delivered by front-desk folks, managers and foremen gives some people a feeling of confidence in the business, it can result in estimates that are padded with non-essential work. When they’re charging more labor hours at a higher rate, your bill can add up quickly.

In his shop, Mallette says he does things by the book — literally. Body shops and garages use reference guides that estimate the number of hours required to perform common repairs.

“Let’s say somebody has damage to their fender, bumper and headlight,” Mallette tells us. “I go to my book, I write an estimate and I basically go by the hours mandated by the book.”

By contrast, the higher-end shops might decide to charge for everything in “the gray area,” meaning those things that they might have to do to fix the problem. In Mallette’s example, high-end estimates might include a charge for time spent removing the hood and the door, while his judgment call is not to perform this additional work.

3) Get Several Estimates
Taking your car to several auto body shops for repair quotes is the best way to avoid overcharges, Mallette notes. “I’ll tell people to go get some estimates and bring ’em back to me. I’ll match estimates if I can.”

And while it’s important to protect against being overcharged, you shouldn’t simply take the lowest quote. “You might get some kind of midnight guy who will say he can do it really cheap,” he says. “Stay away from those guys, because there is something they’re not doing. You could have major problems down the road.”

4) Ask the Right Questions
When choosing a body shop, “you don’t go in with your pocketbook open,” Mallette explains. “You go in smart,” and ask some key questions. Does the shop provide a written warranty? And if so, for how long? What does the warranty cover?

A one-year warranty is a minimum, Mallette says. His shop offers a two-year warranty for body work and a three-year warranty for complete paint jobs. Some shops offer lifetime warranties as a selling point, but that isn’t realistic, he says.

“Most of the stipulations and conditions those warranties require are more restrictive than the majority of people can adhere to,” he says. “So basically, the warranty becomes useless.”

Another key question is whether the shop carries fire and theft insurance. You want to be sure you’re covered if your car is destroyed, stolen or burglarized. Don’t forget to ask how long the shop has been in business. Make sure it has a business license.

You will also want to know about the materials the shop intends to use. Are new, used or aftermarket body parts going to be used? New parts are obviously the best and used parts are fine, though they don’t offer the savings people imagine. Depending on the damage to your vehicle, aftermarket parts can save a lot of money and can be just as good as the ones that come from the original manufacturer. If paint work is involved, ask how many coats of paint and clear coat the shop intends to use.

5) Follow Your Intuition
Finally, it’s important to trust your intuition about the shop you’re considering. If a shop isn’t busy, maybe that’s because customers are avoiding it because of shoddy repairs. If the place is really dirty, cluttered or disorganized, this might reflect the kind of work you could expect the shop to do with your car. Is the shop owner or manager a grouch who seems to resent answering your questions? You’ll be happier with a shop where the owner communicates well and is straightforward with customers.

“Trust your gut,” Mallette says. “If your gut tells you the guy’s shady I wouldn’t even go there.”

How To Prep Your Car for Long-Term Storage

There are a number of times when people need to store a vehicle for an extended period of time. Maybe you have a convertible that you love to drive in the summer, but winter is on the way. Or perhaps you’re going to leave town for a job or an extended vacation. Maybe you are in the military and are being deployed overseas.

Whatever the reason for your time away from the vehicle, you’ll need to put it in storage. If you simply let your vehicle sit on the street or in a garage for an extended period of time, you may return to a dead battery or — worse yet — a damaged engine, ruined tires and a rat’s nest under your hood.

Here are important steps to take before you store a vehicle. They will preserve the life of the engine and ensure that your car starts when you return to it.

Keep It Covered
A garage is the ideal place to store a vehicle. This will protect it from the elements and keep it at a temperature that’s relatively stable. If you don’t have a garage and you can find accommodation at a reasonable price, consider putting the car in a public storage facility.

If you have to leave the car outdoors, consider getting a weatherproof car cover. This will help keep the car clean and dry.

Clean It Up
It may seem counterintuitive to get the car washed when you’re putting it away for months, but it is an easy step and one that shouldn’t be overlooked. Water stains or bird droppings left on the car can damage the paint. Make sure to clean the wheels and undersides of the fenders to get rid of mud, grease or tar. For added protection, give the car a coat of wax.

Change the Oil
Skip this step if you’re only storing the car for a week or two. Consider getting the oil changed if you will be storing the vehicle for longer than 30 days. Ford recommends this in its owner’s manuals, saying that used engine oil has contaminants that could damage the engine.

Top Off the Tank
This is another long-term car storage tip. Fill the tank with gas if you expect the car to be in storage for more than 30 days. This will prevent moisture from accumulating inside the fuel tank and keep the seals from drying out. You should also purchase a fuel stabilizer such as Sta-bil, to prevent ethanol buildup and protect the engine from gum, varnish and rust. The fuel stabilizer will prevent the gas from deteriorating for up to 12 months.

Keep It Charged
An unattended battery will eventually lose its charge. Get someone to start the car every two weeks and drive it for about 15 minutes, if possible. Driving the car periodically has several benefits. It will maintain the battery’s charge, help the car “stretch its legs” and keep the engine and other components properly lubricated. It is also a good idea to run the air-conditioner to keep the parts in working order and the air quality fresh.

If you cannot arrange for someone to start the car, there are two other options. The low-tech solution is to disconnect the negative battery cable. You’ll likely lose the stereo presets, time and other settings. If you want to keep those settings and ensure that your battery starts the moment you return, purchase a battery tender, also known as a trickle charger. This device hooks up to your car battery on one end and plugs into a wall outlet on the other. It delivers just enough electrical power to prevent the battery from discharging.

Don’t Use the Parking Brake
It’s usually a good idea to use the parking brake, but don’t do it when you leave a car in storage. If the brake pads make contact with the rotors for too long, there is a chance that they might fuse. Instead, purchase a tire stopper, also called a chock, to prevent the car from moving.

Prevent Flat Spots
Make sure your tires are inflated to the recommended tire pressure. If a vehicle is left stationary for too long, the tires could develop flat spots as the weight of the vehicle presses down on the tires’ footprints. This process occurs at a faster rate in colder temperatures and with vehicles equipped with performance tires or low-profile tires.

In some cases, simply having someone drive the car for a while will bring the tires up to their normal operating temperature and get rid of any flat spots. In more severe cases, a flat spot can become a permanent part of the tire and it will need to be replaced.

If your car will be in storage for more than 30 days, consider taking the wheels off and placing the car on jack stands at all four corners. This step requires more work, but it can save you from needing a new set of tires. Your tires will be in much better shape when you return if they haven’t had the weight of the vehicle resting on them for a month or more.

Keep Critters Out
A garage will keep your car dry and relatively warm. Unfortunately, those are also two things that make a garaged car attractive to rodents. There are plenty of places in your car for critters to hide, and plenty of things for them to chew on. Try to cover any gaps where a mouse could enter, such as the exhaust pipe or an air intake. Steel wool works well for this. Next, spread mothballs or cotton swabs dipped in peppermint oil along the perimeter of the vehicle. The smell is said to drive mice away.

If you want to take a more proactive approach, lay down a few mousetraps and some rat poison. Just make sure someone can check the garage periodically, in case there are some casualties. Otherwise, you’ll have to deal with a smell much worse than mothballs when you take the car out of storage.

Maintain Insurance
You might be tempted to cancel your auto insurance when your vehicle is in storage. Although that might initially save money, there is a chance that the insurance company will raise your rates due to the gap in coverage, which could cost you more in the long run. This can vary based on where you live and who your provider is, so contact your insurance company to see what options are available to you.

Get Back in Action
Here’s a checklist of what to do when you’re ready to bring your vehicle out of storage:

  • Check under the hood for any evidence of rodents. Look for chewed belts, hoses, wires or nests. If you covered the muffler or air intake, remove that material before you start the car.
  • Check the windshield wipers to see if the rubber is cracked or brittle.
  • Check tire pressure and inflate the tires to the recommended specs.
  • Check the brakes. Rust may have accumulated on the rotors. In most cases, this should go away after you drive the vehicle for a short time.
  • Check fluids to make sure there have been no leaks and that they are at the recommended levels.
  • If the battery cable has been disconnected, make sure that you reconnect it and that the battery terminals are clean.
  • Wash your vehicle to remove any dirt that may have accumulated.