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Things you should consider before cosigning a loan

Things you should consider before cosigning a loan

If a family member or close friend is looking to secure their first car loan, they may be interested in finding someone to cosign the loan to increase their chances of qualifying for one.

If you’ve been asked to cosign a loan, you should be aware of the benefits and risks priors to signing any paperwork.

What is a cosigner?

A cosigner is an individual who legally agrees to repay the borrower’s debt should they default on the loan.  This individual typically has a good credit score and is used to help a borrower secure a loan they may not have been able to qualify for otherwise.

You can’t opt out freely

Don’t assume you’ll be able to remove yourself as cosigner whenever you feel like it. If you run into tough times financially, you can’t simply opt out of the loan.  You could make an agreement with the cosigner that they’ll refinance the loan in their name only once their credit is strong enough to qualify for a loan on their own.

You can lower their interest rate

Not only can you help someone secure a loan by agreeing to cosign, but you can also make it cheaper for them to pay off their debt.  Since the debt is less risky, they will likely be offered a lower interest rate, making their monthly payments less expensive.

You can hurt your own credit

If the borrower fails to pay the loan per the agreement, it could actually hurt your own credit score. Any late or missed payments will show up on your own credit report and will subsequently affect your credit score.

Also note that the loan payment will also show up on your credit report.  This means that payment will be included in your own debt total should you attempt to secure your own financing down the road.

Budget accordingly

Since you’ll be on the hook if the borrower defaults, you should treat the monthly payments as actual payments when you budget. In an ideal world, you’ll never have to worry about these payments, but it’s good to plan for these unexpected expenses should things go south for the borrower.

Otherwise, you could suddenly be on the hook for a series of payments and don’t have the funds available to pay it off yourself.

You help out someone in need

The most important benefit to cosigning a loan is that you’ll give someone close to you the opportunity to obtain a car loan that they wouldn’t have been able to secure otherwise due to high debt, bad credit, or simply not enough credit history.

This alone can make cosigning worth it even with the risks associated with it.

 

summer driving myths debunked

We’re debunking common summer driving myths

Unless you recently got your license, you’ve likely heard your fair share of summer driving myths over the years. While some myths have partial truths to them, others are downright false, which is why it’s important that you know what is real and what isn’t.

Air conditioning burns more fuel

There’s long been a debate over whether air conditioning uses more gas than rolling down your window. The truth of the matter is that it really depends on how fast you’re going.

At slower speeds, rolling down your window is more economical. However, air conditioning is actually more fuel efficient at faster speeds, such as on the highway, since opening your windows tends to increase aerodynamic drag.

Driving barefoot is illegal

Contrary to popular belief, there is no actual law in-place in Ontario that prohibits motorists from driving barefoot. However, that doesn’t mean it’s a good idea.

Driving with wet feet can be extremely dangerous, as it can affect your ability to brake properly.

While driving with sandals is also not illegal, it can also be quite dangerous, especially if one falls off your feet and gets jammed under one of the pedals.

It’s OK to leave your pet in the car if the sun isn’t out

Many people believe it’s fine to leave their dog in the car on a summer day as long as the sun isn’t out. There are also motorists who believe their dog will be fine if their car is left in the shade and the windows are open.

Even if the temperature seems relatively cool outside, that doesn’t mean the inside of your car won’t be significantly hotter. Do not leave your dog in your car in the summer, even for a few minutes.

You can’t get sun burnt if your windows are up

Just because your windows are up doesn’t mean you’re free from getting a sunburn. That’s because windows don’t fully protect you from UVA radiation. If you’re in your car long enough, you could still end up burning.

summer driving myths

There’s nothing you can do if your vehicle overheats

While it’s true that there’s very little you can do if your vehicle begins to overheat, one thing you can try is to turn your heat on. This may sound completely counterintuitive, but turning on the heat will help to draw it away from your engine.

This is not a foolproof solution, however, and your best bet is still to pull to the side of the road and wait for it to cool down or call roadside assistance.

You should fill up your gas in the morning

There are still a number of people who believe that they should fill up in the morning as they think the cooler temperature outside will mean the gas is colder and will burn more efficiently.

However, since gasoline is stored underground, the outside temperature will actually have little-to-no effect on how efficiently the fuel burns.

Safe travels this summer!

 

Roadside Assistance

Do you really need roadside assistance for your vehicle?

Roadside assistance is one of those things that many motorists don’t realize they need until it’s too late. While it may seem like just another expense if you’ve never been forced to use it before, roadside assistance is the type of insurance that every driver should have.

Here are five reasons why you need roadside assistance:

Flat tire

Unfortunately, flat tires are one of those things that completely pop up out of the blue.  If you can change a flat tire on your own, that’s helpful, but it can still be a dangerous endeavor if the road is busy.  It can also be time consuming with those little jacks that vehicles often come with.

Instead, you can simply call up roadside assistance to solve the problem.  They’re equipped with professional gear that make changing a flat tire quick and easy.

You run low on fuel

Imagine this scenario: You see your tank running low and figure you’ll have enough to fill up at the next gas station. However, you suddenly get stuck in a traffic jam and end up running out of gas before you can reach the station.

This is a completely realistic scenario and one you could run into if you don’t have the proper insurance. Fortunately, roadside assistance will be able to provide you with enough fuel to get to the next gas station if you’re caught stranded. Just remember that you’ll still need to pay for the additional gas.

It should also be noted that running out of fuel can also cause long-term damage to your engine, so it’s better to just pull over and call roadside assistance if there’s risk that you won’t be able to reach the gas station in time.

Locksmith assistance

If you happen to lose your keys, have them stolen, or even lock them in your car/trunk, road assistance will be able to save the day by serving as a locksmith.  Just note that depending on your policy, this may or may not be fully covered. However, it’s almost certain to still be cheaper than covering the cost of a locksmith.

In the future, you may also want to consider owning a second set of keys.

Road trips

There’s nothing that can completely derail your family road trip more than getting stranded on the road. If you’re far enough out of the way, you may not even have any friends or family that are close by.

If you head out on road trips often, you should strongly consider getting roadside assistance if you don’t already have it. It could potentially serve as a trip-saver.

Summer weather

One of the biggest dangers or driving in the summer is the risk of having your vehicle overheat. While you should still pull to the side of the road when your temperature gauge is high, it’s nice to have the peace of mind that you can simply call roadside assistance should your vehicle overheat.

Otherwise, it could be a while before you’re able to continue your trip.

 

Muskoka driving tips

Staying safe driving in cottage country

For many Ontarians, cottage season is their favourite time of year, as they’re finally given the opportunity to spend their weekends relaxing as they escape from their busy lives. While spending time at your cottage can be an extremely calming experience, the drive can sometimes be quite stressful.

Here are some tips for de-stressing and staying safe on your ride to and from the cottage:

Avoid driving aggressively

When you’re stuck on a packed highway, it’s easy to continually look for ways to make up time. This often causes motorists to drive more aggressively.

If you’re stuck in high-volume traffic during prime time, you’re going to be spending a while behind the wheel no matter what you do. It’s much more important that you stay calm and safe and just accept the fact that your commute won’t be a quick one.

Plan rest stops

If your cottage is more than two hours away, you should plan at least one rest stop. While you may prefer to get to your cottage as quickly as possible, rest stops are a good way to avoid getting fatigued behind the wheel.

It’s easy to zone out on long and flat stretches of highway, which is why it’s important to stay awake. Ideally, you should have someone in the car with you to keep you company.

Look out for wildlife

Not only is it your responsibility to keep your eyes peeled for other motorists, but it’s also important to look out for any wildlife.

Getting into a collision with a moose or deer could be fatal, and will cause damage to your vehicle at the very least. Stay vigilant and don’t speed through the back roads in order to make up for lost time.

Plan an alternative route

Sure, taking the highway may be the most direct route to your cottage, but it will also likely be the most congested option.  Instead, consider taking a route that is a longer in distance, but is likely to have considerably less traffic. Not only will this option be less stressful, but it could also end up taking less time.

Don’t tailgate

If you begin to get frustrated with the heavy traffic, remember that tailgating won’t solve any problems.  Tailgating doesn’t save any time in the grand scheme of things and will only put you in greater danger if the driver in front of you stops abruptly.

 

 

distracted driving laws ontario

Do you understand Ontario’s distracted driving law?

Since August 31, 2017, Ontario has implemented and enforced distracted driving laws in an attempt to reduce the number of accidents on the road. While almost everyone is aware that this law prevents Ontarians from holding their cell phone while driving, many don’t know exactly what the law entails.

Read ahead to get a better understanding of what can get you fined:

What counts?

Contrary to popular belief, distracted driving is not limited to your cellphone.  Many people assume they’re fine as long as they don’t have a cellphone in hand. However, you can still get fined if you’re caught using any sort of hand-held entertainment device, such as a tablet or laptop.

You can also get fined if you’re caught using your display screen for something other than driving, such as watching a television show.

You are, however, allowed to use hands-free communication devices and can use a GPS as long as it’s either built into your dashboard or is safely mounted on the dashboard.

Traffic stops

Just because you’re waiting at a red light doesn’t suddenly mean you’re allowed to check your phone for messages while you wait for the light to turn green.

The law can be enforced at any time when you’re on the road. Unless you’re pulled off the roadway and aren’t impeding traffic, you’re not permitted to use hand-held devices behind the wheel.

Eating/Drinking

While eating, drinking, grooming, smoking, and reading are not part of Ontario’s distracted driving law, that doesn’t mean you won’t be charged. You can still be fined for careless or dangerous driving if you’re caught doing any of these activities, so don’t think you’re safe just because they don’t show up in the distracted driving law.

Penalties

As of the writing of this, drivers with A to G licenses will face a fine of $615 for their first conviction if settled out of court or a fine up to $1,000 if you fight the ticket in-court. They’ll also receive three demerit points along with a three-day suspension.

The fine can increase up to $2,000 the second time and up to $3,000 for the third conviction. In both cases, they’ll also receive six demerit points. They’ll receive a seven-day suspension the second time and a 30-day suspension on the third conviction.

How to avoid distracted driving

One of the best ways to avoid distracted driving is to know where you’re going. Plan your route ahead of time so you’re not constantly figuring out where to go when you should be concentrating on the road ahead.

If you’re someone who’s always tempted to check their phone, consider putting it on silent so you won’t hear any incoming notifications and/or messages. You can even go a step further by placing your phone in a place where you can’t possibly reach it, such as the backseat.

 

Driving Convertible Tips

Tips for driving your convertible this summer

With summer-level temperatures quickly approaching, it’s almost time to take full advantage of your convertible. If you’ve ever driven a convertible before, you know that driving with the roof down is a unique experience. Whether you own a convertible or are just planning on renting one this summer, you should read ahead for some helpful tips:

Don’t put up with rain

If you feel even a few drops of rain, you should roll up the top immediately. Even a small amount of water can damage your vehicle’s interior. In general, you should close the top at any sign of sub-optimal weather.

Protect your eyes

Even if the sun isn’t out, you still need to protect your eyes when the roof is down. While sunglasses are primarily used to block out the sun’s rays, they can also be used as protection against debris that may come flying into your vehicle.

If you don’t have your sunglasses on you, it is recommended that you leave the roof up for the duration of your trip. Otherwise, you’ll be dealing with insects and/or dirt potentially flying into your eyes.

Don’t leave the roof down when you park

Always roll the roof back up when you park, even if you’re only running a quick errand. If you forget, you’re giving anyone who walks by the opportunity to rummage through your glove box for valuables. A rolled down convertible is just about the easiest target for a potential thief.

Secure loose items

Driving with the roof down means you’ll be dealing with a high level of wind force. This could cause items to fly out of your vehicle if they’re not tightly secured. Important items such as your phone and/or wallet should be placed inside your console to ensure they’re properly contained.

Wear sunscreen

If know you’ll be driving for a while, you should make sure to apply sunscreen before you begin your journey. Otherwise, you could end up looking like a lobster by the time you arrive at your destination.

Don’t leave garbage behind

Unless you want your garbage flying everywhere when you hit the gas, you should constantly remind yourself not to leave any trash behind when you exit your convertible.

Always buckle up

While you should always buckle up no matter what vehicle you’re in, wearing your seat belt is even more important in a convertible. Since there’s no roof to hold you inside, you have a higher chance of getting thrown from the vehicle in the event of a collision.

Contain your pets

If you’re driving with your dog or another small pet with the roof down, you’ll want to ensure they’re restrained. Ideally, they should be placed in a portable pet cage at all times.

If there’s any sudden noise or movement, your dog may get scared and accidentally jump out of your vehicle.

 

Car Idling

5 reasons to stop idling your vehicle

One of the worst habits we do as drivers is idle for extended periods of time.  You may not realize it, but idling can lead to a number of negative consequences, including problems with the environment, your vehicle’s useful life, and your overall health.

Read ahead for five reasons why you should stop idling:

Prohibited

In Toronto, there is actually a bylaw in place that prohibits drivers from idling for longer than a minute during a sixty-minute period. Those caught can face a fine up to $500, so it could cost more than extra gas money.

Some other major Canadians cities, such as Ottawa and Vancouver, have similar restrictions in place.

It’s unhealthy

Idling fumes can lead to a number of major health concerns, as they have been linked to asthma, an overall decrease in lung function, cardiac disease, and even cancer.  Simply put, they are horrible to breathe in.

Environmental concerns

Not only do you waste gas when you idle, but you also hurt the environment. For every 10 minutes of idling, one pound of carbon dioxide is released into the atmosphere.

It’s bad for your engine

If environmental and overall health concerns weren’t enough already, idling for extended periods can have a negative effect on your engine’s useful life.

Since your engine is not operating at its peak temperature when you idle, the fuel doesn’t combust completely, leaving residue behind that can ultimately damage your exhaust system.

Many people incorrectly believe that turning your engine off and on is worse for your vehicle than idling. While it does impact your battery’s useful life, the wear and tear it causes is very minimal and should hardly be considered a reason to idle instead.

You expose yourself to theft

If you’re one of those people who turn on their vehicle to warm it up then go back inside, you’re putting yourself at risk of having it stolen by someone passing by.  During a three-month stretch beginning last November, 25 idling vehicles were stolen in the Waterloo region alone.

Furthermore, many people believe you need to spend a few minutes warming up your vehicle during the colder months when that’s actually just a myth. Your car warms up much faster when you’re driving compared to idling. As long as there’s no frost on the mirrors/windows, you’re good to go.

10-second rule

Contrary to popular belief, turning off your engine and turning it back on does not burn more fuel than idling (if you idle for 10 seconds or more). Unless you plan to idle for just a few brief seconds, you should really turn off your engine every time you’re tempted to idle.

Conclusion

Given the high number of negative consequences related to idling, you should try to be more conscious and try to break the bad habit of idling.

 

 

5 eco-friendly car wash tips

With spring finally here following months of cold weather, now is the time to wash that winter debris off your vehicle.

While washing your vehicle on a regular basis is a good way to have your vehicle looking clean and sharp, it’s also not great for the environment if you follow the traditional method of washing.

Fortunately, there are still ways to wash your vehicle while remaining eco-friendly, so read ahead to learn more:

Why washing your vehicle isn’t environmentally friendly

You may not realize, but washing your car in your driveway can be quite contagious to the environment. If you wash your vehicle the traditional way, you’ll be sending dirty and chemical-ridden water into the streets where it is eventually carried into large bodies of water. This can ultimately poison aquatic life and damage our ecosystem.

Park on the grass

If you want to limit the amount of damage done when you wash your car, you should strongly consider parking your vehicle on the grass.

The soil on your yard does a much better job of filtering the chemicals out of the water and also absorbs some of the run-off water. While having chemicals in your soil isn’t exactly environmentally-friendly either, it’s better than it going into a large body of water.

If you do it properly, you also won’t have to worry about watering your grass that week.

Go to a car wash

If you really want to ensure you’re taking an eco-friendly approach to washing your vehicle, you should consider spending a few bucks to have it cleaned at a commercial car wash.

Car washes are designed to use water more efficiently, as they’re often equipped with a number of devices that can clean your vehicle at a much quicker rate. Most car washes use less than half the water you’d be using to wash your car yourself.

Many car washes are also required to recycle their waste water into sewer systems.

Swap the hose for a bucket and sponge

Instead of using litres upon litres of water when you wash your vehicle, you can save oodles of water by using a bucket and sponge instead.

Sure, it may not be as efficient, but the amount of water you’ll save will be worth it if you’re someone who cares for the environment.

Pour the rinse water into the toilet

Instead of blindly throwing your bucket of rinse water down the driveway, take it inside and pour it down your toilet instead. This way, it can be filtered properly.

Wash in the shade

While you should avoid washing your vehicle in the sun for a number of other reasons, washing your vehicle in the shade will limit the amount of water you use, as it won’t evaporate as easy – especially on a hot, summer day.

 

Tips for road tripping with little ones

Just because you have young children doesn’t mean you need to say goodbye to your road trip dreams; you just need to be more prepared. If you’re planning to bring your baby with you on a road trip this summer, here are some tips prior to leaving:

Drive at night

This may sound like strange advice, as almost everyone prefers to drive during the day, but it will mean your baby may spend more time sleeping. This means they’ll spend less time on the road trip hungry, bored, crying, and needing changes. Sure, you may be a bit more tired yourself, but it will be a less stressful drive overall.

Plan more stops than usual

Just because you can last four hours without needing to go to the bathroom doesn’t mean your baby can. Regular stops every one-to-two hours will help ensure your baby is happy and in clean clothes.

Take the quickest route

Oftentimes, drivers prefer to take the most scenic route possible when going on a road trip to make the drive more enjoyable. While this approach may be fine when you’re with a group of adults, the longer your baby spends in the car the more agitated they’ll likely become.

Break up the drive

While you may prefer to do all you’re driving in a single day, it may be a bad idea to endure that much stress over a period of eight-to-ten hours. If you’re able to break up the drive over multiple days, you should really do so.

Driving with young children for even an hour can be a stressful event, but an eight-hour road trip can be downright exhausting if you’re not prepared.

Keep all supplies nearby

You may have packed all the baby supplies you need, but they won’t do you much good if your baby starts crying while you’re driving on the highway and the supplies are stuck in the trunk.

Pack the night before

In order to ensure your infant is happy, you should try to minimize the amount of time spent leaving your house. A good way to cut down on this is to pack everything you need the night before. When it’s actually time to leave for your trip, you can simply walk out your front door and begin your travels.

Learn some baby massage techniques

If you don’t already know a number of baby massage techniques you should take the time to learn some before your trip. Infants can get extremely restless on long trips, which is why it’s important to keep their legs and feet loose.

Stay calm

Even if you’re well-prepared, something could still go wrong on your trip. It’s important to enter the drive knowing that unpleasant situations may arise. When they do, it’s important to stay calm and not to overreact.

Safe travels!

How to help prevent car sickness

One of the worst feelings you can encounter while travelling in a vehicle as a passenger is car sickness. Many times, people begin to feel nauseous when sitting in the back of a car, but fail to understand why. Read ahead to learn more about car sickness and what you can do to help prevent it going forward:

What is car sickness?

Car sickness (or motion sickness) occurs when there is some sort of conflict between your senses.  Your brain receives signals from your inner ears, eyes, and muscles to sense movement. If your brain receives mismatched signals, you may begin to feel nauseous.

This can happen when you’re reading a book or scrolling through your phone for an extended period of time. Your inner ear tells the brain that you’re moving, but your eyes trick your brain by telling it that you’re stationary. This mismatch is how motion sickness is created.

Below are some quick tips on how to combat car sickness:

Sit in the passenger’s seat

The closer you are to the front of the vehicle, the less motion you’ll experience. If you notice that you’re always in the back seat when you start to feel nauseous, ask to sit next to the driver on your next trip.

Drive smoothly

Ask the driver to avoid braking or accelerating suddenly, as any abrupt starting and stopping will only worsen any nausea and dizziness and could even cause you to vomit if it’s over a long enough period of time.  Of course, this can be tougher to avoid on a crowded highway.

Look ahead

If you want to know why drivers rarely feel motion sickness themselves, it’s because they’re concentrated on the road ahead, which helps to give their brain a sense of movement.

If you’re in the front seat, make sure to look out the window and fixate on a certain point. As you continue to drive, the point or landmark should appear closer and closer, signaling to your brain that you are, in fact, moving.

Avoid reading

As mentioned earlier, looking at a book or your phone for an extended period of time can send mixed messages to your brain. If you notice that you’re beginning to feel nauseous, take a break from your phone or book for five-to-ten minutes and see if you begin to feel better.

Try ginger or mint

Both ginger and mint are considered great natural remedies for motion sickness. If you’re feeling nauseous, ask the driver if they can stop at a nearby coffee shop or grocery store so you can grab a mint tea or ginger beverage.

Medication

If all else fails you can try out medication. Ideally, you’d like to avoid taking medication if possible, but many people often feel better after taking over-the-counter drugs such as Benadryl.  Just be warned that these kinds of medications could make you drowsy.