5 Simple Ways to Keep Your Car Clean – Interior

dog hammock to keep car cleanHave you just gotten the interior of your car detailed? Well, if not, maybe you should. At Baldwin Woodville Insurance, we know the value of a clean car.

Keeping your car clean is beneficial for a number of reasons. First, the look and smell of a clean car will refresh you each time you hop in. Second, you won’t be embarrassed if your boss or the cute new neighbor need to ride in your car. Finally, looks matter when you get ready to upgrade and trade your car in.

Now, how do you keep your car fresh and clean? It will involve a little work on your part, but if you maintain the cleanliness, you might not have to shell out for another full detailing job.

Here are 5 simple ways to keep your car (or minivan, or SUV) interior clean, looking and smelling new:

  1. Don’t eat or drink in the car. You may think you can pull it off. But remember how those cup holders looked before the detailing? Right. Just avoid it.
  2. Shake the floor mats out regularly. Every time you go to the car wash, pull them out and give them a good vacuuming, along with the rest of the interior. Those little rocks and leaves that your shoes carry in start looking messy after a couple of weeks.
  3. Keep a trash bag and backseat activity bag in your car. You can use a niceCar Activity Bag looking bag for trash, because you’re not eating in the car, so you don’t have dripping, greasy trash. Fill the activity bag up with interesting things for any kids riding in your car. This will help them forget how hungry they are, what with the no eating rule.
  4. Use seat covers f you have a dog riding with you. There are special seat covers made just for that occasion. Another good use for them is with children, because even though they are enthralled with their activity bag and not eating, they’re just messy.
  5. Finally, because we know that you are eventually going to eat in your car, keep a magic eraser and gentle cleanser in the glove box or trunk, and clean up spills as soon as they happen. Also keep cleansing wipes to rub down the surfaces when they start getting dusty.

If you have any questions about how the interior cleanliness of your car might affect it’s value, give your Baldwin Woodville agent a call, and he or she will be happy to discuss it with you. Happy driving.

If you’re interested in keeping the outside of your car clean, see our post: 5 Simple Ways to Keep Your Car Clean – Exterior.

Renters Insurance – What You Need to Know

Many people in Wisconsin and Minnesota consider renters insurance to be an optional expense; one they’ll get around to buying when they get a raise, or a better job, or more stuff worth covering. And most people will be fine. But if disaster strikes and you lose everything, you will be grateful not to be one of those people.

Take Inventory

Before purchasing a renters insurance policy, take a detailed inventory. Go through your entire rental property, and take a photo of every item you own. This should include furniture, electronics, jewelry, dishes, art, bicycles, and anything else you would need to replace, including your book and/or CD collection.

Put all the photos in a folder on your computer, and find out how much each item is worth, and how much it would cost to replace it. You can buy your policy based on either number. Using the current value will give you a less expensive policy. Using replacement value ensures you will have enough money to replace all your items.

Once you have your inventory complete, store it digitally on at least two cloud servers, like Dropbox. It needs to be somewhere you can access it, even if all the technology in your home is useless.

What Will Insurance Cover?

Now it’s time to talk to your insurance agent. Discuss all the situations that are covered, and those that are not. Most weather damage is covered by a basic policy, but floods are generally not. Work with your agent to get the coverage you need.

Before you finalize your Wisconsin renters insurance policy, make sure that everything you want to replace is covered. Also make sure that, if you need to live elsewhere while your property is being restored, you will be covered for those costs, as well.

Filing a Claim

All this preparation will be invaluable if you need to file a claim. If the worst happens, you may need to make a full claim, replacing everything you owned. At such a stressful time, you will be glad that you don’t have to try and figure out what needs replacing.

Simply contact your agent, and they will tell you exactly what to do. They will help you make the claim, and they will make sure you and your family have a place to live. That’s the kind of care you can expect in the Chippewa Valley from Baldwin Woodville Insurance Services.

What Are All Those Dashboard Warning Lights?

As we progress further into the age of technology, our autos tell us more about their functions, and when they need help. Of course, any car is going to have a speedometer, odometer, and fuel gauge. Most cars also come with trip meters, and those nifty little readouts that show how much fuel you’re burning.

One of the first things you should do when you get a new car in the Chippewa Valley area is look through the manual to learn what’s on your dashboard, and what it all means.

Dashboard Warning Lights

Although every car’s lights are different, below are some of the most important warning lights you can expect to see on your vehicle, and what they mean.

Check Engine LightThe check-engine light usually indicates a fault related to emissions or other running concerns. Do not ignore this light, and do not take your cue from sitcoms and just tape over it. Get to a mechanic ASAP.

The low fuel light is pretty important. Fuel up immediately when this comes on.

The oil pressure light tells you that your car does not have enough motor oil in it to run safely. Stop at the nearest gas station and add oil, and then get an oil change as soon as possible, and ask your mechanic to check for leaks.

The seatbelt reminder is pretty self-explanatory. It is easily turned off by—you guessed it—putting your seatbelt on.

When the brake system alert light comes on, you should get your car into your mechanic as soon as possible, as driving with failing brakes is one of the most dangerous things you can do.

Temperature WarningThe temperature warning light comes on when your car is overheating. With our long Wisconsin winters, this shouldn’t be a major problem, unless something actually needs to be fixed in your car. A quick fix for this is to pull over and wait until the engine cools off. Putting some antifreeze in your radiator may help, but these are temporary fixes, and you should see your mechanic as soon as possible after this has happened.

The ABS light will come on if there is a problem with your ABS brake system. It may reduce the effectiveness of your brakes in rainy or icy weather. Have the system checked by a mechanic if this light comes on.

Be Prepared

With a new car purchase comes a new insurance policy. At Baldwin Woodville Insurance , we want to make sure you are as safe as possible. If you would like, your Western Wisconsin insurance agent will go through your new owner’s manual with you to figure out what all of the lights mean.

Five Expensive Distracted Driving Don’ts

Everybody has seen ads in the Chippewa Valley, as well as the Twin Cities metro area, discouraging texting while driving in recent years, but were you aware that there are many other distracted driving behaviors that can lead to disaster? And these are expensive mistakes, because they tend to lead to accidents, whether they involve just your car, or worse, another car.

  1. Grooming – brushing teeth, putting on makeup, or just looking in the mirror on the back of your visor to see if there’s anything in your teeth.
  2. Reading – reading a map, reading a book, reading directions on the back of an envelope, or reading that memo from work.
  3. Watching Videos – watching anything other than the road and traffic around you is going to cause problems, but trying to watch videos may be the worst.
  4. Eating – a study has shown that the worst culprits are soup, tacos, chili dogs, hamburgers, and coffee or soda.
  5. Adjusting the radio or CD player – some steering wheels have controls for this, but even those cause distraction.

Consequences of Distracted Driving

You may “just” get a ticket for weaving because you are distracted. The ticket won’t be cheap, and will include additional surcharges, which are used to fund a number of Wisconsin projects and programs. In addition to your ticket, the Wisconsin DMV will assign anywhere from 2 to 6 points for your violation. If you earn 12 points within a one year period, your Wisconsin driver’s license will be suspended, or even revoked.

Finally, if you actually do get into an accident, and it is judged to be your fault (which it will if you have been distracted by the following actions, texting, talking on the phone, or any other distractions), your insurance premiums are bound to increase. This means that not only do you have costs at the time of your violation or accident, but you will have continuing costs for years to come. This is in addition to the cost to your psyche if you have injured somebody, just to pry that cap off your soda, or select your favorite song on the CD you’re listening to.

As you are working with your Baldwin Woodville Insurance Services agent on drawing up your policy, be sure to discuss what the consequences of various types of tickets and other violations could be. Then, make sure everybody on your policy knows and understands them, and knows not to drive while distracted, in order to avoid the many serious consequences.

Prepare for Your Family’s Spring Break Road Trip

Taking a spring break road trip with your family is a great American tradition. Preparing properly for your trip is essential. You need to pack well, plan to have at least one other driver, and budget wisely for everything, including fuel, as gas prices vary greatly in different regions. Also, be sure to contact your Baldwin Woodville Insurance Services agent before you leave, to see if they have advice, or just to let them know where you will be in case anything happens. A lot of planning goes into a successful road trip.

Vehicle Preparation

Family on Road TripYou want to spend your money on having fun, as opposed to renting a vehicle, so if you’re going to drive the family SUV, station wagon (do they still make those?), or minivan, you definitely need to ensure the vehicle is in good condition before you take off on your trip.

Schedule a checkup where you regularly get car maintenance done, and tell your mechanic of your plans. They will know to change the oil, check and top off all fluids, test the battery, test the brakes, and inspect your tires. Then follow any suggestions they make to prepare your vehicle for a long drive.

In addition, stock your vehicle with an emergency kit that includes blankets, flashlights, jumper cables, and a good first-aid kit, among other items. It’s also a good idea to have maps of the roads you will be traveling. Yes, physical maps. You will use GPS mostly, but what if you are in an area with a weak signal and get lost?

If Something Does Happen

What if, after all your planning and preparation, you end up getting a ticket in Tallahassee, getting into an accident in Albuquerque, or have your car stolen in Sacramento? This is where your good relationship with your Baldwin Woodville Insurance Services agent will be key.

Because you have a professional, helpful agent at Baldwin Woodville, you shouldn’t have to worry. Your agent will let you know who you should contact in your current location, which details are covered by local and/or Wisconsin insurance laws, and if your insurance needs to be adjusted to cover another state’s liability limits.

Taking a family spring break road trip should create some of the best memories for your family for years to come. Preparing for the comfort, health, and safety of your family is the best way to enjoy your time, free of worries.