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How to Make the Most Out of Car Depreciation?

Whether you’re thinking of buying your dream car or just something to get around or thinking of selling your vehicle, there’s an important concept all car owners should be aware of — car depreciation.

How to Use Car Depreciation to Your Advantage | Metromile

What is car depreciation? 

When you buy something of value at a certain price, it may not be worth that amount of money in the future. Not everything you buy is an “investment” that goes up in value. That’s certainly true with vehicles. 
Car depreciation refers to the loss of value that a car experiences over time. Vehicle depreciation happens right away — basically as soon as your wheels leave the dealership and get on the road. The car goes down in value through everyday use and normal wear and tear.  

Factors that can affect car depreciation include:

  • The vehicle make and model
  • The year the vehicle was manufactured
  • Supply and demand (consider the hot used car market we’re in now
  • The current mileage on your vehicle
  • Whether the car has been in an accident or needed significant repairs 
  • Overall condition of the car
  • How many previous owners the vehicle has had
  • The trust, safety, and reputation of the brand of car 

How to make the most out of car depreciation 

Car depreciation is practically a certainty. In other words, the value of your vehicle will go down over time (despite what we’re seeing right now with inflated used car values). There are ways to make the most out of vehicle depreciation and use it in your favor. 

If your car is a few years old and in good condition, you may be able to get a higher offer if you trade in your vehicle now than if you wait a long time. Generally, the lower the mileage and the better the condition of the car, the higher value it has. 

If you’re in the market for a new vehicle, you can use car depreciation in your favor and buy something just a year or two old with not a lot of miles on it. While not brand spanking new, it’s close enough and will be more affordable than a new car. First, it’s key to understand how vehicle depreciation typically works to understand why this is the case. 

How much does a car depreciate per year?

A common question is “How much does a car depreciate per year?” The answer may be more than you realize. According to Carfax, a new car loses 20% of its value in the first year. So a $40,000 vehicle after one year would be worth $32,000. 

After that plummet in the first year, the car typically loses about 15% of its value each year for the following four years. 

So in theory, if you want to buy a new-ish car, purchasing a one-year-old car could be 80% of the original new car price.

These are general benchmarks for vehicle depreciation though. How much a car depreciates depends on the many factors listed above and can vary from vehicle to vehicle. Given the “unprecedented” times we’re in now — with inflated prices everywhere and supply chain issues — the inflating value of the vehicle actually benefits current car owners. That may hurt buyers though. 

To get the most bang for your buck, consider certified pre-owned vehicles (CPOs), which must be certified by a dealer or a manufacturer. These cars must pass certain inspections and may offer additional incentives and warranties, making them a more affordable option with perks for most consumers. 

How to keep car depreciation in check 

Though car depreciation may be a fact of life, there are things you can do to keep it in check. How much your car is worth now might not matter, but if you intend to resell it later on or use it as a trade-in, you want to limit the vehicle depreciation as much as you can. Here are some things you can do:

  • Make sure your car is covered and protected. In other words, if possible, keep the vehicle in a covered garage to avoid theft, break-ins, damage from weather, and debris. 
  • Keep the car as-is. Making personal customizations to the car or painting it may be appealing to you, but not to prospective buyers. 
  • Have a regular car maintenance routine. Keeping your car in good condition can help and part of that means regular car maintenance. So keep a schedule to change your oil, check tire pressure, and be mindful of any odd smells or sounds that may impact the vehicle or signal a problem. 
  • Drive less. The fewer miles you have on your car the better. This is one effective way to curb your vehicle depreciation. It can also save you with your car insurance with pay-per-mile coverage
  • Get the most out of a private sale. Yes, you can always go to a dealership and do a trade-in. But if you want the most money for your car, a private sale may be your best bet. 

How does vehicle depreciation affect car insurance claims? 

Vehicle depreciation isn’t just something to be aware of if you’re looking to sell or do a trade-in. It also affects potential car insurance claims in the event of an accident. For example, if you total your car, the car depreciation will impact insurance claims and what you receive to replace or repair the vehicle. 
A car insurance company may use car depreciation and offer you the following as part of your policy:

  1. Actual cash value, which refers to what your vehicle is worth currently with car depreciation included. 
  2. Replacement cost, which refers to what it will cost to get an equivalent replacement car. 

Car depreciation and your policy can impact what happens and how much you get in the event of a total loss. If you financed your car, car depreciation also plays a role. 

For example, if you took out a car loan that is $30,000 but your car is currently worth $20,000 after depreciation, that can affect your car insurance payout if there’s a total loss. 

Let’s say you have $1,000 deductible and total your car. In that event, when filing a claim, your payout would be the value of your car with the deductible subtracted from it. So in this example, $20,000 minus $1,000, which is $19,000. But if your car loan is at $30,000, even with the $19,000 payout, you’d need to come up with $11,000 for the car loan. 

The bottom line 

Vehicle depreciation happens, but there are ways to make the most out of it as a consumer and ways to mitigate it to help when you’re a seller. Taking these steps can keep your car in tip-top shape and the value as good as it can be. Driving less is a key way to maintain the value, and if you do drive less, it’s possible to score additional savings through pay-per-mile insurance. You no longer need to pay a flat rate for car insurance regardless of how much you drive. Instead, you can be rewarded for driving less by paying less. Get a quote with Metromile today. 

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 Do a California DMV Title Transfer

If a vehicle is changing hands in California, certain steps are required to transfer ownership. So whether you’re buying a car, selling a car, or receiving a hand-me-down vehicle from a family member, you need to do a California DMV title transfer to legally get the paperwork in order. Here’s how to transfer a car title in California and what you should know. 

How to Transfer a Car Title in California | Metromile

What is a car title and when do I need to transfer it? 

A car title is a legal document that proves ownership of the vehicle. According to the California Department of Motor Vehicles, it includes: 

  • Full name and address of the legal owner of the vehicle
  • VIN
  • The date the vehicle was registered
  • Information about the lienholder, if the vehicle is financed
  • Branded title information, such as “salvaged” 
  • Value of the vehicle 

A California DMV title transfer needs to happen in the following situations:

  • Buying a vehicle
  • Selling a vehicle
  • Inheriting a vehicle
  • Donating or gifting a vehicle
  • Car loan is paid off 

What do you need for a California title transfer?

The California transfer title process requires some paperwork and prep work. According to the DMV, you’ll need:

  • Your driver’s license
  • Your license plate number
  • VIN
  • Full name and address of the owner or the lienholder
  • Car make, model, and year
  • The purchase date and price of the vehicle 
  • The current California title (pro tip: If the title is missing, fill out Application for Replacement or Transfer of Title (REG 227))
  • Signatures of the buyer, the seller, and lienholder (if applicable) — all signatures are required to do a California DMV title transfer 
  • Odometer reading (there are some exceptions though, such as the vehicle being 10 years old or more) 
  • Pay a transfer fee, which can vary 

After compiling the paperwork, you can submit the title transfer documents and pay the fee via mail to:


PO Box 942869

Sacramento, CA 94269

It’s also possible to drop off paperwork at your local DMV and you can now do a California title transfer online here (yay, internet). It may take about a month for the DMV to review the paperwork and transfer the title. 

Is a smog certification required when transferring title in California? 

When transferring a title in California, a smog certification may be required in certain circumstances. For example, if you’re selling your vehicle a smog certification is necessary. According to the California Department of Motor Vehicles website, a smog inspection is not required for the following vehicles: 

  • Gasoline-powered vehicle is a 1975 year model or older (This includes motorcycles and trailers.)
  • Diesel-powered vehicle is a 1997 and older year model OR with a Gross Vehicle Weight of more than 14,000 pounds.
  • Powered by natural gas and weighs more than 14,000 pounds. 
  • An electric vehicle.
  • Gasoline-powered and less than eight model-years old. 

If a smog inspection is required, you can find a spot to get one here. 

How to do a California title transfer

If you need to transfer a car title in California, it needs to be reported to the DMV within 10 days. As noted above, this happens anytime car ownership changes hands. 

Gather documentation

To transfer a car title in California, you need the documents listed above. Make sure you have everything filled out and ready to make the process seamless. Additionally, the CA DMV states that the following forms may be required:

Get the California Certificate of Title 

To transfer a car title in California, you need the documents listed above. The most important part is having the California Certificate of Title. If you lost the title, you can fill out and submit the Application for Replacement or Transfer of Title (REG 227). Need the title ASAP? It may be possible to get rush title processing here, however, it’s currently not an option because of health and safety concerns. 

Pay transfer fees 

As part of transferring a car title in California, there may be transfer fees tacked on to complete the process. These fees may include:

  • Registration fee
  • Transfer fee
  • Replacement title fee
  • Use tax fee, which depends on where the buyer lives
  • Potential penalty fees 

Title transfer when buying a car in California

When you purchase a vehicle at a dealership, they generally handle the title paperwork for you. As part of that process, you’ll receive the car title via mail from the CA DMV. 

If you purchase a vehicle from a private seller, they need to hand over the signed car title to prove they’re releasing ownership to you. Then, you must take the car title with the seller’s signature to your local DMV and ask them to transfer ownership. 

Title transfer when selling a car in California 

If you’re selling your vehicle in California, you need to have your title ready and signed for the buyer. 

Additionally, you’ll need to provide an odometer reading on the title or use the Vehicle/Vessel Transfer and Reassignment (REG 262) form. After that, you have a 5-day period to submit the Notice of Transfer and Release of Liability (NRL) online so you’re not responsible for the vehicle anymore. 

What to do if you don’t have a California title 

If you don’t have a California title, you can apply for a replacement. If you have a lienholder release form, it also needs to be notarized. Hand that over to the buyer as part of the selling process

Title transfer in California if the owner has passed away 

If you’re the rightful heir of a vehicle after the owner has passed away, it’s possible to transfer the title 40 days after the owner’s passing without going through probate or having the court involved. According to the DMV website, this is possible if the owner’s property value doesn’t exceed $166,250. 

You’ll need to sign the title with the deceased owner’s name and sign the back. Additionally, you’ll need to provide a death certificate, odometer disclosure (if applicable), fill out and submit an Affidavit for Transfer without Probate (REG 5), and pay a transfer fee. 

Dealing with an out-of-state title 

If you moved to California, you’ll need to take your out-of-state title and register in California within 20 days of becoming a resident. As part of that process, you’ll need to fill out an Application for Title or Registration

If you purchased a vehicle from another state, you’ll need to do an out-of-state title transfer in California. You’ll also need to fill out an application for the title and have the original out-of-state title as well, with the seller’s signature on it. Find out more info about the process and what’s allowed and what’s not.

Transfer title between family 

Want to give your old car to your teenage son or another family member? Similar to the processes listed above, you need the title and have your signature and the family member’s signature to complete the California transfer title process. 

You may also need to fill out a Statement of Facts (REG 256) form, do an odometer disclosure, and pay any necessary transfer fees. 

The bottom line 

Figuring out how to transfer a car title in California can be a process and one that varies if you’re buying or selling or receiving a gift. Take the necessary steps to transfer ownership and make the California title transfer official. Transferring ownership or getting a new car is a good time to reassess your car insurance needs. Low-mileage drivers can score savings by driving less and opting for pay-per-mile insurance. Grab your free quote and learn more about Metromile. 

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 Get Rid of That Car Smell

There’s nothing like the smell of a new car or the fresh odor in a car right after a car wash. It feels pleasant and clean to the senses. On the other hand, sometimes your car can start to smell. Whether it’s a bit musty or funky, having a rank smell in your car isn’t just an assault on your senses but may be a cause for concern. Below we cover what might be the culprit behind those car smells and how to remove odor from your car. 

How to Remove Odor From Your Car | Metromile

Different types of car smells 

When you smell something weird in your car, sometimes it may be obvious what it is. Maybe there’s a lingering food smell or moist gym clothes you threw in the back. Other times, there are more distinctive smells that may indicate a problem. Here are some common car smells to be aware of. 

Burnt smell 

If you start to smell burnt toast, it may mean there’s an electrical issue you want to check out. It could be a burnt fuse or an issue with your brakes. In any case, it could mean trouble with electrical functions or something major like your brakes

For that reason, this isn’t a smell you should ignore and try to remedy with a car freshener. Take your car to a mechanic so they can assess what the issue might be and resolve the problem. 

Burning rubber 

Burning rubber has a unique smell that you can’t forget. According to

“The most common reason why your car smells like burning rubber is due to an oil leak or coolant leak. It can also be caused by a slipping serpentine belt, sticking brake calipers, slipping clutch, or any external objects stuck in the engine bay.”

You might be able to check your oil and coolant levels yourself to see if there is a leak. Regardless of the issue, get your vehicle checked out as it could be serious, and you don’t want to damage your car and drive in unsafe conditions. 

Rotting eggs 

It can be seriously unpleasant if you get into your car and it smells like rotting eggs. The smell is a signal that something is wrong. According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Consumer Advice blog that could indicate an issue with the catalytic converter or mean there’s an issue with emission control devices. Another reason there might be a rotting egg car smell is that your car is running on old transmission fluid. 

Gas car smell 

You know the signature gas car smell. If you smell gas shortly after filling up, it may not be an issue. You may have picked up some gas vapors via your shoes, and the smell should go away. 

If you haven’t filled up your gas tank recently, there might be a bigger issue such as a broken fuel cap leading to a gas leak. Take action right away and check your fuel cap. If there’s nothing wrong, get it checked out. 

Sweet car smell 

If you’re experiencing an oddly sweet car smell, it may be a coolant leak. In this case, you might see your temperature gauge car dashboard icon light up if your engine is heating up. 

This could be dangerous as there may be a coolant leak, leading to your car overheating. Check on your coolant levels and if it’s not resolved with more coolant, get it checked out by a professional. 


If your car smells of exhaust fumes, there could be an exhaust leak or cracked seals on your windows, letting the smell escape into the cabin of your car. 

This is a car smell that shouldn’t be ignored as it could be toxic and fatal. Don’t mess around if your nose picks up on exhaust fumes in your car and go to a repair shop immediately. 

Chemical car small 

Does your car have that weird chemical smell? If your car smells distinctly like chemicals or like it has a bitter aroma, it could point to problems with your brakes or clutch or even mean an oil leak. 

Musty or mildew car smell 

When your car smells musty or like mildew, it could mean there’s excessive debris, dust, mold, etc. that come out through your air conditioning system. It could mean that it’s time to replace your cabin air filter and can signal a more significant  issue with your A/C system. 

How to clean different car smells 

Sometimes a bad car smell is a signifier of a bigger issue that’s mechanical and could be dangerous. But sometimes, there may be a car smell that is stuck in your car and isn’t necessarily related to anything being wrong with your car parts or systems. In this case, here are some tips to remove odor from cars that can help. 

Deep clean the car’s upholstery and carpet 

The upholstery and carpet in your vehicle can be a hotbed for weird odors. Maybe you’ve had fast food crumbs, dirt, dust, spills, debris from your shoes, etc. all mixed together to create an uninviting car smell. 

To help, vacuum the carpet in your car and wash any floor mats. Consider going to a car wash and getting a deep clean of your vehicle’s interior. 

Remove the mildew smell 

If you smell mildew, you want to know how to remove mildew smell out of the car ASAP due to its strong and undesirable smell. If your car has gotten wet from rain, perhaps from an umbrella, your shoes, or a window left slightly open, the extra moisture can breed mold and mildew. 

Consider steam cleaning the carpet in your vehicle and drying it out in the sun or with a hairdryer. Wipe down or wring out any additional moisture found in areas of your car. You may also use an anti-mildew cleaning solution and use baking soda to help neutralize the smell. 

Ditch the smoke smell 

Smoke can linger for a long time, so if you or anyone in your vehicle is a smoker, the smell can be pervasive. 

The first thing you want to do is get some fresh air into the vehicle with windows open. Additionally, to help remove car odor, get a spray or other type of product into the vents and areas of your car to ditch the smoke car smell. For example, you can try Zep smoke odor eliminator spray or Ozium smoke and odor eliminator gel. 

Do away with the AC smells 

If the car smell is coming from your AC system, consider changing out your cabin air filter right away and getting some Lysol disinfectant to get rid of any bacteria that could be the culprit behind the smell. 

Watch this helpful video on how to do it. Make sure you dust the whole car, get rid of wet floor mats, let them dry thoroughly, and air out your vehicle. 

Get rid of sickness or accident smells 

Perhaps you or a friend drank too much or experienced car sickness and vomited in the car or while transporting a pet to the vet, they had an accident. These experiences can be common but can leave a lasting car smell. Cleaning up right away is your best bet to get rid of the smell. Even then, there may be a scent that lingers. In that case, you can use baking soda to absorb some of the smell and try cleaning it with a mixture of water and vinegar. 

The bottom line 

Dealing with an awful car smell can affect your experience with driving and be unpleasant. Knowing what the smell is can help you identify if there’s a more significant issue at play. If it’s simply odor trapped in the car from bacteria, mildew, mold, etc., using the steps above you can remove odor from the car. Keeping your car clean is just one part of car maintenance. Making sure you’re properly covered with car insurance is another. Don’t drive that much? It’s time to rethink auto insurance coverage and pay for insurance by the miles you drive. Get a free quote with Metromile

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 Gender Has More Accidents?

Car safety on the road is important for everyone. Fatal car crashes can occur among all drivers and end in tragedy, but there are some notable differences when it comes to gender. So do females get in more car accidents or do men? Read on to learn the differences between men and women in car accidents and what factors come into play. 

Men vs Women in Car Accidents | Metromile

What gender has more accidents? 

When looking at the data, there are some interesting findings when looking at men versus women in car accidents. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) analyzed data from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) and found that:

  • More men die in car crashes each year.
  • Men have a higher likelihood of engaging in risky driving behavior such as not wearing a seatbelt, driving under the influence of alcohol, as well as speeding. 
  • Men typically drive more miles than women. 
  • Severe accidents tend to occur more with men than women. 
  • Females have a higher chance of being injured or killed in crashes that are equally severe, though this narrows with age. 
  • From 1975 to 2019, male crash deaths were more than double female crash deaths. 
  • In 2019, 71% of car fatalities were males. 
  • As of 2019, males made up 71% of driver deaths in a passenger vehicle, 48% of deaths as a passenger in a passenger vehicle, 96% of driver deaths in a large truck, 67% of deaths as a passenger in a large truck, 70% of pedestrian deaths, 86% of bike deaths, as well as 91% of motorcyclist deaths. 

As you can see, men have a higher likelihood of dying in a fatal car crash but women are more susceptible to injury or death in certain cases. Let’s take a look at some of the main causes.


Driving under the influence of alcohol 

Driving under the influence of alcohol puts you at risk of getting a DUI and is dangerous. You put yourself and others at risk for injury and death. When it comes to what gender has more alcohol-related accidents, men definitely take the lead. 

According to IIHS, the percentage of men with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level of 0.08% (the legal limit) or above is much higher for men compared to women and has been the case every year from 1982 to 2019. 

For example, as of 2019, it’s estimated that men made up 32% of deaths with BAC over the legal limit, whereas women made up 21% of deaths with BAC over the legal limit. 

According to The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), as of 2019, there were 10,142 deaths from drunk driving crashes. The organization noted that this was the lowest percentage of drunk driving deaths since they started tracking numbers in 1982. 

Unfortunately, that trend shifted with the onset of the pandemic. According to NHTSA data, fatalities due to alcohol-related crashes were up 14% in 2020 compared to 2019. 

Driving over the speed limit 

Driving over the speed limit, or speeding is another major contributing factor in accidents and fatal car crashes. The pandemic has also led to a boost in speeding-related crashes as well. According to NHTSA data, speeding-related fatal car crashes were up 17% in 2020 compared to 2019.

Based on IIHS data, speeding contributed to a higher percentage of male drivers dying in accidents than women drivers. 

Similar to drinking, this has been the case every year from 1982 to 2019. As of 2019, male drivers made up 27% of speeding-related deaths, whereas female drivers made up 18% of speeding-related deaths. 

Age as a factor 

Another factor to consider when evaluating men and women in car accidents is age. Age can be a factor as younger drivers may be less experienced on the road, and senior drivers may have health issues that could contribute to car accidents. So what gender has more accidents by age? 

According to IIHS, male drivers are still at higher risk of fatal car crashes. Remember, men tend to drive more miles than women, which adds to that risk. But age may contribute as well. 

Based on 2016-2017 data, rates may be higher for men between the ages of 16 and 29 than women. The biggest difference in gender occurred between ages 20 and 29. As of 2017, fatal car crash rates per 100 million miles driven that occurred in passenger vehicles were 1.6 for female drivers aged 20 to 29 and 3.9 for male drivers in the same age group. 

More recent data from 2019 analyzed by IIHS illustrates that passenger vehicle occupant deaths were higher among men in every age group than women, aside from 0-15 years. So, pretty much among all drivers who are legally able to obtain their driver’s license. 

The highest fatality rate for men in accidents occurred in male drivers 85 and up. The next highest fatality rates were among male drivers aged 80 to 84 as well as 20 to 24. 

Women in car accidents 

If you’ve wondered do females get in more car accidents or do men, now you know that men have a higher rate of car accidents and increased rates of risky driving behavior. 

But IIHS also found that women in accidents may have an increased risk of injury or death. So what’s behind that? Based on IIHS analysis, women are more likely to drive in a smaller vehicle and have a higher chance of being the vehicle that is struck in a car crash that has a side impact or front-to-rear impact. 

Men are more likely to have a larger vehicle that may offer greater protection and are more likely to be the vehicle that strikes another vehicle in a crash. However, in the event of injuries, women had a 2.5 times higher chance of sustaining moderate leg injuries. 

The bottom line 

Driving comes with a level of risk for everyone. But what gender has more accidents comes down to many factors including age, speed, and driving under the influence. Though there are higher rates of men in accidents, women in accidents may have a higher risk of injury or death in some cases. 

Regardless of your gender, to stay safe it’s key to drive the appropriate speed limit, avoid taking any mind-altering substances and practice defensive driving. Also, make sure your insurance has got you covered in the event of an accident. Low-mileage drivers can benefit from pay-per-mile car insurance. Just like you pay for gas by the gallon, why not pay for insurance by the miles you drive? Get insurance that makes sense. Get a free quote with Metromile and review your options. 

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 To Do If You Hydroplane

When you get behind the wheel, there are various risk factors that can impact your driving. One major factor that can affect driving conditions is the weather. This is especially true of rainy weather when the water meets the asphalt, creating conditions that can increase the likelihood of hydroplaning. Find out what hydroplaning refers to and what to do if you hydroplane. 

What To Do When Hydroplaning | Metromile

What is hydroplaning? 

Hydroplaning — which is sometimes referred to as aquaplaning —  is when your vehicle skids across water because your tires don’t have enough traction to stay sturdy on the road. This typically occurs in rainy and wet conditions and can be a scary experience as it can feel like you’re losing control of your car. 

The slippery asphalt makes it difficult for your tires to gain enough traction to move forward safely and can cause you to hydroplane. This may cause spinning in one direction and may lead to difficulties with braking or steering.  

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration (FHA), “​​A roadway must have an appropriate level of pavement friction to ensure that drivers are able to keep their vehicles safely in the lane. Poor pavement conditions, especially wet pavement, have been identified as one of the major contributing factors in roadway departure crashes. When a pavement surface is wet, the level of pavement friction is reduced, and this may lead to skidding or hydroplaning.

What to do when hydroplaning?

Wet weather can increase the likelihood of an accident. According to FHA data, the majority of car crashes due to weather occur in rainy and wet conditions with 70% happening on wet pavement and 46% occurring during rainfall. When you hydroplane, you could boost your chances of getting into a car accident. 

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) notes that conditions are most dangerous within 10 minutes of rainfall and can occur even if you’re going 30 miles per hour or less. If your vehicle begins to hydroplane, you should stay calm and take the following steps. 

What to do when hydroplaning:

  • Take your foot off the accelerator
  • Avoid hitting the brakes
  • Position the steering wheel toward the same direction you’re going
  • If possible, let your car slow down on its own and avoid braking hard, but if you must brake, hit the brake gently 
  • For drivers with a manual transmission, you can release the clutch 
  • Regain control of the car and head to safety 

Once you’re in the clear, you can pull over somewhere safe and recalibrate your nervous system with some deep breaths and a sigh of relief. If there is an incident with another car or damage to your vehicle while hydroplaning, call for help ASAP. 

What not to do when hydroplaning? 

Now that you know what to do if you hydroplane, here’s what not to do when hydroplaning. Some of these can seem counterintuitive, but following the course can ensure you regain control of your car faster. 

  • Don’t speed up as a way to get out of the wet area, which can backfire 
  • Avoid slamming your brakes
  • It may seem like you can steer in the opposite direction to counteract the spinning, but you want to steer in the direction you’re going 
  • Avoid using cruise control in wet driving conditions 

Knowing what not to do when hydroplaning is just as important as what to do when hydroplaning so you can find sturdy ground and get to safety. 

Driving tips to prevent hydroplaning 

If your vehicle begins to hydroplane you should take the steps listed above to navigate your car. But there are other things you can do in general to prevent hydroplaning. Here are some driving tips to prevent hydroplaning.

Slow down 

When the pavement is wet, and it’s raining, slow down your car. Keep safety in mind at all times. A reasonable speed in wet weather conditions may be slower than you’re used to but is best for everyone. In fact, going over 35 miles per hour may increase the likelihood of hydroplaning. 

Avoid large puddles of water 

Hydroplaning can happen with just a bit of water on the ground but is more likely to happen in large puddles of water. If you can see large puddles ahead, see if you can avoid them and drive around them. If you can, don’t drive right after the rain if possible, as engine oil and water can make the road super slippery. 

Give yourself more time 

Driving in a rush is always a safety hazard but even more so in the rain. Budget more time if it’s raining so you’re not in a rush and can go to your desired location safely. 

Properly maintain tires 

Check that your tires are properly inflated and avoid uneven tire wear, which may increase your chances of hydroplaning. Additionally, make sure your tires are rotated on a regular basis. If you live in an area that is very rainy, replace your tires as needed and keep them in good shape. Having the right tires that are high-quality can help avoid hydroplaning. 

Say no to cruise control  

Cruise control may make driving easier in some cases but should absolutely be avoided in wet weather conditions such as rain, snow, and ice. It may be more difficult to stop and navigate your vehicle with this setting on. 

Using these driving tips, you can best equip yourself to stay safe on the road, no matter the weather. 

The bottom line 

Figuring out what to do when hydroplaning is scary in the moment. If your vehicle begins to hydroplane you should remain calm, stop accelerating and steer in the same direction your car is moving. Hydroplaning can be a frightening experience so knowing what to do ahead of time and keeping the driving tips above in mind, can help. To stay safe and protected, make sure your car insurance meets your needs. If you need collision coverage or other types of car insurance and are a low-mileage driver, you could benefit from pay-per-mile insurance coverage. Using Metromile, you pay a base rate and several cents for each mile you drive. Grab a free quote to see your potential savings

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.

Your Guide On What To Do When Your Car Overheats

The sun’s out and the warm weather feels nice on your skin. You’re ready to head out on an adventure in your car but your plans are foiled as you see what looks like steam or smoke coming from your engine. Uh oh. Time to pull over. If you find yourself in this situation, here’s what to do when your car overheats and what may cause it. 

What To Do When Your Car Overheats | Metromile

Why your car may be overheating 

If your car is overheating, it’s likely you have an issue with your engine and its cooling system. Your car’s engine can get extremely hot, with combustion chamber temperatures going up to a scorching 4500 degrees Fahrenheit. Because of that, all the cooling systems need to work properly to divert the heat away from the engine. So what happens when a car overheats? It could be one of the following:

If you suspect your car is overheating, you want to stop it quickly as it could permanently damage your engine. 

How to know if your car is overheating 

There are some telltale signs you should be aware of if you think your car is overheating. These include:

  • Check engine light is activated 
  • There’s an odd smell coming from your engine, which can be a sweet aroma if your coolant is leaking or burnt if there is oil leaking
  • Steam which can appear to be white smoke rising from the hood of your car
  • The temperature gauge for your engine reads “H” or is in the red (can vary by car, so check your owner’s manual) 

If your car is showing any of these signs, below is what to do when your car overheats and what to avoid. 

What to do when your car overheats 

If your car is oozing steam and smoke, it can feel alarming and dangerous. While scary, try to remain calm. Here are some tips for what to do when your car overheats. 

Step 1: Pull over 

If your car is overheating, the first thing you want to do is to pull over. If you’re on the highway or on a busy street, it may be difficult, but get off at the next exit or onto a shoulder (if it’s safe) and turn off your car so you stop using the engine. To allow your engine to fully cool off, keep the car off for at least 15 minutes. 

During this time, look at the temperature gauge for your engine and hopefully, it moves away from “H” or red as it begins to cool. To get the issue checked out, call roadside assistance if that’s an option or a friend or family member who can help. 

Step 2: Turn off the air conditioning and run the heat 

If you can’t pull over right away and your air conditioning is on, turn it off. Then, run the heat. It can seem counterintuitive but having the heater on can take some of the heat from the engine and reroute it. While it may mean the inside of your car is hotter, doing that can help limit the damage to your engine. 

Step 3: Review your coolant levels 

As noted above, your car overheating may be due to a coolant leak. Once you’re pulled over safely, review your coolant levels. If the coolant levels are low and you have some coolant on hand, add some coolant to tide you over until you get to the root of the issue. 

This step may help but if your car is overheating because of a hose or radiator issue, it won’t be the band-aid you need in this situation. 

Step 4: Turn your car back on and drive to a mechanic 

After allowing your car time to cool down after 15 minutes or more and adding coolant, turn your car back on and head to a mechanic. If your gauge indicates more overheating, you may need to pull over again and get a tow to safely fix your car. 

What to avoid if your car is overheating 

Having white hot smoke or steam coming out of the hood of your car feels ominous. You don’t want to make it worse, so here’s what to avoid if your car is overheating. 

Ignore the issue 

When you’re driving, you’re typically headed somewhere unless you’re going for a joyride. It’s inconvenient to deal with an issue like your car overheating and you may want to ignore it and continue driving. Pro tip: don’t. If you want to salvage your engine and maintain your safety, you want to stop driving ASAP. 

Not getting it checked out 

Using the steps listed above, you know what to do when cars overheat. But adding coolant or pulling over is a temporary fix. Even if things improve after that, you want to address what’s really happening and fix the issue. Not getting your car checked out after it overheats is a definite don’t. 

Avoid panic driving 

If you see smoke coming from your car, it can feel scary. But avoid panic driving as it can compromise your safety. Don’t excessively speed or change lanes too quickly in an attempt to pull over. 

Don’t open the car hood right away 

When you’re safely pulled over, it’s natural to want to assess what’s going on and check your engine. But you don’t want to open the car hood right away and risk being burned. As recommended, wait 15 minutes and check the gauge beforehand so you don’t put yourself in danger. 

How to prevent your car engine from overheating 

Dealing with an engine that’s overheating can feel like flirting with disaster and something you want to avoid at all costs. To prevent your car from overheating, regular car maintenance is key. You can:

  • Maintain coolant levels
  • Get a coolant flush
  • Do regular radiator check-ups
  • Perform routine car inspections

Maintenance can lead to prevention, which is always easier and more cost-effective compared to treating an issue. 

The bottom line 

What happens when a car overheats can feel scary if you’re behind the wheel. Taking the steps above, you can know what to do when your car overheats and take appropriate action. As part of your car safety, make sure you have appropriate car insurance coverage. Metromile offers roadside assistance and pay-per-mile coverage, so you pay based on the miles you drive. You pay for gas by the gallon, why not pay for insurance by the miles you drive? Grab your free quote with Metromile today

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.

Why Is Gas So Expensive, Explained

If you’ve had to fill up your gas tank recently, you’ve likely felt the pinch of rising gas prices. Seeing the new gas prices can make you do a double-take and feel like an insult to your wallet. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), as of March 7th , the average gas price across the U.S. is $4.10 per gallon. If you live on the West coast, gas prices are even more expensive, currently at an average of $4.77 per gallon. In March 2022, LA County already hit $5 per gallon. This is a significant increase from the early pandemic when average gas prices were $1.8 per gallon in May 2020, according to data analyzed by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. But why are gas prices rising? We break down why gas prices are going up right now and what you should know. 

Why Are Gas Prices Going Up Right Now? | Metromile

More driving, more demand 

In the first year of the pandemic, many people were staying home and not driving as much. In the second year of the pandemic, driving habits shifted significantly. According to The Federal Highway Administration, cumulative travel in 2021 was up 11.2%. Travel on all roads and streets increased the same percentage (11.2%) from December 2021 compared to December 2020. The total estimate for the year is a whopping 3,228.8 billion vehicle miles of travel.

Given the increase in miles traveled, it’s clear that people are back on the road. Also, demand for cars reached an apex, with prices we haven’t seen before. Due to a surge in demand for cars, there’s naturally a surge in demand for gas (except for electric vehicles).  

Gas supply issues 

If you’re wondering why is gas so expensive right now, part of it comes down to gas supply issues. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA):

“U.S. petroleum refineries make gasoline and other petroleum products from crude oil and other liquids that are produced in the United States or imported from other countries. Nearly all of the gasoline sold in the United States is produced in the United States.”

So while gas may be produced in the U.S., it also depends on crude oil — some of which is imported from other countries. 

Source/credit: U.S. Energy Information Administration 

The price of crude oil can be impacted by several things:

  • Supply and demand
  • Weather disruptions
  • Geopolitical events 

Also, these exporting countries influence overall gas prices. According to the EIA, “The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) can have a significant influence on oil prices by setting production targets for its members. OPEC includes countries with some of the world’s largest oil reserves. At the beginning of 2020, OPEC members controlled about 71% of total world proved crude oil reserves (plus lease condensate), and they accounted for 36% of total world crude oil production in 2020.”

Crude oil prices are also on the rise, too. According to EIA data as of March 2nd, 2022:

  • WTI (West Texas Intermediate) crude oil — which is an oil benchmark in the U.S. — is $110.74 per barrel 
  • Brent crude oil — which is an international oil benchmark — is $118.94 per barrel 

That’s approximately a 7% increase across crude oil. What’s also impacting the surge in prices is supply and demand.

The EIA explains that in 2021 demand for petroleum (made from crude oil) in the U.S. and abroad increased and were back to pre-pandemic levels. However, the demand has increased faster than the supply is available. This means lower inventories and higher prices. 

Alongside economic factors like supply and demand that are based on consumers and producers, global events can also impact energy costs. The latest conflict in Ukraine is only adding more volatility into the market, which may also impact gas prices. 

How the Russian invasion of Ukraine may affect gas prices 

At the end of February, the threat that Russia would invade Ukraine and start a war became a reality. Since the invasion has started, it’s added another dimension of volatility and uncertainty to supply chains and energy production. 

As of 2020, 7% of U.S. petroleum imports came from Russia according to EIA data. President Biden recently signed an Executive Order to ban imported oil, gas, and coal from Russia. The EIA also notes that Europe gets most of its oil and natural gas from Russia. 

There are concerns that the ongoing war will continue to hike gas prices up and disrupt supply. According to the International Energy Agency (IEA) as of March 1, 2022, “IEA member countries agreed to release 60 million barrels of oil from their emergency reserves to send a unified and strong message to global oil markets that there will be no shortfall in supplies as a result of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.”

President Biden has committed to releasing 30 million barrels of oil from reserves as well, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. This is the second time reserves have been tapped, totalling 60 million barrels. While it may sound like a lot, the U.S. consumed about 20 million barrels a day last year. So while there are measures being put in place to get more oil out of reserves, it may still fall short and lead to higher gas prices. 

Currently, we’re seeing high rates of inflation — currently at 7.5% — but that may increase with turmoil due to the Russian-Ukrainian war. One CNN analysis projects that we could see 10% inflation. 

The bottom line 

If you’ve been to the pump recently and wondered why is gas so expensive right now, it comes down to supply and demand, and now added volatility and supply disruption due to the war. The good news is there is a decrease projected later in the year but you may have to wait until December to see it. While these factors are largely outside of your control, if possible, you can cut costs by driving less. Of course, that’s not an option for everyone, but if you can, you can drive less, opt for public transportation, biking, and walking. If you do drive less, you stand to save with your car insurance as well with pay-per-mile coverage. Using pay-per-mile insurance, you pay for the miles you drive, along with an affordable base rate, to keep costs low. Find out your rate today with Metromile

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.

8 Car Dashboard Icons You Should Be Aware Of

Your car is a complex machine designed to run properly and keep you safe. That’s why if there are potential issues on the horizon, your car dashboard icons light up to alert you about the issue. These warning signs shouldn’t be ignored, but if you’re unsure of what they mean, it’s easy to keep driving and lean into the whole ignorance is bliss mentality and hope it’s nothing. To stay safe though and keep your car in good shape, it’s worth it to learn the language of car dashboard icons and take necessary action.

Your Guide to Car Dashboard Icons | Metromile

1. The malfunction indicator lamp (MIL) aka the check engine light 

When you’re driving, you might see your malfunction indicator lamp (MIL) illuminated — which is more commonly referred to as the check engine light. Typically the car dashboard icon looks like an engine to alert you to a potential issue with that part of the car. 

According to the car resource website Edmunds, a check engine light could be something as minor as having an issue with your gas cap or something as serious as a misfiring engine. 

According to Consumer Reports, your engine light may blink or remain illuminated, based on the severity of the issue and states:

“A blinking light, or in some cars a red light instead of a yellow or orange light, indicates a problem that needs immediate attention. Either way, you should have the vehicle checked by a mechanic. In late-model cars, a blinking light usually indicates an engine misfire so severe that unburned fuel is being dumped into the exhaust system, where it can quickly damage the catalytic converter, leading to an expensive repair.”

If it’s static and not blinking, the good news is it’s not an emergency. However, in either situation, you want to get it checked out ASAP. 

2. Engine temperature car dashboard icon 

Your car also has an engine temperature car dashboard icon that typically looks like a thermometer. This is your engine temperature warning light which alerts you when the engine is too hot. 

According to John’s Auto Care Center, “​​If this light turns on, it means that your vehicle has detected that the coolant temperature is too high. This indicates that your engine is likely overheating. If your engine is overheating, it is recommended to pull your vehicle over to a safe place and turn off the engine for at least 20 minutes.”

In this case, you could be experiencing a coolant leak or some other issue with your overall cooling system leading to an engine radiating heat. This could damage your engine in the long run, so it’s best to go to a mechanic to check out what’s really going on. 

3. The oil can car dashboard icon 

Another car dashboard icon you might see is the oil can, which is the oil pressure warning light. When this comes on, your car is telling you it’s time for an oil change. 

You need an oil change typically every 5,000 to 7,500 miles though this can vary by vehicle, so it’s best to check your owner’s manual. But if you see this light, it’s an urgent warning that your oil pressure is below optimal levels, so get an oil change and also check to see if there is a leak. No need to panic right away though, as you typically have a cushion of 500 miles before it turns into a serious issue.

4. Battery signal 

Your car battery plays an important role in your vehicle, and keeps the charge going for all the electricity in your car. If you see the battery signal on your car dashboard light up, it could mean that the battery charge isn’t working as it should and may be close to dying. 

In that case, you’ll want to check both your car battery as well as the alternator. You typically need to change your car battery every three to five years, so if it’s been a while, it might be time to replace your car battery. 

5. Brake warning signal 

If you see an exclamation point car light that has a circular border and seems to be hugged by a pair of parentheses, that’s your brake warning signal. This car dashboard icon typically comes on for two reasons:

  1. Your parking brake is activated.
  2. There is a bigger issue with your braking system such as having low levels of braking fluid.

If the light is still on after deactivating your parking brake, it’s something you should address right away. 

6. Tire pressure light 

If you see an exclamation point that looks like it’s inside a deflated tire, that’s your tire pressure warning light. When that comes on, your tire pressure is running low and your tires are likely underinflated and need more air. 

This can lead to uneven tire wear or even a tire blowout. Checking your tire pressure should be a regular part of your car maintenance and checked once per month. 

7. Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS)

Something that is similar to the tire pressure light that may be in some vehicles is the Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS). If you see TPMS or your exclamation point car warning signal isn’t going away after fixing your tire pressure, it could mean that the sensor for detecting low tire pressure isn’t working properly. 

8. Lamp out indicator light

If you see a car dashboard icon that looks like the sun or an exclamation point inside of the sun, that’s your lamp out indicator light. This lets you know that one of your exterior lights might be out. That could mean your headlights are out and need to be fixed. In that case, nighttime driving should be avoided. If you see this warning signal, check on your lights and get them fixed. 

The bottom line 

Learning how to read car dashboard icons can feel like learning a new language. It can be difficult and frustrating at first, but once you know what all the exclamation points in your car means as well as the other warning lights, you’ll be better informed about what’s actually going on with your car. 

If you see a warning light in your car, don’t ignore it for too long and take action to stay safe. As part of your car maintenance and safety, make sure you have the appropriate amount of car insurance coverage as well. You can check out various coverage options with Metromile. Don’t drive very often? It’s time to rethink your auto coverage and pay based on the miles you drive. Get a free quote with Metromile to see how much you could save. 

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 Mike Recovered His Stolen Vehicle in a Few Hours with Metromile

Auto thefts have seen a dramatic increase during the pandemic as people worked from home, commuted less, and left their cars sitting idle for days at a time – 2020 alone saw the most vehicle thefts in more than a decade. And some cars, like late 90’s Hondas and early 2000’s pickup trucks are specifically vulnerable and targeted by thieves

Washington resident Mike A. has been a Metromile customer for nearly 7 years, so when his beloved car was stolen a few weeks ago, he knew he could turn to Metromile for help. We spoke with Mike to hear more about what happened and how he was able to locate his car so quickly with the Metromile app.

Metromile app helps Mike recover his stolen car in only a few hours

Recently, you had your car stolen. Can you share how it happened? 

 A few Fridays ago, my car was stolen at about 5:30 in the morning from the Burlington, Washington area. I have an older Honda that’s been my daily driver for over 25 years. In the last couple of years, I have discovered I’m a natural mechanic and applied many of my own fixes: a new radiator, heater fan, window, seatbelt, distributor, valve seals, etc. The car itself is no showroom piece, it has years of wear and tear, but we’ve been through a lot together. 

I’ve heard car thieves tend to go after old Hondas so I always make sure to use an anti-theft wheel lock when I park my car at night. But that night, the thief broke some of the side panels to gain access to the car and somehow broke the wheel lock that I had in place.

That’s so frustrating, what did you do next?

I opened up the Metromile app and was encouraged to see the car still transmitting its usual GPS signal – so, the game was on. I then quickly called the police and filled out a report, hoping they’d catch the thief in the act. 

Within a half-hour, the police had located the car – I was elated. The thief fled by the time the police found my car but luckily, other than some broken paneling, the car was in its usual condition. 

I could see from the Metromile app that the thief had taken a leisurely drive up the coast of Washington and then driven around in circles a bit before abandoning the car.

That’s great you were able to get it back so quickly, and were able to tell the police the location of the car from your Metromile app! Do you have any advice for other drivers?

I was lucky in that the thief didn’t discover the Metromile Pulse device in my car. If you don’t have insurance like Metromile, I strongly recommend you at least have some kind of GPS or tracking device. 

The bottom line

As Mike saw, things can happen to your car, even when you take precautionary measures to protect your vehicle. That’s why it’s important to have the right amount of coverage and auto insurance you can rely on. Metromile has repeatedly reunited drivers with their lost or stolen vehicles, with an approximately 90% stolen vehicle recovery rate.* 

Not sure if Metromile is a fit for you? Take a Ride Along™ to try before you buy. Download the Metromile app and get a free auto insurance quote. You’ll keep your current coverage and drive as you typically would for about two weeks. Then, we’ll consider your actual driving to provide you with an accurate rate. You could even save up to an additional 15% off your quote in select states for your safe driving.

*As of February 2021