Thursday, January 19, 2017

Restore Your Own Headlights–It Really Works!!!

20170107_122249Man this sure has been a cooler winter than we have experienced during our last stay in Arizona. We do occasionally have a nice day here and there but for the most part it has been chilly. I haven't had to wear blue jeans but dang I have been wearing a sweatshirt with my shorts way more than I would like to.

We have been continuing our workouts at the park’s fitness room, playing a lot of pickleball and of course attending the afternoon happy hours at the pool listening to the various bands (including some dancing for Sharon). We really haven’t been doing much of anything else except what I call winter chores.

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One thing I did that wowed me was to order a SYLVANIA Headlight Restoration Kit for our Honda CRV. Our headlights had yellowed to the point that when we drove at night (not very often) I could tell that we weren’t getting much light from our headlights on the road. I realized I either had to replace the headlights, restore them or quit driving at night!

After researching the options it was obvious I wouldn’t quit driving at night even though we rarely do, Resolving this safety issue would be expensive if I were to purchase new headlight lenses so restoration seemed to be the best choice. However, almost everything I had heard was that restoration was at best only a temporary solution.

Yet the more I read I came to the conclusion that if done right restoration would last a long time before needing to be redone. Done right means sanding the headlight lens to get rid of the weathered (and yellowed) product but the downside being this sanding also sands away the protective UV layer which prevents further yellowing. We decided that this was not so much a downside since they were really horribly yellow!!!

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After lots of research I came across the SYLVANIA Headlight Restoration Kit which won me over with all of its positive reviews and the fact that Sylvania offers a life-time warranty on the product (so we will certainly keep the receipt). Since it was under $20.00 I ordered the kit and as soon as I received it I got to work…

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First there was a solution to apply to the lens that “melts away” much of the yellow outer UV protective covering. Then it required wet-sanding the lens starting with a 400 grit sandpaper and working up to a 2000 grit sandpaper. As directed I wiped the lens clean after each sanding until achieving a smooth, non-scratched lens. Next was application of the same cleaning solution I started with and then waiting for it to dry. The last step was applying the UV protective layer with an included microfiber cloth. Voila! Total time took about 1 hour for the whole process for both lenses.

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The end result was stunning!!! They truly looked brand new and although for some reason I forgot to take a starting photo (the before picture is an older one) but I assure you mine were pretty bad. My guess is that they were so bad that only about 40% of my available light would actually reach the road!

I will also add that there is really enough to do two cars if you are frugal with the supplies. I highly recommend this product for anyone needing to restore headlights (and no, Sylvania did not give me the product to review). I bought it and was so impressed I decided to share my experience.

After a couple more weeks in Mesa, off we go. I sure hope we can find some warmer weather soon as I am about to run out of projects…

Friday, January 13, 2017

Insurance Hunting Season and Tips on Reducing Your Costs…

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Every year I solicit new bids for insurance for both the Honda CRV and for our Tiffin Allegro Bay motorhome. One thing I have discovered over the years is that one can almost always find a better rate for the same coverage from a different company than the one you have currently.

Why is this? My best guess is that each company will give you a very favorable rate to entice new customers. Then after a year of coverage the next year they tend to raise rates considerably even though both vehicles are one year older and thus worth less if they are totaled. It simply doesn’t make any sense! I guessing they are simply hoping you won’t change!

Insurance companies have three basic business models: acquisition, retention and cross-selling. Thus, they hook you with a lower rate and hope that when the rate increases you will simply sign on for continued service. In addition they hope to sell you other products to further increase their revenue stream.

Acquisition leaders tend to attract customers who are highly price-sensitive, like us. Demographically these people tend to be younger (not quite like us :) ) and carry less insurance. Furthermore, data shows that very few insurance companies excel in both acquisition and retention. Companies that value retention have a greater share of people who tend to value “peace of mind”. As a result their demographics tend to be less price-sensitive, more affluent, carry more insurance and are older people.

So why do people change carriers? The two most significant reasons are price and service. No surprises there. We are currently carrying National General as they gave us the best rate last year. Their service has been great and we had one claim with them that they handled adequately. So why are we looking for different carriers now? Well due to my claim (around $1800 and we paid the first $1000 as a deductible) and payment of $800 for repairs National General decided my insurance this next year should increase $600. In other words they want their money back!

Well after contacting many carriers we will change to Progressive for the RV and with GEICO for the CRV. This resulted in a saving of $350 dollars this year compared to what National General would have charged. I did find it odd that the companies would charge us more to insured both our vehicles than they would alone. Even more amazing to me was that although I have never made a claim on our Honda or for any car in more than 10 years my insurance rate for driving the CRV is penalized for the damage to the RV. Seems to me claims for the RV should be different than for a car!

One last informative rant is that when filling out quote information on-line and you have had a claim over $1000 in the last three years don’t expect the rate seen on the on-line quote to be the rate they expect you to pay. In all but one (GEICO) I had to speak with an agent who then modified the rate much higher due to our claim even though all the online quotes had asked if we made a claim and we answered every question honestly. So why ask us about claims and give us a quote if it isn’t correct??!!!

So here are some tips for lowering insurance rates:

  • Shop Around.
  • Don’t Be Blindly Loyal.
  • Choose a Higher Deductible.
  • Don’t Make Claims That Are Not Significantly Over Your Deductible
  • Maintain A Good Credit Score
  • Reduce Physical Damage Coverage on Older Vehicles
  • Ask About Other Discounts

Well at least insurance hunting season is over for us and once again even though our vehicles are again one year older our insurance will be $275 more this year…. Happy hunting…

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NOTE: We are still in Mesa RV Resort in Mesa Arizona. We will depart here on Feb. 1st to move down to Ajo, Arizona… Today’s pictures are simply the sunrise and the sun set reflecting off our RV. Desert sunsets/sunrises are the best!