Before you jump to conclusions, know that the reasons are interesting and fairly straight forward.
Ah, the time-honored tradition of complaining about rising gas prices as the Christmas season comes to an end. Can you even remember a single period in history when this wasn’t the case? Probably not. Have you ever wondered why, though?
Contrary to public opinion, the reason has nothing to do with a grand conspiracy by “Big Oil” to gouge consumer for every dollar they have. The truth is that there is a very well-defined set of that directly cause the price increase we see each year. Here are the five main reasons:
1. Higher Demand For Gasoline
At the tail end of winter, people tend to get out of their homes and drive more after hibernating during the cold months. As basic supply and demand economics has it, a higher demand for any commodity tends to drive a higher price for that commodity, and as a commodity, gasoline is no exception.
2. Refinery Maintenance Outages
The refineries that produce gasoline have planned, routine maintenance outages. When this occurs, the overall refining capacity of the refineries is reduced and this causes prices to increase. Again, simple Economics 101: supply and demand.
3. Transportation Constraints
The ongoing boom in domestic oil production in areas like the Permian Basin in West Texas, the Bakken Shale in North Dakota and the DJ Basin in Eastern Colorado has resulted in transportation issues.. The absence of pipelines means the crude oil literally has to be trucked out, and the increased cost in transportation is added to the price of gasoline at the pump.
4. Higher Crude Oil Prices
As our friends at remind us, given that crude oil is the precursor for gasoline, any significant increase in crude prices will inevitably result in higher prices at the pump.
5. Summer Blend Gasoline Switches
Refiners are required by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to produce both of gasoline. The switch-over takes place each spring, and the simple fact of the matter is that it costs more to produce summer blends than it is to produce winter blends. In addition, due to federal regulations, refiners must produce more than 20 different summer blends, which must then be transported to specific regions of the country.
Don’t Over Think It
There you go — the reasons why gasoline prices tend to rise just about the same time when people start planning their summer vacations. Unfortunately for the tin foil hat wearers, none of them have anything to do with a grand conspiracy by greedy oil producers.
By the way, did you know that making your own gasoline is almost possible?
3 Sneaky Auto Insurance Practices You Should Look Out For
No one likes insurance scams, and you definitely wouldn’t want to fall for one.
If you’re in the market for a new car, you’ll of course need a good insurance policy. Per usual, the first course of action is to figure out what to do with your previous vehicle (assuming you have one).
There are usually four primary options available to you: trade the car in, sell it, junk it, or give it away (for instance, if you lived along the California coast, you could look for ways to ).
After considering your options, you can move forward with choosing a new vehicle and deciding what to do about your insurance policy. Stay with your current provider? Switch and get a new one? Either way, it’s crucial that you use this transitioning stage to re-examine your policy, identify any red flags, and learn more about the industry. There are many tricks that auto insurance companies use to avoid paying for claims, so the more educated you are about these types of tricks, the better you’ll be able to react if you’re being targeted.
With that in mind, here are three sneaky auto insurance tactics to keep an eye out for:
1) Outrageous Claim Denials
The auto insurance industry is riddled with outrageous claim denial stories. In these cases, a person who deserves to receive funds for medical expenses or other claims are denied for ridiculous reasons. There’s a reason for this. Although all auto insurance companies have a public-facing side that frames their company as on the side of their policyholders, the truth is that many companies reward their employees for their ability to deny claims and sneak their way out of paying for claims rightfully. In fact, Tom Wilson, the CEO of AllState, was as saying, “Our obligation is to earn a return for our shareholders.”
One of the most famous examples of outrageous claim denials is the , who was wound up in a coma for 9 days after a bad car accident. After she came out of her coma, not only was she confined to a wheelchair, but awoke to an incredibly high medical bill. As she worked to get her bill paid for through her insurance agency, she was shockingly denied because Farmers Insurance claimed that the other driver hit her intentionally, and therefore she was not actually involved in an “accident.”
This case exploded in the media, and Farmers Insurance eventually paid out the claim after much public outcry. If you ever find yourself in a similar position, the best thing to do is to try and get as much exposure as you can; talk about it on social media, encourage others to share it, and call up your local newspapers and television stations.
2) Delay Policy Claims
Delaying policy claims is the one of the oldest tricks in the auto insurance book. With this tactic, the auto insurance company purposely delays a claim in the hopes that the policyholder will simply give up. And there are many different ways auto insurance companies will delay a claim. They might leave the policy holder on the phone for hours at a time, giving them the runaround.
One insurance company, Conesco, who bundled auto and life insurance policies, received bad press when they started sending the wrong forms to their policyholders, forcing them past the deadline. One profiled the story of Mary Rose Derks, who was denied her claims to move into an assisted living home multiple times, each time for a different reason.
“Interviews by The New York Times and confidential depositions indicate that some long-term-care insurers have developed procedures that make it difficult — if not impossible — for policyholders to get paid,” the article states. “A review of more than 400 of the thousands of grievances and lawsuits filed in recent years shows elderly policyholders confronting unnecessary delays and overwhelming bureaucracies. In California alone, nearly one in every four long-term-care claims was denied in 2005, according to the state.”
3) Too Much Fine Print
Like every other agreement you might sign, there’s a lot to be said in the fine print. And unfortunately, the majority of people don’t read the fine print… ever. In fact, one found that 91% of Americans agree to the Terms of Service without ever actually reading it. And the fine print can completely ruin your claim and hurt your ability to take care of yourself and your property after an accident.
It’s important to go through the fine print in your policy, and to stay up to date with any changes that may occur in your policy. If you have legal representation, have them take a look at it and point out any potential issues that may arise.
Follow These 5 Tips Before Heading Out With Your Car In Winter
Severe weather conditions can be really dreadful for travelers of all walks.
Driving should never be taken lightly. Winter storms and other bad weather conditions in particular can prove difficult for any driver or vehicle, so if you are planning a trip during the winter months, it’s crucial that you check the condition of your car beforehand.
In this article, we look at five important car checks you must make to ensure a safe drive during winter.
1. Get Your Car Serviced
One of the most important things is to have your car serviced before you heading out with it. Regular servicing and maintenance checks can be very helpful in detecting any sort of issues, and if you’re in the United Kingdom or any other country with a similar requirement, the annual MOT test to assess vehicle safety, exhaust emissions levels and other aspects of roadworthiness will bolster your peace of mind.
Needless to say, from a reliable car service centre should be a mandatory part of your check list.
2. Top Up Engine Coolant With Antifreeze
The engine coolant should be a mix of 50/50 water and antifreeze. Antifreeze becomes diluted over time, so you need to top it up every now and then.
People often make the mistake of topping the antifreeze with water, which makes it over diluted and causes it to freeze during very cold weather. This could potentially lead to you engine overheating and, consequently, a huge repair bill. Don’t be that guy or gal!
3. Install Floor Mats Correctly
Driver-side floor mats that are installed improperly could interfere with the operation of a vehicle. The can jam the brake pedal, accelerator or the clutch, possibly leading to an accident.
To minimize or even eliminate this risk, use properly-sized floor mats that fit your vehicle, follow the manufacturer’s instructions for installation, and make sure they are secured with any applicable retention clips.
4. Check Condition Of The Tyres
Like the steering wheel and brakes, car tyres play a critical role in operating your car safely, so it’s important to ensure that they are in good condition.
Check tyre condition for the right air pressure and tread depth. Compared to the minimum of 1.6mm for any other season, a minimum depth of 3mm is required for sufficient grip during winter. Ideally, you should replace your summer and even all-season tires with winter tyres for superior grip in slushy or icy roads.
5. Keep A Safe Distance
One of the most important driving tips to follow regardless of season but especially during winter is to leave plenty of stopping distances (#StoppingDistance ) between you and the car in front to ensure that there is enough room to stop when the road is slippery and / or the snow and slush start flying onto your windshield.
You must also accelerate and decelerate slowly to avoid spinning your wheels, which requires that you understand your car’s driving characteristics (e.g. is it front wheel drive, rear wheel or a all-wheel drive?). And don’t forget to clean your lights, wash the windscreen and wipers, and check the condition of the battery before beginning your journey.
5 Car Warning Signs That You Shouldn’t Ignore
Ignoring these car warning signs could cause you a lot of money and your peace of mind.
We’ve all been there — one day you’re driving along worry-free when suddenly you notice a small problem with your car. Everything else seems to be fine though and you don’t really have the time or money to have the issue addressed, so ignore it, hoping that the problem isn’t big enough to warrant immediate attention.
However, what may seem like a small problem could actually be a large one. If you notice any of the signs mentioned in this article, it’s better to get your car checked out sooner rather than later. Doing so can help prevent further problems and even save you money in the long run.
1. The Check Engine Light is On
One of the most commonly ignored problems is the check engine light. This little light seems to turn on in the instrument cluster even though everything with the car seems to be fine, so we leave it alone and hope that it turns itself back off, which usually doesn’t happen.
If your check engine light is on, it’s imperative that you figure out the cause as soon as possible. You can do it yourself by buying an engine code scanner and then looking up the retrieved code online, or you can take your car to the shop. Many places will read engine codes for free or allow you to borrow a tool to .
Once you figure out why the light is on, you can decide on an appropriate course of action to take to repair the issue and get that light off.
The check engine light could be on for something minor or the first warning sign of a major issue, but you wouldn’t know without looking into it. Don’t put this off once the light turns on.
2. There’s An Odd Smell
Next, if your nose picks up any odd smells from the car, this is typically a sign that something is wrong. The type of odor you detect will help you to pinpoint what exactly is wrong with the car.
For instance, if you smell something sweet, this could mean that you’re leaking antifreeze. If the smell is more like burning rubber, there might be an oil leak.
All leaks are bad, so , have a professional figure out the issue to have it addressed pronto.
3. You Hear A Loud Squeaking
Besides using your nose to detect problems, you can also use your ears. If, while driving along, you hear a loud squeaking sound, this is often an indicator that you have a problem with your brakes.
According to this “Your vehicle’s brake pads may be equipped with a small, thin piece of metal to act as a warning indicator when the pad material is getting low and the brake pads should be replaced. This device makes a high-pitched sound on brake application, letting you know it’s time for brake service.”
The sound may be audible while you’re driving and disappear when you apply the brakes, or vice versa. Either way, you don’t want to drive along past the point where your brakes are no longer working, so get yourself some new brake pads as soon as you can.
4. Black Smoke Coming From The Car
A major sign that there’s an issue with your car is when you see and/or smell smoke. The smoke could come from the exhaust, from under the car, or from inside the hood, but no matter the source, it’s an indication of a major problem.
The best course of action when you smell smoke i.s to stop driving and get the problem taken care of. Not doing so could result in your car catching fire, posing a risk to everyone inside the vehicle and even in close proximity to it.
While the appearance of smoke could result from simply needing an oil change, the problem is usually more severe. The only way to know is to have a mechanic check it out.
5. Difficulty Starting The Car
Finally, if you’re having trouble starting your car, this is often a warning sign that one or more of its components are failing. If it takes your car a few tries to start up, but it eventually does, you may be tempted to ignore the problem and assume it’s just a one time thing. However, there’s a good chance that the next time you turn on the ignition, it won’t turn over.
A car may have difficulty starting for a number of reasons. Maybe the battery is dying or there isn’t enough gas. May a major component like the distributor or starter is failing. Regardless of the cause, trouble starting up is a symptom that should never be ignored. It’s better to get it taken care of right away before your trusted car dies for good.
Don’t Wait for Problems To Get Worse
While it may be an inconvenience now, driving around a car with problems will only make your life more difficult in the long run. Putting aside time for proper car maintenance could save you some money, keep safer on the road, and provide you with peace of mind.
The next time you detect one of the warning signs above, don’t wait — get it taken care of right away. You’ll be happy that you did.