Car MainitenanceNow that it is the new year, you’ve likely got to put your affairs in order. You’re probably going to renew a lot of services and pay a lot of bills. This is a great time of year to clean house and take care of major chores you sometimes neglect during the year.

One thing you should check up on in 2018 is your vehicle. Your car is going to need comprehensive protection throughout the year. Otherwise, you could violate Florida law and face expensive penalties. Therefore, make vehicle maintenance one of your priorities this year. The service your vehicle needs will involve both clerical and physical maintenance.

Renew Your License and Registration

Being a driver doesn’t entitle you to simply jump behind the wheel and take off. If you register your vehicle in Florida, you’ll have to follow the Sunshine State’s laws.

  • Renew your driver’s license if it is set to expire this year. Most Florida driver’s licenses are valid for between four and six years. Check your license to verify the expiration date. Do not drive with an invalid license.
  • Florida drivers usually have to renew their registration annually, during their birth month. Registration expires at midnight on the owner’s birthday. Every ten years, vehicle owners will receive a new license plate in addition to new registration. Some drivers have exceptions, so check with your Tax Collector for more information. Florida does not require drivers to have annual safety or emissions inspections.

Renew Your Insurance

Most car insurance policies expire each year. Drivers should renew their policy without letting it lapse. Florida law requires drivers to carry:

  • $10,000 personal injury protection
  • $10,000 property damage liability coverage
  • If you have been in an accident or have certain charges, Florida can require you to carry additional bodily injury liability protection. These levels start at $10,000 per person, and $20,000 per accident.

Your auto insurance coverage remains a vital part of your driving qualifications. If you don’t carry the required insurance, you might face penalties from the state.

But don’t just carry the minimum levels. Most drivers will need more protection than this coverage. They often should consider carrying collision and comprehensive protection to cover damage to their own vehicles. Many policies also come with bodily injury liability coverage.

Also take this time of year to ask your agent how you can adjust your coverage to make it more affordable. Your agent might be able to help you find a different policy that costs less for the same coverage, or that allows you more discounts.

Invest in Comprehensive Vehicle Maintenance

Once you receive your registration and insurance, you still need to pay attention to your car. Your vehicle is a sensitive item, and will need ongoing maintenance. You likely should receive preventative maintenance every few thousand miles. However, always have a vehicle checkup at least annually. Some of the maintenance you might need includes:

  1. Engine checkups: Your mechanic can change your oil, flush contaminants and look for signs that your engine is nearing the end of its life. Well-functioning engines can help improve the car’s overall performance.
  2. Battery testing: Car batteries usually last about five or six years. As your battery nears the end of its life, it becomes harder to start and run the engine. Therefore, if you continue to use an old battery, you might place undue stress on the car. Have your mechanic test your battery health.
  3. Brake and Steering Repairs: If your brakes or power steering don’t function properly, you might experience control problems. This greatly increases your chances of having an accident.
  4. Seal testing: If the car’s seals around the windows, doors, hood or trunk don’t function, you could expose the vehicle to damage. You might allow vermin, pests, harmful fumes or moisture into the vehicle. You might also allow heat and air to escape the car easily, and place a burden on your HVAC system.
  5. HVAC Repairs: No one wants to be too hot in the summer or cold in the winter. Therefore, have your mechanic check your car’s heating and air systems. The mechanic can likely catch small damages before they have time to get worse.
  6. Glass Inspections: Cracks, misalignment or breaks in your window glass could lead to dangerous hazards. Damage could also damage your vehicle’s seals. Make sure you don’t let glass damage go neglected, or else you could face a large repair bill.
  7. Lights and wiper testing: Driving without functioning lights or wipers poses a visibility risk. This makes you a danger to everyone on the road. Test your lights, replace bulbs and wiper blades as necessary.

Keep in mind that car insurance likely won’t pay for regular maintenance. Therefore, it’s best to take care of small problems before they get worse and lead to extra costs out of your pocket. However, your insurance is there to help when unavoidable hazards strike. Talk to one of our agents for more information about getting the right coverage. Call us at 800.966.6481 for a Tampa auto insurance quote.

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