Choosing the Right Convertible

Choosing the Right Convertible

For some people, the only way to drive is with the top down. While many drivers out there are fine with standard vehicles, you know that the thrill of having a convertible is too much to ignore. 

But how can you be sure that you’re picking the right model? Before you make a final decision, you’ll want to consider these factors. At Bob Johnson Insurance, we understand the appeal of an elegant convertible, which is why we’re here to help. 

Safety Features

No matter what kind of car you drive, you want to feel safe when you’re on the road. However, convertibles have some extra precautions you’ll want to take since the top half of the vehicle is missing. Some essential elements to consider are:

  • Roll Bars – these bars help protect any passengers in case the car flips over. 
  • Airbags – side impact bags are going to be more critical in a convertible, so make sure your model has them. 
  • Rearview Camera – although a convertible offers more visibility for the driver, it may not be enough. Eliminate blind spots with these cameras. 

Hard vs. Soft Top

When picking out the right convertible, one of the most crucial elements will be the top. For the most part, drivers prefer having a soft top that comes with an automatic folding system. However, if you’re driving something with a little more panache, a hardtop may be more preferable. Let’s look at the pros and cons of each. 

Hardtop Convertibles

These models will resist wear and tear much better, and they will avoid leaks in the rain. However, they can be cumbersome to attach, and you may not be able to bring it along. In that case, you can risk damaging the inside of your car if the weather gets foul. 

Soft Top Convertibles

For the most part, these units are much more convenient, especially if you’re worried about the weather. However, they can get damaged easily, so keep that in mind. 

Other Considerations

If you’re new to the world of convertibles, then you may not be aware of all of the various elements that come with your new ride. Here are some additional factors to think about. 

Wind Noise – It will be much louder with the top down which can interfere with conversation and music while you’re speeding down the highway. 

Wind Damage – Not only will your hair fly around, but the wind can catch other items in your car and send them flying. Be sure to secure items in the car.

Putting Top Up/Down – It can be a process to convert your car, so make sure that you’re prepared to do this whenever necessary. 

Security – You can’t leave valuables in your car when the top’s down, so make sure that you don’t fall victim to theft. Also, your car can be stolen much easier if the car is unattended and the top is down, so plan for that as well. 

Trunk Space – The top can take up much of the storage on your vehicle, so be aware of that. 

Climate Control – A/C and heating are useless when you’re exposed to the elements. Some new models have heated seats to alleviate this issue, but it can still be a problem for some. 

Overall, if you’re committed to the convertible life, then you can prepare yourself for anything. Contact Bob Johnson Insurance to make sure that your new ride is covered, and enjoy the road as it was meant to be. 

What If… My Car is Getting Old?

What if...

Cars get older every day they’re removed from the factory, and that age carries some serious liabilities with it. Older cars are harder to repair, and they need more frequent maintenance as the parts start to break down and fail. There comes a point when it’s time to ask yourself, what should I do with my old car?

If the maintenance costs per year are becoming more than the monthly payments for a new vehicle would be, then replacement is the best option. Why spend more for less, when it’s clear that you are already going to have to put the money out there one way or the other.

If the car has been well maintained and isn’t costing much from one year to the next then it may be worth it to fix those little issues that could use some attention. The old adage of “if it isn’t broken then don’t fix it” can be applied to cars by saying “if it isn’t broken then don’t replace it.”

Another aspect of car ownership that has to be considered is registration and insurance. These bills pile up every year, and in some states the registration fee can get worse with older vehicles than with newer ones. Likewise, if you’re paying for additional insurance that may not be necessary or worthwhile in the case of an accident then you may be throwing money away as well. (This is something your agent can help you determine during your annual insurance review.) If your car is paid off, you should give your insurance agent a call without a doubt to see if there is somewhere you can save money or determine if it may be more worthwhile to upgrade to a newer model after all.

While many cars become classics as they age, there are many more that just become scrap. While it’s tough to know what will become a valuable vehicle when it ages, sentimental value may be a reason to hang on to the car.  If you’re lucky then that sentimental value could turn into a return on value for that car you cared for.

Ultimately, knowing what to do with an older car comes down to understanding the cost of that car. If the car is becoming more costly to maintain and register than it should be, then the choice is clear. If you want to preserve your car and keep it as it reaches classic status then it’s important to care for it correctly. Either way, knowing all the costs from registration fees, maintenance costs and insurance costs are critical to making the right decision. Your next step should be to check in on those fees with the DMV and your insurance agent so you can start planning what to do with that old car.

How to Choose the Right Car for You: Winter Safety Features

How to Choose the Right Car for You: Winter Safety Features

When choosing which car you may want to purchase, be sure to consider the weather.  Walking in the cold is not usually fun, and driving in it can be dangerous.  If your region gets snow and/or ice during the winter (not to mention the wind and rain of this cold season) there are some features you may want to consider that will make driving safer not only for you but for others on the road as well.

Electronic Stability Control (“ESC”)

ESC uses sensors and a microcomputer to monitor your steering. It will apply brakes or modulate engine power to help you keep control of the car. They are very effective in reducing crashes.*

Antilock Brakes (“ABS”)

This feature has been around for a while so you may already know what it does and how important it is.  Your ABS keeps your brakes from locking up which is needed on black ice or wet roads.  Think of it like an umbrella. It is better have one and not need it than need one and not have one.

Adaptive Headlights

It is very hard to drive when you cannot see the road during winter.  Adaptive headlights help to solve the problem.  They have small motors that adjust the headlights, moving them to light up where you need them most like around curves, and helping in fog and rain.

Forward Collision Warning and Auto-Braking

Sometimes reaction time is everything — the sooner you react, the more chance you can involve a crash.  This feature helps you have a faster reaction time.  If its sensors detect something is getting to close to the car, it will auto-brake to aid in avoiding a collision. This may be very helpful especially for older people or when a person gets distracted.

LED tail lights

LED lights are not only brighter but they also last longer. With LED tail lights, you can be seen easier during heavy snow, rain or fog.

Snow chains

Snow chain are not actually a “feature” per se, but they should still be considered for a car in winter.  They fit on your tires to make driving easier in the snow. They also help you maintain control of the car, and you may find it easier to drive up and down hills.

* See also “Life-saving benefits of ESC continue to accrue

What is ABS and What It Does for You

emergency braking car on wet road

When you are considering which car to purchase, you should factor in ABS.  Many people don’t know that ABS (anti-lock braking system) makes a difference:

  • Since ABS, there has been a 35% decrease in frontal collisions on wet roads.
  • There has been a 9% decrease in frontal impacts on dry roads.
  • In controlled test conditions, 58% of drivers without ABS strayed from their intended path after braking and only 24% of drivers with ABS did the same.

As you can see, ABS is a very good feature to have.  It comes as a standard feature on many cars, but sometimes it is an add-on. As you look at cars, think of ABS like an umbrella. It’s better to have one and not need it rather than need it and not have it.

You might have heard someone say, “I pushed the brake pedal, and they locked up!” When your wheels lock up, you skid, you can hear the screech of the tires and often you see smoke and/or skid marks on the pavement.  Skidding isn’t good, but it is especially dangerous in rain, snow or ice. When it happens, you are at serious risk for losing control of the car and having an accident.

To “unlock” your wheels, you need to lessen the pressure on the brakes until the wheels start spinning again.  If you drive a car without ABS, instead of pressing on the brake and holding it, you need to apply pressure until just before the wheels would lock up.  If the wheels lock up or you are trying to keep them from doing so, you lessen pressure on the brake and then apply it once again (which is called “feathering”).  In the midst of bad weather or bad drivers around you, it’s not always easy to do.

That’s where ABS comes in.  ABS is designed to keep your wheels from locking up when you press the brakes.  With ABS, a computer will handle all that for you using wheel speed sensors, hydraulic units and electronic control unit. All these combined make up an ABS.

ABS is very useful in bad weather or during an emergency when you need to suddenly stop your car. It takes care of feathering your brakes so your wheels don’t lock up. (The ABS use sensors to monitor your brakes and keep them from locking at a sudden braking.) As a result, you maintain better control of your car in order to avoid a wreck.