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.

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.

It’s Spring, There Is a Hail Storm – Hail Damage Repair Information

Luckily for car owners without garages, most hail storms do not cause body damage to cars until the hail is larger than ½ inch in diameter. Even then, it takes bigger hail than that to cause significant damage. The first thing that happens after a hail storm is car dealers offer Hail Sales and hail repair outfits pop up like mushrooms after a rain.

  1. Hail Sales offer damaged cars at prices well below book value. However, the real result is that car dealers simply make bigger commissions and sell more cars. Any car sold with unrepaired damage means that the damage was either too severe or too expensive to be worth fixing. Every car that a dealer can fix before sale with Paintless Dent Repair (PDR) will have been fixed already.
  2. Repainting a car after PDR or other hail damage removal adds extra costs. PDR works well for small dents where the dent has no cracked paint within the dent.
  3. Dents to large for PDR to repair must be handled at a conventional auto shop and the repairs will need to be painted and finished.
  4. Large or deep dents or those where the metal is very stretched or even cracked require a body shop repair job. Deep dents that break the paint will result in rust to the metal body of the car if left unrepaired.
  5. Some insurance companies pay car owners the amount on its estimate, regardless of whether the owner gets the repairs done or not. Keeping the insurance money without fixing it is legal but choosing to leave damage unrepaired can impact your ability to get full-coverage insurance on the car. It can also affect the amount you get for future repairs or similar damage since future occurrences will be excluded from the coverage.
  6. Having a car’s hail damage repaired using insurance money does result in the repair being listed on the CarFax vehicle report from that point onward. This helps insurance companies avoid bogus damage claims and also is used by car buyers to know the damage and repair history of their potential vehicle.
  7. Owners who choose to leave it unrepaired may find the cost of the hail damage deducted from damage claims later in the life of the car. Document any repairs to hail damage to ensure future claims are paid in full.
  8. If you own your car outright, you need to decide how long you plan to own the car and how important the repair is to you. If you have a car that has little value and plan to drive it until it dies, there is not much point in repairing hail damage.
  9. If you have an active loan on your car, your lien holder will probably require verification that the damage was fixed. In some cases, they might allow you to apply the hail damage repair check to the balance of your car loan.
  10. Get damage estimates and compare that with the claim payout offer minus your deductible before making a decision about filing an insurance claim.
  11. The insurance company may “total out” an older car with only relatively minor hail damage simply because the vehicle has less useful life remaining. Motorcycles can handle very little hail damage before insurance companies consider them a total loss.

When checking for hail damage or getting an insurance estimate, make sure to check windshields for cracks and chips. If glass is involved, get that repaired and make sure the permanent seals along windshield and rear window edges are properly repaired and set, too.

How to Avoid Auto Repair Ripoffs

Auto repair is like any other business-there are some unscrupulous cheats out to take your money. But you can avoid getting ripped off for auto repairs if you keep your wits about you. Here's how to do it.

First, get a referral to a reliable, trustworthy mechanic. Friends are a good source for referrals. Ask them who they've had good experiences with, and who they would avoid. That's probably the best way to find a winner.

But don't simply take a friend's word for it. Check out your mechanic! You can call the Better Business Bureau to see if he's had any complaints. Look for certifications like an Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) seal, which means he's at least met some minimum standards for skills and service.

Before you get any work done, ask about labor prices and prices for parts and supplies. Not asking means you really have no right to be shocked if they pad your bill. And be sure to find out about the warranty on parts and labor (don't forget the labor piece of the puzzle).

Most important, get everything in writing. That means the estimate for the work, the details of the warranty on parts and labor, everything. If a mechanic won't give a written estimate, he's either too lazy to do it, or he's leaving the door open for fraud. You don't want to play either game. And once you're armed with the price and warranty information, don't be afraid to shop around to see if you can lower your cost.

If your problem is a little out of the ordinary, such as those annoying intermittent rattles most cars experience from time to time, take a test drive with the mechanic beforehand to show him exactly what you need addressed. Don't make him guess. If you can show him the problem, he might know exactly what to target, which will save you labor cost, and probably save him from making unnecessary repairs.

Before you pay the bill, go for a test drive to make sure the car is fixed to your satisfaction. If it is not right, ask the mechanic to make it right. Even great, honest mechanics who pay attention to detail can miss things. A test drive can bring those misses to light, and probably save you a hassle later.

And speaking of the bill, read it. Check it over carefully. Ask about anything you don't understand, or that does not sound right. If you just pay the bill without checking, it's like signing a mortgage document without reading it. Silly, right?

Finally, pay your bill with a credit card if you can. That gives you maximum flexibility to protect yourself from fraud. If something goes wrong, you can call the credit card company and dispute the charge. Many cards also offer some fraud protection, so you might have another line defense.

As with most things, you can avoid getting ripped off for auto repairs by being informed, and by being careful. If you will do a little work up front to prepare, and take small steps to protect yourself, you can save yourself aggravation and expense.

Auto Body Repair 101

Most cars will need some type of auto body repair in their lifetimes. Whether its from a major collision or just a small dent from every day use, there’s a good chance your vehicle will need to visit the auto body repair shop at least once. If you do experience some damage to your car, it is crucial that you take it to a professional body shop for the repairs. Though most damage is easily visible, in some accidents, it is possible to have damage that is hidden. To get it done correctly and safely, it must be done by a professional.

The first step in the auto body repair process is to take your car in for a consultation. The repair specialist will assess the damage and prepare a detailed estimate. The estimate should be very detailed and list the cost for each part and the amount of labor charged. Original equipment (OEM), used, or after market parts may be used – it is important to know exactly which type of part they are planning to use in your repair. Auto body shops are also accustomed to working with insurance companies – they can handle your claim for you and contact the insurance company when needed.

Sometimes additional repairs are needed after they begin working on your vehicle. This shouldn’t happen often, but it is a possibility, even with a reputable and trusted repair shop. The shop manager should call you and explain in detail why the new repair is needed and why it wasn’t found during the original inspection and estimate. They should also offer to contact your insurance company with this new information and a revised estimate of the cost.

The final step in the auto body repair process is the paint job. A poor paint job will make even good repairs look bad. If you need only small areas painted, the auto body shop will carefully blend the new area with the old paint. Having only a small area painted saves big money, but you must have a professional do the job. Poorly matched paint will not blend with the rest of the car and affect the overall appearance of the vehicle.

Though we don’t usually think of auto body repair as important to the safety of the vehicle as we do when we think of engine repair. However, shoddy repair work can definitely affect the safety of the vehicle. Make sure to have your work done at a professional shop. Getting a referral is the best way to find a good auto body repair shop, but it also helps to look online for reviews and testimonials when selecting a auto body shop to do the repairs on your vehicle. Get the job done right and you’ll have many happy hours and safe hours of driving!

Auto Body Repair Estimates Demystified – The 5 Most Common Items on a Repair Estimate

So you’ve decided to get an estimate from a local body shop. These days, most body shops will use a computerized estimating software to write your estimate. If the shop you have chosen does not use a computer to write your estimate that should be cause for concern. This is not meant as a jab at those long time owners and technicians and I am not implying they are “backward” or “luddites” or ignorant. Its more for accountability. Computerized software is now standard in our industry and insures a more uniform, unbiased and accurate appraisal for how long things take to repair. For instance, I was talking to a shop owner just a couple days ago who was remembering with fondness the good old days when he would routinely get 15+ labor hours to repair frames on cars that nowadays he only gets 4-5 hours on. The truth is however that 4-5 is the more accurate and fair rate (depending on the job of course it could be more or less). And since consumers and insurance companies are billed by the hours on an estimate the old days of falsely inflating hours are gone.

When it comes to auto body repair the vast majority of line items on an estimate will be one of 5 things:

1. R & I. This is shorthand for “remove and install” and means to take something off your car and then to re-install it later. Parts that are not damaged may need to be temporarily removed to access another part that was damaged or more often so the panel it is taken off of can painted properly. For instance, say your electric motor for your window stops working. The interior trim panel will need to be temporarily removed for to gain access to the motor to see if it can be repaired (not likely!) or replaced. Or perhaps a molding needs to be removed from your door before it is painted only to be put back on later when the paint dries. One caution here is that if panels are being painted and you’re not being charged for R & I the shop may be taping them up which can actually cause peeling or flaking months or years later. So don’t be surprised if for instance a headlight needs to be removed to properly paint a fender. You should actually be more concerned if its not. FYI: R & I times are typically set to industry standards by estimating software and are not discretionary.

2. Repair. Repair (aka ‘Rpr’) is the most discretionary item on an estimate and typically the amount of time it takes to repair something will be underlined or asterisk-ed (*) to indicate this. This is where an insurance adjuster might say a dent will take 3 hours to fix and a technician might say it will take 4. There’s no hard and fast rule here and this needs to be negotiated between insurance adjusters, shop estimators and possibly even the technicians doing the job. My dad who has been in the industry almost 40 years taught me a long time ago that a dent which is about the size of a man’s fist should take about 3 hours to repair. From there you can adjust up or done for various things like a body line that runs through the dent (add an hour) or the dent has no creases and is accessible from the inside and therefore can be mostly popped out (subtract time). The reason these times are so important is that insurance companies are paying shops based on the number of hours on the estimate.

3. Replace. Replacing parts, sometimes shorthanded to ‘repl,’ is not a discretionary item on an estimate and is governed by industry standards or what shop folks call “book time.” If the book/software says it takes 3.5 hours to replace that bumper then that is what the insurance company will pay. No more and no less. It is pretty well standardized with only slight variations depending on which software is used and then it only differs by very little.

4. Sublet. Sometimes there are things that an auto body shop will send to someone else (typically a mechanic who takes care of more under the hood items) to perform and this is categorized as sublet. Popular things for shops to sublet out are air conditioner recharging and 4 wheel alignments when the suspension is damaged. The reason this is sent out typically is that the equipment and space required for these operations are not cost effective for a body shop. And when it comes to deeper engine repair, oil and paint don’t mix! Oil and grease can quickly ruin a paint job. So, shops that say they can do “everything” typically can’t do everything well.

5. Miscellaneous. Under this category will go small charges like “hazardous waste removal” (about once a month we pay someone to pick up and dispose of our hazardous waste in the safest way possible) and “car cover for overspray” which pays for paper, tape and plastic to cover the vehicle during the painting process so paint over spray doesn’t go all over the windows or adjacent panels.