Should You Repair or Replace Your Old Car?

You’ve had your Silver Bullet since the college days. You’ve driven it cross-country, taxied your buddies around, and maybe even had a few back-seat smooches with your sweetheart. Through it all, your beloved ride has safely transported you where you need to be.

Lately, however, your trusty old ride is starting to drive like a rusty old ride. The transmission is sticky, the air conditioner is more like a heater, and there might be a problem with your front axle. So you take your car to the mechanic and discover that the repairs will total about $3,000. Ouch. But your car, now on its last legs, is only worth about $4,000.

Should you make the necessary repairs or bite the bullet and buy a new vehicle? Here are some tips to help you decide.

Do the math to see if you should repair or replace your old car

Needless to say, buying a new car will undoubtedly cost more than repairing an old one, but there are some instances when it might make more economic sense. To determine whether or not you should trade in Ol’ Silver, do the math.

  1. Determine your car’s worth. Check your car’s value on Kelley Blue Book, Edmunds, or NADA.
  2. Determine the cost of a new car. Figure out which car you’d possibly buy and compute how much your monthly payments will be. (This will help you figure out if you can afford a new vehicle.)
  3. Determine the cost of repairs and whether a new purchase is worth it. If your car only needs a spark plug , it’s probably not in your best financial interest to get a brand-new car. However, if your car needs a major overhaul, it might be time to buy another vehicle. Why? Even if your repairs will prolong the life of your car for another 6 months or year, chances are it’ll need additional and potentially costly repairs down the road. It doesn’t make sense to put thousands of dollars into a car that’s likely to break down again.

Consider reliability and safety

Though many modern vehicles can now surpass the 100,000-mile mark without breaking a sweat (or a headlamp), the older a car gets, the more likely it’ll lose its reliability.

If your car needs a jump to get it going most mornings, habitually overheats, or leaves you stranded on the side of the road, it’s probably time to invest in a new(er) automobile. After all, an unreliable car, aside from being a huge inconvenience, could cause an accident if it should suddenly break down while on the road.

Additionally, older cars lack essential safety features. While your Silver Bullet may have front air bags and seat belts, it only has front air bags and seat belts. Today’s new vehicles come with a bevy of life-saving safety features like electronic stability control (automatically maintains vehicle control); lane departure warning (warns you if you unintentionally drift out of your lane); advanced head restraints (reduces neck and head injuries); and more. Thanks to these advancements, buying a new car could make driving a much safer experience.

Do a cost-benefit analysis

Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide whether or not you should trade in your older vehicle for a new(er) one. Obviously, if the cost of repairs is minimal and your car is still relatively new, it’s in your financial interest to make the repairs and keep your car. Conversely, if your car’s on life support, pumping more money into it won’t give you a good return on your investment. It just might be time to pull the plug.

Looking to buy a new car?

If you’ve settled on buying a new vehicle, follow these tips to save money at the dealership, and keep in mind that new cars aren’t always more expensive to insure.

Back to School Safety: 5 Rules to Follow

School supplies, orientation, morning drop-offs — it’s back to school time, and for many, that means more time behind the wheel.

While many of us have “fond” memories of riding to school on the bright yellow bus, many modern kids catch rides with their parents. Whether you’re dropping off children or just happen to drive by your local K–2, there are a few key back to school safety rules you should follow to keep you and our children safe.

5 back to school safety rules

  1. Put away distractions, including cell phones … and breakfast. In some areas, using your cell phone while driving can earn you a pretty steep fine.
  2. If you have children, make sure they ride in age-appropriate car seats or boosters — and make sure the seats are properly installed.
  3. Drive slowly — follow the posted speed limit, obey crossing guards, and watch closely for children who may unexpectedly dart across the road.
  4. Come to a full stop at lights and stop signs — no California rolls (or rolling stops). A full stop means stop, pause, then proceed.
  5. Obey school bus laws, which are designed to help protect children who are getting on or off the bus. When the red lights flash on the bus, you must stop, regardless of whether you are behind the bus or approaching the bus from the front. Wait until the lights stop flashing or the bus starts moving again to drive on.

So along with early morning alarms, making school lunches, giving the kids snack money, and keeping track of homework, remember these simple safety pointers. And when you see that crossing guard — who might well be a volunteer — wave and smile. We all care about keeping our communities safe.

Did you know?

That iconic school bus color is officially known as “National School Bus Glossy Yellow” and was formulated in 1939? It was designed to make black lettering more visible in the sometimes misty morning light.

The first crossing guards went to work in Omaha, Nebraska, in 1923 to answer a growing concern for the safety of children walking to school.

How to Disaster-Proof Insurance

Wherever you live in the country, the occasional natural phenomena probably serve as good reminders of Mother Nature’s uncontrollable force. Thankfully, having the right insurance can go a long way toward restoring your peace of mind as well as all your stuff.

In honor of National Preparedness Month, here are a few tips for disaster-proofing your insurance.

Review your insurance policies

Whether you live in Tornado Alley or earthquake country, it’s always smart to make sure you’re properly insured.

Car insurance

If you live in an area prone to flooding, windstorms, or other natural disasters, it’s wise to carry both comprehensive coverage and liability coverage on your car insurance policy. If your car’s damaged by a flood, fire, earthquake, or other natural disaster, liability won’t pay for any of the damages — but comprehensive will!

You might also want to add rental car reimbursement coverage, which will help with the cost of a rental vehicle should your car be inoperable for awhile.

Home and renters insurance

Keep in mind that most home and renters insurance policies don’t cover earthquakes or floods. Consider adding flood insurance (obtainable through The National Flood Insurance Program) and earthquake insurance if you live in a high-risk locale.

Additionally, when reviewing your home insurance or renters insurance, check to see whether your policy includes actual cash value (ACV) or replacement cost coverage. ACV coverage will help you repair damage to your home and replace your damaged belongings, minus depreciation. Replacement cost coverage, on the other hand, will restore your home and your belongings without taking depreciation into account. Needless to say, the difference in coverage could translate into thousands if you have to file a claim.

Insurance documents

Though most insurers make it easy to access your account online, in the event of a natural disaster, Internet connections are often spotty at best. Be prepared by keeping a hard copy of your policy ID number and your insurer’s phone number should you need to contact them to file a claim.

It’s also smart to keep a physical copy of your declarations page — generally the first page of your insurance contract, which details the specifics of your policy — stored in a secure, off-premises location.

Take inventory

Having a complete inventory of your belongings will make the claims process a lot easier if you ever have to file a home or renters insurance claim. Be sure to update your inventory annually and to keep your list in a safe place, preferably away from home.

 

Make sure you’re not under- or overinsured

It can be tempting to buy only bare-bones coverage to save on monthly premiums. But minimal coverage also means minimal protection. In many cases, increasing your limits will only cost a few dollars more, and will provide the coverage you need should a disaster (or accident) occur.

That said, you don’t want buy more protection than you need either. To determine the right level of coverage for you, speak with your insurer (or use our online Coverage Counselor®).

 

Car Insurance and College: Are Your Kids Properly Insured?

If your young driver is about to head off to college, you might be wondering how the change will affect his or her car insurance.

Granted, your mind is probably on a million and one other things, not the least of which is how much you’ll miss him or her, but if car insurance is one of those million-plus things, your head (and heart) are in the right place.

Thankfully, if you’re an Esurance customer, you can take this moment (at least this one), to breathe a big sigh of relief and get the details you need about car insurance and college.

Off to school behind the wheel

If your son is covered by your Esurance policy, then he’s good to go — even if he’ll be studying in another state. He’ll enjoy the same great, affordable coverage that protected him at home as he shuttles from class to study session and hits the road for spring break. Just be sure to let us know Junior’s headed off to school so we won’t be left wondering why he’s filing a claim in Connecticut when he used to live in Oregon.

Off to school without the wheels

If your daughter’s headed off to school without a car and you’ve decided not to list her on your policy anymore, you’ll be happy to know she’ll still be covered when she visits for weekends, the holidays, and spring break. (Hey, you can hope for one of the 3, right?) That’s because your Esurance policy will cover her as a “permissive driver” — i.e., someone you let drive your car — for up to 30 days while she’s at home and bumming the keys. If that quick visit should turn into an unexpected “sabbatical,” you’ll need to add her back onto your policy.

Avoid the dreaded gap in car insurance

Note that if you opt to remove your non-driving son or daughter from your policy while they’re at school, their future car insurance rates may suffer. That’s because car insurance companies consider those who let their coverage lapse to be slightly riskier than those who consistently maintain coverage. With that in mind, it may be more cost effective to keep your young scholar covered. Unless, that is, you want to get some early revenge for all those loan payments!

Want to learn about how changes in a young driver’s life can affect their car insurance?

Then check out our young driver FAQs.

Car Insurance Myths Debunked

Myths are great. They give us a platform on which to suspend disbelief as we marvel at far-fetched and imaginative stories of human heroes and fallible gods. That’s all fine and good, but when it comes to car insurance myths, you want the facts, devoid of flights of fancy.

Car insurance myths debunked

In the safe, sane world of car insurance, some myths still prevail. Here are a few of the top ones.

New cars cost more to insure. Myth. Your credit score doesn’t impact your rate. Myth. Having a claim will automatically increase your rate. Myth.

In fact, to the uninitiated, car insurance can be a regular odyssey of myths and misinformation. But it doesn’t have to be. To help you navigate this oft-complicated world, we’ve separated fact from fiction and debunked some of the most common car insurance myths on our website. Here you can find everything you need to know about rates, cars, coverage, and drivers with nary a Greek god in sight.

So save your flights of fancy for a quiet afternoon with the Iliad (or Harry Potter). When it comes to your car insurance, you want simple, easy-to-understand facts. And we can help provide you with exactly that. Check out our car insurance myths, designed to give you the info you need to get the best protection at the best rate possible.