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9 Ways to Avoid Getting Your Car Stolen

Grand theft auto is on the rise, and no we aren’t referring to the video game! Vehicle theft has doubled in the past few years, and the trend continues to rise. According to the FBI, in 2016, 5.9 billion dollars were lost to motor vehicle theft. Yup, you read that right – billion with a “B.” This significant amount of dollars equates to 765,484 total vehicle thefts in the U.S., 60,000 of which happened in the L.A. area. Recovering stolen vehicles is possible, but 42% of the cars stolen aren’t ever recovered, which could mean saying sayonara to your precious baby forever.

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Vehicle theft can either be considered a felony or a misdemeanor depending on the circumstances and the state in which the defendant committed the crime. Most charges will include jail/prison time, restitution, a fine, or probation – yikes! The punishment may also be worse, depending on the value of the car.

If the stakes are so high, why are the instances of vehicle theft also so high?

The main reason is that vehicle parts are seen as a quick and easy way to make a profit. Some stolen vehicles get taken to “chop shops” where they are stripped down, and parts are sold to other auto shops or single buyers. Others “hot cars” will be sold for scrap metal or rushed out of the country. Still, other stolen cars are often concealed by “VIN-switching” which hides the identity of the stolen vehicle with a wrecked or salvaged vehicle. The stolen car is then sold to an unsuspecting buyer. Remember, it is always important to do your due diligence and research when buying auto parts or vehicles. If it seems fishy, then trust your gut!

To best prevent theft first you need to know some facts:

    Most common type of stolen vehicle (according to NICB):
    1. 1997 Honda Accord
    2. 1998 Honda Civic
    3. 2006 Ford Pickup (Full Size)
    4. 2004 Chevrolet Pickup (Full Size)
    5. 2016 Toyota Camry
    Top methods by criminals to steal a motor vehicle:
    1. Theft of an unattended vehicle that consists of breaking an entering and then hotwiring and tampering with your car to start the vehicle to make their quick getaway.
    2. Stealing the car when it is unattended but the keys are left in the ignition.
    3. Carjacking happens when a vehicle is taken by force or threat from the driver.
    4. Purchasing a vehicle through fraudulent funds or the use of counterfeit checks.

Now that we have thoroughly freaked you out and made you panic about getting your car stolen, we are here to make you feel a little better.

Follow these tips to avoid vehicle theft:

  1. NEVER leave your car running or keys in the ignition. Even when pumping your gas or you are just going to BRB. Turn off your car no matter what and take your keys with you.
  2. Remove all personal belongings and valuables from your ride before leaving it. If you can’t do that, at least put them out of sight or in the trunk of your car.
  3. Park in a well-lit and populated area. Find parking that is near building entrances or close to security cameras.
  4. Don’t forget to roll up your windows and double check your car is locked, even if it is parked outside your house.
  5. Get your vehicle VIN etched on the windows, doors, fenders and trunk lid.
  6. Invest in an anti-theft device such as audible alarms, steering wheel locks, brake locks, a kill switch, lojack, or onstar. In some states, Metromile offers a discount for having a anti-theft or recovery device installed.
  7. Due your research before buying a car and look up the VIN to see if there is any history of the car. The National Insurance Crime Bureau provides a VIN check to see if the vehicle has been reported as a salvage or stolen.
  8. Use your noggin. If something doesn’t feel right or seems not a safe place to park or store your vehicle then trust your instinct.
  9. Be a Metromile customer. You will always know where your car is through our Smart Driving app and the help of the Pulse device. If your vehicle does happen to be stolen, our Pulse device can help track down where your stolen vehicle is.

If the worst happens and you discover your car is stolen, don’t panic, make a few phone calls to the police, your insurance company, and to the DMV, to report what has happened. If you are a Metromile customer, you won’t have to worry and we will be there for you in your time of need. Interested in learning how Metromile is disrupting the insurance industry, get a free quote today.

Kelsey Glynn is a blogger and owner of Social Graces, a business to support others in their social media needs. She is a contributing blog writer for East Valley Moms Blog, a social media content creator, and an avid photo taker. She is Metromile’s Senior Social Media Advocate and helps to maintain our online communities. You can catch her adventuring around AZ and living the mom life on Instagram.

8 Things You Should Never Leave in Your Car

Hide your phone chargers and take your wallet – if you live in an urban area, you already know to not leave anything in your car that could potentially attract thieves. Not leaving chocolate bars, lollipops, or anything that could potentially melt and cause a mess is also a no-brainer. But did you know that you shouldn’t leave a pair of glasses in the car? How about sunscreen? If these surprised you, keep reading to find out the eight things you should never leave in your car.

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1. Glasses:

    1. First up: glasses and sunglasses. If you’re thinking, “I have a pair of sunglasses in my car right now”, don’t panic. This rule is really only applicable if it’s a particularly sunny or warm day. Leaving glasses on your dashboard can cause the plastic to melt, warping your precious specs. Metal frames could become too hot to touch (let alone too hot to wear) due to the way that the windshield attracts and traps sunlight.

2. Medications:
Most medications, whether prescription or otherwise, are sensitive to temperature changes. On a hot day, a car can act like an oven, trapping in the heat; on a cold day, a car can act like a refrigerator, trapping in the cold. In order to ensure your medications retain the greatest potency, it’s important to keep them in a cool, dry place – and this place is not your car. If you have certain medications you take on-the-go with you every day, we suggest that you keep them in your purse or bag instead.

3. Wine:
Glass bottles are also very sensitive to temperature changes. If left in a hot car, the wine inside the glass bottle will expand and the bottle might burst or the wine might seep around the cork. If you don’t want to clean up a giant mess or have your car smelling like wine for weeks, it’s best to take your after-work purchase inside right away (and drink it, obvs).

4. Electronics:
Okay, if you leave electronics in your car in plain sight I won’t feel bad when someone breaks your window and steals them (harsh but true). However, not only are they thief-candy, but electronics and heat/cold do not mix. A car is not like a building – it doesn’t regulate heat in the same way. Once a car is not running, the temperature inside can fluctuate drastically and may cause irreversible damage to phones, laptops, tablets, cameras, etc.

5. Plastic water bottles:
Most modern translucent plastic is made from polyethylene terephthalate and contains BPA (the chemical that gives the plastic strength). When cold/room temperature, BPA is inert; however, when heated up, BPA can seep out of plastic and into the liquid it surrounds. Drinking water from a plastic bottle that’s been left in a hot car is quite dangerous for your health, as BPA has been linked to certain kinds of cancers. If you must leave water in your car, it’s much safer to do so in a glass, ceramic, or metal bottle.

6. Cosmetics:
Boys, this one doesn’t apply to you so keep scrolling. Ladies, we shell out a lot of cash for those expensive cosmetics – don’t let them get ruined by leaving them in your car! On a warm day, your NARS lipstick will turn into a waxy, red puddle. On a cold day, your Benefit mascara will freeze in the tube and become dry and unusable. Protect your cosmetics and don’t leave them in your car, as tempting as it is for a quick on-the-go touch-up.

7. Sunscreen:
If I surprised you by mentioning that sunscreen should never be left in the car, let me explain. The active ingredients in sunscreen break down when exposed to heat; the shelf life becomes shorter and the efficacy reduced. Additionally, you could be left with a big, greasy mess to clean up if the heat in your car causes the cap to blow off.

8. Flammable liquids:
All flammable liquids have a warning printed on the side of the canister. This includes hairspray, spray paint, aerosol cans (of any kind), lighters, etc. This is because, above these temperature recommendations, the contents of the pressurized canisters can expand and potentially explode. When dealing with combustibles, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Off to go clean out your car? Don’t worry – We won’t tell! Of course, you should never leave pets or children in a car, even if it’s just for a moment. As always: be sure to get a quote with Metromile today – it only takes a few minutes and could be the best switch you make all year!

Julianne Cronin is a Bay Area freelance writer, content creator, and founder/editor of the women’s lifestyle site, The Wink. 

Car Buying Tips From a Car Salesman

When it comes to buying cars, most people would rather go in for a root canal than step foot on a salesroom floor. Car dealerships are filled with pushy salesmen, on the prowl for their next victim to prey upon and doing anything to make a sale. Right? Well, no – not necessarily. In fact, many car salesmen really do want to help you find the right car for you, even if it means not making the sale right away.

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We spoke to an anonymous car salesman, who spilled the beans on the best insider tips and tricks to getting the best deal on your next car purchase. So whether you’re thinking of buying a new car in the next week or the next 5 years, keep reading to get the inside scoop direct from the horse’s – ahem, car salesman’s – mouth.

New vs. Used Cars:

According to our anonymous source, there’s about a 50/50 ratio between customers looking to buy new vs. used vehicles. This comes down to two very different types of customers – price shoppers and product shoppers.

  • Price shoppers: these are the customers looking only at the cost of the vehicle, i.e. monthly payments plus total costs. These customers usually have a dollar amount in mind when entering a negotiation with a car salesman.
  • Product shoppers: these are customers looking at model options and packages available for their vehicle of choice. They usually have a very specific or custom car they are looking to buy and price not the major factor in their decision.

Price shoppers will typically be looking at used cars, and product shoppers almost exclusively look at new cars. Of course there is some overlap, but for the most part, customers fall into these two categories.

Buying vs. Leasing Cars:

Our anonymous source has been in the car sales business for over 5 years, and he believes that leasing a car and then buying out the lease when the term is up is usually a better option for most people due to the residual value of a car. When considering buying out a lease, factor in these considerations:

  • How much do you love the car? If you’re considering the lease-then-buyout route, make sure you pick a car that you truly love. That way, when your lease term is coming to an end, it will make your decision to buy out easier.
  • How much has really changed with the newer models? If not much has changed in the newer models of your car, then why take on a bigger payment when the vehicle is essentially the same? Our source recommends sticking with your current car instead of upping your payments if not much has changed.
  • If a leased car is in an accident, the residual value stays the same. Yep, it’s true. If you get into an accident with your lease, all you’d need to do is pay to get it repaired and turn the lease in. Then, you don’t have to worry about saddling yourself with a car that has a bad Carfax history. Cars with a bad Carfax history garner 5-10% less in trade-in value than a car with a clean Carfax history.

Pricing:

According to our source, there are two drastically different ways to go about pricing:

  • Used cars: When customers come in to buy a used car, they typically know exactly what vehicle they’re looking for and what they want to pay. With used cars, it’s harder to know exactly what the price is (the pricing usually varies from dealership to dealership). Also, it’s important to keep in mind that the value of the vehicle according to Kelly Blue Book might be skewed lower, due to dealership loyalties, incentives, etc.
  • New cars: It’s much easier to figure out the pricing on a new car – most dealerships use the baseline MSRP. However, when negotiating, go off of the invoice price always (only about 20% of our source’s customers know this fact when going into a negotiation with him!). Something else to keep in mind: dealerships in larger cities (LA, SF, NY) usually price their vehicles based on invoice prices, because they know their customers are more savvy and most are looking for the best deal.

A Car Salesman’s Top 6 Tips to Getting the Best Deal on a Car:

1. Talk to 4 or 5 different dealerships.

    1. After talking to all of them, pit each dealership against each other to determine who is going to give you the best value and customer service.

2. Do research before you set foot on a sales floor. Doing research beforehand will help you make a more informed decision, and empower you to feel confident in the throes of price negotiations.

3. Pay attention to additional dealer-installed add-ons and additional fees. This is where they get ya. Many times, you don’t need the add ons – and always ask if there’s a fee that you don’t understand.

4. Check out the marketing initiatives. Each month, car manufacturers will do marketing incentives on new cars. This means that sometimes their new models might be discounted to encourage purchase! Be sure to check out the marketing initiatives before making a purchase.

5. Timing is key. The best time of year to purchase a car are in the Spring and in the Fall. These are the times of year that car manufacturers are coming out with new models, and dealerships are looking to move aged inventory. A price-conscious shopper would be at an advantage in negotiations during these times of the year.

6. Shop small. Customers should avoid larger, one-price, “no-haggle” dealerships (such as Penske or Carmax), as there is zero negotiation. When shopping, you should try going to a smaller, niche, or family-owned dealership to get a better deal on a car – simply because they are more likely to negotiate with you.

So there you have it, straight from the mouth of a car salesman himself! At the end of the day, finding a car salesman that you can trust to guide you through the process is just as important as the vehicle itself. As always, if you’re buying or leasing a new car, or are just shopping around for a car insurance policy that will save you money, consider making the switch to Metromile! Happy haggling!

Julianne Cronin is a Bay Area freelance writer, content creator, and founder/editor of the women’s lifestyle site, The Wink. 

So You Got in an Accident… Now What?

I once heard getting into a car accident compared to standing in the shower and suddenly realizing that you’re on one of those waterslides where the floor drops out from underneath you. While I cannot validate the validity of that comparison (I’ve never been in a car accident OR on one of those waterslides), I do know that the situation can be jarring, confusing, and disorienting – regardless of how the accident occurred.

It’s important to feel prepared and in control, so here are our tips to handle an accident if it ever happens to you.

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How to Handle an Accident

  • Keep cool and quickly take stock of the situation. Are you injured? Is everyone else in the car okay? If so, move to a safe location to prevent further damage. If it’s not possible to move your car, turn on your hazard lights to alert other drivers of your position.
  • Make sure your car is fully stopped (in park or with the emergency brake on, if you drive a manual transmission) before getting out of the vehicle. For your safety, check the mirrors to be sure that it’s safe to get out; if you carry items such as road flares or beacons, take them out and set them up as an extra precautionary measure.
  • Check for injuries on both yourself and others involved. Were there passengers? Pedestrians or cyclists? Other drivers? If there is a chance that someone is seriously injured, call an ambulance right away. Also, when in doubt, alert the police of the incident – even if the accident was a minor fender bender. The police can be an invaluable resource in determining fault (if any). Let them be the objective judge to determine who is at fault for the collision. As an added tip, be polite, but do not tell anyone that you think the accident was your fault (even if you’re pretty sure that it was). Even saying “I’m sorry” can be construed as an admission of guilt in some circumstances.
  • Gather the below information from all parties involved in the accident:
      1. Driver and passenger names (it might also be a good idea to get an email address and a photo of the driver, if you can)
      2. Insurance information from all parties involved in the collision
      3. License plate numbers
      4. Makes and models of all vehicles involved
      5. Contact information for any eyewitnesses
      6. Location of the accident
      7. The name and badge number of any responding police officers

    Be very careful about the information you give out to the other parties. Never give out your social security number, and never sign a document unless it’s for the police or your insurance company.

  • Take photos and videos to document the scene. I remember back in the day before smartphones, it was recommended that you carry a disposable camera in the glovebox. Now we can just take all the pictures and videos with our phone! If your phone was damaged or lost in the crash, ask a bystander to take some photos and videos and email them to you. Note any skid marks, signs, lights, lane markings, road construction, line of sight – the more the better when it comes time to file that claim with your insurance company.
  • Try to get a police report. Getting this information will make it much easier to file a claim with your insurance company. The officer’s opinion of the accident will be useful if you and the other driver(s) happen to have a dispute about who was to blame for the accident. The police report will also have the officer’s information on it in case the officer is needed to testify in court. Also, don’t ever leave the scene before an officer arrives. Leaving the scene before exchanging information and reporting it to law enforcement is considered a misdemeanor offense in some jurisdictions.
  • Go to the doctor right away. Even if you feel fine, injuries from car accidents can rear their ugly heads well after the fact. In the moment, adrenaline can mask symptoms of an injury, so it’s best to get checked out by your doctor right away or as soon as you can after the accident. One of the most common injuries is whiplash, which can take up to 24 hours to appear. According to the Mayo Clinic, these are the biggest warning signs:
      1. Neck pain and stiffness
      2. Worsening of pain with neck movement
      3. Loss of range of motion in the neck
      4. Headaches, most often starting at the base of the skull
      5. Tenderness or pain in shoulder, upper back or arms
      6. Tingling or numbness in the arms
      7. Fatigue
      8. Dizziness

    Get yourself checked out by a doctor as soon as your start to experience any combination of these symptoms after your accident. It’s always better to be safe than sorry, especially with injuries that involve the spinal cord and neck.

  • File a claim with your insurance company. With Metromile, it’s easy to file a claim and submit photos right through your phone! Be sure to include any and all information you received, including photos and a police report if you’re able to obtain it.

Accident Checklist:

    1. Keep cool and make sure your car is fully stopped before getting out.
    2. Check if anyone in either car needs medical attention. If there are injuries, call 911 immediately. Move your car out of the flow of traffic if you can.
    3. Report the accident to local authorities/police.
    4. While awaiting police, do not admit guilt or say anything that could be construed as admission of guilt, such as “I’m so sorry.”
    5. Take photos and videos of both cars, the driver, skid marks, signs, lights, lane markings, road construction, line of sight, etc.
    6. Get a police report.
    7. Go to the doctor right away.
    8. File a claim with your insurance company.

With the right preparation, accident day (and the horrible stressful feeling that comes with it) should only last for a second, and Metromile is here to help you through the process. If you are a pay-per-mile insurance customer and are in an accident, you can reach the Metromile claims team 24/7 at 888-215-9176. Whether you need help locating repair facilities or need an update on work being done, we can get you the information you need. We’ll do everything we can to get you back on the road as quickly and safely as possible! If you’re not already a Metromile customer, be sure to get a quick quote now!

Julianne Cronin is a Bay Area freelance writer, content creator, and founder/editor of the women’s lifestyle site, The Wink. You can find her working on her capsule wardrobe, collecting cacti, and trying out the latest beauty products on Instagram

Vehicle Breakdown Checklist: What To Do When Your Car Breaks Down

It’s a situation no one wants to deal with: a car breakdown. It can be inconvenient at best, scary at worst, and no matter what kind of malfunction you experience, you can bet the necessary fix will likely be pricey.

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No matter where you are when your car breaks down, here are 5 steps to follow to stay safe and get yourself back on the road safely.

5 Steps to Take When your Car Breaks Down:

    1.Be prepared before a breakdown. The best way to keep a bad situation from becoming worse is to be prepared. Always keep these essentials in your car in case of emergencies:

    • A cell phone charger
    • Flashlights and extra batteries
    • Jumper cables
    • Flares or reflectors
    • An ice scraper, snow shovel, and sand if you live in snowy conditions
    • An umbrella
    • A toolkit
    • A first aid kit
    • Coolant

    2.Know how to get off the road safely. Cars typically don’t just stop entirely when there’s a breakdown, so you’ll likely have some time as your car slows down to get over to the side of the road. Avoid braking suddenly and take your foot off the gas smoothly and gently as you steer your vehicle over to the side of the road.

    3.Call for help. This is when roadside assistance is your best friend. If you’re a Metromile customer, you have the option to add on this feature to your policy so you can get a jump, tow, or locksmith 24/7. If you’re in serious trouble, call 9-1-1.

    4.Signal to other drivers. Here’s where the flares in your trunk come in handy. As long as it’s safe to get out of your car and walk to the back, place both flares behind your vehicle about 50 feet away or more if possible. Turn on your hazard lights and pop your hood so motorists know to steer clear.

    5.Use your best judgment. Strangers may stop to offer help while you wait for roadside assistance. It’s best to follow your gut; if something doesn’t feel right, stay in your car (as long as it’s safe), and only roll down the windows enough to talk and let them know help is on the way.

Breakdowns are never fun but if you follow these steps it will be just a car breakdown rather than a total mental breakdown. Interested in Metromile pay-per-mile insurance and Roadside assistance? Get a free quote now.


Michelle Konstantinovsky is a San Francisco-based journalist/writer/editor and UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism alumna. She’s written extensively on health, body image, entertainment, lifestyle, design, and tech for outlets like Cosmopolitan, Harper’s Bazaar, Marie Claire, Teen Vogue, O: The Oprah Magazine, Seventeen, and a whole lot more. She’s also a contributing editor at Fitbit and the social media director at California Home + Design Magazine. She is an avid admirer of shiny objects, manatees, and preteen entertainment.

Winter Weather Driving Safety Tips

As temperatures dip, it can become harder and less convenient to get through everyday life. But aside from the unpleasant chill in the air, cold weather can mean real road hazards that put your safety at risk. Every year, far too many drivers lose their lives to wintertime accidents. But by taking a few preventive measures and precautions, you can greatly reduce your risk and feel safer behind the wheel, no matter the season.

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Here are the top 10 cold weather driving safety tips you need to know:

    1.Keep your car in top shape. Be sure your battery, tire tread, and windshield wipers are all up to snuff, and put no-freeze fluid in your washer reservoir. Keep your windows clear, check your antifreeze, and always be sure to keep your gas tank at least half full in case you need to run your engine to stay warm in the event of a breakdown.

    2.Pack the right supplies. Everyone should have a flashlight, jumper cables, blankets, and flares on hand, and if you live in a snowy region, your trunk should pack an ice scraper, snow shovel, sand or salt.

    3.Plan your route. Even if you know exactly where you’re going, check weather conditions, traffic, accident reports, and other factors that may impact your trip.

    4.Adjust your speed accordingly. When weather conditions change, it’s important to stay present and in tune with your surroundings; you may need to drive slower than average to stay safe and in control. Remember that posted speed limits apply to dry roads, not those covered in ice or snow, so let your sense dictate your speed; not necessarily the signs.

    5.Keep a safe amount of space between you and other vehicles. Stopping distances are longer on icy roads-driving too close behind another car can result in a rear-end crash.

    6.Know how to get unstuck. If you do get stuck in the snow, avoid spinning your wheels; this will just dig you deeper into the slush. Figure out the simplest way to dig yourself out of the hole and clear the snow in front of and behind all four tires before spreading sand or kitty litter to provide instant traction. As you maneuver the vehicle out, keep your front tires straight so you’ll encounter less resistance.

    7.Be prepared for a skid. Skidding on an icy road can be scary, but it’s important to stay as calm as possible so you can move through the important safety steps: avoid slamming on your brakes, take your foot off the gas, and steer in the direction you want to go. Allow the car to slow down so you can regain control.

    8.Know your brakes. Being aware of the type of brakes you have will dictate how you use them: if you have anti-lock brakes, you can apply steady pressure, but if you have non-anti-lock brakes, you’ll need to pump them gently so you avoid locking them and losing control.

    9.Take on hills the right way. You may be tempted to power up a hill, but using extra gas on a snowy incline can cause your wheels to spin. Instead, gain some inertia on flat road before you reach the hill, and as you reach the peak, reduce your speed (but don’t stop!) so you can head downhill as slowly as possible.

    10.If possible…stay home. The only way to completely eliminate the risk of cold weather driving is to avoid it whenever possible. If you don’t absolutely have to get behind the wheel, don’t-even if you’re an excellent wintertime driver, others on the road may not be as skilled.

Bundle up, stay warm, and be safe out there – and if you haven’t checked out Metromile, get a free quote now.


Michelle Konstantinovsky is a San Francisco-based journalist/writer/editor and UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism alumna. She’s written extensively on health, body image, entertainment, lifestyle, design, and tech for outlets like Cosmopolitan, Harper’s Bazaar, Marie Claire, Teen Vogue, O: The Oprah Magazine, Seventeen, and a whole lot more. She’s also a contributing editor at Fitbit and the social media director at California Home + Design Magazine. She is an avid admirer of shiny objects, manatees, and preteen entertainment.

Snow Tires vs. Chains: Everything You Need to Know

With winter firmly planting her feet in for the next six weeks (thanks, Punxsutawney Phil), it’s time to get serious about your tire choices and how it will affect your ability to travel. Four wheel drive or all-wheel drive: it doesn’t matter how powerful your car is – if the tires have zero traction, then you’ll be on the road to going nowhere fast. If you live somewhere that gets dangerously slick during the winter, having reliable traction is a must. The real question then becomes: snow tires or chains – which form of traction is better?

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The debate has been going for years, with both having their benefits and disadvantages. Let’s weigh in on the pros and cons of both to help you make an informed decision this winter!

    Non-Studded Snow Tires:

  • Pros:There’s no doubt about it – snow tires provide excellent traction on snowy and icy road conditions. Non-studded snow tires perform extremely well on ice and packed snow. In particular, non-studded snow tires also perform well on dry roads, making them a great multi-purpose option. Additionally, they won’t cause any damage to dry roadways (which is a feature unique to non-studded snow tires).
  • Cons: They’re pricey. Not only will you have to fork out cash for the tires themselves (and they’re not cheap), but you will also need to front the cost of having them professionally installed and removed at the start and end of the season. Non-studded snow tires also do not provide great traction in deep snow and wear out faster when driven on dry pavement.
  • Studded Snow Tires:

  • Pros: Studded snow tires are also an excellent form of traction in the wintertime. The metal studs on the tire grip the snow and ice even better than non-studded snow tires. Just like non-studded snow tires, they are a very reliable option for navigating treacherous roadways; in addition to providing better traction and handling, the studs provide an additional point of contact on slick surfaces like ice and compacted snow.
  • Cons: Studded snow tires have proven to be quite damaging to dry pavement and should only be used when driving in slippery conditions. These tires may even be illegal in some states – or if they are legal, it’s only during certain months of the year (depending on your region). They are also quite pricey and like non-studded snow tires, you will need to pay to have them professionally installed and removed.
  • Chains:

  • Pros: First, chains are substantially less expensive than snow tires – to some folks, that fact alone may tip the scales in favor of chains. Chains also provide the greatest amount of traction on ice, packed snow, and deep snow (in which snow tires do not have the advantage). Another great feature of chains: you can easily install and remove them yourself! This makes them a fantastic option if you don’t typically need winter weather traction and are only traveling through inclement conditions temporarily.
  • Cons: If you have chains on your tires, you should not (and in some places, cannot) drive on dry pavement. Driving on dry pavement with chains will not only damage the roadway but will be a bone-rattling experience for all inside the vehicle. Some people equate driving with chains on dry pavement to the feeling of driving with square tires – yikes! While in use, you should plan to drive at a very low speed and should only use them when absolutely necessary, to avoid potential damage to your vehicle.

Non-studded, studded, or chains – one size definitely does not fit all! When weighing these options, consider the pros and cons to determine which would best fit into your lifestyle. Also, be sure get a quick free quote with Metromile now. Be safe out there this winter and see you on the roads!

Julianne Cronin is a Bay Area freelance writer, content creator, and founder/editor of the women’s lifestyle site, The Wink. You can find her working on her capsule wardrobe, collecting cacti, and trying out the latest beauty products on Instagram

How to Prepare Your Car For Winter

Winter is coming? No, my friends (and Game of Thrones fans) – winter is here. From your car door freezing shut to navigating ice-covered roads, there’s no doubt that winter weather can seriously take a toll on the health of your car. If you didn’t get a chance to winterize your vehicle this fall (#nojudgement), there’s no time like the present to remedy that. Before going into hibernation this season with Netflix at Club Couch, make sure your car is in tip-top shape to handle anything the winter weather blasts your way — If for no other reason than you know, to ensure you’ll be able to replenish your Netflix snacks.

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Step One: The Annual Physical

While you were out having fun in the sun and sand this past summer, your car was still working hard for you. Since you make it a priority to get yourself an annual physical, you should absolutely make it a priority that your vehicle gets a checkup as well. Bringing your car in for a tune-up will ensure that all fluid levels are correct and your vehicle’s battery has enough juice – two things that are super important, especially in the wintertime. Without proper fluid levels (antifreeze, oil, transmission fluid, brake fluid, windshield washer fluid, and coolant), your vehicle may be in serious trouble; having enough charge in the battery will ensure you’re not stranded with a car that won’t start. Windshield wipers and headlights/taillights should also be checked to ensure the highest quality visibility in winter conditions.

Also, be sure to have the pads on your brakes checked, particularly if you have an older car with a lot of mileage. Two of my previous cars had brake failure, so it’s of the utmost importance to get this checked – especially in older cars and especially during winter when road conditions are poor.

Step Two: The Lincoln Test

Just when you thought pennies were the most useless of all American currency, they come through in the clutch! If you’re opting to keep your current tires on your car throughout the winter season, do the ‘Lincoln Test’ to ensure your treads are up to snuff. Simply place the edge of a penny into the tread of your tire with the top of Lincoln’s head facing toward the car. If you can see all of Lincoln’s head with the penny fully inserted into the tread, then your tires won’t last you through the season. Consider swapping them out for snow tires or all-season tires, which will be much more reliable in winter weather than standard tires.

Step Three: Oil Switch

Depending on where you live, this step may be optional. The general rule of thumb is this: the colder the weather, the thinner your oil should be. The viscosity level of engine oil is noted by the first number in the name – for example, a 5W-30 oil is less viscous than a 10W-30 oil and therefore performs better in the winter months. Switching out your oil for a less-viscous option may be a prudent move if you live somewhere that gets wicked cold (can you tell that I’m a New Englander?). This tip also applies to transmission fluid, so be sure to get both checked out!

Step Four: Wax On, Wax Off

You know the stuff that your city sprinkles on the roads before a snowstorm? That stuff is a magical combination of sand and salt – both of which can desiccate and decimate your vehicle over time! Salt is extremely corrosive, and sand can ruin a paint job, so we recommend getting a fresh coat of wax on your car before the snow flies. Most of the damage can happen on the undercarriage of the car as well, so be sure to look for a wax product that will protect behind the wheels, the quarter panels, and front grille in addition to the body of the car.

Step Five: In Case of Emergency

Keeping an emergency kit in your car is a good idea all year round. However, you will need to make a few modifications during winter months to make sure you’re covered in case you get into an accident or your car breaks down. Winter-specific items to add to your emergency kit include: a snow brush/ice scraper, flashlight, warm hat and winter gloves, a bag of sand (this can help give traction if you get stuck), small shovel, extra coolant, a blanket, jumper cable, road flares, and waterproof matches or a lighter. Always good to throw in some energy bars and bottled water, too!

TL;DR – your vehicle needs year-round TLC, but it is especially important during the winter months to keep you safe and get you where you need to go. If you haven’t already, be sure to check out Metromile and get a free quote. Stay safe out there and we’ll see you on the roads!

Julianne Cronin is a Bay Area freelance writer, content creator, and founder/editor of the women’s lifestyle site, The Wink. 

5 Tips for Windshield Crack Prevention and What To Do When You Can’t Stop It From Happening

As a car owner and driver, there are many factors outside of your control. From fender benders to a dented door from a runaway shopping cart in a parking lot, car ownership can be an incredibly stressful endeavor. However, if you put in the effort and nurture your car, it will return the favor tenfold and provide you with years of worry-free bliss (almost like life’s best relationships!).

5-Tips-for-Windshield-Crack-Prevention-and-What-To-Do-When-You-Cant-Stop-It-From-Happening

One of the most common car ailments in the United States is a cracked or chipped windshield. Something that starts as the smallest crack can turn much worse over time and end up costing insurance policyholders a ton of money. Did you know that the most frequent vehicle claim submitted to insurance companies is glass damage, at the rate of 7.5 million incidents per year? Additionally, 80 percent of those claims are windshield damage versus side or back glass. All it takes is one small chip in your windshield to lead to total disaster.

The first step in any health endeavor, including the health of your car, is prevention. Preventative car maintenance is akin to preventative medicine. You try and get a flu shot every year, so why not pay the same attention to the health of your car? Take a proactive step and follow our best tips for preventing windshield cracks and chips.

5 Tips for Preventing Windshield Cracks:

    1. Take the road less traveled. Your likelihood of getting a chip or crack while traveling on a highly trafficked highway or freeway is much higher due to the dirt and debris being kicked up by other vehicles. Personally, I’ve had two chips and cracks in the windshield of my current car and both occurred while driving on the highway. If you have the time, try to take a less trafficked route to minimize your chances of your windshield getting damaged by an errant high-velocity pebble!

    2. Keep your distance. If you do have to travel on the highway (sometimes there’s no way around it!), be sure to give yourself plenty of distance between you and the vehicle in front of you – especially if it’s a large semi or dump truck. Four wheels have a higher likelihood of kicking up debris; many large wheels not only kick up more rocks and debris, but throw them further, too. Also, don’t rely on mudflaps to protect you from harm. Even though it is a requirement for large trucks to have them, not all do – and sometimes the mudflaps the trucks do have are ripped or torn.

    3. Take it slow. While it’s obvious that windshield damage occurs when rock or debris hits your windshield, it is actually the forward motion of the car that hits the rock that causes the impact. In addition to keeping your distance behind large vehicles that spin up debris, taking it slow will reduce the chances of a flying rock doing some serious damage to your windshield.

    4. Avoid gravel. This tip may seem like a no-brainer, but hitting a patch of gravel can happen to the best of us. If you live in a cold and snowy climate, take care to notice when the gravel trucks come out before a big storm and proceed with caution. Don’t follow a truck that is throwing down gravel and salt on the roads – try to take a detour if you can!

    5. Made in the shade. A scorching hot day can only exacerbate weakened or brittle places in windshield glass. If you think you have a weak spot or potential crack starting to form in your windshield, try parking in the shade. The cooler temps will keep potential cracks from expanding and protect your windshield from further damage.

So, let’s say you’ve managed to follow all these tips and you still get a crack or chip – it can happen to anyone! When you’ve done all you can and you can’t manage to stop it from happening, here are some tips to help keep it from spreading.

5 Tips for What To Do When You Can’t Stop It From Happening:

    1. Assess the situation. Is the crack small or large? In your line of sight and obstructing your view? If a crack at all interferes with your ability to safely operate your vehicle, tend to the damage right away by taking your car to a repair shop – or better still, call for roadside assistance (which segues nicely into my next point…)

    2. Switch to Metromile. One of the many benefits of switching your car insurance to Metromile is the 24/7 roadside assistance service we provide, which covers windshield and glass repair. If you happen to find yourself in a situation where your windshield is cracked and needs immediate repair, just know that Metromile will be there to help you every step of the way!

    3. Smooth sailing. If you’ve assessed the damage and the crack is smaller than a dollar bill (or the chip is smaller than a quarter) and is not obstructing your view, the integrity of the windshield hasn’t been compromised and probably does not require replacement . However, take it easy on bumpy roads, speed bumps, and even opening and closing your car doors and trunk. Any additional vibrations to the car may cause the windshield crack to spread.

    4. Avoid extremes. Subjecting your cracked or chipped windshield to extreme temperature fluctuations will cause the glass to expand and contract, potentially turning even the smallest crack into a giant issue. Keep your defroster or air conditioner at a moderate temperature instead of blasting hot or cold air onto the windshield problem area.

    5. Hire a professional. Many windshield repair shops will have a technician come to you who can fix the crack or chip on the spot and in under 30 minutes. Contact your insurance company to find out what kinds of repairs are covered under your policy, and they should have you on your way in no time!

Bottom line:

Windshield cracks and chips are dangerous and can lead to much more serious problems if not addressed right away. If you follow our suggestions for crack and chip prevention and yet still manage to get one (it happens!), always assess the situation and know your options for repair. Better yet, contact Metromile to learn more about their windshield repair policy and to get a quote today!

Julianne Cronin is a Bay Area freelance writer, content creator, and founder/editor of the women’s lifestyle site, The Wink. You can find her working on her capsule wardrobe, collecting cacti, and trying out the latest beauty products on Instagram.

What To Do When You are Locked Out of Your Car

Car lockouts happen all the time, for all sorts of reasons. You might lock your keys in your car or lose them altogether. Your door locks or the key could break suddenly. It doesn’t matter if you are on a road trip or just on your way back from the grocery store, these things can happen with no warning. But when you are locked out of your car, it is important to remain calm and not to do anything that will damage your vehicle or cause you to injure yourself. Instead, take a look at some professionally recommended tips for getting back into your locked car.

    1. Troubleshoot Your Locks

    No matter the reason you have found yourself locked out of your car, you might be able to find a way back in by simply checking all of the doors. If your key is in the car or lost, there might be a door lock that did not close properly. Be sure to check that every door or window was successfully locked. If you do get in this way, be sure to fix the malfunctioning lock once you’ve retrieved your keys, as unlocked cars are the leading causes of car break-ins.

    If you have your keys, but your car door lock is broken or malfunctioning, try the other lock cylinders on your vehicle. Even if you don’t have a hatchback, you might be able to get into your car to unlock the doors through the trunk. Also, be sure to use your physical key (if you have one) to try to unlock the door, as there may be an issue with your car’s remote.

    2. Phone a Friend

    If you are nearby any friends or family, don’t hesitate to give them a call. Being locked out of your car can put you in a vulnerable position, even if it does not seem like a full-blown roadside emergency. You are put at risk by having to potentially get help from strangers or stand by the side of the road, so it is always a good idea to let people in your life know where you are and the situation you are facing.

    Best case scenario: one of the people you contact has a spare key you can use to get the car open without further incident. But even if they do not have a key, they may be able to bring you some supplies to help you manually unlock the door. Some tools that you might find helpful include; shoelaces (or comparable string), a door stop, and a wire coat hanger, to name a few.

    3. Use Your Shoelace

    This method requires your car to have post locks, which are the type of locks that stick straight up on the window-sill. You pull up to unlock them and can clearly see them from outside the car. If you have that style of lock, start by removing your shoelace. Eyeball around 5 inches from the middle of the lace. Tie a slip knot at that point. Work the shoelace between the door and the doorframe of the car at the midpoint, holding one end of the lace at the top of the window, and the other end on the side where the door would open.

    It will take a bit of finesse, but using a flossing motion, you should be able to loop the slip knot around the post lock. Then pull on both ends of the shoelace to grip the post and pull upward while continuing to restrict/tighten the knot. If you don’t have shoes with laces, ask the people you’re with.

    4. Reach Tool Inside

    Out of all the tips for purchasing a car, chances are you did not consider whether your vehicle had post locks or not. If your car doesn’t, don’t worry, you can still use another DIY-friendly method to get back into your locked car. You will need a wedge-shaped object (a rubber door stop will suffice), and a thin, strong, rod-like tool. Create a gap between your door and the door frame with the wedge and then insert the long-reach tool into the gap to try and manipulate the lock.

    You’ll want to place a small piece of fabric over the wedge so that inserting it does not scuff any part of the car. Also, do not make the gap too wide or hold it open too long, as this could damage the door or the window glass. If you can get something like a wire hanger, you might be able to bend the reach tool to work better/faster.

    5. Get Professional Help

    Any of the professionals listed below can come to your location, but you do need to know where your car is. Using the GPS function on your Metromile App, you can locate your car even if you had to leave it to get a signal. For customers with roadside assistance support, help will come to your location and open your car.

    In some areas, the police will respond to non-emergency car lockouts, but it is best not to clog up the line if there nothing pressing about the situation (such as a child locked in the car). For those who do not have roadside assistance, you can contact a car locksmith. They will be able to open your car without causing harm, fix any broken locks that may have led to this predicament, and make you new keys if yours have been lost or broken.

There are a lot of ways to open a locked car and the options listed here are the easiest to execute and present the least amount of risk of harm to yourself and/or your vehicle. I do not recommend breaking the window, as this presents both of these risks. And tools that enter the car door, such as slim jims, are a bit risky nowadays as modern cars have many important wires stored in these spaces. Stick to these five methods and you will be able to get your car open safely.

Ralph Goodman is a security expert and lead writer for the Lock Blog, the #1 locksmith blog on the Internet. The Lock Blog is a great resource to learn about locks, safety and security. They offer tips, advice and how-to’s for consumers, homeowners, locksmiths, and security professionals. Ralph has been featured widely throughout the web on sites such as Business Insider, Zillow, Bluetooth, Apartments.com, CIO and Safewise.