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Auto Insurance

Mature Market or Changing Shifts in Competition Co-Branding in Mobile Automotive Sector

So you want to start a quick lube? We great and in doing so you have been asked by the SBA assisted loan to make a business plan, ‘tally hoe’ and away you go! Right? Well wait a one second, every good business plan discusses market share, competition, market areas, etc.

So have you figured out who your competitors area? You maybe surprised at the real answer. For instance as Midas Muffler started to lose their market base since new cars were being often leased and therefore did not need mufflers as often, what did they do, they started changing oil and doing braked. Well what did the brake shops do, they started doing smog checks, changing oil and rotating tires. What did the tire shops do? They started changing oil too. Wal-Mart and Kmart saw their sales lagging a little and unable to keep up with growth rates and feared a bad quarter and knew they had a captured audience so what did they do, started offering auto services, oil changes at Wal-Mart and fuel card gasoline stations at Sam’s Club. Kmart made a deal with Penske Auto Centers then later closed stores that were not profitable, even when Penske Auto Centers were. Pep Boys also sold auto parts and then started services, meanwhile jiffy lube could not grow fast enough, AAMCO same thing. Car Washes wanted to become a destination place and started offer Java, oil changes and small gift shops too.

So really the original core business, that the HBR editors love to BS about is really a questionable event. Since even Michael Dell, Microsoft, GE, 3M, etc will tell you it is a never-ending evolution such that books like Built to Last, by the Stanford Professor simply reported with biased what he perceived to be his reality. So then as long as you are still with me on this subject realize we did not digress from the subject at all, we evolved this conversation about a reality that you should be thinking about in your business as well.

Many in the industry are reporting in Metro Area as many as 21 competitors which a pure competitors, quick lubes that is within what they believed to be their exclusive trading area of 20 miles. In actuality that number is quite irrelevant because your trading area is probably only 10-12 miles. Car Washes trade area is generally 5 miles sometimes 10, they add oil change facilities on their properties due to no interest loans and incentives on the buildings by oil companies and to increase the draw to a larger trade radius. Does it work? Well it worked for a while and it makes sense to the customer, although it is not true that car washes mix all that well, despite what you are told. Both industries use the synergy theory to promote equipment sales to their potential customer base to improve their sales quotas and give them extra people to call on and more sales to close.

Now then with these added competitors in the market place some have said they are still making money and profits through efficiencies of synergy in other things, such as adding air filters, wiper blades, car washes, detailing, tire rotations, brakes, belts, etc. More money per customer per visit but fewer cars per day. Declining vehicle counts. So, what the heck do you do when you price yourself out of the market? Speedway for truck oil changes is doing this now, but realize fewer truck stops are changing oil and none can get all the jobs done on time and few have the labor to run 24/7.

To top it off the car dealerships like Audi, BMW and others want you to use their oil and oil changes so they offer them free and then hit you up for their prescribed over redundant service mileage check ups costing you even more, otherwise warranty is voided. So they take away those brands of cars for you. Also United Auto, Auto One, and many large Ford and GM dealers are learning this, many from Carl Suell in Dallas, who wrote an excellent book on customer service you should read called: “customers for life” and while you are at it pick up the History of Enterprise rent-a-car; “Exceeding Customer Expectations” by the founder, I will tell you Jack was not only a good fighter pilot, he is a great entrepreneur with one hell of a young and aggressive team. You could learn a lot from these folks.

Now we see Wal-Mart cutting price to $12.99 barely breaking even, but for them it is a loss leader anyhow, they just want those shoppers in their store shopping for an hour or more, did you know that the average oil change customer spends $87.90 while shopping during the time it takes to get the oil changed? You think they do not know what they are doing, it works for them, but this may not be so good for your business plan? So we are now reading articles that perhaps you need to expand into more fleet business since those companies are eliminating garage personal and you could pick up their business. AH HA you say, yes I will build larger bays to take on School Buses, Boom Trucks from the Cable Company, Ambulances and other vehicles? Yes but there are mobile oil and lube companies and on-site re-fuelers who do this world already as well as the cars of employees of all the construction companies.

And I doubt they want to spend the time to drive all those vehicles over to you, and even wager to bet you do not want to spend the extra labor or increased liability to have your employees drive them over to your bays do you? AIG is hoping otherwise, but why bid low to get the account and pay it all in insurance to AIG, Farmers, Fireman’s fund, American States or State Farm Commercial? Good question, some might say now is the time to be focused, but staying focused means keeping your eye on the ball, weaving and jagging and running like hell for that end zone.

The more vehicles such as fleets you do the more filters and larger air cleaners you must stock and if you lose the account exactly what were you planning to do with all those extra fuel, air and oil filters? Use them as Christmas Tree ornaments? Hey better in your inventory than mine? How can a quick lube expect to compete against a mobile lube service even for an account as simple as a Limo Company? There is no way, and it is only a matter of time until they move back to mobile or move to mobile for the first time and never change back.

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Auto Insurance

The Importance Of Winter Tires

If you live in an area that regularly has slush, unplowed snow and ice you will understand the importance of winter tires. They give you extra traction and handling and braking that you will need to drive on ice and snow. They have special rubber compounds and tread design to handle the colder temperatures. The treads are flexible and prevent snow buildup and help with traction on icy roads. Even at low speeds, a car with snow tires will brake a half a car length less than one with an all season type. Without winter tires you are more likely to spin out on icy hills and fishtail when cornering.

You do not want your safety features to fail on you under emergency situations. ABS or anti-lock brake systems will not work as well with an all season tire under snowy conditions. Vehicle dynamic control systems and traction control are limited by the grip that the tire on your vehicle can provide.

SUV’s and other 4AWD vehicles do not have any advantage when driving on ice. They have no grip as they are equipped with all season tires. The 4WD will assist in starts from a full stop or getting you around a corner better but they will not help you to slow down or stop any faster than any other car.

An all season tire is rated for mud and snow but this rating is for the void to rubber ratio on the tread design. In fact they will pack with snow causing a loss of traction. If you are expecting to drive in moderate to severe snow conditions you should install a set of winter tires and if you are in a very wet climate with only a little bit of snow all season would be best.

In 1999 a winter tire grading was introduced by the Rubber Association of Canada and the Rubber Manufacturer’s’s Association. They are designed for severe snow and meet snow traction requirements for performance. And they help make winter driving safer.

A few tips when purchasing winter tires are you should consider buying separate rims. This will save time and money when it comes to switching them out. When to install them depends on where you live, a good gauge is to change them out once the temperature hits 10 degrees Celsius or lower.

When you are done with winter weather, store them in a dry and cool location, a basement or garage is ideal. Lay them flat and stacked on top of each other. Ask for storage bags when you buy them to protect them from ozone in the air which can cause them to crack and rot. Wrap each tire and stack them away from welders and electric motors as they can produce ozone as well which will damage the rubber.

When installing them, install the set as just installing two of them will cause the car to spin. In excessive snow you may need to also use chains or studs. Studs are best for soft ice. In bad weather conditions bring a towing cable, ice scraper, jumper cables, a first aid kit, cell phone, flashlight, boots, gloves, food, blankets, flares and tire chains. Slow down before descending on hills and going around corners. Test your brakes and steering when you first get on the road. Watch out for black ice and ice in intersections, overpasses and on bridges. Do not use cruise control or follow other cars closely, allow extra room to brake. Check the weather conditions before driving to prevent getting caught in a storm. All of these conditions emphasize the importance of winter tires.

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Auto Insurance

Tire Safety – Why It Matters

Your tires are an important element of your vehicle’s safety. Good tires help keep your vehicle safe, you and your passengers safe, and yes, even other drivers safe. Because so much safety depends on your tires, it’s important to have your tires in the best possible shape.

Fall is a good time to think about tires. After the road trips and vacations you have taken during the summer, your tires may be ready for replacement. You can take advantage of the season by watching for back-to-school sales or winterizing service specials offered by auto service garages and tire shops. By replacing your tires in time for winter, you can be sure of having the best possible tires for the challenges of winter driving. You can purchase a full set of all-season tires and have them put on your car, or you can purchase some snow tires in addition to any all-season tires you may need. Snow tires provide increased traction and control in icy and snowy road conditions. These tires are especially useful to people who drive in areas with hills and other frequent inclines.

All-season tires are designed to handle a wide variety of road conditions. They are tested to handle wet, dry, rocky, and snowy conditions and will provide the traction and control necessary to handle most driving situations. They are an excellent tire choice for the road conditions most vehicles will encounter throughout the year.

Another aspect of tire safety regards the care of tires. To maximize the benefits of your tires, make sure they have the right amount of air pressure in them. Some drivers believe that more air is better, but this isn’t true. Each tire has different air pressure needs in order to provide its best performance. It’s easy to find out what air pressure your tires need. This information is printed on the tire itself, usually in raised letters so it’s easy to see. If it’s easier for you, write this information down and keep it in your vehicle’s glove compartment for quick reference. Having a tire gauge is helpful to make sure you have just the right amount of air – not too much, not too little. Tire gauges are inexpensive and can be found in any auto supply store or department store with an automotive department. Tire gauges can even be found in grocery stores that carry basic auto supplies. Though some self-service air pumps will have a tire gauge available, it is helpful to carry one of your own in your car.

Keeping your tires in good shape isn’t a difficult task, but it does require periodic attention. You can establish a habit of checking your tires each time you get in your car; just take a quick peek at them to make sure that none are flat or becoming worn down. If you do spot anything like this, it’s probably time for new tires. Tires are important for your safety, and so is car insurance. A car insurance policy will make sure you’re taken care of in case of an accident. Prevention can help stop a bad situation from becoming worse and car insurance will make sure that you get the help you need in case anything does happen.

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Auto Insurance

Automotive Dealership Compliance: Disaster Scenario

The commotion in your service department sends a shockwave throughout your dealership, and you, the dealer, arrive just in time to witness one of your service techs being handcuffed across the hood of a vehicle in for service.

Your tech has been accused of stealing the checking account number from an old checkbook register in a service customer’s glove compartment, and then draining the customer’s account.

So what are the boundaries of an automotive dealer’s liability because of your rogue employee? Compliance certainly can’t be an issue because your DMS representative and even your garage liability carrier have assured you that with their particular compliance solutions, you are totally compliant.

However, the victim’s attorney, the law firm of Dewey, Cheatum & Howe, later requests a copy of your dealership’s Gramm-Leach-Bliley Safeguards Rule Policy and documentation of total staff training (have your service people been trained?) as required by federal regulations. You contact your trusted DMS and garage liability representatives for their help to furnish the documents, only to discover there are none! When they assured you that you were compliant, it turns out they meant you were only compliant with scans for the Red Flags Rule, OFAC and Do Not Call, or in other words, only a small portion of required automotive dealership compliance.

Although the Safeguards Rule does not provide for identity theft victims to directly recover losses and damages, rest assured the victim’s attorney with use your “willful non-compliance” to force a huge settlement, or use it as the highlight of their opening statement to the jury in litigation against you… and you know how juries just love car dealers. And need we mention the potential for class actions with some regulations?

But it only gets worse. Now the feds are investigating and are looking for what they term, “an atmosphere of compliance”, and they also demand to see the same documentation of compliance performance as requested by the victim’s counsel. So what is your liability with the federal government? The fine is $11,000 per day, retroactive from May 23, 2003!!! In other words, tens of millions if they so choose.

Oh, and in case you didn’t know, there is no such thing as “fine insurance” provided by your garage liability carrier; they’ll represent you, but you’re on your own when it comes to paying the fines and penalties.

Automotive Dealerships – Creating And Maintaining An “Atmosphere Of Compliance”.

So what about the other federal regulations such as the Red Flags Rule, The Do Not Call Act, and the Patriot Act’s OFAC, and FINCEN regulations? They, too, require that dealers have in place a formal written Policy and documentation of formal staff training for each.

And then there are other dealership compliance regulations where the lack of staff training has cost dealers hundreds of millions over just the past few years; Truth In Lending fraud issues, Sexual Harassment, Diversity issues and the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act. Here are some examples:

– An automotive dealer loses $92 million in a jury verdict because a salesperson said just one thing wrong regarding the Magnuson-Moss’s “warranty of fitness for a particular purpose”.

– A dealer is forced to settle a diversity harassment claim for $400,000.00.

– Several dealers, managers and salespersons across the country served prison terms for fraud and Truth In Lending violations.

– A car dealer settles a sex-and-age discrimination case for over $1.5 million.

In each instance, there was no evidence the automotive dealer was promoting an atmosphere of compliance… specifically, no formal dealership compliance training.

So how can automotive dealers create and maintain an atmosphere of compliance?

1. Appoint a Dealership Program Coordinator to oversee your dealership’s compliance performance.

2. Have in place all required Dealership Compliance Policies signed by employees.

3. Provide all designated staff training at least once a year with documentation available for government inspection or litigation actions. (Note: Simply allowing staff members to read and sign your required dealership Policies IS NOT considered training under these regulations.)

4. Provide all compliance training and required signed Policies as a part of your hiring process complete with documentation.

5. Perform annual compliance inspections and audits annually, once again, with documentation on file.

The Question: “Did the dealer do everything within reason to prevent this violation from occurring, and if so, where is the proof?”

Virtually all automotive dealership compliance fines, penalties, litigation or arbitration decisions revolve around this single question.

In fact, any attorney worth their pinstripes will tell you that the only true dealership compliance litigation defense is to be able to provide documentation of compliance performance – again, specifically, staff training.

Lawmakers understand that you, the dealer, can’t possibly watch every move each of your employees make while conducting business, but they do give you the opportunity to perform dealership compliance elements in order to mitigate liability, or even in some instances, to benefit from safe harbor status.

Therefore, in the eyes of the law, any dealer that chooses to ignore required compliance performance has no respect for the consequences, and generally, the juries and the feds use that opportunity to pile it on.

There is only one way to get the “compliance monkey” off your back? Take care of it right now!

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Auto Insurance

Used Porsche – How to Get the Most Out of Yours

There are some cars which have been manufactured with a particular destiny in mind for them. This could be to be driven every single day and accrue hundreds of thousands of miles before finally giving up on life and grinding to a halt on the hard shoulder of the motorway. Adversely there are some cars that will be lovingly looked after, spending the majority of their days covered by a dustsheet in somebody’s garage. When you buy yourself a Porsche 911, you can be sure that it is going to be in the latter camp rather than the former.

I personally think it is something of a tragedy that the vast majority of high-performance vehicles (vehicles which have been built and tuned to an undeniably high specification) spend 95% of their lives gathering dust. You can understand why this is the case when you take a look at the costs of running a car like a Porsche 911.

Firstly there is the initial outlay of buying one of these sports cars, add to this the top bracket insurance, tax costs and all of a sudden the bills start to mount up considerably. There are a few ways that you can reduce the cost of owning a sports car like a Porsche though.

Primarily, I would recommend checking out the Used Porsche market as this is where the most affordable bargains are going to be. As I have explained, cars like Porsches don’t get taken out a great deal so you can be sure that it will have been looked after.

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Auto Insurance

Are Cars Just a Male Thing?

The automotive industry has long been considered a male dominated environment but is this still the case in the 21st century? Or are women now playing a more prominent role in an industry that has historically not been known for female participation?

The world of car related T.V. shows is driven by BBC’s Top Gear and the current all-male presenter line up has proved to be a winning combination for years. But, back in 1997, there was a female presenter on Top Gear named Vicky Butler-Henderson, who has since gone on to present Fifth Gear on the UK’s Channel 5 broadcast. Unfortunately for her, Quentin Wilson and Tiff Needell, the original Top Gear was cancelled in 2001 which saw the trio launch Fifth Gear the following year.

Motor sport has also traditionally been an area dominated by males. In the history of Formula 1 for example there have only ever been five female drivers who have had any involvement, with only one of those scoring points in a competitive race, which was Lella Lombardi back in the mid 1970′s.

Rallying and motorbike racing are also very male orientated and while there are females in both of these sports, they are vastly outnumbered by men. But, it’s not just taking part in motor sport that’s male dominated, the spectators at F1 and Superbike races are also largely made up of men.

Another common example of the male dominance in a car environment are those instances where you take your car to a garage to be repaired, with the likelihood being your car getting examined by a male mechanic. This is another industry that is almost exclusively male, although there are self-employed female mechanics across the UK who market themselves solely towards the female population.

There is one particular area of the motor industry that has seen an increase in the number of females, however, and that’s driving instructors. If you search online or look through any local directory, the chances are you will find an exclusively female driving school in your area.

If you speak to people who learned to drive around 20 years ago, they will probably nearly all tell you their instructor was male. This has definitely changed in recent times and has come about partly because there is now a demand for female instructors, with many women feeling safer and more comfortable being taught by a female rather than a male. However, the driving instructor industry itself has opened up and moved away from just being ex-forces and policemen, and people from all walks of life have made the transition to teaching others to drive.

There’s no doubt whether you’re male or female that it’s a great feeling to pass your driving test and get out on the open road; but not before you’ve ripped up those ‘L’ plates and rung around for the right car insurance quote. Once you’re out and about in your new car, a whole new debate opens up about whether males or females are the better drivers, but that’s best left for another time!

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Auto Insurance

Automotive Insurance Rates Affected by Your Town?

The area in which you live does impact the cost of you automotive insurance. It may seem a bit unfair, but it’s true. Locations that have higher crime rates tend to also have higher automotive insurance rates.

Of course, there probably aren’t too many people out there who are willing to shop for a new home in a completely new area, put their houses up for sale, and leave town just to save money on automotive insurance, and that’s completely understandable. That’s why we’re going to offer some tips on how you can possibly lower the cost of your automotive insurance and keep your home.

First, take a look at your vehicle. Was it expensive? Is it flashy? Is it a vehicle that many people would love to drive but can’t afford? If so, your vehicle is at risk for being stolen or burglarized. Vehicles that aren’t at risk for being stolen or burglarized tend to get lower automotive insurance rates. Consider trading your flashy car in for a more subtle ride.

Then, and this is especially important for those of you who aren’t willing to trade your cars in, take a look at your safety components. Do you have any kind of anti-theft system for your vehicle? Having one of these will not only protect your car from being stolen, but it will also protect your valuables inside, i.e., some crook won’t come along and break the window to get your CD collection. This means your automotive insurance rates could be lower since your insurance company won’t have to worry too much about replacing windows.

Finally, take a look at where you park your vehicle. On the side of the street? In a back alley? Consider parking your vehicle in a safe, well-lit, and guarded parking garage. Your insurance company will appreciate your effort to protect your car, and they might just reward you with lower automotive insurance rates.

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Auto Insurance

Fluid Leaks Under Your Vehicle – Should You Be Concerned?

Nothing concerns and even scares a driver more than fluid leaks under your vehicle. How can you simply identify these leaks of automobile fluids and figure out if they mean anything? Are they a danger to the mechanical well being of your vehicle and / or your pocketbook?

First of all is the residue new and fresh in appearance or does it appear to be just old soiled motor oil from a previous vehicle’s leaking oil pan. It’s pretty to tell by appearances in most case. Is it a fresh full puddle of oil or only a few drops?

If it is oil that appears to have leaked out – what is the volume – a lot or a little? It’s fairly easy to check the oil and transmission oil levels in your car. Best not to start the vehicle. If the fluid is very low you could cause substantial damage to your motor or in the case of the red hydraulic fluids to your transmission. Certainly do not start up your car and drive to the nearest service station, ignoring dash warning lights and hoping that “it will all go away”. Do not start the vehicle. It’s very simple to check the motor oil and transmission levels via the dipstick under the bonnet hood. If you do not know how to accomplish this procedure then it’s worth the wait either for a more experienced motorist to come along or to call triple A or your automotive dealer’s “roadside assistance” from yours or a handy cell phone.

Radiator and coolant system leaks and issues are an entirely different matter. If your motor overheats due to not enough cooling fluid substantial damage can occur.

Most people pull their cars over. It’s all fairly obvious both from dash temperature gauges, “idiot lights” on car and truck dash’s loudly announcing that the vehicle radiator fluid is critically hot, and even from a billowing cloud of steam emanating from under the car hood. Pull over, let the cars. Truck’s or SUV’s engine cool down. Then add additional antifreeze fluid or simple water if need be. Two words of extreme caution here.

First of all never take the cap off the engine radiator top when the rad is hot. Let it cool down even if it takes a fair amount of waiting time. Opening a hot rad is similar to opening a pressure cooker. Nothing happens, and then in whoosh out flies scalding hot water. This hot water which flashes from the rad as pressure is released by taking off the radiator cap reduces pressure in a flash. The hot scalding anti-freeze solution can cause severe burns to the unwary motorist however in its wake nearby the radiator.

Secondly after adding fluid in the summertime, ensure that come fall time you have your radiator antifreeze fluid checked for potency of glycol coolant. With the dilution of the glycol coolant with water your coolant may not provide full protection from freezing come the arrival of cold frigid winter weather from Canada. As a result of the freezing substandard anti-freeze solution, the radiator fluid may well freeze solid, cracking your engine block and causing major mechanical damage to your vehicle’s engine.

Lastly be most careful to mop up any of the residue and puddles of the ethylene glycol anti-freeze solution on the pavement or car driveway. Auto antifreeze is downright both tasty and deadly to family pets as well as wild animals who stroll across pavements and roads.

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Auto Insurance

Moving Car Companies – Things to Know Before Your Car Shipping

Most of the people are suffering issues while transporting their dream car from one place to another place. Auto shipping is a process that shipping car from dealer and shipping car from one place to another. Most of the auto transport companies are having branches throughout the world, and they are easily shipping the cars from one place to another place. In these technology days, every business is experiencing so much competition and increasing the demand and heavy traffic, there are so many companies are offering reliable and affordable services to their customers. These auto transport companies are providing some checklists to the car owners who want to ship their car from one place to another place. After receiving the checklist, you need to know estimation cost of the shipping, and also you need to follow some guide lines designed by the auto transport company. After preparing your car for shipping the representatives from the company are coming to your home and pick up the vehicle or when you decide to leave your car at the service’s terminal. Here are some essential guidelines that will help you to minimize the potential problems that may arise at the point of time.

First of all, please make sure that your car is safe and functioning. When the representatives are coming to your home and pick up your car, at that time you need to check your car that the brakes and steering are working at fine, and also you need to check the same after receiving the car at another place. Please make sure that leaking fluids and fluid level are in low enough to hold expansion. While in transport, your car might have placed on some other cars. So please make sure that your vehicle must not have these fluids, and also you need fill half of the tank because full tank gasoline adds more weight in transport. And also you need to insist the car company that the inspection must be done in the presence of you before shipping. In most of the times so many shipping companies are providing some useful information about your car details on the state of the vehicle. You need to check these details before and after shipping the car. However, most of the people are not having much knowledge about these services, for this instance, you need to obtain some essential help from the representatives during the inspection. And also you need to understand the inspection details and insurance services offering by the auto shipping company, if in case of an accident to your car or damage to your car. To know more information about this, you need to check the testimonial of the previous customers.

And also please make sure that you have disabled anti-theft devices and alarms in the car. Sometimes, it causes problems and unwanted expenses during the transport of the vehicle. And also please make sure that remove all personal belongings like spare tire and jack and CD/DVD players and many more sound effect systems and grills, covers, mirrors and many more to be removed. Finally, there are some well established and experienced auto transport companies are providing these services to their customers. For more information and details, please visit their valuable web site.

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Auto Insurance

Don’t Make Yourself a Target For Car Thieves

Car theft has been a problem in the United States since cars were invented. A car or other vehicle is stolen in the United States every 28.8 seconds according to 2008 data from the FBI. The chances of your car being stolen in the U.S. are 1 in 210 according to data from federal agencies and the Insurance Information Institute. The odds vary geographically. The Northeast has the lowest incidence of vehicle thefts, about 9.8 percent, and the Midwest 18.2 percent. The South and West have the highest percentage of vehicle thefts, about 36 percent each. Your chances of having your car stolen are highest in urban areas.

Although vehicle theft has been decreasing every year since 2006, only 59% of stolen vehicles were recovered last year, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau. Car theft is a major problem that can leave you without transportation while you deal with a time-consuming insurance claim. Here are some ways to reduce your chances of becoming a car thief’s next victim.

* Lock your vehicle and don’t leave it running. Your car’s door locks are the cheapest, easiest deterrent against car thieves. Don’t leave sunroofs or windows open, even on the hottest days. Leaving your car running while you’re not around is an open invitation for theft. Law enforcement officials stress that many cars are stolen on a whim for joyriding purposes because the owner made it easy for the thief.

* Be careful where you park. When you park at home, a locked garage is best, but the driveway is still safer than the street. Choose well-traveled, well-lit areas when parking away from home, for your own safety as well as to avoid vehicle theft.

* Don’t make thieves’ job easier. Crime experts warn against leaving a spare key hidden in or on the vehicle, because car thieves know all the good hiding spots for a spare key. Keep your vehicle papers with you and make a set for each driver in the family, instead of leaving them in the glove box. Keep the inside of your car clean and empty. Take your cell phone, music player, and other electronic devices with you when you leave the car, and never leave a purse, briefcase, or closed bag in plain sight while you’re gone.

* Consider buying a car alarm or other vehicle protection device to save yourself the time and expense of dealing with the theft of your vehicle.

Car security comes in many types and price ranges. At the most basic level, a simple steering wheel lock or brake pedal lock is an inexpensive way to secure your vehicle and is visible to thieves who might be sizing your vehicle up.

A car alarm is a highly effective way to chase thieves away from your car and alert law enforcement in the area. An alarm system is simply a sensing device attached to noisemakers like sirens and horns. Sophisticated alarm systems go beyond the basic door trigger switch found in low-end systems and use motion detectors, sound sensors that pick up the pitch of glass breaking, air pressure detectors that know when a car door is open, and even sensors that know when your vehicle is being driven up a ramp onto a thief’s flatbed trailer.

Some vehicle security systems work by locking out the ignition, fuel, or electrical systems until you touch a hidden switch or insert an electronically coded ignition key. Although a car thief may still steal components or tow your vehicle away, these systems deter the most common scenario of breaking in and hot wiring.

New tracking technologies have become standard equipment on high-end vehicles. Global positioning systems (GPS) can help law enforcement find your vehicle after a theft. Police can also track a vehicle using a tracking systems with a hidden transmitter to allow police to track the vehicle. An example of this type of system is the LoJack, which operates over half of the states in the U.S. Law enforcement likes these systems because they frequently lead to chop shops and other illegal theft operations and the arrest of criminals.

Certain vehicles are frequent targets for car thieves, especially high-end sport utility vehicles. The Cadillac Escalade and the Hummer were featured last year in an ABC News article on the most stolen cars in the U.S. Models among the least likely to be stolen are the Mercedes E Class, Buick Rainier and Subaru Forester.