May 2013
Top 10 Car Care Tips

Top 10 Car Care Tips

With the average price of a new car just over $31,000, people are keeping their vehicles longer. If you're keeping your car for the long haul, here are 10 tips to keep it running smoothly and safely.

  • Fluids: Check your fluids — oil, power steering, brake, transmission, windshield washer and antifreeze — at recommended intervals. If they're low, top them off. (Note: An easy way to check for leaks is to look where you park. If you see drips or puddles, you may have a leak. Have a trusted mechanic check and repair any leaks.)
  • Hoses and belts: Make sure they're not showing signs of excessive wear. If they are, replace them immediately.
  • Battery: Make sure your battery can easily start your car. If not, it may be time to replace it.
  • Brakes: Have your brakes checked annually, or any time they don't “feel right” or make a grinding or squealing noise.
  • Exhaust system: Check for leaks or any signs of damage. A damaged exhaust system can leak deadly carbon monoxide gas into your passenger compartment.
  • Tune-up: A properly tuned engine uses less gas, runs better and lasts longer. Check your vehicle's owner's manual for recommended tune-up intervals.
  • Heating, ventilating and air conditioning (HVAC) system: A/C and heat create a comfortable interior, but they also defrost and defog your windows. Make sure your car's HVAC system is running properly.
  • Tires: This is where the rubber meets the road – literally! Your tires are responsible not only for stopping, starting and turning, but giving you traction.
  • Wipers and lighting: Wipers and lights allow you to see and be seen. Make sure all interior and exterior lights are working properly, and replace worn wiper blades.

If you have any doubt about any of your car's systems, take it to a trusted mechanic for an inspection or repair.

If your car has been damaged in an accident, it's important you get it repaired not only for cosmetic reasons, but for safety reasons also. American Family's Certified Repair Program provides a list of pre-approved repair shops to help your claim process go more quickly and easily.

Top Tips for Using a Self-Storage Facility

Top Tips for Using a Self-Storage Facility

About 10 percent of American households keep personal property in a commercial storage facility.

Whether for spring cleaning, de-cluttering or having kids move home with all their worldly possessions, renting a storage unit for your overflow of “stuff” may be your best solution.

Before you store anything, make sure your home, condo or renters insurance policy will cover your property in storage. Also check your policy to see if there are any special conditions or restrictions that may apply. (Note: American Family's home, condo and renters insurance policies automatically cover your personal property in a commercial storage unit).

You'll also want to make a detailed inventory of everything in storage. An easy way is with American Family's DreamVault. This no-cost Web-based resource allows you to upload pictures and descriptions of your belongings and organize them any way you like. If you ever need to file a claim, the information will be right at your fingertips.

Storage unit tips

While your property is in storage, here are a few suggestions to make your storage experience easy and worry-free.

  • Keep your items off the floor to avoid water damage by melting snow or rain that may seep under the door.
  • Wrap everything in plastic to keep it clean and free of dust and insects.
  • Know what you can and cannot keep in a storage unit. Different storage companies have different restrictions.
  • Label each box. When you need to retrieve an item, you'll know exactly which box to go to.
  • If you store items sensitive to climate swings, consider an indoor, climate-controlled facility.

If you're not sure if your belongings in storage are properly protected, call your American Family agent. A phone call today could save a headache tomorrow.

5 Tips to Avoid Distracted Driving

5 Tips to Avoid Distracted Driving

Pop quiz: Who's more likely to use cell phones while driving – Americans or Europeans?

If you guessed “Americans,” you're right, according to a recent study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Texting, emailing and talking on the cell phone are among the top distractions leading to more than nine traffic crash fatalities every day in the U.S.

Here are five simple tips to avoid becoming one of these grim statistics.

  • When you're in the car, put your phone out of reach.
  • Download an online app that can help you stop texting and driving.
  • Designate a passenger to handle texting while you're driving.
  • Put your phone on mute, and turn off notifications.
  • Commit yourself to safer driving – take the Safe Driving Pledge from American Family Insurance.

For teens, driving while using a cell phone is especially risky. Forty percent of all teens say they've been in a car when the driver used a cell phone in a way that put others in danger, according to the Pew Research Center.

If you're a parent with teen drivers at home, consider American Family's Teen Safe Driver Program. This award-winning coaching program has helped reduce risky driving habits by more than 70 percent.

Gear Up For a Safe Cycling Season

Gear Up For a Safe Cycling Season

May is National Bike Month — the kickoff to a new bike riding season. Whether you ride for exercise, competition or relaxation, make sure to put safety on your side. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, more than 600 bicyclists are killed each year. Don't be a statistic — ride safe and have fun.

Safety tips for safe riding

Here are a few safety tips to help you enjoy a safe riding season:

  • Wear a properly fitted helmet.
  • Adjust your bicycle's seat and handlebars to fit your body.
  • Make sure your tires are properly inflated and have good treads.
  • Make sure your brakes are in good working order.
  • Wear reflective clothing to be seen.
  • Always ride with your hands on the handlebars. Carry other items in a bicycle carrier or backpack.
  • Watch for road hazards such as potholes, gravel, puddles, etc.
  • Avoid riding at night.
  • Ride on the road in the same direction as other vehicles and obey all traffic laws, signs, signals and lane markings.
  • Yield to traffic and pedestrians.
  • Look before turning.
  • Ride far enough out from the curb to avoid the unexpected from parked cars (like doors opening, or cars pulling out).

American Family's Learning Center has more information to protect you and your family with safe cycling tips. Also, contact your local American Family Insurance agent to make sure your bicycle is covered in the event of an accident or theft.