Aug 1, 2013

First time getting insurance for your car? The quotes are free!

Shopping for auto insurance is one of the least popular activities for car owners (right up there with shopping for a used car warranty). Since car insurance is required throughout the U.S. it's worth looking for the best deal you can find.

Fortunately, you can get a free quote from nearly any online provider in a matter of minutes. If you want to be a little more old school, of course you can do it by phone. Usually it's necessary to include information about your driving record, the vehicle to be insured and all additional drivers who may be using the car. On the basis of that information, the insurance companies can provide you a quote as to what you'll be paying over 6 to 12 months.

When buying car insurance, there are some things to consider when comparing the various offers, for there are many factors that can influence the price of auto insurance. This includes the amount of coverage, type of car, past driving record and the location where you live. If you have some negative factors here, it can lead to higher premiums so you'll want to compare the various offers from different companies.

Finding a car free insurance quote online or by phone is easy and allows you to find the best deal in your area. If you do your homework and take your time comparing offers you can save hundreds of dollars up front and in the long haul when you need to utilize your insurance. Get a free quote today and get yourself on the road!

Jul 11, 2013

Is An Extended Warranty Right For You?

When I was sixteen, I purchased my first car; a used Mazda 626 from a nearby dealership. Per typical sales interactions, I was offered an extended warranty. Being young and na├»ve, I just wanted to leave with my car and go pick up my friends. I didn’t have time to think about extended warranties with the open road waiting for me. About a year after I purchased the vehicle, and a few months after the dealership warranty expired, I began having trouble with my transmission. Four months, six transmissions and thousands of dollars later, I realized that purchasing an extended warranty upfront would have protected me from all of these unexpected costs.

What kinds of extended warranties are available?

There are two different types of extended warranties. The first type is an extended warranty offered by vehicle manufacturers. These policies often extend the original warranty for an additional time period, which allows to the customer to continue to take their vehicle to the dealership for service and repairs once the original warranty ends.
The second type of extended warranty is usually offered by an insurance agency or an independent service company. This type of warranty allows services on vehicles to be performed at multiple different locations, including the dealership.

What are the benefits of an extended warranty?
  • Purchasing an extended warranty gives you a buffer against unexpected repairs, ranging from engine or transmission replacement to repairing vehicle computer systems.
  • Extended warranties often pay for themselves after one major repair.
  • Many extended warranties are transferable to future owners, which increases the resale value of a vehicle.
  • Certain extended warranties offer other services such as car rental discounts, towing services, lockout assistance, etc.
Who is a good candidate for an extended warranty?
  • Anyone who wants to protect themselves against expensive repairs.
  • Anyone who purchases used vehicles or vehicles with higher repair costs. Foreign cars and cars of higher value tend to have higher costs for even small repairs.
  • Anyone that puts more than 15,000 miles on a car per year. The more wear a car receives, the more likely it is to need repairs.   
  • Anyone who purchases a vehicle and plans on re-selling it.
       Most consumers skip the purchase of an extended warranty to save a few bucks, only to be left with products, vehicular or electronic, that require expensive repairs or are completely obsolete. This often occurs because the consumer doesn’t see the value in spending extra money to protect the product. However, the consumer should take into consideration the cost of the product and the rate at which its value will depreciate. Purchasing a $40 warranty on a $100 DVD player isn’t practical, as the price of DVD players continue to drop with the release of competitive products.
       Although the value of a vehicle does drop the moment it’s driven off the sales lot, the rate of depreciation is much slower. Vehicles are also a long-term investment. You may drive a vehicle for several years without encountering any problems, but it is more than likely that you will run into necessary repairs, even during the time frame of your regular warranty. The best way to protect yourself from expensive repair costs is to purchase an extended warranty.

This article was submitted to us by Rebecca Hardy, a contributor for, which offers vehicle extended warranties for all makes and models. 

Apr 19, 2013

Phone Carriers Vs. Piracy

Here's an oldie but a goodie...

Hollywood wants Verizon to filter traffic that holds copyrighted data. Verizon’s response? No way. Verizon states that they have no intention on filtering traffic over their network. What does AT&T do? Well, they are already ahead of the game and working on a filtering system. Two companies with two very different opinions on privacy and piracy.

There are two possible reasons why Verizon does not wish to fight the battle of piracy with their customers. The first potential reason is that the company does not want to invest the time and money in a system to find copyright infringing material. AT&T, after all, seems to have been dedicating a lot of time to creating a system that will find, locate, and filter copyright infringement. What would Verizon gain from doing this anyways? Well, they would gain nothing and potentially lose customers. It would be the equivalent of shooting yourself in the foot.

The other possibility is that Verizon sincerely wants to give the impression of protecting its users to earn more customers, or the company is just lazy. If the company was being lazy, claiming they want to protect their customers is a much wiser decision. We already know that Verizon doesn’t care too much about their customers, but at least this way they make them feel warm and cozy. Consumers will take notice of these issues, one day, and if there are more alternative ISPs available, people will switch.

AT&T, on the other hand, just seems hellbent on wanting to surrender its customer’s privacy. Why is this? Some people have opinions on the situation, and they all lead to one thing. AT&T wants to save on the bandwidth costs by reducing copyright violations. It is their network; however, I am of the opinion that this is a stupid move.

Unfortunately, the piracy debates are just beginning. In the future, governments will put legislation into effect that will make piracy more difficult, and the punishments will slowly grow more intense. Verizon’s unwillingness to comply is just a genius marketing plan, and that plan will earn the company more customers.

Feb 5, 2013

The New 2050 SD Boat

Astro makes an impressive splash into the pontoon-boat market with the new 2050 SD.

The most common question boating writers get asked is “What kind of boat should I buy?” Should I go with the traditional pontoon boat, or the speedy motorboat this year. The correct response to this query is asking the person what kind of boating they want to do. Some boaters have only one activity they want to do on the water. Whether it’s fishing, skiing or cruising, there are plenty of single-purpose boats that will fit the bill. Hey, there are probably some people who get their taxes done in January too, but the majority of us view boating like a smorgasbord; we want the ability to do a little of everything.

For this reason, few types of boats have been as hot as pontoon boats during the last five years. Many companies jumped on the pontoon-boat bandwagon early, but Astro’s first attempt, the new 2050 SD, is worth the wait.

Our first look at the Astro 2050 SD gives a favorable impression. The styling is contemporary and is devoid of garish graphics and upholstery swirls. Rather unique is the engine box treatment. Most inboard/outboard-powered pontoon boats feature the ubiquitous stern sunpad. While this feature is desirable for those who like to do some recumbent ray gathering, it unfortunately gives a pontoon boat look. The sculpted look of the 2050 SD’s padded engine compartment and the styled gunwale “fins,” on the other hand, give this boat a decidedly modern look. In the alcoves on either side of the engine are two in-pontoon toy storage compartments for items such as ski ropes and vests. The roomy back comes standard with a stainless-steel boarding ladder and has a well-placed grab rail for easy entrance.

Although we’re testing a prototype of Astro’s first pontoon boat, it’s far from being a green rookie. The 2050 SD — at 20 feet long and with a full 8-foot-6-inch beam — is conducive to mass revelry with its 10-passenger capacity and open layout. Passengers in the stern have an L-lounge on the port side that features loads of storage underneath. Up front is a pair of opposing settees that are curved to fit the contour of the gunwales that bend to the spacious bow pontoon, which has an ample anchor locker and an effective non-skid surface. Like the stern seats, storage can be found under the settees. A nice feature is the pair of low bow rails that give passengers a hand hold in case the captain engages in some erratic driving. There are two standard removable tables in the bow and stern for snacking or dining that feature built-in cupholders. Amid-ships on the port side is the refreshment station, which includes a freshwater spigot with a 5-gallon tank.

The helm station features full instrumentation and receives high marks for visibility. The array of instruments includes a standard Humminbird digital depthfinder to keep skippers from becoming “well-grounded.” Another unusual standard feature is a four-speaker AM/FM stereo that comes complete with a CD player. With an adjustable bucket seat and padded sport wheel with tilt steering, almost any captain can find a position that suits him.

We couldn’t have picked a better day for testing the Astro; the temperature is in the 80s and the winds are light, making Lake Lanier (located outside of Atlanta, Georgia) relatively calm, not counting the numerous boat wakes crosshatching the surface. Cranking up the 210-hp, 4.3L MerCruiser EFI inboard/outboard, which is the option engine for the 2050, showcases an impressively quiet noise level. Measuring only 62 dB-A at idle gives mute testimony to the effectiveness of the engine box insulation. Idling out while letting the engine warm up, the 2050 doesn't wander at slow speeds such as a lot of boats this size are prone to doing.

Once clear of the idle zone, I firewall the flush-mounted Quicksilver control lever and reach 30 mph in less than 8 seconds. At this econo-cruise speed, the sound level is a quiet 79.5 dB-A. While running, the 2050 displays benign handling characteristics; not much seems to upset it. The 15 degrees of deadrise at the stern is perfect for a boat that’s designed to be used for skiing and cruising inland waters. The wake is small but well-formed, making it ideal for slalom skiing or low-impact wakeboarding. Cornering is flat and responsive. Cranking the Astro in a ridiculously tight turn is a controlled event with the trim down. There’s a little ventilation with higher trim settings, but even with the trim indicator needle in the middle, you can make quick maneuvers without excessive sliding. At a respectable top speed of more than 50 mph, the 2050 is still easily controllable, but the Astro seems most comfortable around 40 mph. As one would expect, the moderate deadrise makes it advisable to run slower in rougher water, but in light chop the Astro reveals a soft ride.

Astro designed the 2050 SD to be a versatile boat that can wear many hats. Ski buffs will enjoy the deep in-ski locker with enough capacity for wakeboards. And fishermen will appreciate the stern livewell with a 13-gallon capacity — more than enough room for a couple of dozen wild shiners. Although the 2050 SD’s not designed as a fishing boat, I find the engine box is a decent seat for casting, and the front has enough room to accommodate an angler either sitting or standing.

Despite having a budget-friendly estimated retail price in the $26,000 range with the option engine, the 2050 SD features quality construction. Thumping the sides and stomping on the floor reveals a solid boat. Even when we cruise over big boat wakes, I hear nary a rattle.

Astro’s first pontoon boat is a good one. With a competitive price and complete package, boaters will receive a lot of value for their hard-earned dollars. The Astro is easy to drive and has a high fun quotient. The old saying, “Good things come to those who wait” turns out to be true.