Frequent After-Market Add-ons for Cars and Trucks

Frequent After-Market Add-ons for Cars and Trucks

There’s no question we love our vehicles in America, so much so that we can’t seem to leave them alone. New or used, we need to tinker, upgrade, and make them our own…often to the tune of thousands of dollars. Here are just a few of the more frequent alterations we make to our cars and trucks.

Sound Systems

This is nothing new, of course, but now instead of 8-track stereo systems and FM converters it is more about power and bass. Thunder in the distance? Nope. It’s just the neighbor getting home on a Friday.

Enhanced Lighting

Pickup truck, Jeep, and SUV owners love ’em. Oncoming drivers have a different emotion. LED, brilliant, colorful, and custom lighting certainly adds a flare to new vehicles and can even make it better to see the road.

Upgraded Wheels and Tires

There was a time when 17-inch tires seemed extreme. Wheels and tires just seem to be getting bigger and more elaborate. Oh, by the way, they are also getting MUCH more expensive. You can easily invest several thousand dollars in specialty rims and tires.

Video Cameras

Video cameras in cars started as an enhancement to rear view mirrors. Today, they can provide 360-degree views around your vehicle, video capture your trips, and even provide security when your car is parked. Some amazing incidents have been captured by dash cams around the world.

Rugged Front Bumpers

As if today’s full-size pickup trucks weren’t intimidating enough, aftermarket companies have found a lucrative market in selling bulky add-on bumpers that seem to be able to take on the world. From flat black to chrome, the choice is yours. After-market truck bumpers are terrific for those who enjoy off-roading or for those who want to appear that they go off-roading.

Adding after-market features to your car or truck can make it more practical and safer. It can also make it more stylish and enjoyable. It also likely adds value to your vehicle. That’s why it is important you connect with your independent auto insurance agent when considering upgrades to your vehicle. This can help make sure your vehicle is insured for its upgraded value. Contact us today to discuss your vehicle and your options.

Distinctive Automobile Headlights of the Past

Distinctive Automobile Headlights of the Past

There are thousands of design elements that went into the creation of the automobile. It must be safe, aerodynamic, functional, and attractive. One of the smaller but critical elements of an automobile is its headlights. For some automobiles, headlights are an afterthought. For others, headlights have been made into an important design feature.

Here are a few cars where the headlights have been accented.

1948 Tucker Torpedo

There were only 51 models of this innovative car produced. It featured advanced safety features like a padded dashboard, disc brakes, a roll bar, and more. It also included a third center headlight that would turn in the direction of the steering wheel to better illuminate around turns. In spite of its progressive features, the automaker went out of business in 1949.

Buick Riveria

The Riviera was GM’s first entry into the personal luxury auto segment and it did so with some unique design elements, including a fender-to-fender front grill that split in two, exposing its headlights when needed. The car was produced from 1963 to 1999, although only early editions featured the split-grill, hidden headlamps.

The Opel GT

This two-seater was sleek and sporty. To enhance its sleek appearance, designers built hidden headlights into its front fenders that maintained the aerodynamic integrity of the front end. The headlights flipped up when in use.

1964 Jaguar XKE

The extended hood of the XKE was enhanced by long sweeping headlights that followed the contour of its curved fenders. The general headlight design has been emulated by others in the years to follow, but never with the same impact as the Jaguar.

The Corvette

While it seems the Chevy Corvette always had hidden or pop-up headlights, that is not exactly true. First generation Corvettes had standard headlights, and the pop-up ones didn’t become a staple until 1963. The feature was a part of the Corvette personality until 2005, when standard headlights made their return.

When was the last time you got a quote on your auto insurance? How else would you know if you are paying too much? Get a no-obligation quote from one of our independent auto insurance agents today.

Comparing the "Horse to Car" and "Combustion to Electric" Transitions

Comparing the “Horse to Car” and “Combustion to Electric” Transitions

It was over a hundred years ago when automobiles took the place of horses as America’s favored personal mode of transportation. We are now facing another significant change: the move from combustion to electric motors. There are similarities between the two, including the doubts and concerns consumers have about the adjustment.

Here is a look at the then and now of the automotive transition.

“Get a Horse”

This phrase was familiar to those who were early adapters of the automobile. There were those who just couldn’t accept the new technology over their reliable steed. They would mock those having trouble with their horseless buggies along the side of the road, shouting “Get a horse!” Today, electric cars have their own doubters, from people questioning their costs to the range they can travel.

Safety

Safety of the new automobile was a concern then, as electric, self-driving cars are today.

The Angst of the Conversion Process

The conversion from the horse and buggy to the automobile was far more dramatic than that of combustion to electric motors. Stores and saloons had horse hitching posts. Horses needed to be watered, fed, and shoed. We forget that, like cars, horses need maintenance.

Availability of Fuel

One of the ironies of early automobiles was that it took horse-drawn carriages to deliver the fuel cars needed. Today, the availability of electric charging stations is a concern as we move into the electric era.

Noise

Another irony is that early cars were so much noisier than horses. That noise was a point of criticism. Today, the complaint is that electric cars are too quiet and you can’t hear them coming. Some electric cars are installing audio systems that mimic the sounds of combustion engines.

We tend to think of our situations as unique, when it is likely we’ve been through something similar before. There may be more in common with the transition from horse and buggies to early cars and that of combustion engines to electric motors than we realize.

Combustion, electric, or hybrid, we can help you insure your car. Connect with our independent auto insurance agents to get a no-obligation quote today.

How Cars Depreciate

How Cars Depreciate

We’ve all heard stories of how dramatically new cars lose their value once they are driven off the new car lot. But just how big of a drop can you expect when buying a new car and what is likely to happen in the years ahead? Here is a look at new car depreciation and what the average new car buyer can expect.

Driving a Car Off the Lot

A general rule of thumb is that your new car will depreciate at least 10% by the time you drive it home. That means if you purchase a $40,000 vehicle it will already drop in value to $36,000 by the time you pull it into your garage. That is just the beginning.

Depreciation After One Year

On average, the value of a new car will drop a whopping 25% by the end of its first year. That means that a 40,000-dollar vehicle will now be worth just $30,000 after a single year of private ownership.

Your New Car’s Value After Two Years

After just two years, you can expect your recently new car to drop in value to about 65% of what you paid for it. In our example, that $40,000 car is now worth $26,000.

Value After Three Years

Your car will continue to drop in value to about 55% of what you paid for it.

The Halfway Point

After just four years, most new cars are now worth less than 50% of their original value, and that decrease in value will likely only decrease. This is largely due to the expensive major repairs that may lie ahead.

Many experts say that, because depreciation increases after four to five years, this is the best time to sell your used car.

Keep in mind that the above estimations can change depending on the resale value of individual models, the used car market and condition, and the miles on a particular vehicle.

New or used, we can help make sure you are getting the best value for your car insurance dollars. Contact us for a no-obligation quote and drive with confidence. We look forward to assisting you.

Why Car Insurance Company Rates Differ

Why Car Insurance Company Rates Differ

While some believe that all car insurance company rates are the same or similar, that is simply not the case. Rates can vary widely from company to company. That is why working with an independent car insurance company can be so valuable. We can compare with a network of companies rather than being captive to a single brand. But why do rates vary from company to company? Why is it worth comparing and seeking out the best value? Here are just some of the reasons why auto insurance rates can differ from company to company.

Different Claims Experiences

Some companies suffer more claims or higher claims than others. This will usually be reflected in their rates. It is one of the reasons companies find safe drivers more attractive.

Companies May Specialize in Certain Categories

There are auto insurance companies who have more experience with classic or vintage cars, drivers with spotty driving records, and those with high-performance cars. An independent insurance agent can help direct you to a company that specializes in your situation.

Different Profit Priorities

Companies each have different profit and loss experiences, which will impact rates.

Some Companies Spend Extensively on Advertising and Marketing

There are multiple car insurance companies that spend extensively on advertising their companies. Some would say advertising helps them sell more and keep costs low; others suggest advertising costs are passed down to the consumer.

Who They Insure

Some companies are more selective about who they insure and the parameters for insuring clients. This can minimize losses and keep rates lower.

Not all car insurance companies are the same, nor are their rates. While rates aren’t the only factor you should consider when choosing your auto insurance company, it certainly is a significant factor.

The point is, car insurance rates can and do differ from company to company. The way to find your best value is to compare, and our independent insurance agents can help you do just that. Contact us today and see the difference we can make.

The Electric Car Primer: What You Should Know

The Electric Car Primer: What You Should Know

Electric vehicles are making an impact. While only about 3% of new cars being sold are electric, that number is growing. More manufacturers are making a commitment to electric vehicles, and more consumers have these alternative fuel vehicles on their radar.

Here are some basics you should know before ditching your combustion-powered car.

Alphabet Soup

There are various types of electric cars. EV is the overall term given to cars that use electricity. A BEV is a battery-powered electric vehicle with only battery-powered electric motors. A hybrid electric vehicle is an HEV that combines both electric and combustion motors. They often use regenerative braking to generate energy when stopping that is stored in batteries. Finally, a PHEV is a plug-in hybrid that uses its combustion engine when the electric battery depletes.

Driving Range

One of the developments fueling the growing popularity of EVs is advances in batteries. It is common for today’s EVs to get from 299 to 499 miles before needing to charge. Use of heat and air conditioning can reduce the range of an EV.

Charging an EV

EVs can be charged at home or at charging stations throughout the country. Online resources can help you locate public charging stations. There are three basic charger types to recharge an EV. A Level 1 charger uses a normal three-prong plug that can be plugged in at home. These tend to be slow and seldom used. You may just get a few miles out of an hour of charging. Level 2 charges use 240 volt external adapters and household dryer type plugs.

Level 2 chargers can generally provide 20 to 30 miles of range per hour of charging time. Level 3 chargers, or DC Fast chargers, offer the fastest charging times, getting about 100 miles of range in about a half-hour of charging time.

Keep in mind that battery life is critical in a decision to buy an EV. Like your cellphone, your car will eventually need a new battery, and that can be an expensive proposition. This leads to a greater depreciation for EVs than for combustion-engine cars but also makes used EVs cheaper to buy.

If you have or are considering an EV, we can help you insure it. Contact one of our independent insurance agents for a free quote. Vehicles are changing and we can make sure your car insurance keeps up. Contact us today.

Five Things to Know About That New Car Before You Buy It

Five Things to Know About That New Car Before You Buy It

Most people will choose a new vehicle based on price, style, and the current needs of their family. Often, some pretty important information is overlooked. If you are in the market for a new car, or even a pre-owned one, here are five important points to consider.

How Long Do You Intend to Keep It?

Deciding how long you will keep your next car can help you in several ways. It can help you determine if you should lease or buy and for how long. You can imagine how your family will look over that period and if you will likely sell, trade, or hand the car down to a new driver in the family. Remember, if you have an 11-year old and plan on keeping a vehicle for five years, this car could also be a candidate to be their first car.

How Well Will It Hold Its Value?

Cars that have been on the market for any length of time have a history and a resale value that can be predicted. Obviously, you would like a car that retains more of its value, even if the original price is a bit higher. Some brands are also noted for better maintaining their value. A little research can go a long way.

Safety Ratings

We all want to protect our families, and how a vehicle performs in routine car safety tests can help make that determination. Not every make and model is tested every year, but some due diligence should help.

Fuel Mileage

You will fill that tank up plenty of times over the time you own that car. Even a few miles per gallon can have a significant impact on the cost of ownership over that period. Do a little math and you will see a small difference in MPG can make a huge difference to your wallet.

Car Insurance Costs

Before you sign on the dotted line, verify the cost of insuring that vehicle with your independent agent. You don’t want an unpleasant surprise after making your purchase.
Would you like to have someone help you shop for the best value in automobile insurance? Our independent agents check a network of companies competing for your business. You, of course, make the final choice. Get your free, no obligation quote today.

The Art of the Car: Famous Car Designers You Likely Never Heard of

The Art of the Car: Famous Car Designers You Likely Never Heard of

Odds are, you may have heard the names Enzo Ferrari and Ferdinand Porsche. These legendary automakers have been responsible for crafting some of the world’s most beautiful, high-performance cars. But what about the designers who helped create these remarkable cars? Odds are, you may never have heard of the men who were so critical to these brands.

Giorgetto Giugiaro

Giugiaro was named Car Designer of the Year in 1999 and was selected to the Automobile Hall of Fame in 2002. It is safe to say if there was a Mt. Rushmore of car designers, Giorgetto’s face would be front and center. He designed cars for Alfa Romero, Aston Martin, Bugatti, DeLorean, Ferrari, Cadillac, Fiat, Hyundai, and dozens more. He even designed high-end cameras and watches.

Ian Callum

Callum designed cars for Ford and Aston Martin. In 1999, he became Director of Design for Ford Cars. His concepts ranged from the 1989 Ford Escort Cosworth, the 1993 Aston Martin DB7, the 2001 Aston Martin Vanquish, and the Jaguar X-Type Estate for 2004.

Chris Bangle

This American designer built his career as Chief of Design for the BMW Group. He oversaw the designs for BMW and MINI, along with Rolls-Royce.

Harley Earl

Harley Earl was the first head designer at General Motors and was responsible for an almost uncountable number of innovations. He may be best known, however, as being the Father of the Corvette when it began in 1953.

Gale Halderman

All you need to know about this designer is that he was the original designer of the Ford Mustang. The Halderman Mustang has been on the roads for over 40 years.

It is interesting to note that some designers who gained fame for designing prestigious models also made a good living designing daily drivers.

No matter what you drive, you shouldn’t be overpaying for car insurance. Let us shop and compare for you. Contact one of our independent automobile insurance agents today for your free quote.

The World of Small Cars

The World of Small Cars

There are advantages to driving a smaller car. Small cars generally get better gas mileage, they at times can be less expensive to repair and maintain, and if you live where streets are narrow and parking is tight, they can be a godsend.

Most of us think of small cars as compact and subcompact. But there’s another layer. Welcome to the world of mini and micro-mini cars.

Mini Cooper

Perhaps the smallest car seen regularly on the highway is the Mini Cooper. It may not be as small as you think. The Mini Cooper has a base engine that can generate 134 horsepower and can zip from zero to 60 mph in about 7.5 seconds. The Mini Cooper weighs in at only about 2,700 lbs. But it has a pretty hefty price tag, with well-equipped models reaching into the mid $30k range.

The Isetta

This Italian-designed microcar was licensed to be built in over a half-dozen countries, including the US. Because of its overall egg-shape, it was known as a bubble car. Its initial run of production lasted from the mid fifties to the early sixties, setting a record for achieving 94 mpg. It was the most popular single-cylinder car ever made, selling over 161,000 units. Rumors continue to persist about the bubble car’s return as an EV.

The Peel P50

The Guinness Book of World Records holder for the world’s smallest car is the diminutive Peel P50. It is just four and a half feet long and three feet, five inches wide. Peel manufactured the three-wheel micromini car in the mid-sixties and began producing them again in 2010. Today, they produce an electric version. The original edition had an engine that produced just 4.2 horsepower.

You may not appreciate a small car, but everyone appreciates smaller car insurance payments. Our independent auto insurance may be able to help. After a few questions and a little bit of comparison shopping using our network of companies, we can offer you options. When was the last time you compared car insurance rates? If it has been over a year, it may be too long. Contact us today!

Gas Stations of the Past

Gas Stations of the Past

Their names once dotted street corners across the country, and their jingles and commercials filled the airwaves. Your parents and even grandparents may have driven across the wires, ringing a bell that let the attendant know of their arrival at the pumps. Their names are largely forgotten today, unless prompted. They are the gas stations of the past.

Sinclair

Formed in 1816, Sinclair Oil used the profile of a dinosaur in its logo to convey the long held belief that oil was the product of dinosaur remains from far beneath the Earth’s surface. While once a large public company, Sinclair is now a group of about 1,600 independent gas stations in 30 states across the country. Yes, they still use a dinosaur in their advertising and marketing. It is believed Dinoco in both Toy Story and Cars is based on Sinclair.

Sohio

Sohio (Standard Oil of Ohio) was a popular Midwestern brand of gas station until it was sold to British Petroleum and rebranded as BP starting in 1987. There are just a few stations that bear the Sohio branding along the Ohio River and along the shores of Lake Erie.

Hess

Hess was particularly popular in the South and in Florida for their green and white pumps and gas stations, and collectible trucks and toys. Speedway acquired most of the gas stations and convenience stores by the end of 2017, but interestingly enough, the Hess vehicles are still available each holiday season.

Union Oil/ Unocal

Many will recall Union Oil, Union 76, and Unocal for their big orange-colored signs bearing the company logo. The company had a lengthy history that dated back to 1890, but was acquired by Chevron in 2005. It no longer does business under the Unocal name.

The gas or service stations built their own brands, had their own credit cards, printed their own maps, and handed out an array of promotional materials. Many not only sold fuel but also oil and provided automobile repair services. Today, they are more likely to sell pizza and hot dogs than tires and wipers.

When was the last time you looked back on your automobile insurance? The best way to make sure you are getting the best value is to compare. Our independent insurance agents can help you do just that. They can search a network of companies to find protection at a price you can be comfortable with. We invite you to contact us today.