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• Don't just drive away from an accident, even a minor fender bender. Call the police and have a report made.

• Exchange information with the other driver. Get the names and telephone numbers of as many witnesses as you can.

• As soon as possible after the accident, report it to your insurance company, even if you don't plan to make a claim. If you believe the other driver was at fault, contact his or her insurance company also.

• If there's a dispute about who's at fault, file the claim with your own company. The two companies will duke it out later over the amount each will pay.

• If your vehicle is going to require some repair, ask for a rental car or reimbursement for a rental car. Insist upon a vehicle that is similar to your vehicle.

• Don't agree to release the body shop or the insurer of final responsibility until you're comfortable that the repairs are complete and the vehicle operates properly.

• If you agree to take your car to an insurer's preferred body shop, insist that the insurer provide a lifetime guarantee on the repairs.

• To ensure the collision work was done correctly, consider hiring an independent company to evaluate the repair.

• If your vehicle is totaled, don't accept your insurance company's first settlement offer. Check or look at a used-car price guide to see what your car was worth.

• If you have a 5-year lease or loan and owe more than the car is worth, ask for "substitution of vehicle," in which the loan or lease remains and the insurer finds you a similar vehicle as a replacement.

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10 worst cities for traffic

Traffic is getting worse, but does your city rank in the Top 10? There are new stats from 24/7 Wall St./Inrix, the latter a leading-provider of traffic information, that lists the worst cities for traffic. The list is tallied based on morning and evening rush hour numbers: 10. San Jose ...

2 tips to protect your car and its contents

2 tips to protect your car and its contents

Car thieves have gone high tech with a mysterious handheld device that unlocks your car without smashing the window. Don't be their next victim.

Local government, red light camera installers in cahoots

  I am ultra-opposed to the red light cameras that are a presence in so many jurisdictions around the country. They're supposedly touted as a way to improve passenger safety and reduce the number of T -bone accidents. But I think red light cameras are not really there for safety, ...

Easy way to stay on top of auto recalls

If you're concerned with auto safety, the government now has a notification e-mail system that will alert you to recalls for your specific make, model, and year of car. There are recalls of cars all the time. Some serious, like braking and steering issues, or sudden acceleration; and others that ...

GM ignition key defect kills 13 people

After the untimely death of 13 people, GM has finally fessed up about a manufacturing defect that lead to airbags not deploying in accidents. GM has issued an unequivocal public apology for having dithered nearly a decade after it knew about a ignition switch defect in more than 1.6 million ...

Crash test dummies, beware: The only subcompact car to pass the test is…

Buying a car for a young driver? Take a look first at these sobering crash test results from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). A full 10 out of 11 subcompact minicars tested by the IIHS failed. The only car to make the grade with a passing mark? The ...

How to find the best auto repair shops

When the chips are down and you need a car repair, where's the best place to get it done? Back in 1987, I bought an Acura Integra. When it needed service, a friend who also had an Integra recommended a dedicated shop that only worked on Hondas and Acuras. It's ...

The Clark Smart steps for buying a new car

If you're in the market for a new car, here are my tips for making a smart purchase: First, go to your credit union, online bank or traditional bank and prequalify for a car loan (or apply online.) That tells you how much car you can afford and what type ...

Mugshot sites prey on traffic violators

Imagine getting a speeding ticket and having to pay a ransom when a third party website posts your name without a picture, implying you're a serious criminal. The Baltimore Sun  reports there was one such website doing mugshots with no mugshot! They were simply taking public record of people who ...

New survey of the most reliable cars

One stalwart automaker has gotten the boot from Consumer Reports' list of recommended vehicles. Toyota has traditionally had a reputation for selling good reliable cars to people who don’t like cars. People look at Toyota when they want reliable transportation, not flash and style. But Consumer Reports has pulled longtime ...

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