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    | 3 min read

    The Cold Reality of the New Year

    The holidays brought laughter by the fireplace, warm desserts, and the joyous sounds of caroling. But lurking outside in the frigid cold, after the tree is put away and before the first credit card bill comes, winter is preparing a surprise for your members: Unforeseen car troubles threaten to cast a dark shadow over the recent festivities.

    To be fair, car woes can affect your members at any time, but winter can be especially tough for vehicle owners. Between paying for incurred holiday expenses and drastic temperature changes that negatively impact car performance, staying road-ready can take a toll on budgets at the most inopportune time. In this blog post, we’ll discuss why your members need extra protection this season and how you can offer it.

    The Rising Age and Cost of Vehicles

    There has been an increase in Americans who choose to keep and drive older vehicles. The average vehicle age has risen to 12.5 years, making 2023 the sixth straight year that this average has increased.

    As it turns out, reliability is no match for affordability in this age of inflated costs. More people (your members included) are maintaining their current vehicles longer instead of trading in for new wheels. Who can blame them? Especially when Bankrate estimates the average monthly car payment exceeds $700 for a new model and $500 for used.

    The downside is their older vehicles may end up costing them more in the long run, as major repairs become imminent and possibly more frequent. Inflation isn’t doing them any favors here, either. According to a recent consumer price index, vehicle repair costs are up nearly 20% since 2022, with AAA estimating bigger repairs between $500 and $600.

    How Winter Complicates the Issue

    A cozy coat, hot cocoa, and a crackling fireplace are great for keeping the chill of winter at bay. Unfortunately, your members’ vehicles don’t get those luxuries. They sit out in the cold all day and night and their parts pay for it. Here’s how:

    Tire Issues

    The cold shrinks everything, including the air inside your members’ tires. Driving on underinflated tires leads to uneven (and unsafe) tread wear that makes driving hazardous.

    Dead Batteries

    Lower temps, especially when they drop below zero, can drain your members’ car batteries and keep their vehicles from taking them where they need to go.

    Thick Oil

    Oil becomes thicker in the cold, making it harder to circulate the precious fluid through vehicle engines. Poor oil circulation can put members on the fast track to their mechanics.

    Icy Fuel Lines

    Gas won’t freeze inside a car’s fuel lines, but any moisture will. This can prevent cars from starting and potentially damage fuel injectors and the engine itself.

    Bad Belts

    Serpentine belts can become frigid in the cold and break, especially if the belt is older and already brittle.

    The Gift That Keeps On Giving All Year Long

    The longer your members keep their vehicles, the more they subject themselves to costly vehicle breakdowns and replacement parts, especially in unforgiving weather. But they don’t have to shoulder the cost alone.

    SWBC’s healthCAR provides your members coverage beyond the expiration of their manufacturer’s warranty on new, used, and high-mileage vehicles. Whether the loan is paid off or held by another financial institution, healthCAR offsets the cost of major repairs on vehicles up to 20 years old at an affordable monthly premium (while providing your credit union with a non-interest generating revenue stream).

    This winter, your members should be focused on getting to their destinations safely, not distracted by unexpected vehicle service. Visit our website to see how you can help your members’ make safe journeys during the bitter cold weather.

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    Loraine Catlett

    Loraine's journey with SWBC began in December 2009, joining as an accomplished professional in the field of training and development, having amassed over two decades of invaluable experience in her field. During her tenure, Loraine has demonstrated exceptional leadership as she led the performance solutions team for an impressive eight years. Her dedication to driving excellence in training and development has been a cornerstone of her career at SWBC. In 2023, Loraine embarked on a new challenge as she transitioned to the role of AVP Product Management in Auto Lending Products. In this capacity, she took on the responsibility for the Major Mechanical Protection product, showcasing her versatility and adaptability in the dynamic financial services industry. Loraine is a proud graduate of The University of Texas at El Paso, holding a bachelor's degree in business administration with a focus on management.

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