Shopping for Garage Doors 101

Garage doors are not exactly something that people shop for every day. In fact, for most of us, they are a purchase we’ll only make once or twice in a lifetime. However, as they are so important, especially in terms of a property’s curb appeal, shopping for them when the time comes can be a little daunting. Get it wrong and the whole world – or at the very least your whole neighborhood – may be pointing out your mistakes.

Because this is a decision and purchase most people haven’t made before, meaning that they are far from familiar with the concept, here are some things to keep in mind while finding, and purchasing, the garage doors that are just right for your unique home.

Appearance

The appearance of garage doors is usually top of mind for those purchasing them and for good reason as they take up a good deal of a home’s ‘outdoor real estate’ and will have an immediate impact on its overall curb appeal from the minute they are installed.

Some thirty or forty years ago consumers often had very limited options available to them. They could choose wood or steel and the color range available spanned from white to beige and not too much further than that. Fortunately, all of that has changed.

According to Garrett Waldrop, founder of a garage door company in Atlanta, “Modern garage doors are available in a huge array of designs and colors, and can easily be customized to complement the rest of a home’s exterior perfectly. It’s now long been realized that garage doors are more than just functional necessities; they offer property owners the chance to upgrade both the function and the look of their home.”

Material

The appearance of a set of new garage does is very important, but so is their potential longevity, ease of maintenance and energy efficiency. To be most efficient, garage doors need to be durable, relatively easy to maintain and well insulated. There are many options out there to choose from and for each individual consumer, material choice should take into account things like local climate and their personal willingness to invest time and money in maintenance.  

Wooden garage doors, for example, are a draw for many because of their classic, slightly rustic appeal. They may, however, require extra care, in the form of repainting and re-staining that a more contemporary alternative, like aluminum or steel, do not require.

Price

As previously mentioned, garage doors are not a purchase you’ll make often and they do have a major impact on the look and function of any home. As such, they are not a home purchase that should be done cheaply. According to Remodeling Magazine, garage doors are actually one of the better purchases a homeowner can make in terms of return on investment, with an average 90% ROI. Therefore, spending a few dollars extra to get the garage doors you really want will rarely be money wasted, especially if you plan to sell the property sometime further down the line.  

How to Easily Extend the Useful Life of Your Vehicle’s Tires

Of all of the equipment in any vehicle, some of the most important, in terms of both performance and safety, are the tires. According to a study conducted by the NHTSA and then published by Consumer Reports, vehicles driving on underinflated tires are 25 times more likely to end up in a crash versus vehicles with properly inflated tires and the figures for worn tires are even worse.

However, if you have had occasion to shop for tires recently then you are more than aware of the fact that they could not exactly be termed as cheap, no matter what kind of vehicle you drive. You really can’t afford to skimp on buying them, as they really are so crucial to your driving safety. However given that they are not inexpensive items, getting more out of the set you have should be something of a priority unless money is no object, something that is hardly the case for most of us.

So how do you do that? Here are a few basic pointers:

Ensure Your Tires are Always Properly Inflated

A great habit to get into is to is at least glancing at your tires once a day, either when you park up at the office in the morning or better still when you head to the gas station to fill up, where there will be air nearby if you need it. A lot of the time you can tell yourself when your tires could use a bit of air, but if you are not sure a hand held tire gauge is not hard to use.

According to Layne Davlin, founder of a PEO company in Georgia, “If you have a newer vehicle it may be equipped with a digital Tire Pressure Monitoring System, which is handy, but you still need to make sure that you know what the optimal tire pressure is for vehicle when that warning light goes off. If you do not have a TPMS your should check all of your tires once a month using a good digital or pencil type pressure gauge.”

Not only will you be helping to ensure the safety of your car by maintaining a constant tire pressure and extend their useful life you can also improve your average gas mileage by up to 3.3%!

Getting an Oil Change? Get Your Tires Balanced and Rotated Too

By getting your tires balanced and rotated every 7,000 – 10,000 miles, which is approximately every other oil change for most of us, you will help increase the lifespan of all four of them as the tires on the front of the vehicle wear faster than those on the back. You will also be helping to reduce vibrations that can damage other ‘working parts’ on your car. Most auto shops offering oil changes offer this service too and many even build it into a ‘package price’ at a very reasonable cost.

Routinely Check the Tread on Every Tire

A tire that is visibly wearing on its outside edge is often a sign that your wheels are no longer properly aligned. Any misalignment will significantly reduce the life of your tires, while also potentially affecting your driving stability, so get into the habit of routinely inspecting each tire for uneven tread wear.

An easy way to check your tread depth is to find a penny – we all have some lying around someplace – and then place it in the tread groove. If you can see all of Abe’s head then tire should be replaced as soon as possible and you should also have your alignment checked when you do put on the new one(s).

Avoid Potholes – Or at Least Go Over Them Slowly

Potholes are certainly a big enemy to tire health. Depending on your tire’s design and pothole’s depth, even hitting a pothole at 20 m.p.h. can cause significant damage to the tire sidewall, which is not something that can be fixed.

If a pothole is unavoidable, it is better to slow down and drive through it than try to swerve away from it at the last second, as doing the latter is nothing short of a driving hazard, both for yourself and other cars on the road around you.

The Real Dangers – and Consequences – of Distracted Driving

Driving a motor vehicle is a dangerous business, both for you and the others sharing the road with you. Although, fortunately, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration the number of traffic accident fatalities has declined steadily since the seventies, there are still some 35,000 deaths attributable to road accidents every year in the US.

According to that same NHTSA data, one of the biggest reasons that vehicle accident fatalities have fallen over the last few decades is the fact that the vehicles on the road are simply built to be safer. However many safety gadgets a vehicle boasts, any car or truck really is only as safe as its driver, and driver error is all too often the key factor in a motor vehicle accident.

Often, in the aftermath of a crash, a driver will almost automatically declare “It wasn’t me, it was the other guy”. But what if you are the other guy – or girl? Your driving habits – even some you may be unaware of – may be putting you and others at risk. With this in mind, here are some of the things you should never do behind the wheel. And yes, some are no-brainers, but unfortunately, there does still seem to be a lot of seemingly brainless drivers on the road.

Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol

Everyone knows that drunk driving is a recipe for disaster. Yet drunk driving is still a major cause of vehicle-related injuries and deaths. Most people know what they should do if they plan to drink: don’t drive. Either designate a sober driver, stick to soft drinks yourself or leave the car at home and make use of a cab, or, these days, easy to summon ride services like Uber or Lyft.

The problem is that many drivers think that they are ‘OK’ to drive because they only ‘had a few’, or they ate a meal that they happened to wash down with beer or wine. The simple fact is though that even a single alcoholic drink can significantly impair your ability to react, even if your ability to perform basic driving maneuvers is still intact. The bottom line? If you want to drink, don’t drive, no ifs, ands, or buts about it.

Driving Under the Influence of Drugs

Driving under the influence of drugs does not just mean the obviously illegal ones but getting behind the wheel after taking certain prescription medications – and even a few over-the-counter ones – can impair your driving skills every bit as much as a few beers might. Therefore it’s important to heed the warnings that, by law, come along with most of those medications and never operate a vehicle after taking them until you are sure you know how they will affect you.

Driving Under the Influence of Electronics

A number of states have tried to tackle the problems caused by a driver distracted by their personal electronics, especially their cell phone, but recently one US state finally officially gave the practice a legal term. David McKenzie, a DUI lawyer in Montgomery county, PA explains; “A bill recently passed in the State of Washington lays out hefty fines and even possible jail time for drivers using electronic devices while driving and have given it a very fitting name. Driving while under the influence of electronics, or simply ‘DUI-E’, shows the fact that texting while driving, or even checking email, can be hugely dangerous for everyone on the road.”

DUI-E is an increasingly serious problem, with The National Safety Council reporting that the use of a cellphone while driving led to 1.6 million crashes in the US 2016. The answer to the problem should be simple, don’t use your phone while driving. However, in that same NSC study, it was found while 94% of drivers interviewed acknowledged the dangers of texting and driving, 35% admitted to doing it anyway.

However, now really is time to put the phone down. Over two dozen more states have similar laws to Washington’s in the works. Now the question: is it really worth incurring a hefty fine, picking up points on your license or, worst of all, injuring yourself or someone else just to check a text message or snap a selfie for Instagram? The answer is no every time.

Factors that Influence Car Accidents among Young Drivers

Teen in a pickup truck. Photo credit: Pixabay.com

Every year, drivers throughout the globe are injured or killed in road traffic. The young drivers run a greater risk everywhere than the elder ones, but this challenge is still greatly unsolved. The 18–24 year age group is the one with the biggest risk of all new drivers.

“More than just traffic enforcement – ensuring that young drivers stay safe is a matter of education,” says Rose Burberry-Martin, who works with Total Disability Individual Unemployability lawyers. “Teenagers don’t always understand that bad things can happen to them, as their age makes them feel invincible. We have to educate them on the risks of driving so that they learn to drive safely from the start.” A clear understanding of the underlying processes could be a useful tool in preventive endeavors.

Various methods of persuasion can be tested out, so as to change the young drivers’ goals behind driving, and the context in which it’s done. Both “hard” and “soft” methods should be used. For instance, increased enforcement and proper communication may be simultaneously used. But first, authorities should consider these factors:

Age

One important aspect which has been studied is how the driver’s age and the driving experience gained after licensure influence the risk of accidents on the road. Age is highly critical in terms of the level of accident risk. 15-year olds, in particular, are at an elevated risk. The chances of accident risk due to low driving experience usually decrease as the driver ages.

Communication campaigns should highlight the consequences of unsafe behaviors—and in particular target young males. The communication campaigns that employ emotional and persuasive messages are the most effective where the young drivers are concerned. Studies reveal that attitudes about safety are usually formed at an early age—long before legal driving—and therefore, it would also be essential to target young adolescents. Laws require that for enforcement to be effective, it should target areas of particular risk.

Experience

Several reviews and studies prove that experience is more crucial than age when it comes to accident risk in traffic

Driver education and Education Campaigns can’t be expected to change the goals of a young person radically. For that purpose, active learning methods which make use of the learner’s own experiences should be applied. Whether offered at driving schools or via the ordinary school system, some specialized courses for the young drivers designed to make them conscious of their personal tendencies; and the type of social context which affects their driving behavior could be fruitful.

Alcohol

This is a significant factor that contributes to most accidents among young drivers.

While the law legalizes drinking alcohol among the 21-years and above, it is very keen on warning that drinking while driving at any age is illegal. Most of the young drivers, especially 21-26 years of age, usually take advantage that they are above the minimum age required for drinking without thinking about the legal limit for driving while intoxicated, which can get them into serious trouble.

According to the America’s NHTSA, approximately one-third of drivers ages 15-20 who lost their lives in car accidents had been drinking. This only means that to ensure safety on our roads; there shouldn’t be any measurable amount of alcohol in the young drivers’ bodies.

The conclusion which can be made from the above surveys are that: age correlated causes and experience, as well as drinking too heavily are crucial to the accident risk a driver is exposed to while in traffic. Studying these and trying to better reach young people and help them understand the risks in their behavior may someday result in lower accidents and crash-related deaths in younger drivers.

What You Must Understand Before Buying a New Home

Purchasing a home is likely the largest investment you’ll ever make, but it’s not always an easy one. Buyers need to be informed and have their finances in order before entering the market.

Here are what experts say first-time buyers need to know:

  1. What You Can Actually Afford

Before buyers begin their house hunt, it’s essential they know how much amount they can afford to spend. “Start with a plan, and don’t let your imagination take over,” advises Jim Parrish, a personal injury lawyer in Manassas. “Letting what you see in your friends’ houses control your budget is a recipe for disaster.”

Buyers list out all of their monthly expenses, without leaving out items like groceries, and transportation spending, and others like nights out and gym memberships.

A general rule of thumb is that: housing costs shouldn’t take up over 30% of your before-tax income.

However, the percentage can vary, especially if you’ve other debts, like car payments or student loans.

Overspending on monthly housing payments can leave the homeowners poor, and unable to meet other expenses—like saving for retirement.

It’s common in competitive markets, for buyers to get pre-approved for financing so as to get more customers. But just because a bank approved you for a given amount, it doesn’t imply that’s what you should spend.  Just stick to a price limit you are comfortable with.

  1. You Need a Buffer

Although it may be tempting to spend everything you have, at your offer to stay competitive, it’s advisable to have at least some balance after you budget for a home.

It’s recommended you have at least 3-6 months worth of money in savings by the day you become homeowners. One of the reason is that you’ll be needing emergency savings now more than ever.

Therefore, if a home purchase renders you with no liquidity, consider lowering your price point or waiting to increase your savings.

  1. The Actual Cost of Owning a Home

The down payment usually tends to be the biggest financial challenge of owning a home. But there’re many other costs, which pop up along the way: origination, appraisal, notary fees, and a credit report can all add up.

Note that the costs don’t seize just when the keys are handed over. There is a need for new furniture and costs like utility payments and lawn care, which former renters might not be familiarized to paying.

  1. Renovations Aren’t as Seen on TV

Buying a fixer-up might enable you to afford a home in a more desirable area or snag a bigger one, but there can be some consequences.

Just know that it’s always more expensive than you’re imagining or what you see on television. If a home needs renovations, always factor it into the total cost of buying the property.

A private loan is usually an option to finance this project but can be hard to secure, especially after taking out a mortgage.

If your home requires far more than you purchased it for, then you could have the option of tapping your equity to assist in paying for renovations.

Additionally, there’re some mortgage options, which include renovation expenses. For example, a 203k FHA loan enables homebuyers to finance the purchase and rehabilitation on a single mortgage.

You can borrow from a friend or family member as well. Just be cautious of your relationship status if you end up defaulting on the loan!

What to Avoid After a Car Accident

You’ve just been involved in an accident, and you are trying to comprehend everything in the midst of the feeling of the shocking impact, the sounds of shattered glass and crashing steel, and the possible pain you might be feeling.

It’s the moment nobody wants to experience, but it you may have it happen to you several times over the course of your life. So it’s worthwhile to know the best ways to handle accidents, no matter the situation. As per the U.S. Census Bureau, about one in 13 drivers have the likelihood of getting in a car accident. So learn these basics of what not to do, in the case of a car accident.

What Not to Do After an Accident

Staying calm after a car accident can be as sticky as navigating the subsequent struggles with the car repairs and claims process. But car accidents occur every day, and there’s a proper protocol for handling them. Here are some key issues that you need not to.

Don’t Freak Out

Accidents are confusing, scary and chaotic. But getting hyperemotional does not help anything. “The trickiest part of an accident for many people is the moment right after it happens,” says David Bressman, a personal injury attorney in Columbus, OH. “Many people may find themselves in a panic after they are in a car accident, but this helps no one. If at all possible, it’s best to remain calm, as panic may cloud your reasoning and prevent you from making appropriate choices in the moment.” The best thing you can do is pull over if you can and call 911.

Don’t Apologize

Even if you’re at fault in the accident, don’t apologize. However, don’t lie about the sequence of events. You can try to assist and ask the other passengers or driver if they’re okay, but Apologizing is an admission of guilt, which can make settling the case in court more difficult.

Don’t Stay in Your Car

 If you can safely get out of your vehicle after an accident, do so. If the accident is terrible, the car isn’t the safest place to be. And even in the case of a minor accident, you’re likely to be safer standing on the sides of the road than remaining inside your vehicle.

Don’t Settle Without Proper Authorities

While it may be tempting to solve a minor car accident without contacting your insurance company or the police, there are several reasons why that isn’t usually a good idea. For example, you may not be assessing the damage correctly.

Don’t Give Out More Personal Details Than Is Necessary

In cases of reckless driving you may accidentally end up sharing more information than you have to, and you could. As a result, you may fall victim to an identity theft scam. Name, phone number, address, vehicle information and insurance information are the only things you are required to exchange with the other driver. Do not exchange financial information nor personal identifiers like your social security number.

 

If you are unsure of how to handle the situation or what to do, you can always ask a responding officer for assistance, or you can call your insurance claims hotline for help. Let’s not make an accident worse by acting wrongly.