How to Make Your Car Last Longer

How to Make Your Car Last Longer

Your car is more than just a mode of transportation; it’s a companion on life’s journey. But like any good friend, it needs a little care to keep it going strong. Whether you’re a road trip enthusiast or someone who relies on their wheels for daily commutes, extending the life of your vehicle makes sense. So, buckle up as we explore some simple yet effective ways to make your car last longer.

Ditch the heavy keychain.

When you put the key into the ignition, a heavy keychain can drag it down. That puts pressure on the tumblers inside the ignition. Over time, that can cause the ignition switch to fail. If your car keys share space with lots of other keys, consider a car-only keychain.

Watch for this warning sign: your key sticking in the ignition when you turn on the car. Get the ignition replaced before it leaves you stranded.

Use your parking brake.

The parking brake has an important job: to keep your car from rolling when parked. However, you don’t just need a parking brake on an incline; you need it whenever and wherever you park. Parking brakes help take the stress off the transmission. In addition, if not used, your parking brake can corrode over time. This can lead to expensive repairs. So, engage that parking brake whenever you park.

Don’t idle in the driveway.

It’s not a good idea to idle your car for long periods of time. Not only does it waste gas, but it can also do some damage. During idling, the oil pressure may not send oil to every part of the engine. The engine also won’t operate at its peak temperature. That means there could be incomplete fuel combustion, soot deposits on cylinder walls, contaminated oil, and damaged components.

Be mindful of moisture.

Moisture can do a lot of damage to your vehicle. Water that seeps into your car’s body panels can cause rust. Extreme heat and humidity can reduce your car’s battery life. Moisture inside your car can also lead to mold and mildew. Finally, salt water can damage your car’s paint. Don’t drive through water, which can expose your undercarriage to unnecessary moisture. Clean corroded battery terminals if you live in humid areas. Make sure to keep your car dry and as cool as possible during the hot, humid months to avoid expensive future repairs.

Change the oil and the air filter.

If your oil is dirty, it can affect the components in your engine. Without proper oil changes, your engine could seize up, which will cost you more than nearly any other car repair. Most manufacturers suggest changing the oil every 5,000-7,500 miles. Newer vehicles will alert you when you need an oil change. You also need to change the air filter, although not as often as the oil. The air filter removes dirt and debris, which also can harm your engine. Change your air filter every 15,000 to 20,000 miles.

Help your tires wear evenly.

Tires naturally wear down over time. Keep them working well by inflating them at the recommended pressure. That will help prevent blowouts. Tires also wear unevenly; that’s why it’s important to rotate them every 6 months or 6,000-8,000 miles. Otherwise, your tires will wear out faster and have to be replaced.

Wash your car.

Cars get dirty, and that dirt buildup is more than cosmetic. It can slowly destroy your paint, which can lead to rust. That’s why washing your car is important. How often depends on the weather, whether you park outside, and if your car is exposed to pollen, bugs, sap from trees, salt on winter roads and more. Wash biweekly or as needed and wax every month or so.

Prevent pests.

If you leave food and wrappers in your car, you could attract mice and bugs. They in turn can do damage that requires repairs. Clean up all food items, wrappers, and containers. Block broken seals or holes where they can get in. If you suspect pests, have your upholstery professionally cleaned.

Protect the interior.

Leather can become dry and brittle after years of exposure to the sun. Apply a conditioning solution routinely to help prevent cracks and keep seats in good condition. Use a windshield shade to help slow upholstery fading.

Don’t fill your tank if you see the tanker.

Gasoline tankers can stir up sediment as they refuel the tanks at gas stations. That could cause you to get dirty gasoline, which can clog your fuel filter or fuel injector. Avoid filling up at a station when it is being filled by a tanker. You’ll avoid a potential expensive repair.

Avoid bad driving habits.

Certain driving habits can reduce the lifespan of your car. Don’t brake hard all the time, it can lead to deterioration of your brake pads. Don’t turn at high speeds; that’s hard on your tires. Don’t strongly accelerate when the engine is cold. Don’t rev your engine when your car isn’t properly warmed up. Avoid potholes and running over curbs which can harm your tires. Good driving habits can help reduce the need for expensive repairs.

Pay attention to maintenance lights.

Don’t skip routine maintenance. It may cost you now but save you money in the long run.

If you have a newer car, it will let you know when it needs service. When the maintenance light is on, schedule your appointment. However, you can look out for things, too. If you hear an unusual noise, take your car in. Watch for puddles under your car. It’s better to get ahead of potential problems than to pay for them as they become big issues.

Keep your car protected.

You may do everything right but accidents still happen, including some that could total your car. Your car is one of your greatest investments. Protect it with the right auto insurance for added peace of mind.

Check out our blog on Pro Tips to Keeping Your New Car Ageless for more tips.


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


Thanking Those Who Keep Us Safe

Thanking Those Who Keep Us Safe

The winter season is a season of joy, celebration, and togetherness for many of us. For first responders — police, firefighters, nurses, paramedics – this time of year looks very different.

Winter is the time when emergencies increase. Icy conditions cause accidents. There are more heart attacks in cold temperatures. House fires are more common. Thefts are too. All of this keeps first responders working hard, and often extra hours. That means they sacrifice time with their own families to keep us safe.

Here are some thoughtful ways to show appreciation to our local heroes this holiday season and throughout the year. Remember, the key is to express genuine gratitude and to make these gestures personal and heartfelt.

Deliver some holiday cheer.

Make or buy some food or treats. Drop off coffee for the morning shift. Include donuts or pastries. A soft pretzel or cookie tray is always fun, and a homemade hot meal goes a long way. You also can drop off gift cards to local restaurants. Include cash to cover delivery fees and tips.

Bring a basket.

It’s cold out there. Put together an appreciation basket that includes the things that will make life easier for first responders doing their jobs this winter. Consider hand warmers, ChapStick, hand lotion, cough drops or hard candy, tissue packs, hot cocoa packets, and tea bags. Discover some more ideas in our blog on a winter survival kit.

Send notes and pictures.

Encourage your family and friends, especially children, to create handmade thank-you cards expressing appreciation for the hard work of first responders. Collect these cards and deliver them to the local police station, fire department, or hospital. Don’t forget that a personal handwritten note by anyone of any age is always appreciated.

Share your gratitude.

Write a letter to your local newspaper, sharing a positive story about the service provided by first responders in your community. Use social media platforms to thank your local first responders. Your positive stories can inspire others to express their gratitude as well.

Host a community appreciation event.

Coordinate a community gathering or event to express gratitude. This could be a small ceremony, a casual get-together, or a potluck dinner where community members can interact with first responders in a relaxed setting.

Offer your skills or services.

If you have a skill or service that could benefit first responders, consider offering it as a token of appreciation. This could range from providing free maintenance services to organizing a free workshop on stress management or well-being.

Support first responder charities.

Contribute to charities or organizations that support the well-being of first responders. This could involve monetary donations, volunteering your time, or organizing a fundraising event to benefit these essential workers.

Collaborate with local businesses.

Partner with local businesses to offer discounts or special promotions for first responders, police, firefighters, and nurses. Not only does this show appreciation but it also supports local businesses.

Volunteer at the station.

Offer your time by volunteering at the local police station, firehouse, or hospital. This could involve helping with administrative tasks, organizing events, or simply being a supportive presence.


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

Choosing the Right Motorcycle Helmet

Choosing the Right Motorcycle Helmet

A motorcycle helmet is more than a fashion statement. It’s what stands between you and serious injury, or even death, in an accident. Not only that, but helmets also offer important protection against flying debris, pesky bugs, gusty wind, noise, and the ever-unpredictable weather.

There’s an art and a science to picking the right motorcycle helmet. Here’s what you need to know.

First, ask yourself these questions.

  • What type of motorcycle riding do you do?
  • What material do you want around your head?
  • How much of your head do you want covered?
  • How much money do you have to spend?

If you primarily ride on pavement, you’ll want a full-face, modular, or dual sport helmet. If you go off-road, you’ll need a dirt helmet. If you do a little of both, you’ll want to consider a dual-sport helmet that can handle the speed of the highway and the flying debris of gravel roads. You’ll also need to decide how much of your head you want covered. Helmets range from full-face to the top of your head. The more coverage, the more protection your helmet can offer.

Helmet shells are made of a variety of materials. These include hard plastic, carbon fiber, carbon Kevlar, and woven fibers with hard shells. Some materials are more costly than others. Helmets can range from a couple of hundred dollars to thousands. The price also depends on features like built-in communications for riding in a group. Just remember that double the price doesn’t necessarily mean double the safety.


Choose a helmet style.

Full-face helmets cover your entire head and face. They are made to offer full protection for street use, highway riding, and racing. The downside is that these helmets can get hot. They also may have a smaller field of vision than a dual sport helmet. Full-face helmets may be fitted with removable face shields or have vents that open and close to address these issues.

Dirt helmets are designed for off-road use. They are typically lighter than full-face helmets, offering more ventilation. They have a peak like a baseball cap that protects from sun. Instead of a closable shield, they have an opening where you can fit pair of motocross goggles.

Dual sport helmets are where road helmets meets dirt styles. They offer the comforts of road travel with the practical elements for off-road rides. There’s a larger field of vision than full-face helmets. The visor cuts down on sun glare.

Open face helmets protect your head and ears but not your face. They provide more visibility and ventilation than full-face and dual sport. There are even some open face helmets that have shields that can be snapped on. The downside is that, without a shield, your face is exposed to the elements. An upside is that you can eat and drink without taking your helmet off.

Modular helmets are a cross between full-face and open face helmets. The chin bar is hinged so that it can be flipped up out of the way. You can drink and it with it on. However, the chin bar must be down when you ride. Modular helmets are good for hot climates where a full-face helmet gets too hot after a short ride.

Dome Helmets/Skull Caps cover just the top of a rider’s head. While lighter and allowing more airflow, they lack serious protection. They don’t protect the ears, face, or chin.


Determine your head shape and size.

The shape of your head is different from the shape of your face, and just like faces, heads have different shapes and sizes. Knowing yours will save you a lot of time when finding the perfect fit.

The three basic head shapes are:

  • Long oval where the head is longer front-to-back than it is side-to-side.
  • Intermediate oval where the head is slightly longer front-to-back than side-to-side.
  • Round oval where the head is about the same front-to-back and side-to-side.


To find out your head shape, take a selfie from above your head or ask a friend to do it. If your head looks long and thin like a wide football, you probably have a long oval. If it resembles a slightly squashed soccer ball, you probably have an intermediate oval. If your head looks more like a soccer ball, you probably have a round oval.


To find out your head size, measure your head with a cloth tape measure:

  • Start the end of the tape about an inch above your eyebrows.
  • Circle it around so it goes above your ears and meets at the front, like you are wearing a headband.
  • That is your side-to-side measurement. Take the measurement in inches as well as centimeters as some brands use the metric system.


Try helmets on for size.

Now that you know your size and head shape, and the type of helmet that you want, you’re ready to try some on. Find your measurement on the size chart. Try different models and brands for the best fit possible. Some may be better for your head shape.

  • A well-fitting helmet should fit snugly.
  • Hold the helmet by the chin straps and roll your helmet onto your head from front to back. Don’t pull it straight down onto your head.
  • Once it’s on, try to roll the helmet forward off your head. You should not be able to do so.
  • Hold the helmet at the sides and try to move it up and side to side. The helmet should move your scalp and cheeks along with it.
  • Wear the helmet for as long as possible. There should be no pressure points or hot spots.
  • After trying it on, take it off and note any red spots or sore spots.


Check the safety certifications.

Helmets in the U.S. must be DOT-approved and manufactured according to safety guidelines. To qualify for DOT certification, they must pass four tests: impact test, penetration test, retention strap test, and peripheral vision test. DOT-approved helmets have a sticker at the back that includes the manufacturer/brand name, model number, and certification number.

Look for organizations like Snell that also test helmets. Snell is a third-party independent nonprofit standard and testing organization. They test in addition to DOT, but manufacturers must pay them to do so. The Economic Commission for Europe (ECE) and the European Safety Commission FIM also do additional testing. The more testing, the more assurance that your helmet meets safety requirements. However, additional testing also can raise the price of a helmet.

Pro Tip: Beware of imposters who sell novelty helmets with fake DOT labels. These helmets will be less than an inch thick and weigh a pound or less. By contrast, reputable helmets weigh about 3 pounds.


When to replace your helmet

Motorcycle helmets wear out after use. You should replace yours every 3-5 years or if your helmet sustains any damage. For added peace of mind, protect yourself with the right motorcycle insurance so that if you do get into an accident, you’re fully covered.

With the right helmet and the right gear, you’re ready to hit the road. Safe travels.



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



Best Cars for Teens in 2023

Best Cars for Teens in 2023

When your son or daughter starts driving, it’s a milestone moment. It can also be a little nerve wracking. You can’t be everywhere to keep them safe, but you can help them by choosing the right vehicle. In honor of Teen Driver Safety Week, we researched the best and safest cars for teens in 2023, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and Consumer Reports.


What makes a good vehicle for teens?

You want a car with strong reliability ratings and excellent crash test scores. Today’s cars also have hi-tech safety features that can help keep young drivers safe. These include:

  • Blind spot monitoring to let you know if there is a vehicle in your blind spot.
  • Automatic emergency braking when the car senses a potential collision.
  • A lane departure warning that makes a sound or other signal if you veer toward the next lane.
  • A lane-keeping assist that steers your vehicle back into your lane.
  • Pedestrian detection that identifies people walking in front of the car.
  • Built-in systems with teen driver controls, such as speed warnings and muting of audio while driving.

You will want to avoid:

  • Sports cars, which have too much horsepower and could tempt a teen to drive beyond their skill level.
  • Small cars that weigh under 2,750 pounds; their crumple zones are not good.
  • Large vehicles with long braking distances.
  • Vehicles with seats for lots of passengers. Each additional passenger increases the odds of an accident due to distractions.


Following is the list of vehicles with above average reliability scores and good crash tests. Prices provided are from Kelley Blue Book and are estimates for the lowest trim models as of May 2023.


New Cars


Small Cars

Mazda 3 sedan or hatchback $23,000


Midsize Cars

Subaru Legacy $25,100
Subaru Outback $29,300


Small SUVs

Honda HR-V $24,400
Subaru Forester $27,700
Mazda CX-5 $27,800
Mazda CX-50 $28,900
Toyota RAV4 $29,300
Honda CR-V $29,700
Lexus UX $36,000


Midsize SUVs

Subaru Ascent $34,600
Hyundai Palisade $36,600
Toyota Highlander $37,100
Mazda CX-9 $38,300
Lexus NX $39,800



Honda Odyssey $38,100


Best Choices for Used Cars


Small Cars                                                                                                                       

Mazda 3 sedan or hatchback 2014-20; built after October 2013 $9,100
Ford C-Max Hybrid 2014-16 $10,000
Toyota Prius 2014; built after November 2013 $12,900
Subaru Impreza sedan or wagon 2018, 2022 $14,500


Midsize Cars

Subaru Legacy 2013-21; built after August 2012 $7,800
Mazda 6 2014-18 $10,200
Subaru Outback 2015-18, 2022 $12,200
Toyota Prius v 2015-17 $14,500
Volkswagen Passat 2017 $14,500
BMW 3 series 2017 or newer; built after November 2016 $16,500


Large Cars

Toyota Avalon 2015 or newer $14,600
Hyundai Genesis 2016 $18,000


Small SUVs

Volvo XC60 2013, 2017 $9,600
Mazda CX-5 2014 or newer; built after October 2013 $11,800
Mazda CX-3 2016, 2019 $13,900
Honda CR-V 2015 or newer $15,200
Honda HR-V 2017 or newer; built after March 2017 $16,000
Toyota RAV 4 2015 or newer; built after November 2014 $16,100
Kia Niro Plug-in Hybrid 2018 $18,900
Subaru Forester 2018 or newer $20,000


Midsize SUVs

Nissan Murano 2015 or newer $12,400
Hyundai Santa Fe Sport 2018 $15,700
Toyota Highlander 2014 or newer $17.100
Acura RDX 2016 or newer $19,300



Toyota Sienna 2015-20 $15,700



Toyota Tacoma extended car or crew cab 2016 or newer $17,900


Remember, when looking at vehicles, talk to your insurance agent to see what will save you the most with your teen on your policy. And don’t forget to look out for recalls or damage from previous owners.


Finally, here are some other ways that you can help your teen stay safe.

  1. Sign them up for driver’s ed or safety classes.
  2. Make sure they get experience driving in all kinds of conditions.
  3. Teach them what to do in emergencies.
  4. Talk to them about how dangerous it is to drive while distracted.
  5. Make sure they are fully insured for peace of mind.



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


Insurance 101: Getting Your First Auto Policy

Insurance 101: Getting Your First Auto Policy

Buying your first car is a right of passage. Getting your first auto insurance policy is one, too. Whether you’ve graduated from your parents’ policy, just moved out, or purchased your first car, here’s what you need to know about getting that important first policy.

Learn about the types of coverages.

An auto policy is made up of different coverages. You choose the types you need from a range of options. Some coverages are required by law. Others are optional but will help to fully protect your investment.

  • Liability: If you are at fault in an accident, and others are involved, it’s good to have liability coverage. Liability coverage is required by law in most states. It covers you for bodily injury and property damage you cause to others. However, it does not cover any damage to your own vehicle; that’s covered by collision. It also does not cover injury to you and your family; it only covers the people in the other car.
  • Collision: This coverage is if your car is damaged in a collision with another car or an object, such as a fence. Your collision coverage will pay for repairs minus the deductible. Collision coverage is not required unless you’re leasing a car or paying off a loan on a vehicle. However, it may be good to have, especially in the event of an accident.
  • Comprehensive: Comprehensive coverage is for natural disasters, fires, vandalism, theft and animals that damage your vehicle. Think of it as “bad luck coverage.” Comprehensive coverage is not usually required unless you’re leasing a vehicle or paying a car loan. However, it’s valuable to protect your car.
  • Medical expenses: If you or others are hurt in an accident, you will want medical expenses covered. You will either be able to get medical payments coverage or personal injury protection (PIP). These coverages apply to everyone in your car whether or not you are at fault in the accident. This type of coverage is good to have, as your health insurance may not cover auto accidents and does not normally protect your passengers. PIP is only available in some states and may be mandatory if your state offers it.
  • Uninsured or underinsured motorist: You may encounter drivers who are not insured or who are underinsured. If so, you will need insurance to cover your car and the people in your car if hit by an at-fault driver in that situation. Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Property Damage (UMPD) helps pay for repairs to your vehicle. Uninsured/Underinsured Bodily Injury coverage pays for medical treatment, lost wages, pain and suffering for you and your passengers. These are optional coverages in most states. In some states, you are not allowed to carry collision and UMPD at the same time. Also, sometimes UMPD has a policy maximum, or cap on the amount it will pay.

See our infographic for a quick overview of car insurance, or consult our blog on liability, collision and comprehensive coverage for more detail on these coverages.


Know what affects your car insurance premiums.

Your car insurance premium will be determined by the coverages you select and other factors that contribute to the risk you present as a driver.  These include, but are not limited to:

  • Where you live: If you live in the city, there’s greater risk for vandalism and theft. If you live in a location prone to floods, wildfires or other disasters, you could pay more as well. You don’t necessarily have to move to get better rates, but sometimes moving into a neighboring zip code can save you some money.
  • How often you drive: The more you drive, the greater chances you have to get into an accident—even if you’re a safe driver. So, people who only drive their car for leisure will pay less than others with a long commute.
  • Your car’s make and model: Generally, cars that are more expensive will cost more to replace; therefore, it will cost more to insure them. Cars that are highly rated for safety, or that include certain safety features, may qualify for a reduction in your premium.
  • Your driving record: Insurance companies use your past behavior to predict your future behavior. That’s why drivers with few or no accidents, and few or no moving violations like speeding tickets, pay less than those with lots of claims. In many cases, companies keep the violations on record for 3 years. If you have a clean driving record otherwise, you may qualify for a lower rate.


Tips to Save Money on Your Policy

  • Shop around. You’ll pay more as a first-time driver and so it’s always good to compare pricing. Compare quotes for insurance but be sure that you are looking at similar coverages or it won’t be a fair comparison.
  • Raise your deductible. Since the deductible is the amount your insurance provider will subtract from an insurance payout, you’ll want to select a deductible that you’re comfortable paying out-of-pocket after a loss. However, if you can afford to raise the deductible, you could lower your premium.
  • Reduce your annual mileage. Consider carpooling or taking public transportation to reduce your mileage, which in turn can reduce your premium. In most states, your insurer pulls reports to determine annual mileage. But your daily commute mileage to work each day can impact rates so it’s a good idea to live close to where you work.
  • Ask about discounts. You may get a discount for installing an anti-theft device. You may qualify for affinity or association member group discounts. At California Casualty, we offer special group rates for educators, nurses, and public safety employees.
  • Maintain a good insurance score. This score, known as the Financial Responsibility (FR) Score, is allowed in most states, and has a big impact on your premiums.


Insurance companies use the same basic information to determine your rate. At California Casualty, we have our own unique formula to help our clients save money. Learn more by getting a free quote at


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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