Maintenance Tips for Older Cars

If you own an older vehicle, you may have to pay closer attention to its maintenance schedule. If you take care of your old car, it could last you several more years. In fact, recent data shows that American drivers are keeping their cars longer than they ever had in the past. Here are some maintenance tips to get the most out of your older car.

 

Pay Attention to the Brakes

Your brakes are one of the most important systems in your car. Without a properly working braking system, you could put yourself and other drivers in danger. So, if you own an older car, be sure not to take any strange sound or feeling for granted. If you suspect there may be an issue with your vehicle’s braking system, get it checked out by a professional mechanic right away.

Change Those Tires

Just because you have an old vehicle doesn’t mean it should have old tires! Have your tires checked periodically. Since most older cars won’t be able to alert you when the air in your tires is low, you’ll have to check frequently. Also, be sure to replace your tires when necessary.

Check Your Steering and Suspension System

A problem with your steering or your suspension system could end up making your tires wear much quicker than they should. Make sure your steering fluid is changed regularly and that you have your shocks checked by a mechanic.

Change Your Oil on Time

When an engine ages, it’s even more important to keep it running smoothly with fresh oil. Check your owner’s manual for more detailed instructions. Most older vehicles require an oil change at least every 3,000 miles. Be sure to ask your mechanic what the best oil is for your car as well.

Use these easy maintenance tips to keep your older car running safely and efficiently for years to come!

 

 

 

How We Can Help You Close a Real Estate Deal

When you’re purchasing property or helping a client purchase a property, obtaining insurance is a necessary part of the process. In fact, many lenders will only approve a loan if the proper insurance policies are already in place. This can be tricky when dealing with foreclosures, fixer-uppers, or properties with complicated histories. Having a reputable insurance agency on your side with experience insuring these types of properties can be extremely helpful. Read on to learn more.

 

Insuring the Hard-to-Insure

Don’t give up if you’re assisting in the buying process with a property that’s hard to insure. Many big-name insurance companies have policies in place that have little to no wiggle room when it comes to the approval process. Working with a local, family-owned agency like us makes all the difference. We will review every possible option to insure the property correctly.

Fixer-Upper Problems

There’s nothing wrong with investing in a real estate deal involving a property that needs a little TLC. Fixer-uppers can be a very wise investment; however, they can be hard to insure initially. Properties like this will need specialty insurance coverage. In fact, mortgage companies will most likely require it in their lending terms. Leigh Agency has an extensive network of resources and will be able to walk you through the insurance process for fixer-upper properties. We’ll make sure you get the right kind of policy to close on the deal.

Flood Zone Properties

If the property you’re purchasing is in a flood zone, you’ll need flood insurance as well as homeowner’s insurance for you or your client. Our agency is well versed in every flood insurance option, including FEMA-backed flood insurance policies. Finding the proper flood insurance can be a complicated process. That’s why it’s crucial to work with an insurance agency like us.

 

We can help you close on any real estate deal by ensuring you and/or your client have the proper insurance policies required by the lender. Give us a call today to start the process.

Safety Tips for Traveling Alone

Traveling alone can be a very fulfilling experience. There’s no one to dictate what you do or where you do it, and you have the total freedom to experience a new place the way you want to experience it. However, there are certain things you should be aware of to stay safe. Here are some safety tips for traveling alone.

 

Let Everyone Know Where You’ll Be

Before leaving for your solo trip, make sure you tell several friends and family members where you plan to be. Give them a copy of your flight itinerary, hotels, or resorts you’ll be staying and general areas you’ll be visiting. This way, if you lose touch with home, they’ll be able to reach out and check on you. Be sure to check in with those people occasionally as well. A once-a-day text letting them know you’re safe and where you’re supposed to be is a good idea.

Keep Your Cash and Valuables Separate

Don’t store your cash, credit cards, and passport all in one space. If you keep all your essentials in your wallet, and your wallet gets lost or stolen, you’ll find yourself in quite a predicament. Try keeping some money in a purse, your cards in your pocket, and your passport locked in your hotel safe.

Do Research on Your Destination

Although arriving somewhere with no knowledge of your surroundings sounds exciting, it could be problematic if you’re traveling alone. It’s always best to do a little research before your trip. Make sure you know the general layout of where you are going. Look up the neighborhood where your hotel will be and get a general feel for safety precautions you’ll need to take.

Stay Healthy

If you’re traveling alone, you won’t have anyone to remind you to take your meds or drink plenty of water. So be sure to have all the prescription medications you require, know where you can find safe drinking water, and be sure to wash your hands whenever you can.

Follow these simple safety tips to have an amazing trip while traveling alone.

 

 

 

What To Do To Secure Your Home Before a Weekend Trip

Weekend trips are a great way to get out of the house, relax and return refreshed. However, even if you’re going away for just a couple of days, it’s important to keep your home safe. There are several ways to easily prepare for a holiday that will help give you peace of mind while you’re gone. Here’s what to do to secure your home before a weekend trip.

 

Set Timers for Your Interior Lights

When your inside lights are on, it’s less likely that anyone will think your home is empty for the weekend. So, get some inexpensive timers for your indoor lights and set them to the regular times you have them on when you’re home. Don’t leave them on all night, but having them on until late at night will make it appear that you’re home.

Don’t Alert Social Media That You’ll Be Gone

It’s a trend to let everyone know when you’re going on vacation, but it’s not a great idea. Take as many pictures as you like, but don’t post until after you’re back from your weekend trip. Announcing you’re going to be gone and your home will be empty is setting yourself up for possible trouble.

Lock Up Your Valuables

Before leaving, be sure to lock up your jewelry and valuables. Keep your jewelry separate from your important documents, and make sure they are both in secure locations.

Check Your Windows and Locks

It may seem obvious, but double-check that all your windows and doors are locked right before you leave. It’s a great habit to have any time you’re leaving your home empty for an extended period.

Following these simple tips will help keep your home safe and secure so that you can enjoy your weekend getaway!

 

Equipment (Appliance) Breakdown Coverage

Many people have experienced the frustrating realization that their appliance suddenly broke right after the manufacturer’s warranty ended. If you have experienced this, you probably wished that you had some insurance coverage to pay for the repair or replacement of the appliance. Most standard homeowner’s policies won’t cover you in this situation, but you can usually add equipment breakdown coverage to your current policy.

 

What is Equipment Breakdown Coverage?

Equipment Breakdown coverage provides an extra layer of protection for your home appliances if a mechanical or electrical failure occurs. It’s a perfect way to get reimbursed if something unexpected happens after the warranty expires. However, it is worth noting that it will not cover natural wear and tear.

What are some things that this policy would cover?

This policy may seem a little tricky to understand. Here’s an example of why you would need equipment breakdown coverage. Let’s say you had your refrigerator for two years, and a part suddenly breaks that shouldn’t have at this point of the fridge’s lifespan. Then, you check your warranty and find out that it was only for one year. In this case, your equipment breakdown coverage will most likely cover the costs to either fix or replace the refrigerator.

What does this kind of coverage include?

When you purchase equipment breakdown coverage, you’ll have protection for:

  • Costs associated with identifying the issue
  • Repair or replacement costs for damaged appliances
  • Costs to make temporary repairs
  • Any additional installation or shipping costs

 

Ask your insurance agent for more details regarding your policy and coverage.

 

Is equipment breakdown coverage something you would like to add to your homeowner’s insurance policy? Or maybe you’re not sure if it’s necessary? We can help you figure it out! Give us a call, and we’ll make sure you have all the coverage you need.

Safety Tips for Backyard Fire Pits

A fire pit is a great addition to any backyard. It adds a focal point and a functional area for friends and family to gather and enjoy the outdoors. But it’s important to keep safety in mind while having any sort of fire on your property. Here are some safety tips for backyard fire pits.

 

Don’t Use Your Fire Pit on Windy Days

If you’re planning on having a bonfire, be sure to check the weather reports. Excessive wind could be dangerous while using backyard fire pits. Wind could sweep up embers and set fences, trees, or dried leaves piles on fire. Also, be sure to check the direction of the wind anytime you use your fire pit so that you can set up your seating accordingly.

Build Your Fire Pit in the Open

Never create a fire pit close to trees, hanging branches, fences, furniture, or other flammable items. Your fire pit should never be placed under a gazebo or an overhang, either. Sparks will blow around, whether it’s windy or not, so a nice wide-open space is the safest setup.

Never Burn Lumber

When it comes to backyard fires – branches, firewood, and logs are all good choices for kindling. However, you should NEVER burn construction lumber. Wood used for building like plywood and pressure-treated boards are chemically treated. Burning this kind of wood would create dangerous fumes that are unsafe to sit around – or roast marshmallows on!

Have Safety Materials Ready

Even if you take the best precautions with your fire pit, it’s still a good idea to be prepared. Have a bucket of sand and a shovel handy, as well as a fire blanket and extinguisher. You don’t have to have these items nearby every time you have a fire. Just make sure you do have them, and you know where they are.

Have fun but be safe!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fall Home Maintenance

With the changing seasons comes different home maintenance chores to keep up with. While it’s customary to do lots of yard work and outdoor maintenance in the spring and summer, don’t forget about the fall. There is still plenty of home maintenance to do when the cooler weather sets in and the leaves begin to change.

 

Cleaning Your Gutters

Keeping your gutters clear of debris is important so that when the rainy and snowy seasons set in, they can do what they’re supposed to do. Neglected, clogged gutters can lead to roof and foundation damage because they won’t allow for proper drainage. If you plan to clean your gutters yourself, it’s crucial to put safety first. Use a steady ladder and proper equipment. However, the safest and easiest way to maintain your gutters is to have a professional maintenance or landscaping company do it for you. Be sure to do your research and hire a reputable, experienced, and insured company.

Weeding and Trimming

Once the growing season is over, it’s essential to rid your landscaping of weeds and trim any bushes or shrubbery. Once the colder weather sets in, any existing weeds or plants will dry up and look unsightly and can be a breeding ground for unwanted insects and pests. Spend an afternoon while the weather is still nice to get all your weeding and trimming done in one day. You’ll be happy you did.

Check and Replace Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors

The fall is a perfect time to check the batteries in your fire and carbon monoxide detectors. It is recommended that you have a smoke detector in every bedroom and hallway in your home. There should be at least one carbon monoxide detector on every floor of your home, including the basement.

 

Happy Fall!

Foliage Road Trips

One of the best things about living in the Eastern United States is that we get to experience each of the four seasons in all their splendor. When it comes to the beauty of the seasons, it’s hard to beat the colors of fall. Although autumn has plenty to offer right here in New Jersey, it’s worth exploring a bit further to take in those gorgeous shades of changing leaves. Here are some foliage road trip ideas to really get the best out of everything nature has to offer this fall.

 

The Pocono Mountains

At just about a 2.5-hour drive from the Jersey Shore, you really can’t beat the fall scenery of the Pocono Mountains.  This beautiful area spans across four counties in Pennsylvania and has plenty to offer. Whether you decide to rent a quiet cottage to yourself or visit one of the resorts on the mountains, you’re bound to catch every shade possible of the fall foliage.

Upstate New York

If you want to view the changing autumn leaves while experiencing small-town charm, visiting one of the many quaint areas in upstate New York is always a good choice.  This area is home to both the Adirondacks and Catskill mountains, which are both lined with thousands of bountiful leaved trees. Even just a long drive through the winding mountain roads is breathtaking.

Connecticut Foliage

The state of Connecticut is so well known for its autumn colors that it even has a Fall Foliage Report – where you can scope out the best driving, walking, or hiking routes to take it all in. The leaves start changing in early September and peak in early November. So, you have plenty of time to plan either a day drive or even a long weekend surrounded by all this season has to offer.

Fall Activities

As the leaves begin to change and the cooler weather sets in, there are many great fall activities to take advantage of in the area. Whether you want to plan a romantic day trip with your partner or an outside activity with the entire family, you’re sure to find the perfect autumn outing. Read on for our recommendations for the best fall activities.

 

Apple Picking

When it comes to apple picking in Monmouth County, there are bushels of options! For example, Eastman Orchards in Colts Neck has lots of fun options for all ages. Apple picking is available from mid-August to early November; however, apple varieties will vary depending on the time of year you go. Most orchards charge by the pound, so keep that in mind while you’re picking!

Autumn Nature Walks

Here in Monmouth County, we sure aren’t lacking in scenic areas to walk and hike. Whether you need a solo afternoon in nature to refresh or want to include the whole family, walking in the woods during the fall is always a great time. Check out all the trails this area has to offer and make a day of it. You could even pack a fall picnic in the woods and take in all the beautiful changing leaves. Be sure to dress in layers since the fall weather temperatures can be unpredictable.

Tour a Winery

If you’re looking for a fall activity just for the grown-ups, the beautiful wineries in Monmouth County are a perfect choice. The Cream Ridge Winery has been an area favorite since 1988 and produces some of the most delicious, handcrafted wines in the state. They offer tours of their 14 acres of vineyards, and with the changing colors of fall, it’s quite breathtaking.

 

The autumn season is a perfect time to get out and enjoy all this area has to offer.

Driving Tips Now That School is Open

Now that school is back in session, it’s time to be extra careful driving, especially in school zones. We’ve gotten used to quiet streets and sidewalks this last year or so, but it’s time to wake up our senses and get back into alert mode. Kids will be out and about walking to and from school and getting on and off buses. Here are some driving tips now that school is open.

 

Know the Bus Rules

Every time someone speeds past a stopped school bus, they risk causing a serious accident. There are certain rules in place when dealing with school buses on the road. They’re all designed to ensure kids can make it to their destination safely. Here are the main bus rules to remember:

  • Stop your car no less than 25 feet from a stopped school bus with its red lights flashing
  • When traveling on a divided highway, you may pass a stopped bus in the opposite direction, but only while going 10 mph
  • Disobeying school bus traffic laws can result in a fine of up to $250 and/or up to 15 days in jail

Watch Your Speed

It’s important to drive the speed limit, but not just to avoid speeding tickets. When school is back in session, more kids will be out walking to and from bus stops and schools. Some of the students may be new to the school, as well as the local traffic patterns. So that’s why it is important that you, as the driver, should be extra cautious. When approaching an intersection, residential area, or school zone – always reduce your speed. Even if you don’t see any kids around, it’s common for kids to run out suddenly.

Let’s all do our part to keep children safe as they travel to and from school!