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What’s the Difference Between Premium and Unleaded Gasoline?

By The Allstate Blog Team

Do you know what type of fuel is right for your vehicle? Learn about octane ratings and the difference between premium and unleaded gasoline.

What Are Octane Ratings?

Knowing octane ratings is key to understanding the difference between premium and unleaded gasoline.

According to the Department of Energy (DOE), fuel contains oxygen. This oxygen helps keep gas from prematurely igniting in the engine (known as “knocking”). An octane grade or rating is based on how much oxygen is in the fuel.

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What Is Unleaded Gasoline?

Unleaded gasoline is fuel with an octane rating of around 87. However, the DOE says there are three different octane ratings for fuel:

  • Unleaded Fuel: 87
  • Mid-grade Fuel: 88-90
  • Premium Fuel: 91-94

At the gas station, yellow stickers on gas pumps are required by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to indicate octane levels and help ensure consumers have the information they need.

How Is Premium Fuel Different From Regular Unleaded?

Premium fuel has a higher octane level compared to regular unleaded or mid-grade fuel. According to the FTC, higher octane ratings make fuel more resistant to “knocking.”

Knocking is caused when fuel prematurely combusts in one or more cylinders in the engine, says the FTC. This can lead to an audible engine knocking or pinging sound when you start your car. Consumer Reports notes that knocking could result in damage to the car’s engine over time.

While some vehicles require premium fuel, the majority of cars take regular unleaded fuel, says Consumer Reports. Using plus- or premium-grade fuels typically doesn’t affect your engine’s performance or resistance to wear-and-tear.

Remember to check your vehicle’s owner manual or ask a dealership for help to find out what kind of fuel is recommended for your car.

The post What’s the Difference Between Premium and Unleaded Gasoline? appeared first on The Allstate Blog.

Tips For Driving Safely Around Emergency Vehicles

By The Allstate Blog Team

When you’re approaching an emergency vehicle with flashing lights on the roadway, it’s a good idea to know what to do. While laws vary by state, here are some general tips to keep in mind when sharing the road with emergency vehicles.

Understand Your State’s ‘Move Over’ Law

According to the Department of Transportation (DOT), all 50 states have a “move over” law. You should look into your state’s specific law to make sure you’re aware of its details and following local guidelines. But, in general, this law requires that drivers slow down and move over to accommodate emergency vehicles with flashing lights, says the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. These include police cars, ambulances and fire trucks, though some states may require that drivers follow this law for any vehicle with blinking or flashing lights, says the DOT.

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Know How to Safely Pull Over For Emergency Vehicles

Here are some tips to help you safely navigate around emergency vehicles.

When an emergency vehicle approaches from behind

Slow down, pull your vehicle into the right lane (or shoulder) and come to a stop, recommends the City of Madison Fire Department. If you are on a multilane road and cannot pull into the right lane due to traffic, pull your vehicle as far to the right as possible. This can help emergency vehicles move around traffic using the median.

When an emergency vehicle approaches from the opposite direction

The City of Roanoke says you should pull over on the side of the road (not in an intersection) and come to a complete stop. Watch for other emergency vehicles and remain on the side of the road until all of them have passed.

When an emergency vehicle is stopped

Slow down your car and move into an open lane, if possible, says Michigan’s Office of Highway Safety Planning. Your state’s move over law may also have more specific requirements for passing a stopped emergency vehicle. For example, Michigan’s Office of Highway Safety Planning also states that drivers are required to slow their vehicle to at least 10 mph under the speed limit when passing a stopped emergency vehicle.

Practice a Safe Following Distance

Even after an emergency vehicle has passed, you should keep your vehicle at a safe distance behind it. While rules can also vary by state, a general rule of thumb is to stay 500 feet behind an emergency vehicle, says the City of Madison Fire Department.

Following these tips can help you keep yourself and first responders safe on the road. Remember to check your state’s laws and look for other local guidelines to make sure you’re aware of the requirements in your area.

The post Tips For Driving Safely Around Emergency Vehicles appeared first on The Allstate Blog.

What Is the Difference Between a Sunroof and Moonroof?

By The Allstate Blog Team

A sunroof is generally any kind of panel on the roof of a car that permits light, air or both to come into a vehicle, according to Kelley Blue Book (KBB). A moonroof is considered a type of sunroof, but the main difference is a moonroof usually has a tinted glass panel, much like an extra window on top of the car. Keep reading to learn more about the difference between a sunroof and moonroof.

What Is a Sunroof?

According to Cars.com, a sunroof is typically an opaque panel that matches the body color of the car. It can be tilted open or removed so that fresh air and natural light can come into the car. Sometimes the metal panel will retract into the roof or just above it, says KBB.

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What Is a Moonroof?

A moonroof is a type of sunroof, according to Cars.com. Unlike a sunroof, moonroofs are made of glass and and cannot be removed from the vehicle, although they may slide or tilt open. KBB notes that many moonroofs come with an interior sliding panel that matches your car’s interior. Once you slide this panel open, you will see the moonroof.

Modern cars typically have a moonroof, as traditional sunroofs are not very common anymore. However, people often use the terms interchangeably.

While they are similar, a sunroof and moonroof are actually different. When you are shopping for a new car, keep in mind that what people call a sunroof may actually be a moonroof. Whatever you call it, just be sure to pick a vehicle that offers the options you like best.

Originally published on August 1, 2017.

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The post What Is the Difference Between a Sunroof and Moonroof? appeared first on The Allstate Blog.

When’s the Best Time of Year to Buy a Car?

By The Allstate Blog Team

Knowing when it’s the best time to buy a car can be tricky because the short answer is, it depends. The market for cars isn’t an exact science, and determining the right time to buy may depend on who you ask. It’s also a good idea to consider your own financial situation, budget and needs or wants before buying a vehicle in the first place.

If you are in the market to buy or lease a vehicle, here’s when it may be a good time to visit a dealership:

Buy at the End of the Month

Most dealerships set goals around selling a certain amount of cars per month. If a dealership hasn’t hit their sales quota for the month, the team may have more motivation to make a sale, says Edmunds. This means you may have more room to negotiate on a vehicle by shopping at the end of the month.

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Wait Until the End of the Year

Kelley Blue Book (KBB) reports that many dealerships offer their best sales at the end of the calendar year. The organization says this is because car dealerships prefer to have less inventory of older models going into the new year and need to meet yearly sales goals.

Hold Off Until Next Year’s Models Come Out

New model year vehicles are typically released during the fall season of the previous year, says AutoTrader. For example, this means 2021 vehicles will likely arrive at dealerships during the fall of 2020. Many car dealerships try to sell off older model year vehicles before the new fleet arrives, but that doesn’t always happen, says AutoTrader. This can be a plus for car buyers because dealerships become motivated to sell off the “old” models, giving buyers the opportunity to negotiate a lower price.

Shop During a Holiday Weekend

Many car dealerships hold holiday sales, says CARFAX, which typically translates into bigger savings when you buy a car over a holiday weekend. KBB adds that dealerships also usually offer higher rebates or special financing during holiday sales events. Some holidays to consider going car shopping include Presidents Day, Memorial Day, Fourth of July and Labor Day.

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Buy at the End of a Car’s Life or Design Cycle

Car manufacturers sometimes redesign, or completely discontinue, certain vehicle models, says Edmunds. This may allow car buyers to score bigger savings at the end of the model’s design or life cycle. However, keep in mind that if a car is being discontinued, it may depreciate faster, warns Edmunds. It’s also a good idea to look into why the manufacturer is ending production of the car.

Buying a new car is a large purchase that should be thought out. Remember that with some patience and research, you may be able to find a deal on a new car when the time is right.

Originally published on June 3, 2011.

The post When’s the Best Time of Year to Buy a Car? appeared first on The Allstate Blog.

How to Remove Automotive Stains From Your Driveway or Garage

By The Allstate Blog Team

Whether your car sprung a leak or you spilled gasoline while filling up the lawn mower or snow blower, it can be easy for your driveway to end up with a few stains. Oil, transmission fluid and gasoline can leave behind spots that make your driveway or garage floor look greasy or discolored.

Regardless of whether a spot is new or old, follow these steps to help remove automotive stains from your paved driveway or uncoated concrete garage floor.

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How to Remove Oil Stains

Oil can leave a dark stain on pavement, but you may be able to clean even stubborn spots out of your driveway. Good Housekeeping suggests following these steps to get oil stains out of your driveway or garage floor:

  1. If the spill is still wet, cover the stain with clay cat litter, sand, cornmeal, cornstarch or baking soda. This will help absorb the oil before it soaks into the cement.
  2. Once the spill has dried, sweep up the absorbent material. Then, wet the stain with water. If it’s a set-in stain, start the removal process by spraying the stain with water.
  3. Use a stiff brush, such as a broom, and scrub the area with a paste made of baking soda and water.
  4. Use a hose to rinse the pavement clean. Let it air dry.

Some other possible solutions include:

  • Covering the stain with spray lubricant and then rinsing with water, says Reader’s Digest.
  • Putting a paste of powdered laundry detergent and water on the stain, says BobVila.com. After letting it sit, scrub it with a broom or brush and rinse the spot off with water.
  • Scrubbing the stain with a grease-cutting dish detergent and a stiff broom, according to BobVila.com.
  • Spraying the oil spot with a microbial stain remover, says The Spruce. This type of stain remover is biodegradable, and you can later clean the area with soap and water.

How to Remove Transmission Fluid Stains

Transmission fluid spills or leaks may leave a bright red stain on light-colored concrete. Here are some suggested steps for removing the stain from Reader’s Digest:

  1. Spray the stain with oven cleaner and let it sit for 5 to 10 minutes.
  2. Use a stiff brush to scrub the spot. Then, rinse with a hose at its highest pressure.
  3. If the stain is still there, repeat the process.

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How to Remove Gasoline Stains

Spilled gasoline not only leaves stains on your paved driveway, but it will likely leave an odor you’ll want to neutralize. BobVila.com recommends the following tips for cleaning a gasoline spill and removing the resulting stain:

  • For a fresh spill:
    1. Cover spill with an absorbent material, such as cat litter. Wait a few hours for it to soak up the gasoline.
    2. Scoop up the soiled litter or absorbent material, and sweep the area. (Talk to your local fire department or local waste management about how to properly dispose of the soaked material.)
  • Once you’ve cleaned the spill:
    1. Mix a moisture absorbent powder, such as cornstarch or diatomaceous earth (which can typically be found at home improvement and pool supply stores) into a liquid trisodium phosphate (TSP) cleaner to create a thick paste. (Be sure to wear protective eyewear and gloves while using TSP.)
    2. Spread the paste over the stain and use a stiff brush to work it into the concrete.
    3. Spread another thin layer of paste over the stain. Wait until it dries fully.
    4. Scrape off the dried paste with a putty knife, and then rinse the area with a hose.
    5. For older or stubborn stains, repeat this process.

Spills happen, but they don’t have to leave a permanent reminder on your driveway or garage floor. These simple tips may help you get most automotive stains out of your pavement or cement flooring.

Originally published on September 15, 2017.

The post How to Remove Automotive Stains From Your Driveway or Garage appeared first on The Allstate Blog.

Simple Tips for Checking and Changing Your Oil

By The Allstate Blog Team

Keeping your car in tip-top shape can help prevent unnecessary repair bills and unexpected trips to the mechanic. One essential car maintenance task is a routine oil change. Oil changes are a must for proper vehicle care, but they can be easy and relatively inexpensive.

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Why You Should Check and Change Your Oil

Your car’s engine is complex and contains numerous moving parts. Oil lubricates these moving parts and keeps everything running smoothly, says Angie’s List. Over time some of the motor oil burns off — leaving a thick sludge behind. This sludge reduces the oil’s ability to lubricate the parts properly, which can lead to engine wear. Checking your oil can help determine if the oil needs to be changed and if there is enough in the car.

According to Cars.com, here are some of the reasons why you should change your car’s oil:

  • Oil cools, lubricates and cleans moving parts. Without oil, your engine would stop working.
  • Oil can become dirty and break down, likely reducing engine efficiency and longevity.
  • Regular oil changes can help prevent long-term engine damage, which may help you avoid costly repair bills.

How to Check Your Oil

Consumer Reports suggests that drivers check their oil at every other gas fill-up. Start by consulting your owner’s manual. It should contain information on how to check the oil in your vehicle. Once your car is parked on level ground and the engine is off, Consumer Reports recommends these steps for checking your oil:

  • Pop the hood. Locate the oil dipstick and remove it. A graphic of an oil can usually marks its location.
  • Wipe off the dipstick and reinsert it. Clean the oil off the dipstick with a rag, put it back in and remove it again.
  • Determine the oil level. The dipstick is marked to show at what level the oil is full. If the level of the oil is at or below the levels marked “add,” “low” or “min,” add a little bit of oil (a half-quart) at a time. Then wipe, reinsert and remove the dipstick again for another check.
  • Check oil color. Look for brown or black color. If the oil is a light, milky color, or if you notice tiny metal particles, take your vehicle to a mechanic for further diagnosis.

Which Kind of Oil Should You Use?

Which kind of oil you use in your vehicle depends on your engine’s needs and the manufacturer’s recommendations in the owner’s manual. You can choose synthetic oil, conventional oil or high-mileage oil, depending on your engine’s needs and the expected oil life. Also, you’ll need to choose the right viscosity for your engine — that information is typically found on your engine’s oil cap or in the vehicle’s owner’s manual.

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How Often Should You Change Your Oil?

Every car manufacturer has a slightly different recommended oil change schedule. Consult your owner’s manual to find your car manufacturer’s suggested oil change interval. When a dealership or service center changes your vehicle’s oil, they will typically put a sticker on your window to tell you when your car is due for another oil change.

When you have the oil changed, it’s a good idea to check the oil filter, as well. You may also want to perform other routine maintenance, such as checking the brakes, rotating the tires and topping off fluids, says Angie’s List. Be sure to ask your mechanic what inspections they perform during an oil change. Routine oil changes are a key part of car maintenance to help keep your vehicle running smoothly. If you need help checking or changing your oil, consult a car care professional.

Originally published on October 1, 2016.

The post Simple Tips for Checking and Changing Your Oil appeared first on The Allstate Blog.

When and How to Check Your Car’s Brake Pads

By The Allstate Blog Team

Proper brake pad maintenance is not only critical for helping your car last, but also for your safety as a driver or passenger. Simply put, your vehicle’s brakes are what enable you to slow down and stop. To help ensure your vehicle can stop safely, consider these tips on when and how to check your car’s brake pads.

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When to Check Your Brakes

There’s no specific schedule for when it’s time to replace your brake pads, according to Cars.com. That means it’s a good idea to check your brake pads regularly to help determine the amount of wear and tear. Typical brake pad wear depends on how and where you drive, says Cars.com. For example, if you drive in urban areas, your brake pads may wear out faster than they would if you drove on rural roads due to the stopping and starting of city traffic.

Whether you go to a professional mechanic or handle maintenance yourself, it’s a good idea to check the brake pads each time your tires are rotated — about every six months, says Cars.com. It’s also a good idea to check your car owner’s manual or talk to a professional technician so you understand what service schedule and parts may be right for your particular vehicle.

How to Check Your Brakes

Fortunately, brake pads are designed to provide clear signals that they need to be checked and possibly replaced. Here are some ways to check your brakes:

Brake Checks While Driving

Here are a few ways you can be in-tune with your brakes and whether it’s time to have them checked.

  • Listen to your brakes. Brake pads are designed to make a noise as an early warning signal that they need to be changed, says J.D. Power and Associates (J.D. Power). This noise will usually sound like metal scraping on the wheels when the car is moving. The sound caused by these wear indicators will typically get louder the more the brakes are used. If, after inspection, you still have noisy brakes, you may require different adjustments or repairs.
  • Pay attention to your brake pedal and steering wheel. When brake pads are worn out, a vibration can often be felt in the brake pedal when braking. A vibrating steering wheel when braking may also be a sign of brake pad issues.
  • Notice if the warning light comes on. If the brake warning light on your dashboard comes on while you’re driving, Cars.com says you may be running low on brake fluid. Have your brakes checked as soon as possible.

If you have concerns about whether or not your brake system is functioning properly, you should have it inspected by a professionally immediately.

Visually Inspect Brake Pads

It can also be helpful to take a look at your brakes to see if there are any obvious signs of wear and tear. When the car is parked safely and the ignition is off, follow these tips for visually inspecting your brake pads:

  • Look at the wheels. Brake dust accumulation in the wheel is a sign of normal wear, according to MotorWeek. If you notice that your wheels are dirtier or cleaner than usual, you may want to have your brakes inspected.
  • Observe the brake pad. On many cars, the brake pad can be seen through the wheel. Look at it to determine its thickness. If it seems very thin, less than ¼ inch, it is likely in need of replacement, according to J.D. Power. Some brake pads have a slot in the center that serves as a wear indicator. Look at the slot — if it’s almost gone, the pad probably needs to replaced.

When to Replace Brake Pads

Cars.com says some common signs that may indicate it’s time to replace your brake pads include:

  • Pulsation or vibrations in the brake pedal.
  • Longer stopping distances.
  • Your foot goes down further than normal when you apply the brakes.
  • The vehicle pulling to one side when you brake, according to J.D. Power.

If you do not feel comfortable checking your brake pads, take your vehicle to a local dealership or repair shop where a professional can do it for you. Not only will replacing worn brake pads help make your car safer, it may help save money in the long run by helping prevent avoidable accidents.

Originally published on May 29, 2017.

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The post When and How to Check Your Car’s Brake Pads appeared first on The Allstate Blog.

Quick Fix: Avoid Door Dings With A Pool Noodle

By The Allstate Blog Team

Have you ever pulled your car into your garage, opened the car door and accidentally hit the wall? Just like that, the side of your car door has a ding. We’ve all been there, but there’s an inexpensive way to help avoid dents and dings. A pool noodle may be the key to helping protect your car doors, according to Precision Garage Door of Salt Lake.

Watch this video to see how a pool noodle can become a bumper for your car door.

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Step 1: Gather the Materials

First, gather these materials:

  • A dry pool noodle
  • A box cutter or utility knife
  • Double-sided foam tape
  • A pencil
  • A measuring tape (optional)

Step 2: Cut Pool Noodle in Half

Use a utility knife or box cutter to cut the pool noodle in half lengthwise. Take care when cutting — do this step on a flat surface such as a workbench or the garage floor. You may also want to consider wearing work gloves while cutting.

Step 3: Determine Where Your Car Door Meets the Garage Wall

Carefully open your car door to determine where it makes contact with the garage wall. Using a pencil, lightly mark the point of contact on the wall. Using that mark as your guide, draw a longer line horizontally across the wall. If desired, you can use a measuring tape to make sure you are extending your line at the correct height or for the length of the pool noodle.

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Step 4: Attach the Noodle to the Garage Wall

Cut two strips of mounting tape the length of the pool noodle. Apply these strips of tape to the edges of the noodle. Then, attach the noodle to the wall, horizontally along the line you marked earlier.

Alternatively, The Family Handyman says you could use nails to attach the pool noodle to the wall to really help it stay in place. However, be sure to use the appropriate tools and nails for your garage wall.

Step 5: Test Your Handiwork

Again, carefully open the car door. It should now touch the soft pool noodle instead of the wall. If it doesn’t, remount the noodle at the appropriate height.

No one likes dents in their car, especially when it is from something as simple as opening the door. Use this quick fix to help avoid door dings by mounting a simple pool noodle to your garage wall.

Originally posted on November 16, 2016.

The post Quick Fix: Avoid Door Dings With A Pool Noodle appeared first on The Allstate Blog.

How to Clean Your Car Windows Without Getting Streaks

By The Allstate Blog Team

Do your car windows need a good cleaning? There may be a simple solution in your cabinets. According to Reader’s Digest, a mixture of vinegar, ammonia and cornstarch can help you get sparkling car windows without leaving streaks.

clean car windows hack

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Gather the Cleaning Supplies

Start by gathering the ingredients you need to make the glass cleaning solution:

You’ll also need a clean bucket to use while you’re mixing the solution. When the cleaner is ready, you’ll need a spray bottle and clean cloth, such as a microfiber towel, to use while cleaning.

How to Clean Your Car Windows

Follow these steps to get clean windows without pesky streaks.

Step 1: Create the Mixture

In a bucket, combine 2 tablespoons of cornstarch with ½ cup ammonia, ½ cup white vinegar and 3 to 4 quarts of warm water. Mix the ingredients together — Reader’s Digest says it’s normal for it to look milky.

Step 2: Spray the Solution onto Your Car Window

Pour the finished mixture into an empty spray bottle. Then, spray the solution onto your car window.

Step 3: Wipe, Rinse and Dry

Wipe the window with warm water to rinse off the solution and loosened dirt. Then, use a lint-free cloth or paper towel to dry the window.

Step 4: Repeat

Repeat this process for each window on your vehicle.

Follow These Cleaning Tips

For best results, consider these window-cleaning tips from Angie’s List:

  • Wash your windows in the shade or on a cool day. The cleaning mixture may dry too quickly in the sun, which can leave streaks.
  • Wipe the windows using up-and-down strokes on one side of the window (inside or outside) and side-to-side strokes on the other to tell which side requires extra polishing.
  • Switch to a new towel when the one you’re using gets dirty. This can help prevent residue or dirt getting transferred from the towel to the window you’re trying to clean.
  • If you’re washing the whole car, clean the windows last. This will allow you to get soap residue or car wax off the glass, so the windows will truly be clean.

Making sure your car windows are clean not only helps your car to look it’s best, but can also help improve visibility while you’re driving. With this homemade glass cleaner and a little effort, you’ll have a clearer view of the road ahead.

Originally published on October 2, 2017.

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The post How to Clean Your Car Windows Without Getting Streaks appeared first on The Allstate Blog.

Choosing the Right Vehicle for Your Young Driver

By The Allstate Blog Team

Seeing children grow and reach developmental milestones can be a rewarding experience for parents. But, some of those milestones, like helping your teen get a driver’s license or buying a car for your young driver, may come with some concerns and uncertainty. It helps to do some research to find the right car for your teen’s situation. These tips can help you get started with buying a car for your teen driver.

Consider Vehicle Type and Size

When choosing a car for your teen, vehicle size matters for a few reasons. For example, large, heavier cars may seem more difficult for a new driver to handle at first. But, bigger vehicles typically perform better in crash tests than their smaller counterparts, according to Consumer Reports. On the flip side, it’s important to consider that a larger vehicle usually allows for more passengers (which can be a potential driving distraction). While doing your research, it may be a good idea to check your state’s graduated driver licensing laws to understand how many passengers your teen may be allowed to have in their vehicle.

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Sports cars are one type of car that should be avoided for teens, says Consumer Reports, because they have a higher rate of accidents when compared to other types of vehicles. These types of vehicles can also have high horsepower, which may tempt your teen to test its limits, says the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Consider your teen’s abilities and maturity level, and your budget, when choosing which size vehicle may be right for them.

Look at a Car’s Safety Ratings and Features

Safety is likely a top priority when it comes to a car for your teen. Newer cars generally offer more safety features and have better crash protection, says Consumer Reports, so you may want to take the age of a car into consideration when choosing a vehicle.

It’s also a good idea to check a vehicle’s safety ratings. In addition to the ratings supplied by car manufacturers, consider looking at results from a safety-research group. One example is the 5-star rating program that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) administers each year to determine how new vehicles perform in front, side and rollover crash testing. A 5-star rating indicates the safest cars. In 2010, NHTSA also began assigning an overall vehicle score to tested cars along with a list of their included safety technologies, which may be helpful when comparing newer vehicles. 

Some newer cars also include advanced safety features. Forward-collision warning, for example, provides drivers with visual or audio warnings when another car or object is in its path, says Consumer Reports. New vehicles may also include automatic emergency braking or a blind spot warning system, which can help drivers avoid an accident by alerting them of vehicles in their blind spot.

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Assess Maintenance Costs

Costs related to routine maintenance can vary from vehicle to vehicle. Consider expenses such as the price of oil changes, parts and tires. If you buy a luxury car for your teen, for example, it may cost more to fix when something goes wrong, says AutoTrader. This is because many luxury cars have higher-end gadgets and use specialized parts, making maintenance more expensive than an average car. Or, you may want to consider that larger cars can cost more to fuel up since they typically have a lower fuel economy when compared to smaller cars, says Consumer Reports.

After finding a potential car for your teen, you may also want to speak with an insurance agent to estimate the insurance costs so you know what to expect.

No matter which vehicle you choose for your teen, combining a reliable car with a responsible driver can help maximize the safety of your teen and their passengers. Remember these tips when researching vehicles so you can choose a car that meets your priorities and is appropriate for your teen.

The post Choosing the Right Vehicle for Your Young Driver appeared first on The Allstate Blog.

Prepare Your Tires for Winter Weather

By The Allstate Blog Team

If you live in an area where winter means driving on icy, snow-covered roads, you likely understand how challenging those road conditions can be on your car — not to mention how stressful it can be for the driver. There are a few things you can do, though, to help ensure your tires have as much traction as possible. Consider these tips to help prepare your tires for winter weather:

Check Your Tire Tread

Your tires’ tread is what gives them their ability to grip the road. So, one of the first ways to tell if your tires are ready for winter roads is to examine the tread on each tire, including the spare. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recommends checking your tires at least once a month. If a tire has uneven or excessive wear, it should be replaced.

NHTSA says tire tread depth should be a minimum of 2/32 of an inch. To check this, hold a penny between your thumb and forefinger so that Lincoln’s head is showing. Place the top of Lincoln’s head into one of the grooves of the tire’s tread. If any part of Lincoln’s head is obscured by the tread, you have a safe amount of tread, according to NHTSA. If you can see above Lincoln’s head, then you need a new tire.

Make Sure Your Tires Are Properly Inflated

Tires that are not inflated to the correct pressure may negatively affect your car’s handling, according to Cars.com. And, as the temperatures outside drop, the NHTSA says your tires will lose pressure. This is why it’s important to check your tire pressure throughout the winter.

The recommended tire pressure for a vehicle is typically listed on a sticker inside the driver’s door, or it can be found in the owner’s manual, says Cars.com. Use a tire pressure gauge, which you can get at most gas stations or auto parts stores, to check that each tire is at the correct pressure. (Edmunds recommends checking the tires before driving, as the friction created when driving affects the pressure.) If necessary, use an air compressor to inflate the tires. If any of the tires are overinflated, use the small bead on the back of the tire pressure gauge to release some air.

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Consider Buying Winter Tires

You might think winter tires are only for areas where the winter weather conditions are very harsh, with lots of ice and snow. But, winter tires, which used to be called snow tires, are designed to work in lower temperatures regardless of road conditions, according to Road and Track Magazine. In fact, colder temperatures may cause standard tires to become too hard and lose their normal traction, even when the roads are dry.

There are several types of tires you may want to consider for winter driving:

  • All-Weather: A type of all-season tire that is designed to handle winter conditions, according to Consumer Reports.
  • Winter: These tires have both large treads and narrow grooves, called sipes, which allows them to better grip snowy roads, says Road and Track.
  • Studded: Winter tires with small metal points fitted into the tread. These studs grip and pierce snow and ice, says TrueCar, but they don’t ride smoothly on pavement and are not allowed in some states.

Your local mechanic or car dealership can help you decide which tires make sense for your area’s weather, and they can also recommend appropriate tires for your vehicle.

While preparing your car for the winter takes a little extra work, it can be worth it in the long run. Your car’s tires can help keep you safe on the road during winter, so remember these tips when preparing for the new season.

Originally posted on January 10, 2012.

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Quick Fix: Defrost Your Windshield

By The Allstate Blog Team

During those cold winter months, you may often find your windshield covered in frost. Maybe you let the car run with the defrost on, or you get out an ice scraper to clear your windshield. But, Meteorologist Ken Weathers has a tip that may help you clear up the frost quickly and with less effort.

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Step 1: Mix the Solution

Put on rubber gloves, then mix two parts rubbing alcohol with one part water. (Do not use hot water, Weathers says, because it may crack your windshield. Room temperature or cold water is fine. Isopropyl alcohol can be used instead of rubbing alcohol, too.)

Step 2: Get a Spray Bottle

Pour the mixture into an empty spray bottle.

Step 3: Spray the Mixture

Spray the mixture onto your windshield, and watch the frost clear up.

You can even leave the spray bottle with the mixture in your car, because rubbing alcohol has a freezing point of 128 degrees below zero (in Fahrenheit), says Weathers.

As the temperatures drop, be ready for frosty days by having this simple defrosting spray at hand. By spending a few minutes to make this mixture, this quick fix can help you get on the road a little quicker.

Originally published on January 4, 2017.

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Help Prevent Car Doors From Freezing With Cooking Spray

By The Allstate Blog Team

When dealing with the frigid temperatures of winter, there’s not much worse than coming out to your car to find the doors frozen shut. According to Lifehacker, car doors can freeze because water from rain or snow gets into the rubber seal, or gasket, around the door and then freezes when the temperatures drop. Fortunately, there is a simple trick that may help prevent this from happening, using nothing but ordinary household cooking spray.

Apply the spray to the door’s rubber seal weekly during the coldest winter months, or as needed before expected icy, frigid storms, says Brian L. Gochenour, laser operations manager and sales engineer at Broadway Metal Works.

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Step 1: Grab some cooking spray.

Any ordinary cooking spray should work.

Step 2: Spray your car door’s rubber seal.

Open your car door, and look for the rubber gasket all around its edge. Spray the rubber on the top, side and bottom of the door with the cooking spray.

Step 3: Wipe off any excess with a paper towel.

Take a dry paper towel and gently rub the rubber seal to get rid of drips and excess spray.

Step 4: Repeat process on each of your vehicle’s doors.

Apply the cooking spray to each door on your car. This should help prevent the doors from freezing shut, and you’ll be able to get into your vehicle with ease in the cold weather.

Originally published on November 15, 2016.

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Tips for Driving and Parking on Black Friday

By The Allstate Blog Team

While Black Friday shopping may bring exciting deals and the fun of finding a bargain, the traffic and parking can be a challenge. Parking spaces are limited, people always seem to be in a rush to get to the next stop and the roads are congested. But with a little planning, you may be able to avoid the added stress driving and parking can create. As you head out to tackle your holiday shopping this year, remember these Black Friday traffic and parking tips.

Plan Your Route Before You Go

Checking out the sales ads and figuring out where you need to go before leaving your house can help keep your day moving smoothly. Popular Science suggests creating a driving route based on what stores you plan to visit. Prioritize your route by the items you want the most, which stores have great deals or which retailer opens the earliest, says The Balance. By not bouncing from one side of town to the other all day, you may be able to maximize your shopping time and get done earlier so you only have to deal with a few hours of traffic on Black Friday.

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Take Advantage of Navigation Apps

With so many bargain hunters looking to get to their next stop, you may want to consider downloading a traffic app before the big day. Techlicious notes that there are a number of navigation apps available that can help you plan the quickest route, avoid traffic jams and provide turn-by-turn directions.

It can be helpful to enter your route into your GPS device or cellphone ahead of time, so you’re ready to navigate the busy roads. And, if your app provides traffic information, it may help you find a better route if the crowds are backing up traffic.

Avoid Distractions

According to the National Safety Council (NSC), both drivers and pedestrians are likely to be distracted and rushed during the holiday season — stating that the number of accidents spikes each year on Black Friday. On a day when traffic is heavy and you may feel rushed and flustered, the last thing you need is an accident. To limit distractions, put cellphones away and leave the music off.

The NSC recommends that drivers avoid cutting across lanes on roads and in parking lots. Use extra caution when backing out of parking spots, and watch for pedestrians, especially children and parents pushing strollers. Remember to keep a safe distance from the car in front of you and use extra caution throughout the day.

Park With Care

Between drivers looking for open spots, jam-packed lots and narrow aisles, Black Friday parking can be an accident waiting to happen. But by remembering these simple tips from International Parking and Mobility Institute, you can take some extra precautions that may help prevent major problems:

  • Back out slowly and carefully: Use your mirrors and back-up camera (if you have one), but do not rely on them completely. Always turn and look around all sides of your vehicle while slowly inching out of your spot.
  • Be especially aware of pedestrians: When driving down a parking lot aisle, go slowly so you have time to react if a pedestrian steps in front of your vehicle. Look to see if anyone is getting in or out of a nearby car before pulling into or backing out of a parking spot. Be especially watchful for small children, who can be difficult to see from inside your car.
  • Park at a distance: If you park farther away from the store or mall doors, there are often fewer cars vying for spots. Plus, it might give you a quicker and easier exit when you leave.
  • Be a considerate driver: When parking, make sure you are centered in the lines and that you’ve left enough space for other drivers to open their doors. Also, do not block other spaces while waiting for a spot.

With so many people out on the road the day after Thanksgiving, you may run into some unexpected hassles — no matter how well you plan. While you can’t predict what Black Friday traffic will be like, if you remember these tips and take the necessary precautions, things may go a little more smoothly.

Originally published on November 24, 2014.

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How to Steer Clear of Animals on The Road

By The Allstate Blog Team

It’s a scary feeling — that moment you’re driving along and an animal darts into the road. You’re left with a split second to react and hopefully avoid an accident. With a little knowledge, you may be able to keep the animal, yourself and your car safe. These tips can help you learn how to steer clear of animals on the road.

1. Know the Environment

Being aware of the environment you’re driving through can help you know what kind of animals you may encounter. In urban and suburban areas you’re more likely to encounter smaller animals, such as squirrels, rabbits, opossums or raccoons, says the Washington State Department of Transportation. In wooded or rural areas, however, you’ll also need to keep an eye out for deer, horses or cows that stray onto the road. In some areas you may need to look for larger animals, like moose, bears and elk.

Animals tend to be most active at dawn, dusk and for a few hours after sunset, so the Humane Society of the United States (Humane Society) recommends watching for wildlife during these times. Also, use extra caution when driving on roads that run through wooded areas and between fields.

2. Be Alert

It’s important to stay alert — keeping your focus not just on the road ahead but on the sides of the road, too, says the Humane Society. There may be animals nearby that are about to cross the road. Also, keep in mind that if you see one animal, there are likely more nearby, says the Humane Society.

Always follow the posted speed limit, and consider reducing your speed at night, notes the the Maine Department of Transportation (MaineDOT). Slow down and pay extra attention in areas where warning signs, such as deer or moose crossing signs, are posted. These signs indicate an area where there’s a large population of animals and collisions are more frequent, according to MaineDOT.

3. Improve Visibility

To help you see better, the Humane Society suggests using your high beams whenever it is possible and appropriate to do so. Also consider dimming your dashboard lights a bit, as this may make it easier for you to see your headlights reflecting off of a nearby animal’s eyes — hopefully giving you a little more time to slow down or stop.

MaineDOT also recommends that you drive slow enough that you could stop within the distance your headlights are shining. This may reduce the chance of you not being able to stop in time for an animal (or any other object) that is just beyond the area your headlights are illuminating.

4. Don’t Swerve

If you encounter an animal on the road, do not swerve to try to miss it. Consumer Reports says that turning quickly and sharply increases your risk of losing control of your vehicle or hitting another car. Swerving may also confuse the animal and cause it to move unpredictably. It is better to hit the brakes — slowing down as quickly and safely as possible, says Consumer Reports. Keep in mind that an accident with another vehicle is likely more dangerous than colliding with wildlife.

The bottom line is that you need to stay alert for wildlife while driving. Just like many other potential hazards, an animal in the road can be unexpected and unpredictable. With a little knowledge of your surroundings and some defensive driving skills, however, you may be able to avoid an unfortunate animal encounter.

Originally published on September 22, 2015.

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The 7 Spookiest Cities in the U.S.

By The Allstate Blog Team

Things that go bump in the night. Faint cries coming from empty rooms. Shadowy figures that fade from view. It’s all deliciously creepy fun.

If you’re a ghost hunter or you just love feeling a chill run up and down your spine, hop on the road to visit these seven destinations that are well known for their spooky history.

  • spookiest cities - mackinac island.

    1. Mackinac Island, Michigan

    Why it’s spooky: Being on the island is like traveling back in time — cars have been banned and people get around with bicycles, on foot or by horse and carriage, according to Mackinac.com. With a rich history that includes Native American legends and military lore from Fort Mackinac, the island has its fair share of ghost tales.
    Most famous ghost: The ghost of a young man named Harvey famously haunts guests at Mission Point Resort, the Mackinac Island Town Crier reports. Harvey died on the bluff behind the hotel. Today he’s said to turn on lights when guests are sleeping, steal or rearrange their personal items and appear on the bluff on starry nights.
  • spookiest cities - salem.

    2. Salem, Massachusetts

    Why it’s spooky: It should be no surprise that the location of the Witch Trials draws flocks of tourists every year to this Eastern port city. In the ancient cemetery in the center of town, the gravestones of people involved in the 1692 trials still stand next to a new monument bearing the names of the people who were executed during that difficult time, according to Smithsonian.com.
    Most famous ghost: Bridget Bishop, a wealthy owner of a local tavern, was the first woman killed for witchcraft during the Witch Trials. She is seen regularly at the Lyceum Bar and Grill, which was built on the site where Bridget owned an apple orchard, according to the Travel Channel.
  • spookiest cities - charleston.

    3. Charleston, South Carolina

    Why it’s spooky: This Southern city boasts 300 years of reported hauntings, according to the Travel Channel. It’s a very well-known destination for those who love all things eerie, so much so that there’s even a series of bestselling ghostly novels, the Tradd Street mysteries, by Karen White, set in the city’s antebellum mansions.
    Most famous ghost: Reported ghost sightings are plentiful in Charleston’s White Point Garden, where 50 pirates were hanged in the 1700s. Their spirits are said to haunt this popular tourist attraction to this day. Visitors report unexplained cold spots on hot days, and have seen shadowy figures floating between the trees.
  • spookiest cities - new orleans.

    4. New Orleans, Louisiana

    Why it’s spooky: New Orleans’ association with voodoo, ghost stories and vampire novels makes it an eerie place on the brightest of days, not to mention on foggy nights.
    Most famous ghost: The ghost of notorious pirate Jean Lafitte is said to make regular visits to his old haunt, Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop Bar on Bourbon Street, where he is rumored to have hidden a treasure before his death, Travel+Leisure reports. Patrons and employees alike have reported seeing his red eyes glowing behind the fireplace downstairs, staring at them before disappearing.
  • spookiest cities - savannah.

    5. Savannah, Georgia

    Why it’s spooky: For all of its Southern charm, Savannah is said to be one of the most haunted cities in the country, with many of the historic mansions, pubs and inns having their own resident ghosts, the Travel Channel reports.
    Most famous ghost: The City Hotel on Bay Street (now the Moon River Brewing Co.) had an unexpectedly rough history, according to the Travel Channel. Legends include a bar fight that ended in murder and, amid the tensions of the Civil War, a mob of customers brutally beating a visiting New Yorker. It’s reported that apparitions appear on upper floors and bottles are thrown by invisible forces. But if you feel a push in the billiard room while no one’s around, it might be Toby, the ghost of a young boy.
  • spookiest cities - st. charles.

    6. St. Charles, Missouri

    Why it’s spooky: St. Charles, where Meriwether Lewis and William Clark started their famous expedition to explore the area west of the Mississippi River, is home to historic shops and restaurants in buildings that date back more than two centuries — and nearly all of them have a story about ghostly hauntings, Minnesota’s StarTribune reports.
    Most famous ghost: According to local legend, the spirit of a little girl floats in and out of many shops and restaurants on South Main Street, and an elegantly dressed couple regularly waits for a table at a restaurant, only to disappear when the host or hostess arrives to seat them, the StarTribune reports. There’s even a story that tells of a ghostly dog that ambles down Main Street. But the most famous ghost is the Lady in White, who is said to stand in front of the church in the old cemetery at the center of town, smiles at people who notice her and then fades away.
    Image courtesy of Explore St. Louis.
  • spookiest cities - charlotte.

    7. Charlotte, North Carolina

    Why it’s spooky: Spirits are said to float in and around many of the Civil War-era homes and restaurants in the historic district of this city that is otherwise dripping with Southern charm, the Travel Channel reports.
    Most famous ghost: The Cajun Queen, an old mansion that was converted into a restaurant, is supposedly haunted by the ghost of a woman who once lived there, according to the Travel Channel. Because the bar is located in what was her bedroom, she supposedly haunts those who are bold enough to stop for a drink.

Originally published September 26, 2016.

 

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Buying a Classic Car: A Beginner’s Guide

By The Allstate Blog Team

Buying a classic car has a certain appeal for some — whether it’s for nostalgic value or the joy of participating in a tight-knit collector community. Even if you’re new to the classic-car world, you’re likely aware that older cars can come with wear and tear or mechanical issues. With some due diligence and preparation, finding the right classic car can be a little easier. If you’re in the market for a classic car, consider these tips before making the purchase:

What to Consider Before Buying a Classic Car

Owning a classic car is different from owning a newer vehicle in some key ways. Here are three important factors you may want to consider before buying a classic car:

Budget

First and foremost, you should formulate a budget so you know what you can afford. You should not only budget for the purchase price of the vehicle, but also the cost of maintenance, insurance and potential upgrades.

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Maintenance and Body Shop Accessibility

AutoTrader notes that classic cars are older, so maintenance can be more costly. This is because quality parts for a classic car can be scarce, and it may be difficult to find a repair shop that works on classic vehicles. You may want to do some research to see if you can find repair shops that specialize in classic vehicle maintenance in your area. As you shop for a classic car, you may also want to consider any maintenance and repairs that may need to be completed on the vehicle, says CARFAX. You may be able to get some maintenance and parts estimates from specialty body shops so you know what to expect.

Market Trends

Finally, be sure to research market trends, as the cost of a classic car can fluctuate over time. The value of a classic car is usually dependent on the make and model of the vehicle, and how many of them were produced, says U.S. News and World Report. Whether the car is in its original condition or has been restored can also be a determining factor when it comes to price. If you’re looking to purchase a classic car as an investment, remember to do your research and keep these considerations in mind. Online discussion forums for your desired vehicle make, resources such as Hemmings or the National Automobile Dealers Association, and specialty car shops can all be helpful sources of insight and data, says AutoTrader.

Inspection Tips for Classic Cars

A classic car purchase often warrants a closer inspection and a longer test drive than newer models, so you can accurately see how it’s running, says CARFAX. As you shop for your classic car, be prepared to spend some time inspecting each vehicle you look at. In fact, you might even want to consider having a professional inspect the vehicle for body or engine issues and damage. If a seller is ever apprehensive about letting you have someone inspect the vehicle, you may want to think twice about the purchase.

CARFAX says these are some other items you may want to consider before signing on the dotted line:

  • Ask about the car’s history and if the current owner has any maintenance records.
  • Request the VIN number so you can run a search of the vehicle’s history (such as those offered by CARFAX or Experian).
  • Inquire about accident and repair history (a vehicle history report can help).

Carefully consider the car’s condition, history, mileage, maintenance costs and related factors when negotiating a final purchase price. For example, Men’s Journal says the lower the mileage, the higher the value will be, but issues like rust should be taken into consideration.

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How to Insure a Classic Car

Traditional car insurance may not always be an available option, or the right option, for a classic car. Consider whether classic car insurance is an option for your collector vehicle. This type of specialty insurance can usually provide a greater reimbursement value for a classic car if your’e in an accident. However, it’s important to keep in mind that some classic car insurance policies may require you to limit the amount of miles you drive each year. When you find a classic car that you’re interested in purchasing, it’d be a good idea to consult with your insurance agent to talk about your options.

Buying and owning a classic car can be a fun experience, but requires some extra research and responsibility. Taking an informed approach to the purchase and maintenance of a classic vehicle may help you make a rewarding investment that you can enjoy for years to come.

The post Buying a Classic Car: A Beginner’s Guide appeared first on The Allstate Blog.

What You Need to Know Before Driving to Mexico

By The Allstate Blog Team

Whether you’re considering driving to Mexico for fun or business, preparing for a drive across the border might entail a few more steps than you may expect. To help ensure you’ve covered all the bases, here are some tips to help you get ready to travel to Mexico by car:

What Documents Are Required to Drive to Mexico?

According to the Department of State, you’ll need to obtain the following documents as you prepare for your drive to Mexico:

  • A U.S. Passport (or Green Card)
  • A U.S. Driver’s License (or International Driving Permit)
  • Proof of car registration
  • A Temporary Vehicle Importation Permit (TVIP)
  • A Mexico Tourist Card/Entry Permit (FMM)
  • A Mexico tourist auto insurance policy

To help ensure you have all the documentation needed for your specific trip, you may want to contact the State Department to see if there are any additional items you’ll need.

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Preparing for Your Drive to Mexico

To help make sure your drive to Mexico is as efficient as possible, consider approaching your travel planning in steps. Getting ready for your trip may be more manageable if you follow these four steps:

Step 1: Begin Gathering Documentation and Determine Your Driving Route

Plan ahead for your trip by gathering existing documents that are necessary to cross the border — for example, many travelers likely already have a driver’s license, passport and car registration. Then, consider your driving route and how long you intend to stay in Mexico. You should also determine how far into Mexico you intend to drive. This information is necessary to obtain your TVIP and FMM cards, according to the Department of State.

Step 2: Purchase Mexico Tourist Auto Insurance

Whether you’re driving your own vehicle or renting a car, you’ll need to purchase a Mexico tourist auto insurance policy for your trip. If you plan on driving your own vehicle, contact your insurance agent about purchasing a Mexico tourist auto insurance policy. If you’re renting a vehicle, the Department of State says you can purchase the insurance directly through most car rental agencies.

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Step 3: Apply for TVIP or FMM Cards

If you’ll be traveling more than 12 miles into Mexico, you’ll need to obtain TVIP and FMM cards, according to the Department of State. The application process to obtain these documents will likely require some of the documents you’ve already gathered, such as your driver’s license or passport.

  • TVIP cards: You can typically apply for a TVIP card online no earlier than 60 days but no less than seven days before your trip, according to ConsulMex. You may also be able to apply for a TVIP card up to six months in advance of your trip at certain Mexico Consulates in the United States. TVIP cards can also be obtained directly at the border crossing before entering Mexico, says the Department of State.
  • FMM cards: You can usually obtain an FMM card online in advance of your trip. Otherwise, you can get one directly at the border crossing, says the Department of State — adding that travelers may be asked to present this card at road checkpoints while within Mexico.

While both cards can be obtained at the border crossing, it may be a good idea to apply for these cards before your trip. That way, you can ensure there won’t be any issues with obtaining the cards after you’ve already hit the road.

Step 4: Prepare for Your Road Trip

Before departing on your trip, it’s a good idea to spend some time familiarizing yourself with driving laws in Mexico, road signage and any current travel advisories, says the Department of State. You should also keep some safety measures in mind as you prepare for your trip. Having an emergency car kit and a written list of emergency contacts on hand may be helpful if you get into a bind. If you’re driving your own vehicle, complete a vehicle inspection and any needed routine maintenance to help ensure your car is road trip ready.

Any trip abroad is an opportunity for adventure and learning. By taking a little time to prepare for your drive to Mexico, you can help minimize potential stress during your visit and enjoy your trip.

The post What You Need to Know Before Driving to Mexico appeared first on The Allstate Blog.

Tips for Transporting Your Car During a Move

By The Allstate Blog Team

You’re making a long-distance move, and all of your household belongings are loaded up in the moving truck. But, how exactly are you going to transport your car to your new home at the same time? Towing your vehicle to a new state can be a great option. Whether you’re towing the car yourself or hiring a company to help, keep these helpful tips in mind as you transport your car during your move.

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Towing Your Own Vehicle

You may decide that you’d like to tow your own vehicle during a cross-country move. If so, there are two types of trailers commonly used to transport a vehicle: a tow dolly or car carrier. A tow dolly lifts your car’s front wheels off the road and pulls the vehicle by its rear wheels, says Angie’s List. A car carrier lifts your vehicle completely off the ground and has its own wheels.

While towing your own car may be a cost-friendly option, remember that it may not be the best option depending on the weight and size of your car, says Moving.com. For example, if your car has a low front end, you may have some trouble getting it up the loading ramp. Tow dollies and carriers may also limit the mobility of your moving truck, especially when it comes to backing up, adds Moving.com.

When hooking up a tow dolly or car carrier to your moving truck, be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions to help you ensure it’s safely installed.

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Hiring a Vehicle Transport Company

If you choose to hire a transport company to move your vehicle, there are a few things to keep in mind. First, know your options. Most vehicle transport companies offer open or enclosed car carriers, says Move.org. An open carrier is exposed to the outdoor elements, and your car is usually one of many being transported at the same time. Enclosed transporters protect your car from the elements but can cost up to 80 percent more than an open car carrier, according to Move.org. Typically, enclosed carriers are ideal if you’re transporting a high-end or classic car.

As you research car carrier services, be sure to check their reviews and pricing. According to Edmunds, some factors that might affect how much you pay include:

  • Your current location
  • How far you are moving
  • Size and weight of your vehicle
  • Time of year

You should also ask each transport company if they’re insured — and call your insurance agent to see if your auto insurance covers your car while it’s being transported by a third party. And remember, auto transport brokers (someone who arranges the transportation service for you) and car carrier companies are required to be registered with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, says the Department of Transportation.

When you’ve hired a vehicle transport company and are ready for the move, Angie’s List recommends taking the following precautions:

  • Inspect your car before it’s loaded onto the carrier and document any imperfections (such as dents or scratches). It may be a good idea to take photos as well.
  • Remove all personal belongings from the vehicle.
  • Confirm if the carrier needs your car’s alarm deactivated or a certain amount of gas in the tank.

Whether you decide to tow your vehicle or hire a company to ship your car, doing some research can help you be better prepared when moving day arrives. Choose the option that you’re confident in so you can get on the road to enjoy your new adventure.

Originally published on April 4, 2013.

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Back to School: School Bus Safety Tips

By The Allstate Blog Team

During the school year, mornings include kids waiting at bus stops and school buses on the roads — sometimes stopping every few blocks. It’s important to teach young students about staying safe around and on the bus, but it’s just as important for drivers to use caution near children and school buses. Whether you’re walking your kids to the bus stop or driving to work, keep these school bus safety tips in mind.

School Bus Safety for Students

While it can be hectic getting everyone up and ready in the morning, the American School Bus Council says children who are rushing to the bus may be at higher risk for an accident. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recommends that students get to the bus stop at least 5 minutes ahead of their scheduled pick-up time. If you have younger children, Safe Kids Worldwide recommends that an adult walks them to the bus stop and waits with them.

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Once you’ve arrived at the bus stop, the NHTSA recommends the following school bus safety tips:

  • At the bus stop:
    • Wait at least 6 feet away from the curb. (Tell young children to stay at least three giant steps away from the edge of the street.)
    • Teach kids that they should not run around and play while waiting.
  • Getting on and off the bus:
    • Wait for the bus to stop completely and for the door to open. Do not approach the bus to get on, or stand up to get off, until the driver says it’s OK.
    • Use handrails when getting on or off the bus.
    • Always face forward when seated.
    • Use seat belts if they are available, says the National Safety Council.
  • Near the bus:
    • Never cross the street behind a school bus.
    • When crossing in front of the bus, make sure you are at least 10 feet in front of the bus so the driver can see you.
    • If anyone drops something near the bus, tell the driver. Do not lean down to pick it up, as the bus driver may not be able to see you.

Safety Tips for Drivers

If you commute to work, give yourself a few extra minutes to drive to the office to safely accommodate your neighborhood school buses. The NHTSA provides these safety tips for driving through a neighborhood where school buses and kids are present:

  • As you pull out of your garage or driveway, watch out for children who may be on their way to a bus stop or school.
  • Look out for children walking in or near the street and for kids gathering near bus stops. Stay alert, as kids may run into the street to catch a school bus if they’re running late.
  • If you see flashing yellow lights on a bus, slow down as this means the bus is about to stop.
  • If you see flashing red lights and a stop sign extended, come to a complete stop. This indicates that children are getting on or off the school bus. Do not drive again until the lights have stopped flashing and the bus is moving again.
  • Know and obey your state’s specific school bus laws.
  • Slow down and use extra caution when driving through school zones, says Safe Kids Worldwide.

It’s important to help get kids safely to and from school each day. Make sure your children know basic school bus safety — both on and around the bus. And if you’re driving, remember to slow down near kids and stop when a bus is letting kids on or off at each stop.

Originally published on August 21, 2013.

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The post Back to School: School Bus Safety Tips appeared first on The Allstate Blog.

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