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Watch out for ‘Flood Vehicles’

by Rick Bate
MILES Vehicle Service Contract Claims Specialist

Hurricane Sandy devastated homes and property throughout the northeast and the storm’s flood waters damaged scores of vehicles. Regrettably, many of these vehicles will be purchased and cleaned up by unscrupulous used car dealers to be sold on the market at greatly discounted prices.

The most vulnerable areas in a car or truck are the engine, transmission and drivetrain, fuel, brakes, and power steering systems. Here’s what to look for when seeking to avoid a flood damaged vehicle:

1. Signs of mud or silt, or a waterline on the interior of the trunk or engine compartment.

2. Moisture or water line in signal lamps.

3.  Any sign of mold or mildew or a strong disinfectant smell.

4. New or slightly mismatched seats or upholstery.

5. Turn on ignition to ensure that all warning lights and gauges work properly.

6. Look at and flex wiring under dashboard. Wiring becomes brittle once dry and may crack.

7. Check engine bay for rust. Especially in the corners.

8. Remove trunk liner and look in the area where the spare tire is stored to see if you see standing water, wet leaves, or rust.

9. Peel back and check the carpet panel below the driver’s side floorboard. Inspect carpet pad for stains or odors. Carpet can be easily covered or dyed. Stains on padding cannot.

10. If you have the option, have the vehicle put up on a rack and see if there are holes drilled in the floorboard. That will be done to allow water to drain and is rarely patched.

This list does not cover not everything, but it is a good guide to use when scouting to avoid flood-damaged vehicles. Be sure to protect yourself and happy shopping.


Posted in Auto News Tagged , , , , ,

It’s time for a new model: Coming soon — a MILES Upgrade!

The MILES Program will soon officially unveil a contemporary new look, logo and promotional campaign. “Our new logo offers a fresh look to a great service for active-duty military,” says MILES VP of Marketing Michelle Chudy. “And our new campaign underscores our commitment to help service men and women establish positive credit for the future. We’re about informed vehicle financing for today and tomorrow.”

Over ten years ago, the MILES Program was created exclusively to meet the auto financing needs of an underserved market: the U.S. military with poor credit or no credit history. Company’s founders were incensed with how unprincipled dealers treated members of our nation’s military who needed a car. Unprincipled dealers and lenders sometimes structured deals with a high likelihood of default and repossession. “The MILES Program is our way of giving back to active-duty Service Members for protecting and defending our country,” says Chudy.

The MILES Program reinvents the way credit-challenged military members finance vehicles. It provides a trustworthy, nonjudgmental environment where they can obtain clear and simple facts about vehicle financing. It then helps them access quality, fairly priced vehicles through MILES’ collaborative relationships with reputable dealerships. And it gives them the tools and support they need to restore their credit, which can help them achieve their future goals.

Posted in MILES Updates Tagged , , , , , ,

Getting Your Vehicle Ready For Winter

From ASE

Mechanical failure — an inconvenience anytime it occurs — can be deadly in the winter. Preventive maintenance is a must. Besides, a well-maintained vehicle is more enjoyable to drive, lasts longer, and could command a higher resale price.

Some of the following tips can be performed by any do-it-yourselfer; others require the skilled hands of a professional auto technician.

Engine Performance
Get engine driveability problems (hard starts, rough idling, stalling, diminished power, etc.) corrected at a good repair shop. Cold weather makes existing problems worse. Replace dirty filters-air, fuel, etc.

Put a bottle of fuel de-icer in your tank once a month to help keep moisture from freezing in the fuel line. Note that a full gas tank helps keep moisture from forming.

Change your oil and oil filter as specified in your manual — more often (every 3,000 miles) if your driving is mostly stop-and-go or consists of frequent short trips.

Cooling Systems
The cooling system should be completely flushed and refilled about every 24 months. The level, condition, and concentration of the coolant should be checked periodically. (A 50/50 mix of anti-freeze and water is usually recommended.) DIYers, never remove the radiator cap until the engine has thoroughly cooled! The tightness and condition of drive belts, clamps, and hoses should be checked by a pro.

Windshield Wipers
Replace old blades. If your climate is harsh, purchase rubber-clad (winter) blades to fight ice build-up. Stock up on windshield washer solvent-you’ll be surprised how much you use. Carry an ice-scraper.

The heater and defroster must be in good working condition for passenger comfort and driver visibility. Newer models have a cabin air filter that should be replaced periodically. Check your owner’s manual for the location and replacement interval.

The only accurate way to detect a weak battery is with professional equipment. Routine care: Scrape away corrosion from posts and cable connections; clean all surfaces; re-tighten all connections. If battery caps are removable, check fluid level monthly. Avoid contact with corrosive deposits and battery acid. Wear eye protection and rubber gloves.

Inspect all lights and bulbs; replace burned out bulbs; periodically clean road grime from all lenses. To prevent scratching, never use a dry rag.

Exhaust System
Your vehicle should be placed on a lift and the exhaust system examined for leaks. The trunk and floor boards should be inspected for small holes. Exhaust fumes can be deadly.

Worn tires will be of little use in winter weather. Examine tires for remaining tread life, uneven wearing, and cupping; check the sidewalls for cuts and nicks. Check tire pressures once a month. Check the tires when they are cold, before driving for any distance. Rotate as recommended. Don’t forget your spare, and be sure the jack is in good condition.

Carry Emergency Gear
Carry gloves, boots, blankets, flares, a small shovel, sand or kitty litter, tire chains, and a flash light. Put a few “high-energy” snacks in your glove box.

Posted in Auto News Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

Remembering all affected by Hurricane Sandy

The millions throughout the northeast affected by Hurricane Sandy are in our thoughts and prayers. We are very thankful for our service men and women on hand to protect them. Stay safe.

Posted in MILES Updates Tagged

Active duty, looking for a car?

Are you tired of being turned down for a car because of your credit? The MILES Program helps active duty military get on the road the right way. We provide financial education, quality auto loans and credit tools to help you today and tomorrow.

Here’s what one satisfied MILES customer had to say:

“I was actually referred to MILES by a Honda dealership that denied me for financing. I couldn’t be any happier that I found this program! Thank you so much for all your help and I will definitely refer MILES to anyone who needs financial help with buying a car! I got exactly what I wanted, which is a 2010 Toyota! THANK YOU so much for all the help!” – Alexander

Learn more at or give us a call at 1.866.466.4537. We’re here to help!

Posted in MILES Updates Tagged , , , , ,

2011 MILES Program Top Dealerships

Announcing the 2011 MILES Program Top Dealerships

The MILES Program relies on a network of more than 700 Certified Dealers to help deliver our military auto financing.  Our dealer partners are reputable members of the military communities in which they are located and have agreed to high standards of service and quality set forth by MILES.  Each year, we recognize the top MILES Certified Dealers in three market sizes: small, intermediate, and large.


The 2011 Top Producer from a small market is Carl Gregory Dodge.  Carl Gregory Dodge is located in Columbus, Georgia near Ft. Benning.  The Dodge dealership has proudly provided auto financing for the military through MILES since and has assisted many soldiers with their vehicle purchase.


JN Automotive Group is the 2011 Top MILES Producer from an intermediate market.  JN, located in Honolulu, Hawaii serves active duty Service Members from the surrounding military communities including Schofield Barracks and Ft. Shafter.


Finally, from our large markets, the 2011 Top MILES Producer is Dick Poe Auto Group.  Dick Poe Auto Group, located near Ft. Bliss in El Paso, Texas, has been providing auto loans for army men and women with the MILES Program since 2002.

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MILES Goes Mobile

Did you know by the year 2014 mobile internet users are expected to surpass desktop internet users*?  That means in less than two years, more people will browse the internet from their smart phones than their home computers!

If you’ve visited in the last few months, there’s a one in five chance you came to the site via your mobile phone.  The need for a mobile friendly was evident and we’ve taken action.  This March went live!  The new mobile site provides an easier auto loan application for users to complete from their phone, the ability to easily check loan status, and simple click to call or click to email contacts for quick communication with a MILES Specialist.

At MILES, we promise a simple and quick auto financing and purchasing process for our military customers.  We’re proud to now offer yet another resource to live up to our promise.

*Microsoft Tag April 2011

Posted in MILES Updates Tagged , , , , , , ,

Top Ten Vehicles of 2011

The results are in for our top ten vehicles of 2011!  At MILES, we want to be sure our Service Member customers drive home in quality, reliable transportation with a loan payment that fits within their budget.  So we finance only new or used vehicles reconditioned to our high standards – no more than five model years old and with no more than 75,000 miles.  Our customers are building the foundation for positive credit, so they need a car they can rely on.

Here are the Top Ten vehicles purchased by MILES Customers in 2011:

  • Chevrolet Impala
  • Dodge Charger
  • Nissan Altima
  • Chevrolet Cobalt
  • Ford Focus
  • Chevrolet Malibu
  • Dodge Avenger
  • Ford Mustang
  • Honda Civic
  • Mazda 3
Posted in Auto News Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Thank You Vets

Each year, on November 11, the Unites States recognizes Veterans Day to honor Military Veterans.  At MILES, we feel especially close to this holiday.  Not only do we have the privilege to communicate on a daily basis with active members of the Armed Forces, but also to work closely with numerous Military Veterans on our own team.  In fact, more than more than one fourth of MILES employees are veterans of the United States Military.  Together, they represent all branches of service and total 460 years of Military service!

We make it a point to end every conversation with our customers by saying “thank you for your service.”  Today, we want to make a point to thank the Veterans on our team who have committed to making the MILES a trusted source of auto financing to the military community.  THANK YOU!

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Daylight Savings Reminders

Our Operations Manager sent out this company-wide email today.  I thought it would be great to share:

Don’t forget to set your clocks back this Saturday night!

Also, it’s a great time to practice what we encourage our customers to do.  Go to to pull one of your credit reports for free (getting your score will cost you extra).  It is fast, easy, and secure.

Please verify your report to ensure all accounts are yours and are reporting correctly. allows you to pull all three bureaus once per year.  I recommend you pull at least one every four months so you get a continuous years worth of free review of your credit.

Also, while you are at, change your batteries in your smoke detectors to ensure a safe winter season.  Happy Friday!

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