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What To Do If You’ve Lost Your Car Keys

How to Deal with Lost Car Keys | Metromile

You’ve looked everywhere — your home, the car, under the pile of papers. You can’t find your car keys and are reaching the point of surrender. 

If you lost your car keys, understandably, you’ll want to find a replacement and regain access to your vehicle. If you need a car key replacement because you’re locked out of your car, here’s what to do.

Getting a transponder key

Many modern vehicles use sophisticated anti-theft devices, such as a transponder key. Transponder keys use a computer chip that connects your car and the key to get the engine started. 

The chip sends a serial number that is unique to your car. When the signal is received properly, your car can then be unlocked and used. 

Unfortunately, if your lost car keys have a transponder key, you need to head to your local dealership to get a car key replacement. Because you can’t get in the car, you’ll likely need to get towed to the dealership to get a new car key.

To make sure you’re the rightful owner of the vehicle, you’ll need to provide proof of ownership, such as your car registration or title. 
The dealership can create a car key replacement by pairing a new chip with your car. This could potentially cost you a couple of hundred dollars. You can also see if a local automotive locksmith can help you at a lower cost.

Replacing traditional car keys

Though they’re less common now, you may have a traditional car key. Traditional car keys don’t use a chip to unlock or start your car, and the replacement can be easier and more affordable than other types of car keys.

If you need to replace a traditional car key, you can get in touch with a local automotive locksmith who can get you a new one. A locksmith will likely be your most affordable option. 

If you don’t have a locksmith nearby, or if one can’t help you get a replacement car key, you can consider getting a replacement at a local car dealership that serves your car’s make or brand.

Having a car key fob

If you have a car key fob and lost it, you may still be able to use a traditional key to open the vehicle and get it started. Standalone car key fobs are typically made for convenience and don’t necessarily replace the ability to use a traditional car key.

If you need to buy a new car fob, you can often buy one online, at an automotive store, or at your local dealership. The dealership can likely program the fob for you for a small cost of $100 or less.

Getting a new switchblade key and fob

A lot of modern cars have combined the car key fob with a switchblade key. A switchblade-type key is a mechanism that folds into a key handle and opens up at the push of a button. 

If you need to replace a switchblade key and fob, it’s best to go to a car dealership. This could cost you a couple of hundred dollars.

Find a smart key replacement

The advances in technology have made their way to car culture with smart keys, often referred to as keyless ignition. If you have a dashboard that includes a start button to get the vehicle going, you have a smart key.

The smart key has a sensor that connects with the button in your vehicle and lets you start the car. Without the smart key, you don’t have the sensor to make the right connection. 

If you need a smart key replaced, you’ll need to get to the car dealership. This can also cost several hundred dollars and is generally the most expensive type of car key to replace.

The bottom line

No one ever wants to lose their car keys. While it can be costly or time-consuming, it’s generally possible to get a new car key or car key replacement, no matter the type of key or car you have. You will generally need to find an automotive locksmith or your nearest car dealership.

Adding roadside assistance coverage to your auto insurance policy could come in handy if you can’t get back into your car. Metromile’s roadside assistance helps drivers with tows and locksmith services, depending on your policy and coverage purchased. 

Want to get more from your car insurance? Check out Metromile and pay-per-mile auto insurance
You can get an online quote or check how much you could save if you switched by taking a free Ride Along™ trial from the Metromile app. You can earn additional savings of up to 40% off your initial Metromile quote after you show you’re a safe driver during your trial (you’ll need to keep your current insurance provider to maintain coverage) in select states.



Melanie Lockert is a freelance writer, podcast host of the Mental Health and Wealth show, and author of Dear Debt. She’s a cat mom to two jazzy cats, Miles and Thelonious, an amateur boxer, music lover, and needs coffee to function.

What You Should Know About Driver’s License Points

Your Guide to Driver’s License Points | Metromile

As a driver, you want to keep your driving record in good standing and avoid things like traffic violations, car accidents, and driving under the influence

When you do have an infraction, state departments of motor vehicles may add points to your driving record. Unlike a game, these aren’t points you want to rack up. You could get your driver’s license suspended if you get too many points in a certain period of time.

Here’s what you should know about driver’s license points and how they might affect your auto insurance or ability to continue driving.

What are driver’s license points?

Driver’s license points are typically included on your driver record if you have had a moving violation or another serious type of infraction.

Each state and motor vehicle department calculates driver’s license points differently, and one infraction may earn you points in one state and not another. In other states, there aren’t points at all.

Typically, the more severe or unsafe your infraction is judged to be, the more points you might earn on your driving record.

Here are six things you should know about driver’s license points:

1. Car insurance companies typically don’t use your driver’s license points.

If you get a speeding ticket or are involved in a car accident, you might worry about your car insurance rates increasing, but a change to your premium costs isn’t guaranteed or immediate. 

Car insurance companies typically don’t use the driver’s license points that track your infractions and violations. 

However, this doesn’t mean you’re going to get away scot-free after an infraction. Your rates may still go up, as car insurance companies have their own methodology that evaluates each violation to determine how it will affect your auto insurance premium

Car insurance companies treat tickets and violations differently, so you may want to shop for another insurance policy if your rate increases after getting points added to your driver’s license. Another insurance company may not require you to pay as high a surcharge as your current provider.

2. How many points you can get on your driver’s license depends on your state.

Each state department of motor vehicles assigns points differently. For example, the California Department of Motor Vehicles considers speeding a one-point conviction. The far more severe DUI or hit-and-run accident are two points. 

Here’s how many points you can get on your driver’s license before its suspended in each state or territory, according to their respective departments of motor vehicles:

StateDriver’s license points resulting in a suspension
Alabama12 to 14 points in 2 years
Alaska12 points in 1 year
Arizona8 points in 1 year
Arkansas14 points at any time
California4 points in 1 year
Colorado12 points in 1 year
Connecticut10 points in 2 years
Delaware12 to 14 points in 2 years
Florida12 points in 1 year
Georgia15 points in 2 years
HawaiiDoesn’t have a point system
Idaho12 points in 1 year
Illinois3 citations in 1 year, points vary and will determine length of suspension
Indiana20 points
Iowa3 moving violations in a year
KansasDoesn’t have a point system
Kentucky12 points in 2 years
LouisianaDoesn’t have a point system
Maine12 points in 1 year
Maryland8 points in 2 years
Massachussets3 speeding tickets in 12 months or 3 surchargeable events in 2 years
Michigan12 points in 2 years
MinnesotaDoesn’t have a point system
MississippiDoesn’t have a point system
Missouri8 points in 18 months
Montana15 points in 3 years
Nebraska12 points in 2 years
Nevada12 points in 1 year
New Hampshire12 points in 1 year
New Jersey12 points
New Mexico7 points in 12 months
New York11 points in 18 months
North Carolina12 points in 3 years
North Dakota12 points
Ohio12 points in 2 years
Oklahoma10 points in 5 years
OregonDoesn’t have a point system
Pennsylvania6 points, after multiple times
Rhode IslandDoesn’t have a point system
South Carolina12 points
Tennessee12 points in 1 year
Texas4 moving violations in 1 year
Utah200 points in 3 years
Vermont10 points in 2 years
Virginia18 points in 1 year
Washington6 moving violations in 1 year
West Virginia12 to 13 points
Wisconsin12 points in 1 year
WyomingDoesn’t have a point system
Washington, D.C.10 or 11 points

3. Not every incident will lead to points on your record.

The good news is not everything will lead to points on your record. You typically won’t get points added to your driving record for more minor issues like parking tickets, broken lights, or outdated tags. Instead, you’ll have to pay a fine and correct the issue.

Moving violations such as speeding, driving under the influence, and at-fault accidents, almost always cause points on your record.

4. How long points stay on your license depends on the violation and your state.

Points don’t stay on your driving record forever. How long points stay on your record depends on the type of violation and your state. For example, violations can stay on your record anywhere between three and ten years in California. Driving under the influence and other severe convictions remain on your driving record for 10 years. 

Check with your state’s department of motor vehicles to see how long points stay on your record for your specific violation.

5. You can remove points from your driving record.

In some cases, you may be able to remove points from your driver’s license and clean up your driving record. 

In some states, you may be able to take a defensive driving course or attend traffic school to remove a ticket and the points from your conviction from your record. 

If you believe you received a ticket in error, you can also contest the ticket. You could get the ticket thrown out or pay a lower fine. Keep in mind: You may have to pay administrative or court fees to contest a ticket.

6. You can check how many points you have on your license.

If you want to check how many points you have on your license, you’ll want to go to your state’s department of motor vehicles and obtain your driving record. You can request a copy of your driving report online or by mail. You may also have to visit a local office in person. 

Be aware: You’ll typically have to pay a small fee, anywhere from $2 to $25 depending on your state, to get a copy of your driving record.

The bottom line

Whether it’s a speeding ticket, a fender bender, or an at-fault accident, getting points added to your license can have serious impacts. The good news is you can sometimes take steps to reduce the impact on your driving privileges or your auto insurance rates.

Melanie Lockert is a freelance writer, podcast host of the Mental Health and Wealth show, and author of Dear Debt. She’s a cat mom to two jazzy cats, Miles and Thelonious, an amateur boxer, music lover, and needs coffee to function.

How Long Does a Speeding Ticket Stay on Your Record?

State-By-State Guide: How Long A Ticket Stays on Your Record | Metromile

It happens: You’re riding along and start to see the police lights behind you. You get pulled over and hit with a speeding ticket for going too fast. But the consequences extend beyond the one-time inconvenience of pulling over. Not only do you have to pay for the speeding ticket, but your car insurance premium may go up, too. 

Here’s what you should know about how long that speeding ticket will stay on your driving record.

How long does a speeding ticket stay on your record?

States don’t treat speeding tickets the same, and how long they might stay on your driving record varies. 

Here’s how long a speeding ticket might stay on your driving record by state and territory:

StateHow long a speeding ticket stays on your record 
Alabama2 years for points to be removed for suspension, but incident is permanent on your record
Alaska1 year
Arizona1 year
Arkansas3 years
California3 years and 3 months (39 months)
ColoradoCan reduce points, but incident is permanent on record
Connecticut3 years
Delaware2 years
Florida5 years
Georgia2 years
Hawaii10 years
Idaho3 years
IllinoisUp to 5 years
Indiana2 years
Iowa5 years
Kansas3 years
Kentucky5 years, but points removed after 2 years
Louisiana3 years
Maine1 year
Maryland3 years
Massachussets6 years
Michigan7 years
Minnesota5 to 10 years
Mississippi1 year
Missouri3 years
MontanaPoints removed after 3 years, but conviction is permanent on record
Nebraska5 years
NevadaPoints removed after 1 year, but conviction is permanent on record
New Hampshire3 years
New Jersey5 years
New Mexico1 year
New York1.5 years
North Carolina3 years
North Dakota3 years
Ohio2 years toward suspension, but incident is permanent on record
OklahomaUp to 3 years
Oregon2 years
Pennsylvania1 year
Rhode Island3 years
South Carolina2 years
Tennessee2 years
Texas3 years
Utah3 years
Vermont2 years
Virginia5 years
Washington5 years
West Virginia5 years, but points removed after 2 years
Wisconsin5 years
Wyoming1 year
Washington, D.C.2 years

How a speeding ticket affects your driving record?

When you get a speeding ticket or have a moving violation, you’ll accumulate driver’s license points on your driving record. You don’t want these points. Having too many driver’s license points can lead to suspension for a brief period of time.

When you get a speeding ticket, the state department of motor vehicles may add points to your driving record. The number of points added will vary by state and how fast you were going. You’ll also want to check to see how long points stay on your driving record in your state. Fortunately, they don’t stay there forever.

How a speeding ticket will affect your car insurance premium?

When you get a speeding ticket, you have to pay the fine. You may also get points added to your license. While car insurance companies don’t typically use driver’s license points to calculate rates, your auto insurance premium may increase because of your infraction. Insurance companies usually have their own methodology to calculate the impacts of moving violations and other types of driving offenses. 

In some cases, you may be able to take a defensive driving course, which can help reduce the impact on your car insurance premium. Some car insurance companies may also have “ticket forgiveness” programs, which could help.

However, if you were speeding far above the speed limit, or if you’ve racked up a second or third speeding ticket in a short amount of time, you will likely see your car insurance rates go up. 

Your car insurance rates could stay high for three years but may go down if you maintain a clean driving record during that time.

You can attempt to contest the speeding ticket if you feel you are justified but know that it may be difficult. You may also have to pay administrative or court fees to contest your ticket.

Consider pay-per-mile insurance when comparing rates with a speeding ticket

If your car insurance rates do go up, you may want to shop around for a better rate. Insurance companies might consider the same speeding ticket differently when determining your premium.

If you don’t often drive, one way to keep your car insurance costs low is to consider pay-per-mile auto insurance

While you may have higher rates because of your infractions, pay-per-mile auto insurance can help you control costs, as you typically pay a monthly base rate to keep your insurance coverage and a per-mile rate of a few cents for each mile you drive.

The bottom line

Speeding is dangerous, and as a result, speeding tickets can be very consequential. In addition to the fine you’ll need to pay, the infraction can impact your driving record for several years. You could also pay more for auto insurance as a result.



Melanie Lockert is a freelance writer, podcast host of the Mental Health and Wealth show, and author of Dear Debt. She’s a cat mom to two jazzy cats, Miles and Thelonious, an amateur boxer, music lover, and needs coffee to function.

Here’s Why Your Car Doesn’t Start

You get into your car, ready to head off to your next adventure. Instead of hitting the road, you’re greeted with the frustrating sound of your car not starting. 

It’s happened to many of us, sometimes more than once: Your car won’t start.
If you find yourself with a stalled vehicle, here are 10 of the most common reasons your car won’t start and what you could do to get back on the road.

1. Your car battery is dead.

One of the top reasons your car won’t start is because your car battery is dead. 

If your lights won’t come on or the battery light on your car dashboard shows there might be an issue, these are pretty good indications your car battery needs some more juice. Your car battery can run into problems if you leave your lights on overnight or if there’s a misplaced wire. If you think your car battery might be the issue, try jump-starting your car. If your vehicle remains stalled after you try a jump, you may need a new car battery.

2. The alternator is shot.

If your car ends up starting but continues to stall later, the battery may not be the problem. Instead, your car alternator may be shot. If you hear a high-pitched sound while trying to turn on the car, it could be the alternator. 
Unfortunately, if your car won’t start because of an alternator problem, you’ll need to chat with a car mechanic or other professional.

3. You have a faulty ignition switch.

If you’re trying to turn on your car but can’t seem to turn the keys to make it start, you may have a faulty ignition switch.

You can troubleshoot this issue by checking your headlights. If you can turn on your headlights, that’s a clue that you may not have a car battery issue, as the battery powers your light and dashboards. 

If the lights are on, but you can’t start the car, a faulty ignition switch could be the cause. Additionally, if your ignition button doesn’t work, your ignition might be the source of your concerns. 

If your ignition is faulty, you may want to consider heading to the mechanic to get it looked at and fixed.

4. You have a damaged starter.

Your car starter connects to your car battery to turn on the engine and ignition and gets you going on the road. Unfortunately, if you have a damaged starter, the whole process of starting your car is out of sync and won’t work easily.  

One telltale sign of a damaged starter is if you end up hearing clicking sounds as you attempt to turn on the car. 

If you have a damaged starter, you’ll want to take your vehicle to the mechanic and get it fixed.

5. Your fuel filter is blocked.

Your fuel filter could end up blocked or congested. When your fuel filter is blocked, the gasoline in your car won’t be able to make its way to the engine effectively. 

If that’s the case, look into getting a new fuel filter. Next, consider changing your fuel filter every 60,000 miles or so, as regular car maintenance can help prevent this from being an issue in the future. 

6. The gas tank is on E.

Another reason your car won’t start is if you have an empty gas tank. Your car needs fuel to power the engine and run and needs regular fill-ups.

You’ll typically know your gas tank is empty when you see the “E” button or indicator on your dashboard’s gas tank display. The good news is that this solution is easy: You can fill up at the closest gas station or get some fuel with roadside assistance.

7. You’re not in park gear.

If your car isn’t in park gear, it won’t start. Checking your gears can help you understand if you need to switch gears.

8. Your key fob no longer functions.

Many newer cars have push buttons where you simply press “start” to go on your way. Your vehicle starts after it receives a signal from your car key fob. If your system doesn’t get a signal, it won’t tell your vehicle to get started.

If you suspect your key fob is the issue, consider getting a new fob or fob battery. 

You may also want to see if there is a physical key option or another way that you can get the car started as a backup option.

9. Your distributor cap is broken.

The distributor cap in your car fuels the electricity to the spark plugs in your vehicle. Moisture on the distributor cap can be an issue. If the cap isn’t tight enough, it won’t send the signal. 

Make sure you wipe off any moisture from your cap and keep it tightly sealed. You can incorporate this routine into your regular car maintenance to help prevent any issues later.

10. You’re dealing with battery corrosion.

Battery corrosion occurs when there’s a mix of hydrogen released from the acid of the battery. This mixture can lead to corrosion or deterioration of your car battery. 

Take a look at your car battery to review its condition. Your battery may have corroded if you see different colors, such as white, green, or brown. 

Make sure your car battery is clean and put to work regularly. If battery corrosion is the issue, you can go to an automotive store to get products to help clean and fix your car battery.

The bottom line

It’s never a great time for your car to break down or stall. Fortunately, you can take some easy steps to diagnose the issue and whether you might need some more advanced or technical support at a car repair shop.

A good way to help make driving or being a car owner less stressful is to have the right auto insurance coverage for your lifestyle.

Metromile provides pay-how-you-drive auto insurance, which considers how you drive to set your rates. Roadside assistance coverage is available as an affordable add-on, which can help you get back on the road if your car won’t start or you have any other issues.

Melanie Lockert is a freelance writer, podcast host of the Mental Health and Wealth show, and author of Dear Debt. She’s a cat mom to two jazzy cats, Miles and Thelonious, an amateur boxer, music lover, and needs coffee to function.

How to Fix a Windshield Crack

How to Repair a Chipped or Cracked Windshield | Metromile

You’re driving along, and suddenly, something hits your windshield. You’re safe, but now you have an unsightly windshield crack. 

Unfortunately, chipped or cracked windshields can be relatively common. Debris from the road can hit your windshield unexpectedly and lead to lasting damage. 
While it’s not fun to deal with, it’s possible to repair your windshield. Here’s how.

What are car windshields made of?

Windshields are composed of three layers to offer safety and protection. Often, two layers of curved glass cover a layer of plastic vinyl. 

The layering helps to keep the windshield intact when objects hit the windshield. The goal is to prevent debris from making it all the way through. The setup makes it more likely that debris and other objects will hit the surface, causing minor damage like chips or cracks in the windshield instead of shattering or hurting you.

When is windshield-crack repair a good idea?

If you have a small cracked windshield that is mostly cosmetic, you may think it’s no big deal. However, it’s generally a good idea to keep your windshield in the best condition you can. In fact, not repairing your windshield may even be illegal. 

In many states, it is illegal to drive with a cracked or broken windshield, according to the Insurance Information Institute. The institute continues: “Not only is such damage covered by your comprehensive policy, many companies offer the option of no-deductible coverage for glass damage specifically.”

If you have a chipped or cracked windshield, it’s a good idea to see if your insurance coverage can cover the repair.

If the crack is beyond repair, you’ll need to replace the windshield glass completely. A full replacement is also a good idea if the crack is more than a few inches long, if the crack or chipping is deep, or if any damage is close to the edge of the windshield.

Common culprits behind windshield cracks

There are many culprits behind a windshield crack. Windshield cracks can be caused by:

  • Debris from the road, such as rocks or stones
  • Litter or debris
  • Nails, bolts, and other sharp objects
  • Birds or other animals, including insects

With enough velocity or force, all of these items can damage your windshield and lead to cracks.

Different types of windshield damage

Just like various things can crack your windshield, there are also different types of windshield cracks and damage. Some common types of windshield damage include:

Chips

If a small item creates a small indentation in your windshield glass, you have a chipped windshield. These chips aren’t particularly harmful and are more cosmetic but can expand into an unsafe crack if not taken care of quickly.

Stars

Stars are chips that have tiny grooves that emerge from the chip. The damage is often shaped like a star and can be relatively easy to fix.

Bullseye

Cracks may have a bullseye pattern with a ring around a central hole similar to a dartboard.

Cracks

Cracks can be caused by environmental stress, such as extreme weather or temperatures. Some cracks may appear near the edge of the windshield.

You’ll want to be careful with any floater cracks or cracks that develop away from the windshield’s edges, as those can be made worse by heat or cold.

Large cracks

Large windshield cracks that take up a lot of space on your windshield need to be replaced as soon as possible. Windshield cracks of two inches or more can be dangerous.

How to repair a cracked windshield

If you’re stuck with windshield damage, you can use filler to fix your cracked windshield or replace your windshield entirely. 

Fillers are generally resin or glue that fill in the damaged part. If your windshield has a large crack that can’t be fixed with a filler, a replacement will be necessary.

If your chipped or cracked windshield is small, you can use filler to make the repair. Here’s how:

1. Clean your windshield area with window cleaner. Avoid the crack. 

2. Remove any loose glass or debris from the area. 

3. Place the filler or resin injector above the chip and fill in the cracks on the glass. 

4. Remove any excess air from the chipped glass. 

5. Wait for the resin to set with the sun or a UV light. 

6. After you fill the crack, put the remaining resin into any divots left. 

7. Place a layer of plastic over the resin, and remove any air bubbles. 

8. Carefully remove the plastic by pressing down on the corners. (Make sure you don’t remove any resin.)

10. Use a razor blade to remove any excess filler, if needed.

The bottom line

If your windshield is damaged, you can use filler or resin to complete the repair yourself. However, if your crack or chip is two inches or more, you may need to replace your entire windshield.

Your car insurance coverage might cover the repair or replacement. If you have comprehensive coverage with Metromile, you won’t have to pay a deductible if the glass is repairable. In some states, you can also add $0 deductible glass coverage for windshield replacements.

Melanie Lockert is a freelance writer, podcast host of the Mental Health and Wealth show, and author of Dear Debt. She’s a cat mom to two jazzy cats, Miles and Thelonious, an amateur boxer, music lover, and needs coffee to function.

Should You Buy Premium or Regular Gas?

Types of Gas for Cars: Premium or Regular | Metromile

If you’re like many drivers, you buy the regular unleaded gasoline and don’t think much about the different types of gas.

For those who are curious about whether to buy premium or regular gas, this short guide will explain the different types of gas for cars and what you should know.

What makes up gasoline?

According to the Energy Information Administration, “gasoline is a fuel made from crude oil and other petroleum liquids. Gasoline is mainly used as an engine fuel in vehicles. Petroleum refineries and blending facilities produce motor gasoline for sale at retail gasoline fueling stations.”

The gasoline you’re used to is actually unfinished gasoline combined with additional liquids such as ethanol. It’s these different blends that determine the different types of gas that are typically listed by grade at the gas pump.

Different types of gas by grade, explained

There are three different types of gas at most U.S. gas stations, typically differentiated by their octane ratings:

  • Regular gas (typically 87 octane) is one of the most common fuel types. Many car manufacturers recommend regular gas, and it’s many drivers’ go-to option. Regular gas is a budget-friendly gas option and is standard for many vehicles. 
  • Mid-grade gas (usually 88 to 90) is a specialty gas. Some vehicles are made to run on gasoline with a higher octane level. For example, some sport-utility vehicles (SUVs) require mid-grade gasoline. The higher octane level can be good for performance.
  • Premium gas (often 91 to 94) is often the highest octane gas sold. A car rarely needs premium gasoline, but some vehicles designed for high performance may require a higher octane level.

You might also see the different gas grades referred to as unleaded, super, or super-premium. 

Using the right fuel for your vehicle can boost its performance and efficiency. If your car doesn’t require a higher octane level, there’s no need to use a more expensive type of gas. It could even potentially damage your vehicle if you fill up with the wrong type of gas.

Understanding premium gas vs. regular gas

When you’re reviewing different types of gas, it’s important to note that the octane level measures the gasoline’s compression. 

The main difference between premium gas and regular gas is the octane rating. This affects the engine’s performance and compression. 

Aside from that major difference, of course, there’s the difference in price points as well. 

Regular unleaded gas is typically the cheapest gas to purchase, as it is the most common.

Premium gas is typically the most expensive gas to buy. Some luxury car manufacturers and manufacturers of sports cars or foreign cars recommend higher-octane, premium gas to achieve the best engine efficiency. 

Double-check whether your car manufacturer requires premium or recommends premium gas. Your vehicle owner’s manual will tell you which gas you should use to get the expected vehicle performance.

Should I buy mid-grade gas?

Few car manufacturers suggest mid-grade gas. It has slightly more additives than regular gas, but generally, the results won’t be noticeably better.

If your vehicle doesn’t require mid-grade gas, you’ll be spending extra money without getting a meaningful improvement.

What kind of gas should I get for my vehicle?

When it comes to types of gas for cars, your car owner’s manual will list the recommended gas for your exact vehicle. 

Don’t splurge or use more premium gas because it won’t necessarily allow your vehicle to run faster or get better gas mileage if it only needs regular gas.

Can I use diesel for my car?

Diesel fuel has a much lower octane rating of 25 to 30. If your car manufacturer doesn’t recommend diesel, you shouldn’t fill up your car with it, even if it costs less than regular gas.

Diesel can cause damage to your vehicle’s engine because of the lower compression and octane level. You don’t want to get stuck with costly and unneeded car repairs.

Is the type of gas you use important to your car’s health?

You want to keep your car in good shape, so you may think splurging on a higher octane rating is better. Not exactly. 

If your car manual calls for a premium or mid-grade gas, but you pump regular gas instead, the lower octane level could reduce engine power, damage your car health, and lower fuel economy.

In contrast, filling your car up with premium gas when your car owner’s manual calls for regular gas may not damage your engine, but it probably won’t do much besides costing more money.

How does regular car maintenance keep your vehicle in good health?

Keeping up with regular maintenance like oil changes, having the proper tires, and being aware of any issues can help keep your car in good health. An easy way to keep your car running in tip-top shape for longer is to drive less.

Low-mileage drivers put less wear and tear on their cars. Driving less frequently generally means you’ll need to maintain your car less frequently, too.

Switching to pay-how-you-drive auto insurance could be a good idea if you don’t drive much. Metromile’s pay-per-mile insurance policies focus on the miles you drive, so people who don’t fill up often could also pay less for car insurance.

The table below shows the average annual car insurance savings enjoyed by new Metromile customers:

Pay per mile savings explanation
*Average annual car insurance savings by new customers surveyed who saved with Metromile in 2018.

If it’s an option, taking public transportation could also help you save money at the gas station.

The bottom line

There are many types of gas out there. If you want to save money on gas and keep your car healthy, stick to what your car manufacturer suggests. It’ll save you money and hassle. 

If you don’t drive much and are rarely at the gas station, you can get a free quote from Metromile and try pay-per-mile auto insurance (you’ll need to keep your current policy to remain covered) with the free Ride Along™ trial before making the switch.

Melanie Lockert is a freelance writer, podcast host of the Mental Health and Wealth show, and author of Dear Debt. She’s a cat mom to two jazzy cats, Miles and Thelonious, an amateur boxer, music lover, and needs coffee to function.

What You Need to Do to Register a Car in California

How to register car in California | Metromile

Whether you’re buying a new set of wheels in California or moving to the Golden State with the car you have, you’re going to need to register your vehicle with the state of California. 

In this brief guide, learn how to register a car in California and the next steps you need to take.

Why it’s important to register a car in California?

In order to drive legally, you need your driver’s license, auto insurance, as well as car registration. When you get pulled over, the officer typically asks for your license and registration. Put simply, car registration is non-negotiable and something you need to do if you want to drive in California

Many states have their own laws regarding car registration. In California, you must register your vehicle to be in good, legal standing while on the road. 

When you register your car, you are tying yourself to the specific vehicle and location. When you register your vehicle, you will need to pay a registration fee.

How much does it cost to register a car in California?

In California, you’ll likely pay the vehicle registration fee, plus a California Highway Patrol (CHP) fee, vehicle license fee, county fee, as well transportation improvement fee. 

If you’re wondering how much to register a car in California, it can depend on various factors. According to the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), your registration fees are determined by:

  • Your vehicle type (e.g., auto, motorcycle, etc.)
  • Your vehicle’s purchase price or declared value
  • When you purchased your vehicle or the date your vehicle entered California
  • The city and/or county you live in
  • The city and/or county your business is based in
  • The unladen or declared gross vehicle weight and the number of axles your vehicle may have
  • Any special license plates your vehicle may have
  • Whether you have any unpaid parking violations or toll evasion bail

The California DMV has useful calculators to evaluate what your prospective costs might be. Use the following tools to see how much it might cost you to register a car in California:

Used fee calculator (if you buy a used vehicle that is new to you)

Who should register a car in California?

Car registration is mandatory. If you plan to drive a vehicle in California, you’re going to want to register the car in California. 

Some common scenarios that might require you to register a car in California include:

  • You bought a new car. Many dealerships can take on the registration responsibilities, but you’ll need to do it yourself if not. 
  • You buy a car from someone else in a “private party purchase.” In this case, you’ll have 10 days to transfer ownership, and the seller will need to report the sale to the DMV within five days of the sale. 
  • If you moved from another state to California, you’ll need to update your vehicle registration within 20 days of establishing residency in the state.

Everything you might need to register your car in California

Here is what you need to register a car in California if you bought a new car recently or moved to California: 

If you end up buying a car from a private party, you may also need:

Proof of insurance requirements in California

California drivers need to have proof of car insurance and keep it in their car at all times. You’ll want to keep your insurance handy in your car, as you’ll need it if you get pulled over, get in a car accident, and when you renew your vehicle registration. 

According to the California DMV, proof of financial responsibility (most often car insurance) is required for all cars in California, whether you’re driving or even if the car is just parked. 

You can’t just have any car insurance. The California DMV requires specific coverage. In the state of California, your minimum liability insurance needs to cover: 

  • $5,000 for property damage
  • $15,000 for cases of injury or death to one person
  • $30,000 for cases of injury or death to more than a single person 

You must have liability insurance and not just comprehensive or collision coverage. 
You can personalize your auto insurance coverage with Metromile. Many California drivers select higher limits or add additional coverage for extra peace of mind and to help protect their vehicle, finances, and wellbeing.

The bottom line

If you just bought a car in California or arrived (welcome!), you’ll need to register your vehicle with the DMV. To drive or own a car in California, you’ll also need to ensure you have the right auto insurance coverage to be a safe and responsible driver. 

Many drivers in California choose Metromile and save money with pay-per-mile auto insurance.

You can download the Metromile app from your favorite app store to see if pay-as-you-go auto insurance is right for you. Ride Along™ is a free trial that will show you an accurate rate and how much you might save with Metromile. Rates start at $23 per month plus a few cents for each mile you drive.

Melanie Lockert is a freelance writer, podcast host of the Mental Health and Wealth show, and author of Dear Debt. She’s a cat mom to two jazzy cats, Miles and Thelonious, an amateur boxer, music lover, and needs coffee to function.

How to Avoid the Most Common Types of Car Accidents

How to avoid car accidents | Car from behind

Being a safe driver means always being on the lookout for any potential dangers or threats that come your way when you’re on the road. 

It’s essential to stay aware while driving, as conditions could change in a matter of seconds.

Consider these safety tips to help you reduce your risk of some of the most common types of car accidents.

1. T-bone accidents

T-bone accidents occur when one vehicle is hit on the side by the front of another vehicle. They typically happen at street intersections and are, unfortunately, very common. 

The name T-bone accident refers to the T-shaped position the cars might make after a collision. It is sometimes also referred to as a broadside collision. 

It’s important to recognize who has the right of way at an intersection. This knowledge can help prevent T-bone accidents. 

Pause when crossing an intersection to make sure other drivers are honoring their stoplights or stop signs. Make sure you’re aware of any stop signs and stoplights and follow the right of way.

2. Rear-end accidents

When you get hit by a car behind you, you’re getting rear-ended. Rear-end accidents are fairly common and can often occur from distracted driving or not braking on time. You may be more likely to be rear-ended in traffic or if you change lanes quickly and someone doesn’t see you.

To avoid hitting someone else:

  1. Make sure you pump the brakes with plenty of time and distance between you and other vehicles.
  2. Always put your turn signal on when changing lanes.
  3. Avoid distracted driving. You shouldn’t be texting, eating, or driving under the influence.

Rear-end accidents happen, and sometimes it’s not your fault. However, to stay safe and avoid the risk of rear-end accidents, it can pay off to be aware of the driver behind you. You could take some defensive driving steps if they’re getting too close or you notice they’re not paying attention.

3. Accidents with animals or debris

Not all car accidents have to involve another car. Accidents involving animals or debris are rare, but they could happen. For example, you could hydroplane and hit a tree if it’s raining or snowing, which can cause you to lose control and hit a tree or other debris. You may also unexpectedly hit wildlife or an obstacle on the road.

Be aware of your surroundings and try to drive at a reasonable speed. Driving at high speeds is dangerous because you have less time to react to an obstacle or change on the road. It also takes time for your vehicle to stop or turn away if you’re speeding, which adds to the risk of an accident.

It is also helpful to have the right tires for the weather and take other precautions if the weather is bad, the road conditions are poor, or if you’re unfamiliar with the area where you’re driving.

4. Accidents while parked

You don’t need to be driving to get involved in a car accident. Your car can be hit by another car while it’s parked.

Take proactive steps to help avoid accidents while parked. Start by trying to avoid parking spots on busy streets and intersections. Congested roads can increase the likelihood of your car getting sideswiped or hit.

You should also ensure there’s enough distance between you and any other vehicles when you park. Don’t try to squeeze into a tight parking spot. If your vehicle doesn’t have some buffer space, your car could get hit when you try to exit your space or when other people try to get out. 

Parking your car in a parking lot or garage could help you avoid accidents while parked. Parking lots often have painted lines and other buffer areas that make parking a bit easier and less risky.

5. Objects damaging the windshield

Don’t forget about environmental hazards when driving. For example, rocks or other debris could fall and damage your windshield or tires when driving near a mountain. Your car could also be damaged or hit if you’re driving too close to another vehicle and debris falls or is ahead on the road.

Try to drive on the outer lane if you’re near a mountain or rocky area, and most importantly, drive slow so that you give yourself enough time to react to the environment and what other drivers are doing.

6. Reverse or backup accidents

When you reverse or back up, there’s a risk of hitting another vehicle or object if you’re not careful. To help avoid these types of accidents, use your backup camera or rearview mirror for guidance. You should also remember to look over your shoulder to make sure you have enough room and watch out for any objects, people, or vehicles behind or around you. 

It would be best if you also considered backing up slowly so that others can also see you.

Make sure to avoid your phone or anything else that distracts your complete attention.

The bottom line

Driving can be risky, but it doesn’t have to be dangerous. You can take steps to protect yourself and others when you’re behind the wheel to avoid a car accident. Whenever you get into your vehicle, it’s important to be aware of your surroundings, spend your full attention on the road ahead, and drive at a reasonable speed.

Having the right auto insurance can also help you stay safe when driving.

Metromile provides pay-as-you-drive auto insurance. Drivers pay a monthly base rate to help keep their car covered and then a few cents for each mile they drive. Discounts are also available for demonstrated safe driving.

You can see if Metromile’s pay-per-mile car insurance is right for you by taking a Ride Along™.  Download the Metromile app and let us ride along for 17 days. After your trial, we’ll show you how many miles you drove and how much money you might save if you switched. Drivers can also earn up to an additional 40% off their initial auto insurance quote for demonstrated safe driving in select states.

Melanie Lockert is a freelance writer, podcast host of the Mental Health and Wealth show, and author of Dear Debt. She’s a cat mom to two jazzy cats, Miles and Thelonious, an amateur boxer, music lover, and needs coffee to function.

How to Parallel Park Like a Pro

how to parallel park like a pro

If you live in a city, finding a parking spot can be a stressful challenge. It’s one thing to find a place and another to park in the spot available to you. 

If you’ve found the perfect parking spot, but it requires you to parallel park, you may be stressed or filled with frustration. While there are various types of parking, such as angle parking and perpendicular parking, parallel parking can be challenging for many people. 

Here’s what you might want to know about how to parallel park.

What is parallel parking?

Parallel parking is a driving technique where you align your car in line with other parked vehicles.

In order to parallel park, you want to have the right conditions and know the exact steps to be successful. Consider these 10 steps to parallel parking:

Steps to parallel park

  1. Identify a viable spot 
  2. Get in the right position 
  3. Put your turn signal on
  4. Review your mirrors
  5. Begin reversing 
  6. Reverse at a 45-degree angle 
  7. Turn your steering wheel left 
  8. Back into the spot and straighten the wheel 
  9. Adjust your position
  10. Put your car in park

How to parallel park in 10 steps

Step 1: Identify a viable spot

The first step is to find a viable spot for your vehicle. 

We’ve all been there where you think you might be able to make it, but in reality, there’s not enough space. You don’t want to feel like you’re squeezing into the space, as that could cause some extra stress.

To parallel park successfully, it would be best if you had a spot three feet longer than your car’s length, which should be around nine to 12 feet.

Step 2: Get in the right position

When it comes to parallel parking, the most important thing to know is that it’s all about the position and angle. You need to line up your car parallel to the parked vehicle in front of the parking spot you want.

You don’t want to be too close to the next car, but about two feet should suffice.

Step 3: Put your turn signal on

Put your turn signal on before making a move. You want to signal to other drivers that you’re about to turn into the spot to park.

The turn signal also helps notify other drivers that the parking spot will soon be yours.

Step 4: Review your mirrors

Before making a parallel parking maneuver, make sure to check your rearview and side mirrors. You want to see any oncoming traffic, anyone walking by, an animal, or anything else that can get in your way before you start your next move.

Step 5: Begin reversing

Once you are parallel to the car in front of your desired spot and have your turn signal on, check your mirrors. Then, you can begin reversing. 

Take your foot off the brake first and then back up.

Step 6: Reverse at a 45-degree angle

When you’re backing up and the middle of your car is parallel to the parked car’s bumper, you want to start reversing at a 45-degree angle. 

It’s okay to take your time, as getting the correct angle is very important.

Step 7: Turn your steering wheel left

Once you’re in the parking spot at a 45-degree angle, brake your vehicle. Then, start turning your steering wheel left.

Step 8: Back into the spot and straighten the wheel

After turning your steering wheel left, back into the spot. Next, you’ll want to straighten the steering wheel as you get closer to the curb.

Step 9: Adjust your position

After you back into the parking spot, you may need to pull forward and then back to adjust your car’s position. 

Your vehicle should be parallel to the curb with enough room for the cars in front of you and behind you to leave. There should be no more than 18 inches between your car and the curb.

Step 10: Put your car in park

Once your vehicle is parallel to the curb, turn off the engine and put your car in park. 

You did it! You’ve parallel parked your car successfully.

The bottom line

Parallel parking is a valuable skill that can get easier with practice. As you park, it’s important to stay safe and go slowly. You want to pay attention to your surroundings, especially the other parked cars, the curb, and anyone else who might be nearby.

To help stay safe on the road, you can switch to Metromile pay-per-mile auto insurance. Drivers who switched to Metromile saved 47% a year on average, according to a 2018 survey of new customers who saved. 

Metromile also has smart-driving features available in the app for free that can make it less stressful to be a driver or car owner, including street-sweeping alerts in select cities, a car health tool, a car locator to help you find your vehicle if it’s ever lost or stolen, and more.

Melanie Lockert is a freelance writer, podcast host of the Mental Health and Wealth show, and author of Dear Debt. She’s a cat mom to two jazzy cats, Miles and Thelonious, an amateur boxer, music lover, and needs coffee to function.

Telematics: What is it and What does it do?

If you’re looking for affordable car insurance, pay-per-mile auto insurance could be the way to go, especially if you’re a low-mileage driver.

Metromile uses telematics technology to help make sure its car insurance rates are fair and affordable. Here’s everything you might want to know about car telematics and how it works.

What is telematics in a car | Telematics Insurance

What is Telematics?

Telematics is the technology of sending, receiving, and storing information relating to remote objects, like your car, through telecommunication devices, such as a cell phone, GPS, or our Pulse device.

When used in a car, telematics technology can count how many miles you drive and measure driving behavior. Telematics is what enables Metromile’s insurance, and without it, pay-per-mile insurance might not be possible. We can understand someone’s driving to offer accurate and affordable car insurance through telematics technology.

Telematics devices are typically comprised of:

  • Input and output
  • GPS
  • SIM card
  • Accelerometer
  • Engine interface

The combination of a car’s onboard diagnostic technology and location services, such as GPS, can show you a car’s location and trips it has taken. You can think of it as the internet and satellite technology that helps you understand your vehicle or where you’re going.

A brief history of telematics

Early telematics technology started with navigation systems, helping eliminate the use of maps or printed directions. Instead, drivers could use a navigation system set up in their car, which was more user-friendly.

Telematics technology has since expanded. For example, car owners now use it to understand their fuel levels, traffic alerts, and even roadside assistance or enabling satellite radio.

How does telematics work?

The Metromile Pulse device uses telematics, which connects to a cellular network and nearby cell towers allowing our technology to share with our community maps of their trips, miles per gallon fuel efficiency data, vehicle location, and even street-sweeping alerts in select cities.

Telematics can help you stay connected to your vehicle in near real-time. Metromile neatly organizes data from telematics for drivers to review in the Metromile app.

Drivers can use the Metromile app to make informed decisions about their vehicle and driving, including looking for ways to save money by reviewing the miles driven and other ways to optimize their trips.

Telematic devices can monitor and inform drivers of things such as:

  • Car speed
  • Vehicle position
  • Trip length and distance
  • Hard braking
  • Seat-belt usage
  • Fuel usage
  • Engine acceleration

This information can then be used to create a comprehensive picture of how someone uses their car, which often results in more personalized car insurance rates.

What are the benefits of telematics?

Using telematics technology can provide essential data to drivers and offer a level of transparency. Insurance companies can use telematics data to provide accurate and affordable coverage based on how you really drive, including how often you drive.

Instead of paying more when you drive less, telematics helps provide insight into risk and behavior and allows Metromile to offer drivers a reasonable rate.

Car telematics can help with:

How telematics has changed the insurance industry

Telematics insurance companies can charge a premium based on usage-based insurance or driving behavior-based models. Behavior-based, sometimes called pay-how-you-drive auto insurance, can be a good way to evaluate your risk for insurance. 

Metromile was founded to create fairer and more personalized auto insurance for drivers. Our usage-based model focuses on how you actually use your car. We consider driving behavior, including how many miles you drive and the coverage selected, as some of the main factors. Other factors include the vehicle and type of insurance policy.

Car telematics can lower how much you pay for auto insurance. It allows insurance companies to identify a driver’s performance and evaluate risks in a more informed way, especially if they change over time.

Where telematics is headed

Telematics can be a gamechanger when it comes to your driving behavior, as well as for telematics insurance companies that use the data. This type of technology can democratize important information and offer transparency when it comes to driver behavior and risk. 

As the technology continues to improve, telematics can offer important insights and hopefully create better driving conditions for everyone on the road.

The bottom line

Car telematics gives us the opportunity to provide affordable pay-per-mile auto insurance rates and the free smart-driving features available in the Metromile app.

You can download the Metromile app to see how telematics technology works firsthand: Ride Along™ is a free trial that will show you an accurate rate and how much you might save with pay-per-mile auto insurance.

Drivers can save 47% on average, according to a 2018 survey of new customers who saved with Metromile, and additional discounts of up to 40% off their initial quote if they demonstrate safe driving during their Ride Along™.

Melanie Lockert is a freelance writer, podcast host of the Mental Health and Wealth show, and author of Dear Debt. She’s a cat mom to two jazzy cats, Miles and Thelonious, an amateur boxer, music lover, and needs coffee to function.