How to Tell When You Need New Brakes

How to Tell When You Need New Brakes

When to get your brakes checked

Your car could be trying to tell you something. Every screech, squeal, or grind could be its way of asking for new brakes.

First, a word about how brakes work…

Most vehicles today have disc brakes. When you press the brake pedal, the car pushes pressurized fluid through its brake lines. The fluid goes into a pair of calipers (clamps) lined with brake pads. They start to squeeze the rotors (metallic discs) from either side. The rotors are located behind each wheel and so the resulting friction slows the spinning, and eventually stops the car.

This constant squeezing and release causes wear and tear. Cars will need new brake pads every 25,000 to 65,000 miles, and new rotors between 30,000 and 70,000 miles. The actual mileage depends on your driving habits. Frequent braking, braking at high speeds, and driving a heavier car will take their toll on your brakes.

How to tell when you need new brakes

The good news is that your car gives you warning signs when brakes begin to wear out. If you notice any of the following, it’s time to get your brakes checked.

Squealing or screeching sound

Brake pads are built with a small piece of metal that becomes exposed as the pads wear down. The metal vibrates against the rotors, causing a high-pitched squeal or screech. That usually happens when the thickness of the pad is at the lowest possible level while still being considered safe to drive. So, if you hear the squeal, you will want to act soon. If you let it go too long, it will become a heavy grinding sound and it can start damaging other parts.

Pro Tip: Know that brake squeaks and squeals can happen if a car has been sitting for a while. That’s because the pads are covered with moisture, rust, and grime. Those noises go away after a few uses of the brakes.

Low brake fluid warning light

Your brakes use hydraulic fluid and cannot function without it. If you see a low brake fluid light, that means something is going on. There could be a leak in the system. Or it could be you’re your brake pads have worn down, causing the fluid to fill the space that’s lower in the reservoir.

Pro Tip: Look for a driveway puddle after your car has been parked for a bit. This type of fluid ranges from clear to yellow brown in color. You’ll find the leak near the wheels. It’s not safe to drive if you have a brake fluid leak. It may cause the brakes to fail.

Car pulls to one side while braking

If the car is pulling to one side or the other when you brake, you’re probably only getting brake power to that side. That’s an indication that you need new brakes or pads or that you have a jammed caliper. Either way, you’ll want to get it checked out.

Pulsating during braking

If your car vibrates, shakes, or pulses as you brake, it could be due to warped or unevenly worn rotors. It also could be caused by adhesive that gets hot and smeared across the rotor. Mechanics call this “glazing” and it can compromise brakes.

Rattling or clicking when you brake

Some vehicles hold brake pads with clips, bolts, or pins. If they become loose, they’ll begin to rattle. You may hear a clicking sound when you brake.

Poor brake performance

If your car takes longer to stop than usual, or if you are pressing the brake pedal down to the floor to get your car to stop, there is a problem. Causes include worn rotors, low brake fluid, and brake pads that are too thin. It could also be an issue with your car’s hydraulic system.

Grinding sound while braking

This is a sign that your brake pads are completely worn. The grinding sound you hear is “metal on metal” as the caliper and rotor scrape against each other. Because this can easily damage them and other parts, you’ll need to get this addressed right away.

Stay on top of maintenance

When one part of the braking system is damaged, it can affect other parts. Driving with worn brakes also can damage your tires. It can wear them down and cause them to be unbalanced. Your car is one of your greatest investments. Keep it well maintained and protect it with the right insurance.

This article is furnished by California Casualty, providing auto and home insurance to educators, law enforcement officers, firefighters, and nurses. Get a quote at 1.866.704.8614 or

20 Best Gratitude Quotes

20 Best Gratitude Quotes

It’s time to stop and reflect on the good that is around us. Starting each day with an inspiring message of gratitude not only sets the tone for positivity, it also benefits you in numerous ways. Being thankful increases feelings of happiness and optimism. Gratitude fosters positive self-esteem and improves relationships. It helps to reduce stress.

Embrace the power of gratitude with these inspiring quotes.

  1. “There are always flowers for those who want to see them.” – Henri Matisse
  2. “If you want to find happiness, find gratitude.” – Steve Maraboli
  3. “Enjoy the little things for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.” Robert Brault
  4. “Some people are always grumbling because roses have thorns; I am thankful that thorns have roses.” Alphonse Karr
  5. “Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgivings, turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings.” – William Arthur Ward
  6. “Let us be grateful to people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.” – Marcel Proust
  7. “Gratitude turns what we have into enough.” – Aesop
  8. “The more grateful I am, the more beauty I see.” –  Special Olympics CEO Mary Davis
  9. “An attitude of gratitude brings great things.” – Yogi Bhajan
  10. “The single greatest thing you can do to change your life today would be to start being grateful for what you have right now.”  – Oprah Winfrey
  11. “Remember that what you now have was once among the things that you had hoped for.” – Epicurus
  12. “Sometimes we should express our gratitude for the small and simple things like the scent of the rain, the taste of your favorite food, or the sound of a loved one’s voice.” – Joseph B. Wirthlin
  13. “This is a wonderful day. I have never seen this one before.”  – Maya Angelou
  14. “We must find time to stop and thank the people who make a difference in our lives.” –  John F. Kennedy
  15. “We often take for granted the very things that most deserve our gratitude.” – Cynthia Ozick
  16. “Learn to be thankful for what you already have, while you pursue all that you want.” – Jim Rohn
  17. “Gratitude sweetens even the smallest moments.” – Anonymous
  18. “All that we behold is full of blessings.” – William Wordsworth
  19. “Among the things you can give and still keep are your word, a smile, and a grateful heart.” – Zig Ziglar
  20. “The more you are thankful, the more you attract things to be thankful for.” – Walt Whitman


This article is furnished by California Casualty, providing auto and home insurance to educators, law enforcement officers, firefighters, and nurses. Get a quote at 1.866.704.8614 or


Oregon Education Association Foundation – Supporting Students in Need

Oregon Education Association Foundation – Supporting Students in Need

California Casualty has proudly worked with the Oregon Education Association (OEA) as their exclusive auto & home provider since 1974. Recently our Account Development Manager, DeeDee Templeton, made a visit to the OEA headquarters in Portland to meet with board members of the OEA Foundation to deliver a special contribution on behalf of the California Casualty Charitable Contributions Committee.

In attendance and pictured above (left to right):  Stephen Siegel – OEA Region I Vice President, Jennifer Underhill -OEA District 2 Board Director, Forrest Cooper – OEA District 4 Board Director,  Enrique Farrera – OEA Vice President, and DeeDee Templeton- California Casualty Account Development Manager. 

 The OEA Foundation provides educators with grants up to $100 to help students meet basic, urgent, and immediate needs so they can succeed in school. Over the past 28 years, the OEA Foundation has purchased countless pairs of eyeglasses, provided many students with their first warm winter coat, paid for dental work and doctor visits, fitted new shoes on lots of feet, and even replaced a broken bedroom window. The Foundation is completely funded through the generosity of our members and community partners, and 100% of funding is used to support Oregon’s students. 

The California Casualty Charitable Contributions Committee values the great work of the OEA Foundation and is honored to be able to provide support to the education community. OEA Vice President, Enrique Farrera stated “The OEA Foundation and students from all over Oregon appreciate the collaboration of California Casualty and their financial support. Without their contribution we would not be able to help so many students.”  

To learn more about the OEA Foundation and support this organization, visit here.

Holiday Savings Tips – Best Times for Bigger Purchases

Holiday Savings Tips – Best Times for Bigger Purchases

You may have your eye on that new PlayStation for your nephew. But the holidays are also a great time to buy other big-ticket items from washing machines to kitchen appliances and even cars. That’s when many will go on sale.

If you’re looking to save this season, follow these tips for how to score bigger purchases for less, and how to save for everyone on your list.

The Best Times to Buy

You can usually find the best deals on Black Friday and on Cyber Monday—the Friday and Monday, respectively, following Thanksgiving. These are the times that many items go on sale. (See the next section for specific items.) Similar sales will be found on other major holidays, including New Year’s Day, President’s Day/Weekend, Memorial Day, Fourth of July, Labor Day, and Veterans Day. Small Business Saturday, a relatively new celebration, occurs the Saturday after Thanksgiving. Super Saturday, the Saturday before Christmas, often is a good time for last-minute deals. Finally, Amazon Prime Day and similar days from other retailers can offer substantial savings. That’s good for your budget.

In addition to holiday sales, off-season purchases can save you plenty. Buying an air conditioner at the end of summer, or a snow blower after winter is done, can be cost-effective. You’ll just have to wait until the next season to use it.


Holiday Sales

Some items take center stage during the fall and winter holiday season. These are often popular gift items, but not always. Bankrate reports that December is the best time to make these purchases:

Household appliances: New appliance models typically come out in November. That means sales start on last year’s models to make way for the new ones. This includes washers and dryers, dishwashers, refrigerators, microwaves, coffee makers, blenders, toasters, vacuums, humidifiers, carpet cleaners, and more.

Technology: November and December are great times to buy smart devices, tablets, smart watches, and computers, which often go on sale this time of year. Save even more by buying the previous version after the new one comes out.

Exercise equipment: December is a popular time to buy exercise equipment, with January coming in at a close second. Companies often have sales on home workout equipment, from treadmills and ellipticals to rowing machines and exercise bikes, starting Black Friday.

Security cameras: Prices are known to drop on these essential devices just around the time that thieves become active—during holidays. That’s when companies try to get rid of older models to make way for new ones, and often offer discounts.

Toys and games: Retailers start discounting toys and games close to the holidays so that they won’t be stuck with too much stock. However, popular toys sell out fast, so you may need to pay full price to get one.

New vehicles: Car prices drop at the end of the year as salespeople push to make their quotas. The best time to buy a new car is October through January 1. If you miss that window, May is when the new models start coming and dealers look to get rid of older stock.


More Ways to Save

Whether you’re buying a big-ticket item or a meaningful, smaller gift, use these tips to save even more.

  • Compare prices of an item at various retailers before you buy it. Use apps like Honey and PriceGrabber.
  • Look for online promo codes at sites like CouponCabin, RetailMeNot, and
  • Use online shopping portals, like BeFrugal, Rakuten, and MrRebates, to get money back when you shop. Or use credit cards with cash back rewards.
  • If shopping online, look for free shipping. There’s a free shipping day in mid-December, and many retailers participate.
  • Many stores offer discount codes during the holiday season and additional discounts for teachers, students, veterans, military families, seniors, nurses, and first responders. Look for or ask about discounts that apply to you.
  • Don’t wait until the last minute. You will tend to overspend due to the stress of getting something.


Looking for extra cash for holiday gifts?

Some insurance companies allow you to skip payments around the holidays. At California Casualty, you have the option to skip your auto insurance payment for two whole months. (You also have this option to skip in the summer.) Ask your agent for details.


Happy holidays from all of us at California Casualty!



This article is furnished by California Casualty, providing auto and home insurance to educators, law enforcement officers, firefighters, and nurses. Get a quote at 1.866.704.8614 or


Incorporating AI in the Classroom

Incorporating AI in the Classroom

You could use an assistant—someone to help with lesson planning and grading, someone to work one-on-one with students who need extra help, and someone who can help lighten the load of your never-ending to-do list. Meet AI, a.k.a. artificial intelligence, the latest trend in classroom support.


What is AI and how can it help?

AI refers to software that can perform tasks that typically require human intelligence. This includes learning, reasoning, problem-solving, and decision-making. AI can help engage students, create interactive learning experiences, and foster critical thinking skills. It can offer personalized learning geared to student interests and ability, presenting tasks of increasing difficulty with real-time feedback.


A word about AI concerns

AI is not without its concerns. Educators worry about plagiarism and cheating, where AI does the work instead of the student. There are also times that AI is inaccurate because its source is the Internet. That requires teachers to do some due diligence in identifying appropriate tools and discussing expectations and ethical considerations with their students.

How do you help students understand the proper use of AI? Teach a lesson on ethical considerations and appropriate use of AI. For example, it is not okay to use AI to write your essays or do your work. However, it is acceptable to use AI to:

  • Check your finished paper for grammatical errors.
  • Brainstorm ideas for an assignment or a project.
  • Simplify complicated text so that you understand its meaning.
  • Research a topic as long as you are also planning to fact-check the results.

As an educator, you can help manage the use of AI and address potential misuse.

  • Try out the AI platforms before you use them in the classroom, so you fully understand them.
  • Model the AI tool in class for appropriate and inappropriate use.
  • Get to know your students’ writing so you know their style and voice and can detect when they may be leaning on AI too heavily.
  • Ask students to personalize their writing with their own experiences. This is something AI is unable to do.
  • Use formative assessments to evaluate student progress.

While you may use AI in preparation for instruction, student use generally starts in the upper elementary or middle school years. ChatGPT, for example, recommends age 13 years and up for its program.


AI for Teachers and Students

There is value in AI and teachers appreciate this time-saving tool. Here is a look at some popular AI tools for the classroom. Many of these are paid versions but there are free options, too.

Grading & Assessment

Classpoint AI can create quizzes from PowerPoint slides based on Bloom’s Taxonomy.

Essay Grader can grade an essay against a rubric of your choice in about 30 seconds. It also can detect if an essay was written by AI.

Formative AI automates the grading process and provides insight into student performance. It also generates assessments, including multiple choice, open-ended, and more.

Gradescope offers rubric-based assessments for paper-based and digital student work.

Socrative generates interactive activities from polls to mini-competitions and exit tickets.


DitchThatTextbook provides ideas for lesson plans that go beyond the textbook.

Education CoPilot offers lesson plan templates, writing prompts, and handouts based on grade level and curriculum standards.

Nearpod offers interactive and engaging lessons, learning through gamification, differentiation, and formative assessments.

Parlay Genie provides discussion-prompts and higher order questions about a custom topic.

Teachmateai is a digital assistant with a wide variety of resources from report writing to class behavior and management to lesson planning and more.


ChatGPT can generate a passage about a topic at a certain grade level. Use it to create leveled readers for students. (Try Bing Chat as an alternative to ChatGPT; it often cites where it gets information whereas ChatGPT does not.)

Diffit helps you adapt materials to different reading levels, adjust for students with IEPs, and accelerate for advanced learners.



Hello History allows students to have lifelike conversations with historical figures.

PhotoMath offers step-by-step solutions for arithmetic, algebra, and calculus, including alternate ways of solving equations.

Soundraw enables students to compose music by genre and speed.

Slides & Videos

Bing Image Creator allows you to produce images from a text description.

Canva Magic Write and Magic Design can create templates for classroom presentations.

SlidesAI produces professional and engaging Google slides from your text.

VideoAnt allows you to annotate a publicly available video with comments and questions for students.

Homework Help

Brainly is the place where students can ask academic questions and get real-time help with homework.

Homeworkai is an app that offers homework help, including simple explanations.

Oddityai provides answers to homework. Students need only upload a picture of the worksheet.

Do you have a favorite AI tool that’s not on this list? Please share it in the comments.



This article is furnished by California Casualty, providing auto and home insurance to educators, law enforcement officers, firefighters, and nurses. Get a quote at 1.866.704.8614 or



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