5-Point Checklist for Test Driving a Vehicle

Don’t worry, because a five point turn is not on the checklist of things to do when test-driving a vehicle. Buying a new or used vehicle can be stressful for people because everyone wants the best possible car of their choice, in the best possible condition, and all within their seemingly-unrealistic budget. This, unfortunately, narrows the list a bit, however, there are smart ways to test out a vehicle in order to ensure you are at least buying a quality asset that is safe and suits your driving needs.

Continue reading to learn five things to look for when you are test driving a car or truck, so that you may better negotiate a deal and make better purchasing decisions.

1. Exterior Appearance

The first place you want to inspect is the exterior of the car or truck. How’s the condition of the paint? Is it shipped, scraped, or faded? What about the condition of the body? Are there dents and scratches on the bumper, fender, or doors? Are there cracks in the windshield? All of these aspects can be used against a seller in the negotiations to get a fairer price.

2. Interior Appearance and Amenities

Next, open the doors and take a look inside. Are the doors squeaky or difficult to open? Do they feel heavy or loose? What about the interior fabric? Is it in good condition? Are there stains, burn holes, ripped carpet, or other similar damages? Is the roof fabric loose and droopy? Are the dashboards in good condition? Is there a spare tire and jack?

3. Under the Hood

Always look is under the hood of the vehicle. Check to see that the engine bay is clean and damage-free. Next, look at the condition of the battery, see that all the proper caps are in place, and inquire whether or not it takes premium or unleaded fuel. Overall, use your common sense to inspect everything under the hood with a glance, and decide if it looks legitimate. If you have concerns about what you see, then you might want to have the vehicle inspected by a licensed mechanic before making any negotiations with the seller.

4. Drivability

Now it’s time to actually see how the car drives. See how the steering wheel turns. Does it pull to the left or right? Take note of how the car feels in drive mode. Is it a smooth ride? Does it feel bumpy? Are the brakes squeaky? Does it take a long time to come to a complete stop? Does the car feel heavy or out of line? All of this can be identifiers of common vehicular maintenance and repair issues. Again, these faults can be used as a negotiations tactic when deciding on a final price.

5. Interior Features

Before getting out of the vehicle and ending your test drive, be sure to check all the amenities and features inside and see that they all work properly. Check the automatic windows, radio, navigation, air vents, sun roof, mirrors, lights, and more. Also take note of the number of cup holders, storage, seating, and more to match these features with the ones on your wish-list.

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.

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.

The Cost of Repairing a Damaged Vehicle

Collisions occur when 2 objects bump into each other. So if two cars run into each other or if a car smashes into a tree it is considered a collision. It can be a very unpleasant experience overall, emotionally and physically.

According to statistics the majority of accidents do not result in any serious physical trauma or injury. Those resulting in fatalities will normally mean the vehicle is written off, either the cost of repair in relation to the value of the vehicle isn’t justified or the vehicle is so deformed that it cannot be repaired to a safe factory recommended standard.

The cost of the repairs depends on many factors, an experienced panel beater should be able to assess the damage and give an informed detailed estimate for the required repairs on the spot or within 30 minutes if parts prices need to be obtained from suppliers. The most common place a vehicle is damaged is the front end or rear bumper. These collisions are normally low speed impacts. Luckily car manufacturers take this into account when designing their cars, so the front and back bumpers are made to absorb the collision impact reducing shock and damage to the vehicles occupants, pedestrians and costly mechanical components such as the engine, transmission, brakes and suspension.

The front and rear bumpers, door, and even side panels are removed with ease. They are held on with bolts and screws. Sometimes the extent of the damage is only a scratch on the surface, or paint has been chipped off, here the collision repairman will simply remove surrounding parts such as a door handle, mould or door lock and the spray painter or auto re-finisher will sand down, fill -in and re-spray the affected area. This could take as little as a few hours work. In the case of a seriously damaged door, bumper or panel, the cost in labour of repairing the part may exceed the cost of replacing it therefore the more cost effective option is to source another replacement part.

On occasion the desired part could have a procurement lead time of weeks or months, or the part may not be available at all, should this be the case the decision may be made to repair a badly damaged car part. An experienced panel beater will ensure that the repair is performed to a very high quality and safety standard. This forward thinking will speed up vehicle turnaround time, ensuring the customer has their vehicle returned to them in the shortest time possible minimising vehicle down time particularly important if the customers vehicle is a company car.