Tips to Keep Top of Mind When Buying a Used Car

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Buying Used Car

Tips to Keep Top of Mind When Buying a Used Car

The used-car buying process isn’t always fun. Follow these simple steps to protect yourself.

Buying a car is a big decision. Whether choosing a new or used vehicle, stepping onto a car lot or into a dealership and being confronted by a more-than-enthusiastic salesperson who you know works on commission can create a mixture of anxiety and frustration. It’s a tough job that usually gets little respect from consumers and serves as a stereotype – often unfairly – for anyone who’s willing to shake your hand while simultaneously reaching into your pocket.

The used car business is changing, though. Shoppers no longer have to drive to a dealership today to find out what models are available, how much they cost and what financing options are available. Now, it can all be done on the internet or on an app. In some cases, you don’t even have to leave your couch to buy a car, truck, SUV or crossover because some companies will actually bring the vehicle directly to you at home.

While all of that convenience and information is right at your fingertips, there are still a few things to remember when it comes to shopping for a used car:

Know how much car you can afford and stick to it
One of the biggest mistakes you can make is getting talked into a car that’s beyond your price limit. Experts suggest keeping your monthly car payment below 20 percent of your take-home pay. If you’re on a tight budget, that should be even lower. Don’t just think in terms of a monthly car payment, either. There are other costs associated with a used vehicle, including insurance and maintenance. The older a car is, the higher maintenance expenses are likely to be.
Develop a list of cars you’ll consider
Before you even start the process of shopping for a used car, think about what type of vehicle you want. If you have children or pets and need to tote them around comfortably, you might rule out two-door cars in favor of a sedan, SUV or hatchback. If you drive a ton of miles from home to work and want a hybrid or electric car so you can save gas and help the earth while you’re commuting, that will reduce the number of vehicles you consider. Check reviews of the cars you’re thinking about to see how they are rated for comfort, drivability and reliability. Safety features are an important factor and you should also check if the vehicle has been recalled for any major issues. Always make sure the dealership has taken care of any recalls before you purchase. That can help you narrow down your list pretty quickly.

Also, think about how far you’re willing to drive to a car lot or dealership to pick up the used car of your dreams. Dealership websites, phone apps and other tools make it easy to search used cars from the comfort of home.

Determine the car’s value
Once you’ve narrowed down your choices, consult a site such as Kelley Blue Book to determine a car’s true value. You’ll need information such as the car’s year, make and model as well as options, mileage and overall condition. Dealers often build a cushion in their pricing to account for negotiations. Knowing what similar cars are selling for in your area will help in negotiating the best price.
Run a vehicle history report
Before agreeing to a purchase, run a vehicle history report from a site such as CarFax or AutoCheck to determine if it has a clean title, if it’s been in an accident or flood and if it was determined to be totaled by an insurance company. The report can also aid in determining if the car’s odometer has been tampered with.
Have it checked by an independent mechanic
Watch any daytime court TV program and you’ll likely see a case where someone bought a used car and found out days later that it had serious mechanical issues. In nearly all of these cases, the buyer failed to have the car inspected before signing on the dotted line. Hiring an independent or trusted mechanic to do a pre-purchase inspection can save you thousands of dollars in the long run. If a dealer won’t allow you to have the car inspected before buying it, walk away.
Consider purchasing a certified pre-owned vehicle
Buying a certified pre-owned car can offer you peace of mind and some additional perks. Typically, these vehicles have low mileage, are thoroughly inspected before being showcased on a lot and offer a manufacturer’s warranty (sometimes extended) to cover any repair costs. Car dealerships that sell these cars may also entice you with special rates on financing plus packages that may include roadside assistance, free Sirius XM radio for a limited time and even complimentary oil changes. Certified pre-owned vehicles likely will cost more, though, even for the same make and model as you’d see at an independent dealer, mom-and-pop lot or private seller, according to Consumer Reports.
The bottom line

A car is one of the biggest purchases you’ll make in life, and purchasing a used vehicle can be a great way to get the most for your dollar. Don’t hastily jump into a deal before searching around and doing your homework on what a car is truly worth.

How to Prepare Your Business for a Wildfire

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Business Wildfires

How to Prepare Your Business for a Wildfire

California is no stranger to wildfires. According to the National Interagency Fire Center, wildfires in California destroyed 703 commercial/mixed residential structures disrupting businesses and perhaps halting operations altogether.

Have you taken any measures to safeguard your California business? A wildfire can damage your business structures in three ways:

  • Burning Embers: Wind-blown embers typically cause most building ignitions. A wildfire creates embers when it burns combustible items such as landscaping vegetation and structural fuels.
  • Radiant Heat: Fire creates radiant heat that can ignite combustible materials when a fire is hot enough and has enough time to cause the ignition. Additionally, exposure to lower levels of radiant heat can preheat materials and make it easier for them to catch fire from a direct flame.
  • Direct Flame Contact: Direct flame contact refers to actual flames from the wildfire coming into contact with buildings or combustible items attached to or near the business.

So, what should you do during a wildfire, and how can you protect your business’s assets if they are damaged or destroyed? Mercury Insurance wants to help you safeguard your livelihood.

How to Prevent Wildfires

The best way to stop a wildfire is to prevent it from occurring. Help keep your business wildfire-proof by:

  • Clearing natural debris such as dead vegetation from roofs, gutters and decks.
  • Closing off all vents in attics and crawl spaces or shielding them with mesh screens to keep burning embers from blowing into your commercial structure.
  • Never parking commercial vehicles on dry vegetation and cleaning up any spilled gas or motor oil.
  • Removing any combustible materials from underneath decks and porches.

What to Do During a Wildfire

Business owners have a responsibility to ensure their property is ready for wildfire season. The West Coast, especially California, should expect an above average wildfire frequency in 2019, according to NIFC. In the event a wildfire does approach your business, protect it and your employees by:

  • Listening carefully to news alerts and public service announcements for air quality reports and wildfire updates on television, radio or smartphones.
  • Following your company wildfire response plan and holding practice drills to make sure your staff knows evacuation routes and safe places to go.
  • Propping a ladder on the side of the building to give firefighters access to the roof.
  • Turning on water hoses and filling containers with water.
  • Removing any combustible materials from the area surrounding the property.
  • Turning a light on in each room of the office for visibility in the event of smoke.
  • Closing all doors and windows, but not locking them.
  • Moving upholstered office furniture away from windows and sliding glass doors.
  • Turning off the air conditioning system.

Commercial Property Insurance/Wildfire Insurance

Every business owner faces a different set of challenges and risks when it comes to wildfires. That’s why Mercury Insurance provides coverage options that can help almost any company. A commercial property insurance policy or business owners policy (BOP) can protect your assets and provide liability coverage if one of your employees gets injured on the job.

Having an insurance company that provides effective customer support and speedy claim resolution after a wildfire can help you get back to business sooner. Whether it’s our client-focused service or established industry reputation, we pride ourselves on being a top insurance product provider.

  • Mercury is an A-rated company by A.M. Best.
  • We provide 24/7 claims service.
  • We have more than $4 billion in assets.

Get in touch with your local Mercury Insurance agent today to talk about how you can protect your business from wildfires.

Following a Collision with an Automated Vehicle

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Collision with an Automated Vehicle

Following a Collision with an Automated Vehicle

Following a Collision with an Automated Vehicle, What Do You Do?

Seven out of ten drivers wouldn’t know what to do

Drivers today share the road with automated vehicles* more and more, with tech companies like Amazon, Apple, Google, Intel and just about every automaker developing and testing self-driving cars and trucks. Auto manufacturers are phasing automated vehicle technologies into new models, including adaptive cruise control, collision avoidance, blind spot cameras, parking assistance and lane departure warning systems. These semi-automated technologies are the first steps toward a fully-automated vehicle future.

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Full automated vehicle adoption won’t happen overnight, as these vehicles are only expected to account for five percent of all vehicles sold by 2030. Companies are testing their technology around the country, and government agencies are working diligently to study and implement regulations governing the use of driverless vehicles.

As this transition takes place, there will still be car collisions, and many will involve automated and old-fashioned human-controlled vehicles. Typically, drivers involved in a collision exchange vehicle and insurance information with one another. But what does one do when there’s no driver in the automated vehicle?

A 2018 nationwide study conducted by Mercury Insurance revealed that 70 percent of Americans wouldn’t know what to do if they were involved in an accident involving an automated vehicle. Even more perplexing is what to do if an automated vehicle hits you or your vehicle and drives away from the scene – a recent incident caught on video during the 2019 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas shows this exact scenario and it’s a potential problem both manufacturers and consumers need to prepare for as we get closer to self-driving vehicles becoming a mainstay on the nation’s roadways.

“Drivers involved in a ‘hit-and-run’ incident with an automated vehicle should proceed the same way they would if there was someone behind the wheel,” says Kevin Quinn, Vice President of Claims and Customer Experience at Mercury Insurance. “Try to get the license plate, make, model and color of the vehicle and call the police. We can identify the vehicle from the plate, but whether you get the plate or not, call the police and report a hit and run accident immediately.”

Mercury Insurance recommends taking the following actions if you’re ever involved in a collision with an automated vehicle:

  1. Move to a safe area immediately. If you are unable to move the vehicle, turn on the vehicle hazard lights to warn other drivers. If you have road safety flares, use them.
  2. Park your vehicle and get out if you can. First, turn off the engine and then make sure it is safe to exit your vehicle.
  3. Ensure everyone involved in the collision is okay. If someone is injured, call 9-1-1 immediately. Calling law enforcement to the scene is also recommended whether someone is injured or not.
  4. Gather as much information as you can, including the year, make and model, plus the license plate number(s) and vehicle identification number (VIN) of all vehicles involved. “The key is to get a photo of the VIN, license plate, and make and model of the other vehicle, if safe to do so,” says Quinn. “Smartphones make it easy to take photos of the accident scene and the vehicles involved. A photo is ideal but writing down the information works, too.”
  5. Get the names and contact information of any witnesses, and be sure to note the date, time and location of the accident. Record which direction each vehicle was heading at the time of the crash. “The more information you’re able to provide to police or your insurance company, the easier it will be for them to reconstruct exactly what happened and determine who’s at fault,” says Quinn. “In the case of colliding with an automated vehicle, take photos and video of the weather conditions.”
  6. Get the badge number of responding law enforcement officers when they arrive, and be sure to find out how and when you can obtain a copy of their report. The officer may be able to give you an accident report number at the scene.
  7. Call your insurance company to file a claim as soon as possible. Note the name of the insurance adjuster handling your claim, date and time of the call and your claim number. They will need the same information provided to the police. Even if you’re in a minor fender bender, report it so you’re protected against unforeseen or future claims, because sometimes injuries and damage aren’t readily apparent. You should also make your personal insurance agent aware of the accident, as he or she can help spot red flags and help resolve problems.

If a hit-and-run incident occurs, it’s still important for the driver to contact their insurance company because they may be able to provide assistance in identifying the owner of the automated vehicle and will take legal action against the other carrier (or manufacturer) if warranted.

Quinn says this advice also applies to pedestrians or cyclists who are involved in a hit-and-run incident or collision with an automated vehicle.

* Editor’s Note: Many terms have been used for self-driving cars, including autonomous vehicles, connected cars, driverless vehicles, highly automated vehicles and self-driving cars. We have elected to follow the lead of the U.S. Department of Transportation, which refers to these cars and trucks as automated vehicles. For reference, visit https://www.transportation.gov/AV.

How to Protect Your Car in Hot Weather

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Protect Your Car in Hot Weather

How to Protect Your Car in Hot Weather

Summertime typically means family road trips, sunscreen and hats. However, while you’re taking personal precautions to beat the heat, make sure to do the same for your car.

High temperatures and direct sunlight can cause significant damage to your vehicle’s interior, exterior and engine. If you want to keep your ride safe during the summer, then follow these tips on how to protect your car in hot weather.

Drive when it’s cooler
It may seem like a no brainer, but avoiding the sun when driving can help mitigate heat-related issues. Hitting the road early in the morning or later in the evening can make driving much more pleasant during those brutal summer months.
Maintain your tire pressure
The combination of hot pavement and under inflated tires is a dangerous mix that can result in a blowout. Always remember to check your tire pressure frequently during warm weather as the heat can cause tires to lose approximately one pound of air pressure per month.
Check your battery
Heat causes evaporation, and loss of fluid can lead to your battery running low on juice. Tools like a multimeter or a power probe can determine a battery’s condition, but mechanics and auto parts stores can typically help you check your battery.
Keep it hydrated
Before hitting the road, make sure to top-off your car with gas and oil along with transmission, steering, coolant and brake fluids. These ensure your engine and other critical systems function correctly so you’re not stranded on the road during long, hot drives.
Park in the Shade
Give your ride and its paint job a break from the sun by parking in the shade. A leafy tree or indoor car park works best, but drivers in urban environments can use streets with tall buildings for shade.
Shield the interior
Protect your dashboard and seats by installing seat covers and using a windshield sun shade. These items help keep the inside of your car cool and prevent the sun from fading or damaging the interior. Tinting your windows can also help keep the sun at bay. Check your local and state laws to find out the maximum tint level the law allows.

A proactive approach to protecting your car from the heat is the best way to enjoy a summer on the road. Before you throw on your shades and hit the highway, use these suggestions for how to protect your car from the sun and the heat. Don’t forget to speak to a Mercury Insurance agent to review your auto coverage so you can put your worries aside and thoroughly enjoy the summer ride.

What is Driving the Confusion About Semi-Autonomous Vehicles?

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Semi-Autonomous Vehicles

What is Driving the Confusion About Semi-Autonomous Vehicles?

By Kevin Quinn, Vice President of Claims and Customer Experience at Mercury Insurance 

Drivers, it’s time to be honest. How do you really feel about semi-autonomous vehicles?

Chances are that you or someone you know has recently driven a vehicle equipped with intelligent or adaptive cruise control, parking assistance or collision alert systems. If so, it’s official – you’ve driven a semi-autonomous vehicle!

While there may be a lot of confusion from drivers over what semi-autonomous means or how safe semi-autonomous features may be, there’s no denying the influence semi-autonomous vehicle technologies have in the current automotive marketplace.

Survey results

Last year, Mercury Insurance polled U.S. drivers to ask how they felt about semi-autonomous vehicles. Less than half (45%) of drivers said that they felt safe using semi-autonomous vehicle features when driving. And more than half (51%) said that they did not trust semi-autonomous vehicles and their drivers on the road.

Most frightening, however, was that nearly 70% indicated that they do not know how to properly use semi-autonomous features.

The apparent gap in trust and understanding between drivers and the industry is unfortunate because autonomous technologies have enormous potential for saving lives and reducing human error, which is responsible for 94 percent of serious crashes.

How can this be addressed? First-hand experience is always going to be the best way to become comfortable, but if you don’t own a vehicle with these features, driver education can help. For example, did you know most semi-autonomous vehicles require the driver to keep a firm grip on the steering wheel? Here are a few cutting-edge technologies with which you should definitely become familiar:

Volvo Pilot Assist

Volvo has been at the forefront of innovative technologies for decades, beginning with its development of the three-point seatbelt in the late 1950s. Volvo’s semi-autonomous driving system, Pilot Assist (currently in its second generation), offers adaptive cruise control and lane-keeping assist, among other features.

Offered since 2015, Pilot Assist helps reduce the need for drivers to constantly change their speed in relation to the vehicle ahead of them and adjusts the steering to keep Volvos in their lanes. An important note: the system will not function unless the driver is holding the steering wheel.

Here’s a video providing a tutorial for using the Pilot Assist function.

Nissan INFINITI ProPilot

Nissan’s INFINITI was the first line to debut the Back-up Camera and Lane Departure Warning System in the U.S., unveiling the technologies on its 2002 Infiniti Q45 and 2004 Infiniti FX, respectively.

First introduced in 2017, Nissan INFINITI’s ProPilot offers autonomous technologies that react to certain driving situations and reduce the stress of stop-and-go driving and highway cruises. Drivers can relax a little behind the wheel and watch as their vehicle automatically brakes, accelerates and keeps their car centered in highway traffic.

Here’s a video capturing ProPilot in action.

Mercedes-Benz Drive Pilot

Mercedes-Benz’s history of innovation dates back to 1959 when they developed the crumple zone safety concept, which allows the car’s bodywork to absorb the kinetic impact of a crash and direct it away from passengers.

A recent step in Mercedes-Benz’ pursuit for innovative progress was its offering of the Drive Pilot system in 2016. Drive Pilot combines driver assist features, such as lane-keeping assist, emergency braking, automatic steering and automatic lane-changing, to allow the driver to hand over direct control of steering and speed.

Watch this simulated video to see the full scope of Drive Pilot’s capabilities.

Cadillac Super Cruise

Cadillac’s Super Cruise system, first unveiled in 2017, is the world’s first true hands-free driver assistance feature. The system will only be active when it ensures that the driver is “active,” utilizing a camera mounted on the steering column to monitor driver attentiveness – this means the system will not perform if it detects you sending texts and driving distracted!

Precision LiDAR mapping data and a network of camera and radar sensors are used to navigate the vehicle on the highway, and hazard lights will be activated before the vehicle comes to a controlled stop when drivers do not respond to certain cues.

Watch the Super Cruise’s range of features.

BMW Active Lane Keeping and Traffic Jam Assistant

BMW provides its Active Lane Keeping and Traffic Jam Assistant to enhance safety and improve driving conditions in crowded traffic. Steering corrections and a side collision prevention feature assist the driver in ensuring the vehicle stays in the center of the lane.

Here’s a demo of BMW’s semi-autonomous vehicle technology offerings.

Importance of Safe, Educated Driving

Despite the innovation of these semi-autonomous safety features, it is still extremely important to be thoroughly educated about these features if you intend to use them, so here’s a little more information to help you become a semi-autonomous vehicle know-it-all.

A staple for semi-autonomous vehicle technology is a radar, typically outfitted on the front and rear bumpers to identify traffic as well as register the speed of any object it sees. Unfortunately, the bumper happens to be one of the most likely areas to sustain damage in vehicle collisions.  Rear-end collisions are the most common claims we see nationwide. Mercury Insurance had nearly 60,000 customers report they were involved in rear-end collisions last year.

Drivers may be unaware of how getting into a collision, which causes damage to their vehicle along the crumple zone, could also break some of the expensive gadgets that are now stored in their bumpers to stop the collision.

Drivers need to stay vigilant even while using such semi-autonomous features. If you have this technology, you still need to focus on the road to avoid getting into collisions and always be ready to take evasive action in case the technology fails.

Kevin Quinn is currently the Vice President of Claims and Customer Experience at Mercury Insurance, leading an organization with more than 1,300 insurance professionals. He has more than 23 years’ experience handling auto insurance claims.

How Well Do You Know Your Road Signs and Emojis?

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Road Sign

How Well Do You Know Your Road Signs and Emojis?

Road signs and emojis are two very different kinds of symbols that are ubiquitous in our daily lives. While one is designed to keep our roads safer, emojis are a fun way to enhance and convey emotion in text conversations. Both are engrained in how we communicate. With the rise of mobile technology, do we now know more about emojis than we do common road signs?

Take this quiz to put your knowledge to the test. Whatever the outcome may be, always remember as a driver that emojis and road signs should be kept separate and to put your phone down while driving.

My Brakes Make Noise. What Does That Mean?

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Two Men Working On A Car

My Brakes Make Noise. What Does That Mean?

Properly maintained brakes are crucial to a safe driving experience. Know what it means when your brakes begin making a noise.

When it comes to driver safety, one of the most important components of any automobile is the braking system. The performance of a car’s brakes can spell the difference between avoiding a collision and a terrible tragedy.

If a car’s brakes begin making an unusual noise, it’s important to have them checked by a professional to determine if there’s an issue that could lead to a serious accident.

To understand the types of noises a car’s brakes can make, it helps to understand exactly how brakes work. Most cars today include metallic discs called rotors behind each wheel. When the brake pedal is depressed, sandwich-like devices called calipers clamp down on the rotors, squeezing them and bringing the car to a halt. The part of the calipers that actually make contact with the rotors are the brake pads, and those pads wear down over time.

Some cars incorporate a drum-and-shoe system for the rear brakes, where stepping on the brakes pushes the shoes against the inside of a round drum. Although the design is different, the basic principles are the same.

There are typically three types of noises a braking system will make. Although they differ in the seriousness of the problem they indicate, each call for immediate attention.

Squeaking or squealing – many types of brake pads today include wear indicators; metal tabs that rub against the rotor and make a squeaking noise when the pads have worn down beyond a certain point. The noise may initially occur only when depressing the brake pedal, but left unchecked will eventually occur most or all of the time. It’s imperative to replace brake pads as soon as the wear indicator begins making a noise to avoid more serious problems.

Other issues that can cause brakes to squeal include glazing; a crystallization of the pad surface than can occur due to excessive heat caused by slamming on the brakes. In addition, debris caught between the pad and rotor can cause squealing as well.

Grinding – A grinding noise from a car’s braking system indicates a more serious issue. The first step to take if the brakes make a grinding noise is to pull over, turn off the car and have it towed to a repair center.

The most common cause of a grinding noise from a car’s brakes is brake pads that have worn completely down. What typically occurs in this situation is that the metal backing behind the pad material makes contact with the rotor, digging in to the rotor surface. Aside from being a serious safety hazard, it can result in significant (and costly) damage to the rotors and calipers.

Clicking or thumping – Other types of brake noises can be caused by the components that hold the rotors, calipers or pads in place being loose or broken. Some braking system issues don’t result in unusual noises, but can show themselves via a shudder or vibration in the brakes or a difference in how far the pedal must be depressed to bring the car to a halt.

Don’t take a chance!

Although accidents caused by brake failure are relatively rare, they do happen. Failure to properly maintain a car’s braking system puts not just a car’s driver and passengers at risk, but other drivers as well. Any unusual noise or change in the performance of a car’s braking system should be investigated by a trained repair professional. Your life could depend on it.

Gasoline vs. Diesel: What is the Difference?

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Car Getting Gas

Gasoline vs. Diesel: What is the Difference?

Several automobile manufacturers offer diesel-powered cars, but are they a good option?

Many of us have pulled up to the gas pump at our local convenience store, absentmindedly picked up the nozzle at the end of the green hose and spent a few seconds of confusion wondering why it wouldn’t fit into the fuel filler of our car. We eventually realize it was the hose for diesel, not gasoline, and put it back on its holder.

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Seeing those hoses at the gas pump does make us wonder, though. What’s the difference between a gasoline engine and one that runs on diesel fuel, and why would someone choose one over the other?

In fact, gasoline and diesel engines have much in common. Both are internal combustion engines, and each convert the chemical energy in fuel into mechanical energy. Both incorporate pistons that move up and down inside cylinders, with that movement driven by the combustion of fuel in each. Those pistons are attached to a crankshaft, which turns as the pistons move to provide the energy that moves the vehicle.

The difference between the two engines involves the way the fuel is ignited. In the gasoline engine, the fuel is mixed with air in the cylinder. The piston compresses the mixture, which is then ignited by a spark from the spark plug.

In the diesel engine there is no spark plug. Instead, it’s the compression itself which ignites the air/fuel mixture, creating the contained explosion that keeps the pistons moving.

Power versus performance

When most of us think of a diesel engine what comes to mind are the 18-wheelers we see on the interstate. While it’s true those rigs run on diesel, there are plenty of other diesel-powered vehicles on the road. They aren’t very common in the United States, but in Europe more than a third of all cars on the road are powered by diesel fuel.

The main advantages of a diesel engine compared with a gasoline one come in terms of fuel efficiency, engine reliability and power. Because diesel engines are built to withstand higher compression, they tend to be more reliable and last longer than gasoline engines. Diesel fuel is thicker than gasoline, and as such provides more power and mileage per gallon.

Gasoline engines, on the other hand, are lighter and deliver higher performance than diesel engines. There aren’t diesel engines in sports cars for much the same reasons there aren’t gasoline engines in big trucks. In addition, gasoline engines tend to be less expensive to repair simply because they’re more common.  

With all that in mind, which type of engine is the best choice? The answer is that, as with many things, it all depends.

Years ago, diesel fuel was significantly cheaper than gasoline, but today the opposite tends to be true, making any savings in fuel costs relatively minor. Diesel engines tend to be more reliable than gasoline ones, but diesel-powered cars tend to cost more up front and repairs are likely to be more costly. Conversely, gasoline-powered cars are easier and less expensive to maintain and fuel efficiency is constantly improving.

Although diesel fuel used to be associated with black smoke belching from the exhaust, today’s diesel is relatively clean-burning. Newer diesel-powered cars produce lower levels of carbon dioxide than gasoline-powered cars, but higher levels of particulates and nitrogen oxides. When adding environmental concerns to the mix, gasoline engines have a slight advantage over diesel ones.

The bottom line? If you’re looking for a lightweight passenger car that will go from zero to 60 in the blink of an eye, a gasoline engine may be the best choice. If you’re looking for a car to tow a boat to the lake on the weekend, diesel may be the way to go.

10 Safest and Most Affordable Cars and SUVs to Insure for College Grads

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Safest cars and SUVs to insure for college grads

10 Safest and Most Affordable Cars and SUVs to Insure for College Grads

Many college graduates are in the market for a vehicle to get them to interviews or a new job reliably. While there’s a vast selection of vehicles to choose from, important considerations like safety and affordability can help narrow your search.

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Vehicle safety should be a priority when making a purchase decision, as it helps ensure you’re protected in the event of a collision. Many newer vehicles are equipped with technology like lane departure warning, blind spot information systems, and braking assistance technology to help prevent a collision or lessen its severity. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Insurance Institute for Highway evaluate vehicle safety based on crashworthiness, and crash avoidance and mitigation.

Choosing a vehicle that’s within your budget will also impact what you ultimately decide to buy. Mercury’s research and development team examined model-year vehicles from 2015-2018 that received a 5-Star Safety Rating from NHTSA and a Top Safety Pick+ or Top Safety Pick from IIHS to come up with a top-10 list of the safest and most affordable vehicles to insure for college grads¹.

  1. 2016 Hyundai Santa Fe
  2. 2015 Kia Soul
  3. 2016 Kia Sportage
  4. 2016 Honda CR-V
  5. 2016 Hyundai Elantra
  6. 2017 Hyundai Tucson
  7. 2017 Honda CR-V
  8. 2017 Kia Soul
  9. 2016 Kia Sorento
  10. 2016 Hyundai Tucson

Best of luck as you enter the next chapter of your life’s journey.

¹ This list was created based on Mercury’s price for full coverage – liability, comprehensive and collision. Other factors, such as a driver’s experience and accident history, can push the rate up or down, but were not included in the rate calculations. Specific vehicles vary depending on where in the country the vehicle will be insured.

Seven Safety Tips for Tornadoes You Must Know

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Safety Tips for Tornadoes

Seven Safety Tips for Tornadoes You Must Know

Tornadoes can happen anywhere in the United States and they have the ability to destroy structures and cause great harm. Whether you live near a Pacific Coast beach or reside inland, it’s important to be prepared for severe weather. Learn these tornado safety tips to help keep your loved ones safe in the event a tornado warning or watch goes into effect near your home.

What Is a Tornado?

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) classifies a tornado as a violently rotating column of air that extends from a thunderstorm and comes into contact with the ground. Because we can’t see wind, a tornado won’t come into view unless it forms a condensation funnel consisting of water droplets, dust, and debris.

Meteorologists use the Fujita Scale to measure the intensity of a tornado. The weakest is an F-O. These have wind speeds that ranges from 40 to 72 miles per hour and usually only cause light damage. The strongest tornado is an F-5. With wind speeds clocking in at 261-318 miles per hour, these tornadoes can result in catastrophic damage to life and property.

Where Do Tornadoes Happen?

According to preliminary reports from NOAA, 1,154 tornadoes touched down in the United States in 2018. That’s not a small number by any means, and NOAA also reports that Louisiana (86), Iowa (84), Mississippi (68) and Illinois (64) experienced the most tornadoes last year, while California (6) had the most on the West Coast.

Tornado Safety Tips

  1. Know the difference between a tornado watch versus a tornado warning. A tornado watch signals the possibility of a tornado in and around your area. A tornado warning means weather radar has spotted one.
  2. Prepare an emergency supply kit. Gather items like fresh batteries, a battery-operated TV, radio or internet-enabled device, water, non-perishable food, and medication, and leave them in a place you can easily reach during an emergency. Use this helpful checklist to make sure you have everything you need.
  3. Designate a safe building for shelter. Come up with a plan for where your family should go during a tornado. Basements, storm cellars and interior rooms on the lowest floors are your best options.
  4. Find low-lying ground if you’re stuck outside. Look for a ditch or a flat area on the ground if no cover or shelter is available. Stay on the lookout for flash floods as they can sometimes accompany tornadoes.
  5. Get off the road if it’s possible. If you’re driving when a tornado warning goes into effect, getting to shelter should be your first priority. If none are available, pull over to the side of the road in a low-lying area away from trees and stay clear of bridges and highway overpasses.
  6. Be flexible. Tornados are unpredictable. A backup plan for where to go during a tornado provides added flexibility in the event you’re unable to get to your planned safe location.
  7. Stay informed. Listen to local news on the battery-powered radio or check for updates on your phone or television for information and instructions if you have power.

Staying safe during a tornado comes down to preparation and common sense. Follow these tornado safety tips to prevent harm to you or your family, and talk to a Mercury Agent to find out how a homeowner’s policy could protect your assets.