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Your Ultimate Road Trip Car Checklist

You’ve been dreaming and planning about hitting the open road and going on a full-fledged road trip. Maybe you want to do a cross-country expedition and see the sights, or you want to head up and down the coast and find a new beach to soak your feet in every day. Whatever your dream is, you want to make sure you’re prepared ahead of time.

Check out our road trip car checklist before you hit the road. The last thing you want to do is be unprepared or deal with issues when trying to have an adventure of a lifetime.

Checklist on Things to Check Before A Road Trip | Metromile

Fill up your tank and check your fluids.

Before hitting the road, of course, you need to fill up your gas tank. Your vehicle needs gas to keep going for long hours on the road. 

Aside from filling up your gas tank, check your engine oil as well. It may be time to change your oil. A good rule of thumb is to replace the oil in your car before you rack up several thousands of miles on your vehicle. 

It’s also a good idea to check your other fluids, such as your windshield washer, engine coolant, and power steering and transmission fluids. You’ll want every part of your vehicle to be at its best while on the road.

Check your filters.

You don’t want to forget to check your filters before a long drive. Your engine air filter helps keep out any extra materials or debris from your engine. If your engine air filter is dirty, it might be time for a change. Be sure to check your engine air filter and replace it if needed before your road trip. 

Another filter to check is your car’s cabin filter. You want to breathe fresh while in your car for long periods. You may be able to use a vacuum to remove dust or use a cleaning solution that helps you rinse it out. 

Changing your filters can help with overall efficiency and performance.

Make sure your tires are full.

If the air in your tires is a bit dull and flat, it can have a negative impact on the car’s fuel efficiency. When on a road trip, you’ll want to maximize efficiency while on the road, so be sure to check your tire pressure ahead of time. 

Many new vehicles will let you know if the tire pressure is getting into the danger zone, but if you have an older car without alerts, you’ll want to check yourself. 

You can get a pneumatic gauge to check where your tires are at. Review your car owner’s manual to understand the recommended tire pressure for your types of tires, and if needed, find the nearest air pump at a gas station and fill up your tires with air. 

Don’t fill up your tires any more than necessary, and make sure you have a spare tire ready to go.

Look at your car’s battery.

You’ll want to check your car’s battery before a road trip. Your battery is a crucial part of keeping everything running in your car, so you want to check it before your road trip.

Make sure your battery is clean, and there is no battery corrosion. Additionally, ensure your car battery is secure and in place. If you start to hear out-of-the-ordinary sounds, such as cranking, it might be time for a battery replacement.
 
If you expect to park your car for a while at one of your pit stops, make sure to start your car and run the battery every so often.

Take a look at the belts and hoses.

Before going on a road trip, take a look at the belts and hoses under the hood of your car. You want to make sure that the belts are tightly secured. You also want to see if there is any damage, such as cracks or frays, that can affect the belt. 

Also, while you’re under your car’s hood, check the hoses for any leaks or holes, as they could cause issues later if not addressed or fixed now.

Test the brakes.

Having your brakes work properly is key to having a safe road trip. Your brakes can prevent accidents and help keep you and others safe.

Ask yourself: Can you fully engage the brake? Are there any weird sounds when you use the brake?

If you hear a high-pitched sound when you brake, you should get your brakes checked out by a professional before heading out on your trip. The professional can advise you if your brakes need maintenance, replacement, or just some brake fluid.

Check out the electrical equipment.

As part of your regular car maintenance, you should remember to check out the electrical equipment in your vehicle. You should ensure everything is in good shape before your road trip, too. 

Double-check: Are your lights still working? Is your dashboard still working? Do your turn signals work? 

Make sure all the electronics on your vehicle are good to go so you can safely drive. You don’t want to be caught for a surprise when you’re on a remote road or far away from the nearest repair shop.

Consider getting roadside assistance coverage.

Before going on a road trip, you want to think of any issues that may arise. You want to hope for the “best” but plan for the “worst” too, because you just never know. 

One way to protect yourself is to get roadside assistance coverage

Roadside assistance can help you if you get stranded or have any issues while on the road. Metromile offers roadside assistance assurance for a few dollars a month and includes car battery jump-starts, locksmith services, tows, and more.

The bottom line

Before hitting the road for a grand adventure and finalizing your epic playlist, do your due diligence to make sure your car is safe and in good shape for long trips. Using this road trip car checklist can give you everything you might need to have a safe and fun road trip.

Having the right auto insurance is also essential before you drive. 

Metromile’s pay-per-mile auto insurance provides the same great coverage you’re used to with some potential added savings.

Drivers can save 47% a year on average when they switch to Metromile, according to a 2018 survey of drivers who saved with Metromile. Get a free insurance quote, and see if pay-per-mile insurance is right for you with Ride Along™, a free trial available on the Metromile app. You can earn up to an extra 15% off your Metromile quote after showing you’re a safe driver (you’ll need to keep your current insurance provider for the 17-day trial 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.

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.

How to Store a Car Long-Term if You Don’t Drive Much

Whether you’re going on vacation, taking public transportation more frequently, or simply driving less, you might want to know how to store your car long-term.

If you don’t plan on driving for an extended period, you might want to consider long-term car storage. Before you put your car away, you might want to consider these tips to help make sure your vehicle stays in good shape. After all, you don’t want to be stuck with a dead car battery or an engine issue the next time you want to take your car for a spin.

car storage

Where should you store your low-mileage vehicle? 

The best place to keep your car for a long time is typically in a covered or indoor garage. Storing your vehicle in a garage can prevent car theft and protect it against the elements, such as the blazing summer sun or a torrential downpour of rain.

If you don’t have access to a garage, you can look into a car storage service. Most major storage companies offer car storage.

If your most viable option is keeping it outside, you might want to consider purchasing a waterproof car cover to keep your vehicle clean.

How to store a car long-term?

If you don’t plan on using your car for a month or more, consider these best practices to keep your stored car in good condition.

    1. Keep your car clean and covered

Dirt and residue can eat away at your car’s exterior if left on for a long time. It may feel odd to get your car nice and spiffy just to keep it locked away, but a clean car can help prevent other issues later.

Keeping your vehicle covered in a garage or wrapped in a weatherproof car cover can help keep your car clean and safe.

    2. Fill up your gas tank before you go

While you won’t be going anywhere anytime soon, it is a good idea to fill up your gas tank before you go. A full gas tank can prevent moisture from accumulating inside the fuel tank.

Excess condensation in your fuel tank can lead to acceleration problems. It can also cause a fuel line freeze in the winter, which can cause issues when you want to run your car engine.

If you plan to store your car for a very long time, you may want to purchase a fuel stabilizer to prevent your gasoline from becoming gummy.

An added benefit of a full gas tank? You’ll thank yourself when you get back and need to drive again.

    3. Evaluate your oil situation regularly

Oil changes are a part of keeping your car well maintained. If you’re looking into long-term car storage for 30 days or more, you may also want to change your oil.

Old oil may damage your car engine. Before you store your car, make sure to drive it around a bit so that the new oil gets circulated in the engine.

    4. Keep your car battery topped up

All vehicles typically experience a tiny amount of battery drain, even while turned off.

Mechanic Matt suggests purchasing a battery tender, a small charger that keeps your battery topped off every day.

Alternatively, you can also have a trusted friend turn on the engine every couple of weeks to help maintain your car battery.

    5. Don’t engage the parking brake

Though you might be tempted to engage your parking brake, you’ll want to avoid it if you’re storing your car for months. Brake pads could get stuck or fuse with the rotors after a long time.

To avoid issues with your parking brake, look into wheel chocks that can act as a tire stopper instead.

    6. Get some air in your tires

Another must-do for your car maintenance checklist is the air level in your tires.

If the tires are under-inflated, head to the gas station to add some air to your tires. Flat spots can develop as the vehicle’s weight presses down on the tires, even while idle.

It could also help to have an air compressor on hand to quickly inflate a flat if you can’t make it to a gas station.

    7. Protect your car from animals

Believe it or not: Animals, including cats and rodents, may make your car home when idled or stored. These animals could chew parts of your car, hide in exhaust pipes, or cause other types of wear or maintenance issues.

The key to protecting your car from animals is to cover parts, such as the exhaust pipe and other areas with free space to prevent them from entering when you’re away.

    8. Get pay-per-mile auto insurance for your car

Don’t forego your car insurance during long-term car storage.

Consider pay-per-mile auto insurance if you don’t frequently drive, as you’ll want to keep your car protected, even while it’s in storage. Because you won’t be driving your car while it’s stored, pay-per-mile coverage could help you save considerable amounts of money while it’s stored.

Taking your car out of long-term storage

Once you’re ready to take your car out of long-term storage, do a quick inspection before starting the engine. You’ll want to make sure your vehicle is safe to operate before driving.

Check the windshield wipers, tire pressure, fluid levels, brakes, and under the hood to see if anything looks off. Then, make any necessary maintenance or repairs to get your vehicle in good condition.

If you’re often leaving your car unused and don’t drive that much, consider switching to Metromile pay-per-mile insurance to pay for how much you drive. Drivers could save 47% a year on average, according to a 2018 survey of new Metromile customers who saved.

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.

Car Maintenance for the Low-Mileage Driver

Car maintenance is important, even if you don't drive much. Here's what you should know to keep your vehicle in good shape.

If you’re already a Metromile customer, there’s a great chance that you’re a low-mileage driver. Paying for the miles you drive is just one of the perks of being a Metromile customer and low-mileage driver. 

Another major perk of driving less? You might be able to keep the time and money spent on car maintenance down to a reasonable amount.

Have you ever brought your car to the mechanic for one thing, only for them to give you a list of problems you weren’t aware of? You might even wonder if they’re trying to take advantage of you.

But here’s the thing: Because you don’t drive as often, your car might not need maintenance as frequently as more heavy drivers. So you might be able to get away with things like fewer oil changes. You might also save time on other things like flushing the transmission fluid or replacing the coolant and antifreeze.

Let’s take a closer look at what you might be able to skip and what you might still want to do to keep your vehicle in good shape.

Are you a Low-Mileage Driver?

Wondering if you are a low-mileage driver? As a general rule of thumb, you are most likely a low-mileage driver if you are clocking fewer than 40 miles per day or fall into the following categories:

If you fall into one of these camps and realize that you don’t drive your car very often, there are some things you can do to ensure you’re getting the most bang for your buck when having your vehicle serviced.

The Top 6 Car Maintenance Tips for Low-Mileage Drivers

1. Get regular check-ups for your vehicle. 

You’ll still want to take the car to your auto repair shop at least every six months to monitor the condition of your vehicle. Surprised? Things can go wrong if your car isn’t driven regularly (yep, even if it’s garaged!).

2. Only change dirty oil. 

Despite popular belief, oil only needs to be changed when it’s dirty. Check your oil dipstick once a month to keep tabs on the status of the oil. If it is no longer a light or golden color, it may be time for an oil change.

3. Drive the car at least once a month. 

At a minimum, you should be starting up your engine and driving your car on the highway for at least 15 miles once a month. This will ensure fluids are flowing correctly and keep your car running smoothly for years to come.

4. Check for furry visitors or other stowaways in your vehicle. 

Car engines make nice little homes for furry creatures like mice, squirrels, and rats, especially during the colder months. 

Check the condition of the fuel lines and other rubber components under the car to make sure they haven’t been chewed through or exposed to too much wear.

5. Install a carbon eliminator. 

Add a carbon eliminator to your gas tank yearly to avoid carbon build-up. 

What is a carbon eliminator, you ask? It removes tough carbon deposits from rings, valves, ports, and combustion chambers to improve engine performance, reduce fuel consumption, restore power and extend engine life.

6. Do the following every six months:

  • Have your car placed on a lift for a tire inspection. This ensures your safety every time you hop in the car. While your car is up on the lift, check the undercarriage and tires for dry rot or other damage.
  • Check the air filter and ventilation system. In addition to the engine, both the air filter and the ventilation system can make great homes for all sorts of unwanted stowaways. It can pay off to double-check your system.
  • Check all the fluids. In cars, both the antifreeze and brake fluid deteriorate with age. Checking these every six months ensures that everything is in working order.

Things You Might Not Need to Do

As it turns out, there are things that a low-mileage driver like you doesn’t need to do very often (or at all). 

You should just about never need to use nitrogen in your tires, which can save you a few dollars per tire. 

You will also rarely need to flush your transmission fluid because most car manufacturers now use fluid good enough for 100,000 miles or more, what they sometimes call a “lifetime.” Additionally, modern coolant and antifreeze are also meant to last for the “lifetime” of many vehicles and could save you about $50 to $100 in changes.

An example of unnecessary car maintenance for the low-mileage driver is changing the engine oil too often. 

It used to be the norm for vehicle owners to schedule an oil change every 3,000 miles. However, with modern lubricants, most newer engines have recommended oil change intervals of 5,000 to 7,500 miles. If your engine requires full-synthetic motor oil, it might go as far as 15,000 miles between services. For low-mileage drivers, you might need an oil change once a year or less often!

Why is maintenance important for a car’s health?

That’s not to say you should ignore maintenance on your car altogether.

It’s like going to the doctor. If you’re a healthy person, you might not need to go to the doctor as often as someone who gets sick all the time. But doctors still recommend you go in for an annual exam to make sure nothing has changed.

The same is true with your car.

Regardless of how often you drive, it’s still essential to get your car checked out now and then to make sure things are running smoothly. In the long run, routine car maintenance can help you avoid car troubles down the road.

But it’s just a matter of how often you need to bring your car into the auto shop for a tune-up. For low-mileage drivers, you might be able to go longer in-between visits without risking damage to your vehicle.

How can low-mileage drivers save money with pay-per-mile car insurance?

If you’re a low-mileage driver, not only could your car need less frequent maintenance, but you could also save money with a pay-as-you-go auto insurance policy that charges you based on how many miles you drive. 

With Metromile, you’ll pay a small base rate every month, regardless of how much you drive, to help keep your vehicle covered. But most of your premium is based on the number of miles you drive. So the less you drive, the more you could save.

Take a look at the average annual car insurance savings enjoyed by new Metromile customers:

Miles Driven Per YearPer MonthPer WeekSavings*
10,000 miles833 miles192 miles$541
6,000 miles500 miles115 miles$741
2,500 miles208 miles48 miles$947
* Average annual car insurance savings by new customers surveyed who saved with Metromile in 2018.

The bottom line

Think pay-per-mile insurance might be in your future?

To find out just how much you could save, you can get a free auto insurance quote from Metromile to see how much you could save with pay-per-mile auto insurance.

You can also try Ride Along™ for free to get a more accurate rate. 

Ride Along is a free feature (not insurance coverage) on the Metromile app, which considers your actual driving, including how many miles you drive, to show you how much you could save before purchasing a policy and switching to Metromile.

The Complete Guide to Adapting Your Vehicle

Whether you have a disabled family member or you yourself are living with a disability, you know that disabilities come with their own set of challenges. However, being disabled doesn’t automatically mean that you need to give up your freedom and hand over your car keys. Now more than ever, there are technologies available to adapt vehicles to meet your specific needs. These new technologies will continue to broaden opportunities for people with disabilities to drive safely and comfortably. Your vehicle should act as a workhorse in your life, and the good news is that adapting your vehicle to suit your disability is now simpler than ever.

The-Complete-Guide-to-Adapting-Your-Vehicle

Don’t know where to start? Here at Metromile, we believe that all of our customers should feel empowered to take to the open road with confidence. That’s why we’re here to answer questions you didn’t even know you had about adapting your vehicle to fit your needs. Here’s a breakdown of what types of tools, technology, etc., that you’ll need to adapt your vehicle. Let’s get into it!

Evaluate Your Needs

The first step in this process is evaluating what your needs are. A driver rehabilitation specialist will perform a comprehensive evaluation and will determine the adaptive equipment that best fits your needs. See how to get in touch with a specialist here!

Here’s what you can expect the specialist to evaluate:

  • Vision
  • Coordination and reaction time
  • Muscle strength, flexibility, and range of motion
  • Judgement and decision-making abilities

The specialist will also assess your ability to drive with the adaptive equipment and how the equipment will wear on your body over time. Once finished with the evaluation, the specialist will provide a comprehensive report containing driving requirements/restrictions, as well as specific recommendations for future adaptive equipment.

Finding the Right Vehicle

Now comes the fun part – car shopping! Finding the right vehicle to meet your needs doesn’t have to be a daunting task. Keep the following in mind when you’re car shopping and you’ll be good as gold.

Here are the questions to ask when shopping for a vehicle:

  • Does the vehicle have the cargo capacity to accommodate and carry the equipment you require?
  • Does the vehicle have the space and capacity to accommodate your family members or other passengers when it is loaded/modified with the equipment you require?
  • Will there be adequate parking space at home and work to fit the vehicle? How about when you’re loading/unloading a wheelchair? What if you use a walker?
  • Are there any additional options that are necessary for the vehicle to be safely operated?

There are also some features that you can look for in a potential vehicle, such as:

  • High or extra-wide doors
  • Large interior door handles
  • Adjustable foot pedals
  • Large/oversized knobs with clearly marked labels
  • Support handles to assist with entering and exiting the vehicle (there are even handy tools that fit in most car door jambs!)
  • Seat adjusters that can move in all directions
    • Specifically, a seat adjuster that can raise the seat so the driver’s line of sight is 3 inches above the adjusted steering wheel
  • Dashboard-mounted ignition (rather than steering column-mounted ignition)

Remember that your mobility equipment dealer and your driver rehabilitation specialist are qualified to ensure the vehicle you select can be modified to meet your adaptive equipment needs.

Safety Tips

As a rule of thumb: both new and advanced drivers will need safety training on how to use the new adaptive equipment. Literature and off-road training will not be sufficient, as most types of adaptive equipment are quite complex. It is important to meet with your driver rehabilitation specialist for on-the-road training of your new equipment because they have the expertise and extensive knowledge of adaptive technologies.

Additionally, make sure that your vehicle is always in tip-top condition before hitting the road. Keep a running checklist and be sure to check it often for things such as:

  • Proper tire pressure
  • Frequent oil changes
  • Fluid levels (power steering, brake fluid, and engine coolant)

Keep in mind that your adaptive equipment may need more frequent check-ups or special attention than the rest of your regular vehicle maintenance!

Remember: just because life handed you or a family member a disability does not mean that you have to give up all of your freedom. There are so many great adaptive technologies available now, the key is figuring out with ones are right for you. Be sure to check out Metromile to get a free quote – it only takes a moment and could end up saving you a pretty penny! Be safe and see you on the roads!

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

How to Prepare Your Car For Winter

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

How-to-Prepare-Your-Car-for-Winter-

Step One: The Annual Physical

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

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

Step Two: The Lincoln Test

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

Step Three: Oil Switch

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

Step Four: Wax On, Wax Off

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

Step Five: In Case of Emergency

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

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

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

Away From Your Car? Here’s How to Keep it Protected

This week in preparation for holiday travels we wanted to share some car tips about keeping your car in the best shape when you aren’t using it at all. If you have a car, and don’t use it very much, you could save big on car insurance with Metromile’s pay-per-mile insurance. Get a free quote now!

Mercedes Benz at Airport Parking Lot. Car Tips

Cars are wonderful instruments of convenience. They allow us to live freely, save time and stay connected to the people we’re closest to. That’s why it’s ironic the troubles a car can cause you if you’re leaving for an extended amount of time. There are plenty of reasons why a person might leave their car. We all have demanding responsibilities to our families and work that might demand unique things from us. Vacations, moving between states – the list goes on and on.

But cars aren’t meant to be neglected. Leaving without preparing and securing your car could give you fits once you return. A new battery is nearly a given and you might even run into more severe issues like engine trouble. You can save yourself that headache with a little know-how. Here are our top car tips for keeping your car in tip-top shape when it isn’t being used.

    Car Tips: Storage

    The first issue is pretty simple: Where can I safely store my car? Many people opt to leave their car with a friend or family who can keep an eye on it and potentially drive it around a bit. This is a great solution if you can find something so convenient.
    There are still issues, however. A car that’s parked on a street for prolonged periods of time is always at risk of being towed. And if your car-sitter cannot make the time to give your vehicle’s engine a chance to heat up and work a bit, you’ll still need to make some precautions.
    Another option is a vehicle storage facility. This can include outdoor parking – like at an airport – or even something indoors. These facilities will provide you a secure location for your car with constant supervision. Depending on your needs and how long you’ll be gone, these are a great place to start.

    Car Tips: Security

    We all leave things in our cars that we use regularly. To save on the hassle of emptying your car and locking everything up tightly, picking the right place to monitor your car will be another major convenience.
    Take the time to look up local laws on parking and car ownership as well. It’s good to double check that sort of thing to prevent any issues. Especially considering you won’t be in town to fix any troubles that may arise.

    Car Tips: Preparing Your Car

    Sitting for prolonged periods of time isn’t healthy – and that’s just as true for cars. The battery will bleed away it’s charge, the gas can breakdown and moisture can damage car parts. But there’s plenty you can do to keep your car running smoothly once you return.

    • Disconnect the battery: By unplugging the negative charge of your battery, you’ll save yourself the trouble of needing a new battery once you return. The electronic parts of your car drain you battery slowly even when the car’s not being used. This is especially an issue in newer cars. Be sure to wrap the negative end in a thick cloth so it will not touch anything else.
      Note: If you are a Metromile customer we do not recommend unplugging your car battery as this will cause the Pulse device to stop sending us your mileage data. We do recommend you call us to let us know your travel plans so we can assist.
    • Top off your fluids: One of the biggest dangers to your car when you’re gone is moisture. Outside moisture can get into your gas tank, your engine, and plenty other placed where it can wreak havoc on your car over a prolonged time. By going to get your car serviced and your fuels topped off before leaving, moisture will have a more difficult time getting to the places where it can hurt your car the most. Another issue here is that impurities can leak to the engine. By putting in new fluids, you remove the possibilities of impurities that can hurt your car.
    • Get a full tank of gas and a fuel stabilizer : Remember that fluids thing? Same issue here. A full tank will repel outside moisture. Adding a fuel stabilizer is another great tip if you’ll be gone for a longer period of time.
    • Put the car on a jack :If you’re going to be gone for months, putting your car on a jack will save the tires. Tires can develop flat spots that render them faulty if left in one place for too long.
    • Cover it : Finally, make sure to cover your vehicle’s exterior. This is especially vital if you’re storing it outside. Dirt and other debris can leave stains on your paint if left for prolonged periods.

The easiest solution really is having a friend or family member help you with your car. But if you’ll be gone for longer than just a few weeks, it’s not always feasible. It’s always better to know how to treat your car and keep it safe.

Alex Briggs is a contributing writer for Ship a Car Direct.

4 Great Ways to Find the Best Mechanic

We use our cars to go pretty much everywhere. It’s our country’s lifestyle. Whether you need to visit the supermarket, friends, family, or any other need you might have, chances are you’re using your car. And that means we need our cars to work. Your vehicle gathers bumps and bruises from use just like you; the only problem is that these issues are much harder to diagnose in a car or truck. That’s why everyone needs the right mechanic to save them money, hassle, and heartache.

man working under VW bug. 4 Great Ways to Find the Best Mechanic

Not everyone’s a car part prodigy but finding right mechanic means you won’t ever have to be one. A skilled mechanic can teach you all the telltale signs to look for that require attention. Mechanics can be extremely helpful – so long as you know where to find the right one.

    1. Find the Best Mechanic: Look Around Online

    To start, look at review sites of mechanic shops. You can narrow in before you even begin searching in earnest by only researching shops where the staffs have all the certifications and accreditations for automotive repair work.

    It is also not a bad idea to investigate social media pages for mechanics, either. Social media has become an extremely valuable resource for businesses; a shop’s social media page will usually give a genuine feel for the people who work in the shop.

    Look for a shop that seems personable, friendly and at ease. You want a shop that’s comfortable with any and all questions you might have.

    2. Choose the Best Mechanic: Do They Have Enthusiasm for the Job?

    We’ve all seen people who were clearly unenthused about their job. In auto repair, that’s a kiss of death. Excitement and earnestness are crucial when you consider the job. A mechanic cannot just go through the motions; they must be thorough in searching for any and all issues with a car. Many vehicle issues are subtle or show only the barest signs of an issue before they become disastrous. If your mechanic’s simply plodding through their day, that won’t do at all.

    A good mechanic is one who enjoys working with machines on a daily basis. They’re passionate about their own vehicle and will talk cars all day long with you. Manual labor and grease are simply bonus perks that come with the job. If you find a passionate mechanic, stick with them and let them know you appreciate them.

    3. Understand your Mechanic: They Go Beyond Stating Problems

    There are many repair shops where you sit in your car and they’ll briefly run down the repairs before telling you how much to pay.

    But why are you paying? Didn’t they fix that thing last time? Why does it need repairing again?

    A good mechanic will actually explain these issues. They’ll go over the causes and help you plan to avoid the sorts of damage that you may be unwittingly afflicting to your vehicle. Some recurring problems are simply common with certain models. The best mechanics will stop to explain these issues and help you plan to prevent issues in the future.

    4. Love your Mechanic: They’ll Teach You Something About Your Car

    When you put yourself around people who are passionate about what they do, you’re bound to learn something.

    Experienced mechanics who enjoy their job and are usually happy to chatter about cars. Some mechanics may even bring you into the shop to show you the workings of your own vehicle. Don’t be surprised after a few visits to the right mechanic if you’re starting to pick up on some really technical details of car repair.

    That knowledge will only help you in taking better care of your car and doing the things that will allow it to run for a long time.

Visiting your mechanic shouldn’t feel like visiting the dentist. It should be a fun journey where most costs are offset by learning. A good mechanic won’t cost you money, after all. They’ll save it, instead.

Looking for other ways to save money on your vehicle? Metromile is excited to offer low mileage drivers a better option on car insurance with pay-per-mile. If you are driving 10,000 miles or less a year you could potentially see great savings with Metromile. To get a quote go to www.metromile.com/insurance and start by typing in your zip code.

Alex Briggs is a contributing writer for Newroadsautoloans.com.

How to Spring Clean Your Car with Household Items

Grab your old towels and sponges — it’s time to give your car a little spring cleaning! You don’t have to buy new cleaning products to get the job done. Here are also some useful ways to use household items to get your vehicle looking brand new again.

spring_cleaning_tips

 

  • 1 cup of baking soda and some baby shampoo mixed in a bucket of warm water cleans the exterior of your car.
  • Use your hand-held vacuum to suck up all the dirt, pet hair, or weird pieces of trash that have accumulated on your floor and seats. Sprinkle some baking soda on the floor of your car and vacuum for a fresh clean look.
  • To help remove stains, use carpet stain remover used for the carpeting inside your home. If you don’t have a bottle already, mix some cornstarch with a little water together to make a paste. Then scrub it into grease stained areas and let it sit. Once dry, vacuum it up or brush it away and voila — clean carpet! For small stains, mix equal parts vinegar and water together and buff through the areas that are in need of some extra TLC.
  • Clean windows are always a must. Don’t have any Windex? No problem! Simply mix water, vinegar, and alcohol together in a spray bottle to make your own glass cleaner. Use newspapers instead of paper towels to ensure a streak-free clean!
  • Grab some dryer sheets and olive oil to dust and add some shine to your car’s dashboard. You can even keep some additional dryer sheets in between your seats or under your floor mats to keep your car smelling extra fresh.

With these tips, your vehicle will look squeaky clean. If you find yourself spending more time outside and driving less during the spring season, you could save a ton of money by switching to Metromile’s pay-per-mile insurance. To see what your potential savings could be, get a quick quote now.

How to Get the Best Fuel Economy for Your Car

The following is a guest post from YourMechanic, which delivers mobile car repair by certified mechanics in over 700 U.S. cities. Their top-rated technicians can perform over 600 services at your home or office for up to 30% less than shops and dealers.

Every driver wants better fuel economy, and there are a range of methods to get every last mile out of a tank of gas. Here we look at different parts of your car that affect fuel economy, and share some tips that can save you dollars at the pump.

better_fuel_economy

Change Your Air Filters

The air filter is what your engine breathes through, so it can be the case that a dirty air filter will reduce your fuel economy. This is mainly true if your car has a carbureted engine (common before 1980), as modern fuel-injected engines have onboard computers that adjust the air-fuel mixture on the fly. Still, it’s important to replace the air filter when it gets dirty. We recommend every oil change or two, especially if you live in a dusty or dirty environment.

Maintain Correct Tire Pressure

Maintaining correct tire pressure is one of the easiest ways to improve your fuel economy. Think your tires are fine? It’s worth checking: the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that one-third of cars have underinflated tires. Underinflated tires have more friction and resistance on the road, leading to increased fuel consumption (plus premature tire wear and a higher risk of blowouts). You can use the air compressor many gas stations have to check and fill your tires once a month.

Be Mindful With Cruise Control

Keeping a steady speed using cruise control is a great way to conserve fuel. On a flat and level road, your engine can maintain efficiency. However, chances are the road you’re on has changes in elevation. When your cruise control senses an incline, it opens the throttle to maintain your speed. That rate of acceleration could be more rapid than how you would accelerate on your own. Turn off cruise control when you approach hills, accelerate gently, then turn it back on when the road levels out.

Drive an Automatic

To optimize your fuel economy, it’s best to drive a car with an automatic transmission. New automatics are becoming ultra-efficient through increasing gear counts – it’s not uncommon to see eight-speed automatics these days. Continuously Variable Transmissions (CVTs) have “infinite” gears and can hold engine speed at an optimal point for fuel efficiency, even as you accelerate. Still, for enthusiasts, a few less MPG’s could be a worthwhile tradeoff for the increased fun of driving a car with a manual transmission.

Use the Correct Grade of Fuel

Your engine is tuned to run on a specific octane of gas. If you’re using premium in an engine that’s meant to run on regular, you’re pouring money down the drain – it simply won’t give you any benefit in power, performance, or efficiency. However, the opposite it not true: if your engine is rated for premium and you fill it with regular, you could see a reduction in performance between six to 10 percent. If you’re unsure, your car’s octane requirement should be under the fuel filler door.

Keep a Regular Maintenance Schedule

The fact is, the more you drive, the worse your car’s fuel economy is going to get. Normal driving will wear down your car’s components and reduce the tight manufacturing tolerances it had when it was brand new. Fortunately, this is a very gradual process that happens over tens of thousands of miles. Eventual degradation is unavoidable, but keeping a regular maintenance schedule helps maintain fuel efficiency. We can come to your home or workplace to tune up your car and make sure it’s getting the best mileage it can.

Adopt Efficient Technology

In the past, large cars and SUVs burned up a lot more gas than their smaller counterparts. However, technology is leveling the field: hybrid drivetrains, clean diesel engines and low rolling resistance tires are a few ways that automakers are improving efficiency. These advancements mean new cars have better fuel economy than ever before, regardless of size. If you’re buying a new or used car, look for these features to help maximize your mileage.

The Future of Fuel Efficiency

Governmental standards and consumer demand has led to a reaction from the auto industry: the cars of today are more fuel efficient than ever before. Additionally, with hybrid and all-electric drivetrains on the rise, there are increasing options for cars that don’t use a drop of gasoline. It’s likely that in the next decade we’ll all be driving cars that get 50 miles per gallon or hundreds of miles to the charge. Who wouldn’t want to use less fuel?