10 Easy Ways You Can Make Your Car Last for Years to Come

Your car does a good job of getting you from point A to point B every day when you need it to. In fact, you’ve probably taken for granted the fact once in a while that it will almost always start up without giving you any grieve or run smoothly on the course of your journeys. If you want to keep this trend going, you should focus on how you can keep your car running in good shape for as long as possible.

Here are 10 tips to help you keep your ride running for as long as it possibly can!

Help the Engine Breathe – You know that you need to get your oil and oil filter changed regularly, but there are a few other components that, when changed, will help the engine function better. Don’t forget to change your car’s fluids and, of course, your air filter! When the filter is clogged, your engine may not work properly, and your fuel economy can suffer as well.

Keep It Cool – When you regularly maintain your vehicle’s cooling system and ensure that the coolant level is at the correct level, you could be saving yourself thousands of dollars in repairs. A properly-working cooling system can keep your engine running for years to come. Make sure that the coolant is maintained and the hoses are checked regularly.

Show Your Tires Some Love – Your vehicle’s tires work hard to get you where you need to go, but we often wind up ignoring the tires until there’s a problem like a flat or low tread. Pay special attention to your tires’ inflation pressure. This will help keep your tires healthy and will boost your fuel economy. To find what psi your tires need to maintain, check the owner’s manual.

Pay Attention to the Service Lights – When something goes wrong in your vehicle, your service lights will come on. Don’t ignore them. They are a clear indicator that something’s off. Take your car into your trusted mechanic to resolve the issue.

Get It Serviced Regularly – Speaking of your trusted mechanic, if you don’t have one, make it your mission to find a repair shop and mechanic that you trust completely, and bring your vehicle in there for servicing every time. Consider that mechanic your car’s “doctor” – he or she will know the ins and outs and idiosyncrasies of your car and will know what to look for every time.

Look For Yourself – Every once in a while, walk around your car and take a good look at it for a few minutes. Check to see if your tires are wearing evenly, open the hood, and check out the hoses and belts. Ensure that your brake lights and signal lights are all working properly. If you spot what could be a problem, call up your mechanic and schedule an appointment.

Keep a Maintenance Schedule – This will be easy if you take your car into your trusted mechanic. He or she will tell you when you need to bring your vehicle in for service next, so do your best to stick to the schedule to keep your car working in tip-top shape!

Drive Smarter – Want to make your car last forever? Improve your habits behind the wheel! Believe it or not, the way you drive your car will effect not only how long your gas will last but also your car’s life expectancy. Say no to fast starts and jet-stops, speeding, and tailgating. Regularly engaging in good driving habits can help make your car last for years!

Give It Shelter – As often as you can, store your car inside a garage, under a carport, or inside a parking garage when you go to work. The elements can wear down your car’s exterior, especially bird droppings and tree sap. Don’t have a roof to put over your car? Use a cover to give it a barrier against Mother Nature!

Clean It Often – Take the time out to clean out your car’s interior, dust it, wipe down the windows, and vacuum the floors and cushions. Additionally, wash your car regularly to get rid of all that grime, and protect the exterior by waxing it. Waxing the exterior once per season is a good rule of thumb!

When you’re taking the time out to car for your car, be sure that your auto insurance is up-to-date, too. Your Madison Mutual agent can help with that! Call us today at 1-800-766-MMIC to get started.

4 Easy Ways to Make Your Home Entrance More Inviting

Take a look at your home’s entrance and exterior. Does it look inviting or does it look like it could use some extra attention and work? After all, your home’s exterior and point of entry are the first things that your guests will see.

Make sure that your entryway is memorable and welcoming by doing these 4 tasks:

Clean the Clutter – Nothing looks more uninviting than a cluttered entryway and yard. Take the time to clear off your porch and put away mismatched lawn ornaments, hoses, hose reels, sporting equipment, and gardening tools. These items are best stored in your garage, shed, or basement.

Add Some Lighting – Outdoor lighting will work wonders in making your home look more inviting. If your entryway is roofed, you can install an outdoor ceiling fixture or hang a few lanterns in the entryway. You can also consider placing landscape lighting in your flowerbeds and near your trees or install a post lantern to light the way.

Bring In Some Plant Life – Landscaping can really boost your curb appeal and make your entryway look very lush. Add a few container plants on either side of the front door or on the steps leading up to the door. Get creative and add some depth and interest by varying the plant and container sizes!

Replace Old Hardware and Clean Up – Is your mailbox out of date? Are the house numbers peeling off? Take the time to fix any flaws that could be detracting from your home’s beauty. Fix any peeling paint, replace missing roof singles, and take care of any damaged siding. Don’t forget to power wash the siding and pavement and to replace your old welcome mat. This will add quite a bit of sparkle and will help create an incredible first impression to your guests.

Once you’ve spruced up your entrance, take the time to see if your home insurance policy is up-to-date. Call your agent at Madison Mutual today at 1-800-766-MMIC!

The 7 Ultimate Tips for Making the Most Out of Your Test Drive

When it comes to buying a new car, test driving is not only the most important task to complete before purchasing the car, but it is also pretty fun! You get to place yourself behind the wheel of a few cars you’ve been eyeing for yourself to see how they handle. In spite of the fun, test driving can also be daunting. After all, you are about to make a large purchase, and you want to be sure that you are getting the right vehicle for you and your lifestyle.

Here are 7 handy tips to help you make the most of your next test drive and take the right car home!

Do Your Homework – Before you even set foot on the dealership’s property or pick up the phone to schedule an appointment, figure out which vehicles interest you and would suit your lifestyle. Read up about the features and the engines of the cars of your choice, and be sure to come up with a list of questions to ask the sales representative. Once that’s completed, call the dealership in advance so you can be sure that you can drive the exact vehicle you are thinking about buying.

Be a Good Listener – If you don’t know a lot about the car you’re interested in, allow the sales representative to walk you through the vehicle’s features before you take it on the road. You can also allow them to drive it first, if you wish. This will help you get more acclimated to the vehicle before trying your hand at driving it.

Make Yourself Comfy – When you hop in the driver’s seat, take the time to adjust the seat and steering wheel to your liking. Be sure that the mirrors are adjusted correctly as well! Believe it or not, these minor adjustments can really make or break the entire experience, so be sure that you are comfortable before test driving it!

Try It Out in Different Environments – When you’re test driving a vehicle, don’t just limit yourself to in-town driving or interstate driving. Try as many environments and scenarios as you can! Try to include speed bumps, a parking lot, and winding roads so you can get a feel of the car’s handling in these different environments.

Drive It Like It’s Yours – Even though you are test driving a vehicle that isn’t yours yet, that doesn’t mean that you aren’t allowed to try out all of the features. Push all of the buttons, turn up the radio, and get a real feel for the vehicle’s performance and handling within the law and the limits, of course.

Get Rid of Distractions – Now is not the time to answer any emails or have overly-excited family members grab your attention. You need to be focused so you can make a sound purchase. Turn off your phone and leave the kids at home. You can tell your friends and family about your purchase after your test drive is complete.

Take Your Time and Enjoy It – Last but not least, don’t rush! You’ll want to make sure that you’ve given yourself plenty of time to test the waters and get a good feel for the vehicles in question. Arrive to the dealership relaxed, ready, and with your driver’s license. This will help you have a stress-free and enjoyable time!

Once you bring your new ride home, be sure to contact your friends at Madison Mutual Insurance Company! Call us at 1-800-766-MMIC or contact us online at www.madisonmutual.com to keep your insurance policy up-to-date.

10 Ways You Can Get Your Yard Ready for Summer

Spring is a great time of the year to get outside and start thinking about your yard. This is the perfect opportunity for you to take stock of your yard and see if there are any improvements to be made before summer arrives.

Here are 10 tasks you should do this spring to make your yard look absolutely perfect for summer:

Knock Out Pesky Pests – You might be a fan of the spring season – so are aphids and garden pests! If you notice any of your plants’ leaves curling or looking under the weather, aphids might be to blame. You can get rid of them by spraying your plants with a strong jet of water frequently, using an insecticidal soap or horticultural oil, or introducing ladybugs into your flowerbeds at dusk.

Plant and Maintain Flowers and Vegetables – After the last frost is behind you, start planting flowers, plants, vegetables, and any other greenery you want. Keep in mind which plants do the best in the sunlight and which ones do best in the shade as well. If you’re not sure which plants are best, ask the experts at your local nursery.

Fix Uneven Stepping Stones – If you notice any of your stepping stones becoming more uneven these days, take the time now to shore them up a bit. Lift the stones and put down some additional gravel or dirt to level them out. Double-check them with a leveling device; stepping stones that are uneven can be a hazard!

Clean the Gutters – It’s time to clear out those leaves from last fall! Find a sturdy ladder, put on some work gloves, and clear out all the leaves and debris in your gutters. Finish it off by running a small bucket of water through the gutters to ensure that you don’t have any leaks.

Give Your Lawn Some Love – It’s not too early to start making your lawn look beautiful! Dig out those pesky deeply-rooted dandelions and weeds, and give the lawn a fresh cut. As the weather gets warmer, you can gradually raise the blade on your lawn mower to cut the grass 1.5 – 2 inches tall. This will allow your grass to become more resistant to the sweltering summer heat.

Remove the Dead Plants – If you have any dead plants from last summer hanging around in your garden beds, take the time now to remove them. Don’t forget about any leaves, dead branches, and anything else that isn’t very likely to bloom again. This will give the newly planted flowers and shrubs plenty of oxygen and sunshine!

Add In Something New – Along with your perennials and bushes, try adding in a few new plants or flowers this year. You can create a color scheme or simply plant flowers according to size. When you’re looking for the right plants, choose plants that aren’t already blooming and don’t have any browning or discoloration.

Prune Away Dead and Damaged Tree Branches and Shrubs – If you have any tree or shrub branches that have been damaged during this past winter, prune them back. Hand pruners can do the job most of the time, but for anything larger than ½ inch in diameter, we recommend using a handsaw.

Clean Up Around Plants – Have your flowerbeds become adorned with last fall’s fallen leaves? Give the area some love by raking out all of the fallen leaves and pulling up dead foliage and annuals. This will help your new plants breathe and produce beautiful blooms that you can enjoy all summer long.

Divide and Conquer – Have your perennials become a bit unruly? Divide them! Prune flowering perennials to a height of 4-5 inches, and cut any ornamental grasses back to 2-3 inches to encourage new growth. Once the soil has thawed, dig up some of your perennials to thin out any crowded beds and transplant them to create a more balanced look in your yard.

Don’t forget that a happy home is protected with the right insurance policy! Call your agent at Madison Mutual at 1-800-766-MMIC to get started today!