Choosing A Local Auto Body Repair Company

Ah, you have been in accident! Not a favorite experience of many people. Whats even worse than the actual fallout of the automobile accident itself is getting your vehicle repaired.

If you go through a reputable and ethical auto body repair shop you will end up with an automobile that drives and looks just like its was never wrecked. If you go through a shady company you will have a substandard vehicle that will have a really low re-sell value in the future. Here is what you can do to prevent the latter from happening.

Make Sure The Estimate Includes Factory Parts

How can one body shop give you an estimate that is half the cost of another? The answer usually is that one will use aftermarket parts that cost half the price.

This is very important to know! Aftermarket parts are usually not high in quality and many times do not fit exactly like original ones made from the actual manufacturer. Shops usually have to play and bend aftermarket parts to work and they do not usually last a long time. They can also compromise a car’s tolerance to withstand another wreck. A bumper for instance made by the manufacturer is made to withstand a certain impact. Its made to bend and crumple a certain way so that the people in the car absorb as little shock as possible. An aftermarket part may look genuine but it is probably made out of inferior materials and its threshold is a lot lower.

Demand that original parts be used to rebuild your car.

Check the Better Business Bureau for Any Complaints

Look up a company in the BBB and see if any complaints have been filed in the last year. If so try to inquire why. If a certain business has high stars and a high satisfaction rate then you have a good idea of what company you are dealing with.

Ask For A Couple References

Ask them to supply you with the name of recent customers who they have serviced. Call them up. See if these individuals were happy with the work that was performed for them. If an auto body shop is hesitant to supply with at least three names then I would go somewhere else.

Warranty

Any service like this should stand behind their work and offer some type of guarantee. They should back all their parts and labor with a warranty that lasts at least a year. If something falls off or if the paint fades after only a month then you want to make sure that they are willing to fix their mistake.

Ask To See Pictures

Ask a body shop to see some before and after photos. Do they have experience in doing the work you need done? Have they ever worked on your type of car before? What is the worst wreck they have fixed? These things are good points to keep in mind.

How to Determine Your Bidding Limits for an Auto Auction

Buying a used vehicle at an auto auction is a great way to save money on a car or truck, but before the day of the sale it’s important that you determine the amount of money that you can spend. After you purchase the vehicle, you don’t want to discover that you can’t afford the insurance, taxes and other costs that are associated with the purchase of a used car. In addition to the bidding price of the vehicle, don’t forget to figure in the costs below so you don’t go over your budget.

Insurance

The cost of an insurance policy on a vehicle will vary and it depends on several factors including the make and model of the car or truck. If you know what type of vehicle you want to buy, give your insurance agent a call to get an estimate of the cost of insurance. Since you won’t need a lender to finance your vehicle, as you must pay for the vehicle in full before it leaves the lot, you don’t have to get comprehensive or collision insurance if you don’t want it. Of course, if you can’t afford to pay for car repairs in the event of an accident, it’s a good idea to have this extra insurance, but it’s not mandatory. Purchasing liability insurance is the law in every state, so you will at least have to purchase a liability policy.

Taxes, Plates and Additional Fees

After buying a used vehicle, you will have to visit a Department of Motor Vehicles office in your area to pay the state sales tax. You can contact the DMV office before going to the auto auction to find out the sales tax rate in your city. The amount of sales tax you’ll pay is determined by the price you pay for the car. After determining your vehicle budget, you can figure out an estimate of the sales tax after finding out the rate.

After buying an auction vehicle, you’ll also have to get license plates and tags. If this vehicle is a replacement for your current vehicle that already has license plates, you can request a transfer of plates and then pay the fee. Contact the DMV in your area to find out the fees for license plates or a transfer.

When buying a vehicle at an auto auction, it’s also necessary to pay a buyer’s fee. You can find out how much this fee is by calling the auto auction contact number. The fee is usually based on the selling price of the vehicle during the auction.

When figuring out your bidding limit at the auto auction, don’t forget to add in these costs and fees. By doing a little math first, you’ll be confident that you can afford the car you want and the extra costs won’t stretch your budget.

Five Tips for Choosing the Right Auto Body Shop

Choosing an auto body shop doesn’t have to be a frustrating experience. Estimates from different shops will likely fluctuate, sometimes to the point where you wonder if you are getting quotes for the same repair on the same vehicle. Consider these five tips to help guide you in making your decision:

1. Get Multiple Estimates

This one is obvious. Not only will multiple auto body shop quotes give you some idea of the “middle ground,” you’ll feel better knowing that you did your homework and you aren’t simply going with the cheapest… or worse yet, the most costly proposition.

2. Are They Certified and Insured

Do they seem reputable and carry all the appropriate certifications insurance?

Is the location a direct repair facility for your insurance company?

If you are completely new to the facility and going in with very little information on them, check for appropriate licensing hanging on the wall near the register.

Things can go wrong with any repair shop and your vehicle will be living there for a while, so you want to make sure that the repair facility you choose is protected in the event of fire, theft, or natural disaster.

3. Parts and Warranty

What is the warranty on repairs? Depending on whether they are a direct repair facility for your insurance company, you will likely get anywhere between 1 year and a lifetime warranty. Comparing warranties between locations can be a big indicator of the quality of parts and workmanship. You want to hire someone willing to stand by their craft.

Do they use aftermarket or used parts? Used parts don’t necessarily mean quality is bad, but when comparing quotes, you want to make sure you are comparing apples to apples. If one location is offering used parts and another new, and their estimates are the same, look closer. What is making up the extra cost in the estimate for the shop offering the used parts? The per-hour labor costs may be higher at that particular shop.

What kind of paint matching technology do they use? You want to be sure that they can make an exact match of the paint code for your vehicle, and that they are using a high-quality coating.

4. Reputation

Do they have a good local reputation? Are they part of a social network where you can check for reviews? Ask around to friends and family; almost everyone has used an auto body shop at some point, and you’ll be surprised how much information you can gather by listening to other people’s experiences.

5. Trust Your Gut… and Relax

If you are searching for an auto body shop, you and your car likely just went through a stressful experience. Trust your gut after visiting the location; you want to leave feeling that the customer service seems knowledgeable about their industry and genuine about service. If anything about the experience seems not above board, keep looking, and use the tips above to guide you until you find a professional you can feel good about.

Tips And Tricks For Windshield Repair And Windshield Replacement

No one likes to think about a chipped or damaged windshield. This is partly due to a misconception that any damage requires a windshield to be replaced and that insurance companies will refuse to cover the cost of the job. In actuality, windshield repair is often the solution to problems and not only is it reasonably priced, it is often covered in the comprehensive portion of auto insurance.

The biggest thing to remember when you’re dealing with a damaged windshield is to get your insurance company involved as soon as possible. Informing them right away that you have some damage, as well as how the damage happened, will help get the ball rolling as far as an estimate and repair work. Many insurance companies require that you use a certain company for the replacement or that you gather estimates from a few local businesses. Understanding their requirements will smooth the way to a relatively easy process.

Chips and small cracks, up to the size of a dollar bill, are prime candidates for windshield repair. Repair jobs can be done quickly and most companies now offer mobile repair units which can come to address the problem without upsetting your schedule. The repair is done by injecting a special epoxy into the crack or chip. This epoxy is formulated to be both strong and clear so that once it dries and if buffed it is nearly impossible to see where the damage had once been. The structural integrity of your windshield is never compromised by a repair done professionally with quality products.

Windshield replacement jobs are much more complicated and this is why so many insurance and windshield companies encourage drivers to get problems repaired quickly. The entire process for a windshield replacement can actually take up to a week since the windshield usually needs to be ordered in before work can even begin. Once the new windshield has been delivered, the old windshield must be removed and all of the seals need to be clean and checked and, in some cases, entirely replaced. Once the new windshield is in place the adhesive used to mount it needs plenty of time to dry. Thus curing process can take several hours or even as long as a full day. Once the adhesive has dried the entire windshield needs to be inspected for safety and authorized by a safety professional before the customer can drive away.

There are those who say do it yourself windshield repair kits are just as good as a job done by a trained professional. In fact, these home remedies – which range from using crazy glue or nail polish to buying kits available online – are not covered by insurance and should the process go wrong or result in further damage, you will be responsible for the cost of the entire job. Additionally, these fixes do not ensure that your windshield will be as strong as it would be if treated professionally and this can place both the driver and any passengers at risk in case of accident or if the chip or crack spreads and weakens the windshield as a whole. Quick fixes may be tempting to try but it’s a gamble that can end up costing you hundreds or even thousands of dollars in windshield replacement bills.

Michigan Mini Tort Claims – Recovering Vehicle Damage Costs in a Car Accident

What is Mini-Tort?

Michigan’s no-fault laws do not require collision coverage. That is where the limited property damage liability or mini-tort provision comes into play. Limited property damage liability, known as the mini-tort exception allows for Michigan accident victims to recover up to $500 of their vehicle repair costs under certain circumstances. The purpose is to compensate a person involved in a car accident that was not at-fault for out-of-pocket expenses resulting from the collision. Michigan mini tort law is premised upon people being free to purchase their own collision coverage. If an individual has existing collision coverage, the full vehicle repair costs from the accident will be paid from that policy. However, even if someone has collision coverage, he can still make a mini tort claim for incidental, out-of-pocket expenses such as a deductible. There are varying degrees of collision insurance, but generally speaking it covers the cost of repairs to the driver’s own vehicle.

How do you qualify and what can be collected?
If you are without collision coverage on your car, or your coverage is limited, and you are less than 50 percent at fault for the accident, you can recoup some of your out-of-pocket costs to fix your car via the mini-tort. How much you can recover depends on how much fault you bear. For example, let’s say the damage to your car amounts to $100 and the other driver is deemed 75 percent at fault for the accident. Then he or she would pay $75. These cases are normally handled in a small claims court, but either party involved in the car crash may ask to have the case moved up to a higher jurisdiction.

How do you file a Mini-Tort claim?
To recover vehicle damage costs, you can write a letter to the insurance company of the person who caused the accident, and request the money. Include the police report proving the person who caused the accident was at-fault; a declaration sheet from your own insurance company showing your coverage; and an estimate of vehicle repairs and/or photos including the license plate. You have three years from the date of the car accident to file a mini tort lawsuit or collect your mini tort claim. After three years, your claim will be time-barred and you will be unable to collect your mini tort claim under Michigan law.

Car Window Repair Or Replacement At Your Fingertips

Even for the safest and most observant drivers accidents happen. A cracked or broken windshield can happen in traffic or in front of your home. There are precautions that can be taken but even with all those there is still a probability that you will have the need of a car window repair or replacement eventually.

With all the big named and highly respected companies around that are experts in the field it will be no problem to find one who can recommend the best route to take for the repair job. They will often give a free estimate for you while you wait and often over the phone.

If you want to attempt to do the repair by yourself that is also an option you can explore. There are many places, auto recyclers and also glass manufacturers who will have the right part for you that you can pull yourself or they can pull it for you. If you choose this route it is highly recommended that you always wear gloves. Even with safety glass which is installed in most cars today there remains a possibility that it will shatter or shard leaving open a danger to you.

Some shops have mobile replacement trucks. They will receive your information and bring the parts to your home or office and do the job right there while you are at work or having dinner with family. The install takes only a short time and they guarantee their work. You will be required to let it set for at least an hour but after that you are free to go.

It is recommended to fix the break as soon as possible. When there is a broken window the entire structural integrity has been breached. Leaving it for too long can cause issues with the sealing technique that goes with the windows installation itself.

You will be in good hands with anyone you choose as long as you do the necessary research before you buy. No matter which way you go, getting the job done will take a load of stress off your mind.

Important Steps For Selecting An Auto Repair Shop

When a car breaks down, most customers just want to get back on the road soon without paying an extreme price. However, a little research and patience can go a long way in finding an auto repair shop. In fact, doing the due diligence now means that the next trip to the mechanic won’t be anytime soon.

Find the Best Local Options

There are a few advantages to finding an auto shop in the neighborhood. First, you can ask neighbors and friends for their personal recommendations and experiences. Local shops will value customer loyalty and trustworthiness because they depend on word of mouth to create new customers. Secondly, the car can be dropped off and picked up easily, hopefully avoiding the process of arranging rides to and from the store. Lastly, a strong connection to a neighborhood shop can result in fair pricing to keep the customer coming back.

Check Customer Reviews

Even if the auto repair services aren’t close by, or there are no referrals from friends and family, there are a variety of internet reviews sites worth checking. A lack of reviews online may suggest inexperience. Of course, most stores will have a range of good and bad reviews, but the overall trends about price, customer service, and quality work are worth reading about.

Compare More Than Prices

Shop around and don’t always go with the cheapest option. Some auto repair shops will use a customer’s impatience against them and raise the price when they sense a lack of negotiating skill. Remember that they need the customer and not vice versa. It is hard to wait when your primary mode of transportation needs fixing, but patience can pay off both now and in the future if it results in a good business relationship.

Prepare a List of Questions

In a similar vein, don’t be afraid to ask questions. General questions about their experience, certifications, warranties, and work timeline let a mechanic know that you take this exchange seriously. Of course, getting an estimate on the price is the best way to ensure you’re not getting ripped off, and it helps to do some amount of previous research to understand what a fair price might be. Shopping around and comparing prices can assure the best possible deals.

Get to Know the Mechanic

Establish a good working relationship with the shop to get peace of mind for future auto repairs. Rarely will this be the last visit to a mechanic. Fair pricing, communication, and a serious disposition will result in a good deal for all parties. Furthermore, if you leave a good review online or promise to come back, the relationship will find solid footing.

No matter how the search plays out, remember to trust your instincts and do what feels comfortable. No one wants to deal with a tense or strained business deal. Be patient, have confidence, and rely on those who have been through it before.

Looking for the Car Insurance Estimate?

Car insurance estimate: How much do you need?

Every car buyer goes through a checklist before buying his or her brand new car. The most important aspect of the list is the auto insurance and the car insurance estimate. A car insurance acts as a protection for your car as a whole. Your insurance officer may offer you a varied range of auto insurances depending on the type of vehicle you own, the amount of coverage you need and the number of years you wish to have the protection for, in return of a yearly amount, known as the insurance premium.

When you incur a car accident, the cost of damages the car bears is covered by the car insurance you opt for, this, however, does not include any damage incurred above the overall auto insurance amount.The value of your auto insurance estimate is calculated by the IDV or the Insured Declared Value of your vehicle; the IDV is the maximum amount the insurance company is going to pay for the damages your car incurs. The amount of IDV roughly equals to the actual market price of the car you own or the showroom price of your car. The IDV thus is not a constant value and keeps changing periodically.Upon renewal of your car insurance after a year, the value of IDV will decrease because of the amount of depreciation charged on it after a year.

What are the damages covered by the car insurance?

The car insurance will not cover all the damages your car faces, during the life of the insurance. Coverages in the US are usually seen in a cluster of three numbers separated by a dash, for example, 20/50/30 or 100/500/100. The first two numbers are usually seen for medical coverage. For 100/500/100 the insurance company policy will pay $100,000 per person up to $500,000 combined for all people. The last number covers damages made to the property, that is any other vehicle or property you hit in an accident.

A comprehensive auto insurance plan will mainly cover the following types of damages:

  • Liability Coverage:

The coverage also commonly known as casualty insurance, mainly covers bodily injuries and property damages, that is damage to your car. The amount of insurance will, however, vary from one jurisdiction to the other. The insured is also allowed to increase the amount of the insurance coverage (before the loss), to cover any loss incurred during the accident.

If in an unfortunate circumstance, you hit a telephone pole with your car. In such a case, the liability coverage covers the expenses of the damage caused to the pole. It, however, does not cover any other expenses related to the damage being caused such as disruption of services claimed by the Telephone company.

A bodily coverage covers the insured from possible injury during the accident as well as covers him or her from any third party damage caused by accident. The coverage covers the court costs and damages the insured is being sued for.

  • Full Coverage

Full coverage covers both collision and comprehensive damages done to your vehicle. The collision coverage covers the vehicle involved in collisions, by paying out for the repair of the damage incurred or by paying out the cash value of the vehicle in case the vehicle is not repairable.

Comprehensive coverage covers the vehicle from damages not ordinarily considered as collision damages. The damages covered by this coverage are damage due to theft, vandalism or impact with animals. Additionally, a lot of insurance companies also include ‘Act of God’ damages that is any damage caused by event or events caused to factors that are beyond human control, such as cyclones, tornado, tsunami etc.

Apart from the main coverages mentioned above, insurance companies in the US also provide the following coverages:

  • Damages done by uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM/UIM)
  • Loss of use
  • GAP coverages.
  • Lease/Loan Payoff.
  • Emergency Road Service Coverage.
  • Mechanical Breakdown Coverage
  • Custom Parts and Equipment Coverage.

How can you calculate a car insurance estimate?

You can follow these simple steps, to correctly get your car insurance estimate:

  • Before buying a auto, narrow down on your choices.
  • Determine the amount of coverage you’d ideally be needing. If you are buying a new car, you should go for insurance that covers collision and comprehensive damages as well. This is however not mandatory in case of a used auto.
  • Compare insurance quotes for your vehicle. Different companies will have different insurance costs for your vehicle depending on the type and market price of the model. Comparing the quotes will help you narrow down to the best insurance for your auto.
  • Make the final choice, based on the comparison chart.

What should your ideal car insurance estimate be?

There are a lot of factors that affect your car insurance estimate. Ideally, you should choose a plan and amount, which covers most of the possible damage that your auto may incur in the lifetime. The amount of insurance you chose typically should be higher than the actual cost of your overall auto.

The ultimate car insurance estimate will ultimately depend on your own choices and individual situation. It is always advisable to look at a wide range of options and companies offering auto insurance after calculating the car insurance estimate. Comparing insurance quotes, and what they cover with each other will ensure you get the most out of your auto insurance.

Seven Tips For Finding Excellent Car Service

The best car service is preventative, not patchwork. The last thing car owners need nowadays, with increasingly busy schedules, is frequent trips to the mechanic. It’s especially frustrating with easily fixed or recurring problems. Here are some tips to avoid breaking the bank the next time your vehicle breaks down.

Check Out Reviews First

With the spread of customer reviews on the internet, it’s quite easy for a consumer to find personal accounts of a business with a quick search. On occasion, reviews will be staged or not representative of the service, but a perusal of a range of reviews may give you a reasonable expectation of what to expect. An old fashioned review from a trusted friend – especially a car lover – never hurts, either. You can’t put a price on experience.

Shop Around

Most mechanics will offer free estimates. It helps to get the estimate for your car service on paper as proof. This document can also be used as leverage with other mechanics. Sometimes the cheapness of the price can suggest poor workmanship, but you certainly don’t want to be swindled.

Ask To See A Certification

ASE is the most common certification, and a trustworthy business should have no issue presenting you with such certification. This will establish a baseline of experience and knowledge. A shop that possesses an American Automotive Association rating is a good sign too, as it guarantees that they have been pre-screened by an objective source.

Don’t Be Afraid to Ask Questions, Even If You’re a Novice

Beyond a price estimation, it is very helpful to ask questions that you may consider basic. Such as, which parts will need to be replaced? How long will the work in question take to complete? Can I see the problem area of the car? Even more intensive questions about the process of fixing the vehicle should not fluster a reliable mechanic. These questions will make you feel comfortable with the car service and prove to the mechanic that you take your car’s care serious.

Go With Your Instinct

This tip is harder to pin down, and will mean different things to different people, but it remains relevant. Simple things, such as the cleanliness of the shop, may be symbolic of the overall service. Furthermore, if a mechanic is giving vague answers or treating customers in a hostile manner, it’s probably a clear sign to get out while you can. Getting a car fixed is rarely a pleasant experience, so there’s no need to add extra stress to the process.

Find a Location Near Your Home

This is especially important if you don’t have a friend or family member to follow you to the mechanic and drive you home. Finding a route home or to work via public transportation may be pivotal, depending on how long the car will be out of commission.

Warranties and Specialists

This tip will mainly pertain to people whose cars need to be fixed at a dealership. It also applies to those who own a car that has to have specialty parts replaced. Do research and determine whether a mechanic has expertise in your particular make and model. Additionally, an honorable mechanic will supply warranties on new parts. Make sure to establish this warranty before they get to work on your car.

The Importance of Vehicle Safety Inspections After a Collision

Navigating the auto collision repair process can be bewildering and frustrating, especially for car owners who don’t know much about automotive repair. Not only do insurance claims need to be filed and negotiated, but the vehicle’s repairs and overall safety need to be addressed. There are many issues which may influence a car’s safety after it’s been in a collision, and it’s important that these issues not be overlooked during the repair process. To ensure your car’s collision repairs are comprehensive and thorough, it’s a good idea to have a post-repair vehicle safety inspection performed by a professional vehicle safety specialist.

Hidden Collision Damages

When a car is in a collision, the worst damage is often the unseen damage which happens to the car’s frame and internal components. These components are often more difficult – and costly – to fix, and if the insurance company’s repair appraisal is too low, some of these problems may get overlooked. Internal car damage may not be visible, but it can compromise a vehicle’s safety significantly.

Vehicle frame damage is one of the most commonly overlooked collision repair issues, especially when the vehicle was in a moderate to severe accident. A crumpled, bent or fractured frame compromises the strength of the whole vehicle, diminishing the car’s ability to safely withstand a second accident. Similarly, internal components such as frame rails are often damaged during a collision, but may be overlooked during fast, low estimate repairs. To restore the vehicle to its pre-collision safety, these internal damages need to be fixed.

Not All Collision Repair Shops Are Equal

Most collision repair shops offer the same set of services, but the quality and thoroughness of these services can vary widely from shop to shop. Some auto body shops work to complete repairs as quickly and cost-efficiently as possible. While this tends to make car owners and insurance companies happy initially, quick, shoddy repairs can lead to more severe problems down the road – compromised vehicle safety not the least.

Auto body shops which perform thorough, high quality collision repair are more likely to dig below the surface to address damages which might have gone unnoticed. These types of shops can often be distinguished from other, lower quality collision shops by their accreditations. NAPA AutoCare Collision Center, A.A.A. Approved Collision Center and Accredited Better Business Bureau certifications are good indicators that an auto body shop will keep your and your family’s personal safety as their highest priority.

Post-Collision Safety Inspection Checklist

Before taking your car home from the collision repair shop, it’s important to make sure all your vehicle’s key safety features are working properly. Ask your collision repair shop to perform a 15 point vehicle safety inspection which covers the following:

– Fluid levels – need to be topped off and checked for leaks.

– Tire pressure – needs to be equal and at appropriate levels.

– Tire wear condition – excessively or unevenly worn tires are unsafe during inclement weather.

– Suspension – needs to be structurally sound, without any bent, fractured or missing parts.

– Belts – check to make sure these are all still flexible, properly placed and working.

– Engine coolant hoses – need to be secure and leak-free.

– Car battery – check for dirty connection or old battery in need of replacement.

– Windshield wipers – make sure these are not cracked or worn, to ensure good visibility during nighttime and inclement weather.